Beyond APC Osun debacle

Unlike our traditional political system where groups constituted the building blocks of society, democracy, the new imported value system celebrates individuals. The defeat of incumbent Governor Oyetola of Osun by dancing Senator Ademola Adeleke, last weekend was a celebration of democracy. The problem with our democratization process however has always been the conspiracy of our political elite who see democracy only as the shortest route to power and are ready to destroy political parties, an ingenious 17th century creation of political elite without which democracy can thrive the moment their interests are threatened.

While with the recent movement of Peter Obi from APGA to PDP, and PDP to Labour and before then, Atiku’s periodic shuffling between PDP, to ACN, PDP, APC and now back to PDP, it can be said that the same demon afflicts all Nigerian politicians, the effect has been more destructive in the southwest perhaps because of their worldview. For instance, while the Igbo political elite prefer a unitary system which will allow Igbo to carry out their ‘buy and sell’ trade anywhere in Nigeria, the Fulani, following Uthman Dan Fodio’s conquest of Hausa states between 1804-1808 have come to regard Nigeria as an ungoverned land reserved for the rehabilitation of the stateless Fulani across Africa.

Yoruba who on the other hand are by nature federalists have worked harder than any other group towards institutionalization of a federal arrangement that will liberate groups and individuals from the tyranny of the Nigerian state. Federalism and democracy are of course like twin brothers and are both required for elite consensus needed for the management of diversities in deeply society like ours. Assaults on these values which unfortunately have always come from the southwest since independence remain the greatest betrayal of our own visionary Yoruba leaders who labored to bequeath a federal constitution unto us at independence.

For instance, on May 29, 1962, following disagreement over sharing of dividends between AG major shareholders, Chiefs S. L. Akintola, Ayo Rosiji, Okunowo and Akerele were sanctioned for anti-party offences. But rather than behave like democrats and loyal party men, they chose to sell their leader and the Action Group, it’s modernization agent to Azikiwe’s NCNC and Ahmadu Bello’s NPC.

UPN suffered the same fate in the second republic when Akin Omoboriowo, in order to upstage Ajasin, his boss, invited the ruling NPN that purportedly secured for him “landslide and seaslide’ victories in opposition strongholds. Iyiola Omisore similarly joined PDP to destroy his party and derail the development programme of his principal in Osun. Just as Sunday Afolabi, Bola Ige’s deputy as Oyo State governor joined NPN where he was made a minister after working for the downfall of his principal. Ige himself betrayed his Afenifere fellow cult members and their AD party to join Obasanjo’s PDP as attorney general because he lost out in AD presidential ticket contest. Sadly both died tragically working for Obasanjo. One assassinated in his room on December 23, 2001 by yet to-be-identified assailants and the other while awaiting trial over alleged $2m bribe from Sagem, a firm then handling the national identity card project.

Aregbesola, sidelined by APC Southwest major shareholders was quoted as threatening to ‘stop Oyetola in Osun as Ambode was stopped’ by his estranged godfather in Lagos’, Early this week, from faraway US, he celebrated the defeat of his predecessor and his party, with quotes from the Bible. His supporters have also linked the decimation of their party to the internal wrangling within APC while Senator Adeleke, the Osun governor-elect admitted on Channels TV programme, last Monday that Aregbesola’s men worked for him.

As 2023 beckons, Yoruba must work against this self-destruct tendency which in Yoruba translates to – ‘If the rat cannot eat beans inside the calabash, it can scatter them in the sand’.

Our current socio-economic problems including corruption, religious intolerance, terrorism and banditry are but symptoms of absence of a workable federal constitution that helped us to manage our diversity until 1966. It was Yoruba politicians’ undermining of that constitution and our party system that resulted in its replacement with ‘Decree 24’, a baleful legacy of Igbo/ Fulani and their military fronts that according to Alabi Isama, ruled our country between 1959 and 2015.

And if the challenge of 2023 is electing a visionary leader who must eschew injustice, ensure fairness and must have demonstrated his capacity to build an elite consensus needed for the management of our diversity, we must start by interrogating the legacies of Obi and Tinubu as governors of Anambra and Lagos at different periods and that of Abubakar Atiku as vice president who presided over the sale of Nigeria’s total investments of about $100b for a paltry $1.5b to cronies who had access to state funds.

Of the three, Tinubu so far has been the one that has come under serious scrutiny by his Yoruba compatriots despite having never worked with the federal government, secured contracts or collected grants to set up media empire. And Igbo-Lagos urban immigrants who cannot go to their states for fear of terrorists and kidnappers have joined his Yoruba detractors to do “O to ge” for him in Lagos.

Similarly, Igbo Christians are the loudest critics of his Muslim-Muslim ticket even when it is not likely they will vote for him even if he decides to pick an Archbishop as his VP candidate from the East. Available records of voting pattern have shown the southeast and south-south led by Pa Edwin Clark, rather than identify with Yoruba aspirations, have, since independence aligned with the north.

Those Yoruba who never see anything good in Tinubu even though he is head and shoulder better than his other two rivals, always assume they can impose their culture on a nation at different levels of cultural development. For them, even Awo, the sage, who a British leader said would make a successful British Prime Minister or US President was not good enough. They joined his detractors to send him to jail. Another Yoruba leader, MKO Abiola who in spite of Igbo and Fulani political elite’s conspiracy, won a pan-Nigerian mandate died in prison for winning the most credible election in the nation’s history. Obasanjo, an imposition by Igbo and Fulani elite to spite the Yoruba publicly admitted he is not a Yoruba leader. He will be remembered more for exploiting Yoruba quest for restructuring to humiliate our revered Afenifere leaders.

Finally may we remind Yoruba pastors teaching our children how to speak in tongues while Israeli and their Arab half-brothers are teaching their children science and mathematics to prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow, that Adeleke with his Christian/Christian ticket in a predominantly Muslim Osun last week, defeated a sitting Muslim Governor.

As discriminatory voters who are never blinded by religious emotions and who Awolowo said would not vote for someone because he is Yoruba, Tinubu is assured of 50% of Yoruba votes. I guess he thinks by the choice of his vice presidential candidate, he can complement that by sharing the northeast votes with Atiku. As for the northwest, whose son he helped to power twice and on whose behalf, Tinubu stoically carry the scars of arrows aimed at Buhari by frustrated Nigerian victims of herdsmen and bandits attack, he expects one good turn deserves the other.

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