Politics, the world over is about interest. This is why once politics is over, those voted in, especially governors and Presidents face governance until it is time for another round of politics.
In Osun, the governorship election was held on July 16, 2022 and results declared the next day. But the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate in that election, Adegboyega Oyetola, believed something abnormal happened with the votes count. They did not resort to self-help or electoral violence. They instead approached the Election Tribunal in line with the best practices across the globe to seek redress. What is undemocratic about that?
The petitioners, based on their watertight case and documentary evidence before the tribunal, believe strongly, and rightly so, that they will come out victorious in the court. What is undemocratic about being optimistic? It is like an intelligent and brilliant student who sat for WAEC at the time it was so-named. The student, having been cock sure of what the performance was during the examination, decides to make predictions about the possible outcome based on the deliverables. Is that a crime? Only a dullard, who has not written anything down during such examination will grow goosebumps each time the brilliant one makes a boast about the brilliant performance put up during the examination and based on which the student claims success.
For me, this is the scenario that played out yesterday during the inauguration of the Osun Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council. It was a political gathering. Not a state affair. Speaker Timothy Owoeye is a member of the APC. He faces a re-election in March this year. He only reminded the people that in 2019, the Supreme Court decision affirming the election of Oyetola came in July, 5th to be precise. But this time, owing to the new Electoral Act that emphasises timely dispensation of petitions, the process from the Tribunal up to the Supreme Court may not take that long this time. And that in the end, his party, sponsoring him for another election in about two months time will be victorious. What is undemocratic about that?
If the Speaker was not a statesman, he would not go to Ede, which is neither the Government House nor Governor’s Office shortly after Governor Adeleke was sworn in, to see him. If the Speaker was not a statesman, he would have been boycotting major government functions, including being acerbic in his public communication with the Executive arm of government led by Governor Ademola since they are not of the same party. In fact, by now, he would have set up a committee to dig deeper into how a NECO SSCE certificate was obtained in Osun State at a time the state had not been created. Or isn’t that an impeachable offence?
Therefore, if we go by the happenings of the last 40 days or so of the Ademola-led uninspiring administration, I will say without any fear of contradiction that Speaker Owoeye has so far behaved like a statesman with regards to his official conduct. We must, therefore, separate his political activities from his official conduct. Before attending the Thursday political event, he was at a state event, where he discharged his official duties as the number three citizen. But at the political event, he spoke as a political leader and one of the Assistant Directors of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council.
Now, let’s look at Governor Ademola Adeleke since he came in. He claims since the election was over, he is a governor for all. But nothing so far demonstrates that he is indeed a governor for all.
Go and take a critical look at his official conduct and his press releases, including the ones signed on his behalf by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed, they are anything but statesmanly.
So, it doesn’t appear I am doing a review of the government activities so far, I will only provide two instances. One, on December 21, 2022, it announced the setting up of a Rice Distribution Committee, which it called a non-partisan committee. Yet, it included a member of the defunct The Osun Progressives (TOP) in the committee, even when those who nurtured the group had announced its dissolution two weeks earlier before the committee was formed. Is that how a statesman behaves? Is that part of deepening the country’s democratic credentials? Isn’t that a major trait from Trump’s school of political culture?
Again, in the release announcing the composition of the Committee, see what the governor said “His Excellency affirms that this administration is not a thieving government like that of his predecessor and he remains committed to cushioning the effect of the hard time on all sections of Osun society.” Is this how statesmen talk and behave? Has any court of competent jurisdiction made such a pronouncement? Ironically, even though they claim they expended millions to purchase the purported rice, in the words of a Public Affairs Commentator, Dr. Dayo Sobowale, no one saw them. I concur.
With their shouts of “transparent and open governance”, they should have availed the public of the necessary details of the truck loads of rice. The erudite scholar went further to say that: “Try and go to town as a neutral person, start discussion about this Govt inside Korope (Commercial Bus) and at Beer parlours, you’ll realise nobody is interested in all your vindictiveness, nobody except your members and all you get from there is deceit.
“Did you know when you guys were in opposition, you gave us videos of your rice distribution. Till date, there’s no single picture of your rice purchase talk less of distribution? You’ll defend it, bring the video here.”
They claimed after paying the November salary, the Treasury was empty. But in the November salary, which was signed off by Oyetola before he left office, it included salaries of political aides and 1,500 teachers. As I speak, these categories of persons have not received their November salary. Yet, the same government has the temerity to call one government a thieving one.
Two, only yesterday, a release personally signed by the governor to felicitate a member of his party, Hon. Lere Oyewumi, who openly asked members of his own party, the PDP, to take up arms against the APC members in the build up to the July 16 governorship election, noted that: “The Governor lauded Dr. Oyewumi for remaining true to his avowed commitment to a better Osun state in the face of obvious frustration from oppressed (oppression) forces, adding that his (Dr Oyewumi) role in the dislodgement of the ruinous APC in Osun state is worthy of celebration.” Is that how statesmen talk? This same Oyewumi is the party’s senatorial candidate for Osun West in the February election.
In conclusion, if we go by the popular axiom: “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands,” I doubt if the current PDP administration in Osun has any locus to accuse Speaker Owoeye of not acting like a statesman.
-Omipidan served as Chief Press Secretary to immediate past Governor of Osun State