For the soul of Ogun State, By Funso Olukoga
I recently found myself in an unusual retort while watching former Governor Ibikunle Amosun on television presenting Mr. Biyi Otegbeye at an ADC’s camapaign rally saying this is “my own anointed candidate. This is the candidate that all of our people in Ogun State” should vote for.
My retort was that of a true son of Ogun East : “Loun mi bo wi ran? Se soun mi bo mi ni?” (Who is he addressing? Is he feeding me?). It takes someone with some empathy and an insight into this fellow’s governance of Ogun State to understand my emotion. Here’s a man who governed the state for eight years and constructed only bridges in the 3 Senatorial districts of the State to show for it. Like his predecessor he vacated the office after 8 years. But unlike his predecessors, Senator Amosun’s soul has refused to vacate the precincts of power at Oke-mosan. And what irks many Ogun State stakeholders is the depth of the bitterness he vents in proving his entitlement to the control of that seat of power. Many have watched in utter astonishment how this politician sponsored two candidates against his own party and the APC treated him with the indulgence attached to something of “inestimable value”.
To be certain, he was friends with the serving Governor well before the 2019 general elections. Their relationship however, allegedly ruptured to the point that, instead of supporting his erstwhile friend, he actually mounted a very robust opposition to his candidacy. And he lost in that bid in 2019. Rather than consider a conciliatory option upon his failure, Senator Amosun did not just rekindle his bid, he also followed a direction whose path has clearly led to the crass desperation playing out before our very eyes.
He thought he had found a pawn in Mr. Biyi Otegbeye but the Ogun West people who are not given to frivolities have wasted no time in confronting him with the reality that they already had their own arrangement well established and wouldn’t admit any upset. He looked outside ADC for co-conspirators but none would budge. They knew his sole motive was to stop Governor Abiodun and they chose not to touch the poisoned chalice.
It has come to a point that many concerned Ogun State elders are beginning to wonder if this matter was not more than the governance of our State. There are things about the governance of Ogun State in particular which many know, and which Amosun himself ought to have known before he went into it. Ogun State prides itself on a brand of its own ethos. The ethos runs like a thread through the civilians that have governed the State since its inception. From Chief Olabisi Onabanjo, to Chief Segun Osoba, to Otunba Gbenga Daniel and even Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Of all those who have governed, it would appear that it’s Amosun’s disposition that consistently and significantly challenged the ethos. And this has effectively denied him a place on the same pedestal as his predecessors and his successor. For evidence, virtually all his predecessors and their erstwhile deputies are standing in support of the incumbent governor for a re-election.
Still, no one begrudges Amosun on his choice, but the way he is going about it does not enhance the reputation of our state. I say this with the utmost acknowledgement of a state i am proud to call mine, because not only has Ogun firmly established its own brand of “Omoluabi”, not many states in Nigeria can boast of the quality of leadership and human resources that we have proudly produced. Was this not the home of Obafemi Awolowo, MKO Abiola, Ernest Sonekan, Tai Solarin, Adebayo Adedeji, Abraham Adesanya and the Ransome-Kutis? Does it not remain the home of Olusegun Obasanjo, Oladipo Diya, Yemi Osinbajo, Awujale Adetona, Akintola Williams, Wole Soyinka and Akinwunmi Adesina, just to mention a few.
You don’t come before Ogun State citizens and ask them to queue behind your preferred candidate without putting forward a convincing (possibly intellectual) argument. And when you do, try and keep away any unbuttoned arrogance so you don’t desecrate the hallowed grounds trodden by our heroes.
I learnt it was Amosun’s arrogance that pitched him against Ogun elders in the first place and made him lose a position of respect he could have easily enjoyed with them in the twilight of his administration.
In Ogun State, pre-election negotiations usually take place among various strategic groups, from traditional rulers to civil servants, to traders, to transporters and business people. The negotiations usually produce a consensus. It’s through these dynamics that Ogun leaders have been able to save the soul of the state in critical times. Amosun famously ignored the voices of elders who sought to produce a consensus candidate prior to 2019 and has since been unable to live down his ignominous loss in the tussle to install his successor.
But rather than eating humble pie and submitting to the will of the people of Ogun State, the politician just chose to muddy the waters of Ogun State politics with this vengeful passion driven by bruised ego and hatred on a scale never before witnessed in the State’s politics.
Only last Saturday, he masterminded a “protest” against Prince Dapo Abiodun in Abeokuta.
As if to demonstrate a higher pedigree, the Governor has largely ignored his predecessor’s strange behaviour. And truly, many have ignored his instances of crass mischief which have been based mostly on delusion of grandeur. But sometimes the best response to bullying is standing up to the bully. Ogun State people surely know that governance transcends building ramps and bridges. And that has been the great issue in governance in Ogun State these past four years, and will still be the focus for the immediate future.
But for now, from the observatory, I can say, with the firm authority of a son of Ogun State that most of the stakeholders in the State are behind Governor Dapo Abiodun. At least that will guarantee one thing – the severing of Senator Amosun’s umbilical cord from the governance of Ogun State for another four years.
-Olukoga an indigene of Ogun State is a Public Affairs analyst