August 22nd, 2012
By Idowu Ajanaku
While the quest for political power could at times be fierce and fratricidal, (all because of the plums and perquisites of office) we in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) have the firm belief in performance of those elected into office, as a benchmark for unbiased assessment, in tandem with the wishes of the majority of the electorate. While every Nigerian of the voting age has the constitutional right to pitch his tent with any political party of his choice, out of his own volition, we in the ACN hold tenaciously unto the doctrine of facing facts bare as they are, instead of twisting them for self-serving reasons. Only then can one be on the safe side of history. That is because history, untainted and undiluted is our ultimate judge.
For us therefore, it is a cruel irony that Yinka Odumakin, incidentally one of the youngest beneficiaries of the progressive programmes that parties such as the defunct Action Group, AG, the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Alliance for Democracy, AD when he and Dr. Moses Omosehindemi decamped to AD at playground in Gbagada Lagos, would now turn history on its head; to say that never a time has one party held sway over the politically sophisticated region of the West region. That is not only untrue, but pure fallacy. Lest Odumakin forgets so soon, we need to remind him that ever before the country’s independence in 1960 the AG was the party that swept the polls in the defunct Western Region with the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the indefatigable and resourceful banner bearer. There were few exceptions of course, such as the late Ladoke Akintola, Fani-Kayode and Adisa Akinloye amongst others.
But AG’s progressive culture took a firm root, and the tree of democracy flourished with the fruits for all to benefit from. No one talked of any dictatorial tendencies on the part of AG hierarchy as there was none. That noble heritage, one is proud to say has been passed on across the generations.
Even Odumakin must have learnt about the unprecedented economic development arising from the party’s capacity in connecting well with the people’s priority needs. That saw to the enactment and sustenance of impact-making policies such as Free Education and Farm Centres across the region. And history was made then with the first television house in Africa, the tallest building in the continent(Cocoa House, Ibadan),the Liberty Stadium, as well as several sprawling industrial estates sprouted across the city landscapes from Lagos to Ibadan and beyond.
Similarly, the Second Republic witnessed the resurgence of such socio-economic transformation of the Western States under the Unity Party of Nigeria, with Awolowo as the competent pilot. All the South-Western states including the defunct Bendel State (now Edo and Delta) were ruled by UPN. So where did Odumakin get his own history from by claiming that South-West was never ruled by a monolithic party? If Awolowo (whose iconic cap) Odumakin loves to wear was one desperate dictator he would not have summoned a meeting of his party’s stalwarts at his Park Lane residence in 1983.The aim was to ask for their opinion on the request by the then President Shehu Shagari for a meeting with the opposition leaders. Should they attend the meeting or not? That was the burning question Awolowo asked his fellow party men.
The general consensus then was that as firm believers in the dictates of democracy they should attend. Awolowo could not say no. All he did, to register his protest at the outcome of the controversial elections, was to wear a white band on his right hand in order to avoid a handshake with Alhaji Shehu Shagari as a mark of protest. By that singular action he had proved to cynics that he was not the political demagogue as some people would think. He was not the one to whip his subjects into line. After all, democracy is all about the aggregation of variegated views out of which that of the majority always carries the day.
Odumakin would no doubt attest to this as he became one of the youngest Yoruba elites to be chosen to conduct the party primaries under the defunct AD, when Chief Abraham Adesanya (of blessed memory) was the party leader. Odumakin did not talk about dictatorship then. Neither did he say so when subsequently he was chosen again, even at that young age as a member of the panel to assess the performance of elected governors under AD.
As fate would have it, he gave his full support to Mr. Jimi Agbaje when he wanted the AC gubernatorial ticket in Lagos to no avail. That was before Agbaje decamped to the Democratic Party Alliance, DPA. Yet, he, Odumakin was not a card carrying member of the party, as he was also never a member of the Congress of Progressive Change(CPC) even as General Muhammed Buhari (retd)’s spokesperson. However, there is no space in the constitution that gives room for independent candidacy. A true democrat at heart should follow the blueprint of consistency, more by his actions than by wishful words.
Was it not the same Odumakin who joined voices with lovers of democracy in Nigeria to condemn the PDP rigging machinery that bulldozed through the South-West and rode roughshod on the people’s mandate? Or, how would one explain a situation whereby in the election conducted in Ogun state in 2003 Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,PDP presidential flag bearer had more votes than the gubernatorial candidate Gbenga Daniel? Why did Odumakin not say then that the PDP won free and square? He claim that AD governors lost the election due to arrogance, even before the conduct of election was another pure fallacy and attempt to twist for selfish gain.
Is Odumakin saying that, Chief Ade Adefarati, whom many regarded as a peace, humble loving man lost to the PDP on the basis of arrogance? Or Chief Bisi Akande, who built landmark projects in Osun, would have lost to Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who was a complete failure as a military governor under the then Late Gen. Sanni Abacha?
But for the vigilance of Asiwaju Bola Ahmaed Tinubu the rigging whirlwind of PDP would have been completed to the South West, as Lagos election result had already been posted on the internet even before Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official result. Now and sadly too, Odumakin has turned full circle by aligning with Alhaji Abdulkadir the former Chairman of AD who congratulated those who rigged his Party out even before contacting his party members. He was later compensated with the post of a Special ADVISER by Obasanjo.Where lies consistency of purpose which is one of the hallmarks of an individual’s success in any endeavour?
Agreed, that democratic norms provide vast vistas for different groups of people to come together and ventilate their views, yet each is at liberty to align with the ones they deem best to satisfy their most pressing needs as Odumakin has done in case of Mimiko, but should not twist history. For instance, the conservatives in the U.S. as offsprings of the Ku-Klux.Klan have always opted for the Republican Party while the African-Americans swing in most instances towards the Democrats. That is why the Blacks in South Africa going by their history of centuries of political subjugation have always chosen to stay with the African National Congress, ANC. While India’s United Progressive Alliance got the 2009 general elections, Perus’ Peruvian Nationalist Party got the people’s nod for the 2011 general elections.
Any major shift is always considered as an aberration or an exception to the rule. But for the infighting between Chief Femi Agbalajobi and Dapo Sarumi during the Third Republic, the SDP would have had Lagos state as part of the Western States parties under its control. Even then, all the House of Assembly and Federal seats in the state were swept by the SDP. If the Northern part of the country has always preferred parties such as the NPC, NPN, NRC and PDP why should the SW be vilified, more so by an indigene for wanting to hold unto the credible platform of progressive parties?
It becomes even more annoying when the governor in charge under the amorphous Labour Party (LP) refuses to make the desired impact but derives immense pleasure at elevating cheap propaganda to the high heavens, using state resources. We certainly cannot stay hands folded and watch state resources diverted to chasing shadows instead of focusing on the substance of good governance, which incumbent governor Mimiko has deliberately refused to deliver.
Can Odumakin in good conscience explain to the good people of Ondo state why he would publicly declare his support for his new-found friend who, for the past four years has not commissioned a single road project in the state? When Odumakin visited there of recent was his conscience not pricked? Was he not appalled by the deplorable state of the long-abandoned Owo-Akure, Ondo-Akure roads? And even the 5km dual carriage Ondo road where Mimiko hails from? What about the N1.2 billion events centre called the Dome similarly left undone? What about lack of potable water for a riverine state? What about the abandoned Akure Stadium? What about the precarious youth unemployment situation? The building of only one glorified maternity clinic called “mother and child hospital” in four years to the total neglect of other health facilities in the State?
He may not like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s face but that is not an enough reason to twist the facts of history. Just as history threw up Awolowo in the fifties and sixties, Adesanya in the eighties and nineties, the same type of circumstances of grand deceit from the reactionaries has propelled Tinubu, a man of rare courage and a democrat to the core, despite his shortcomings to the political limelight; to right the wrongs of the past for the Yoruba race. Odumakin should pause for a moment for a sober reflection. He, Odumakin is not from Ondo state and does not know where the shoe pinches the people. He should therefore, hold his breathe and wait for the people to make their choice. And who it would be by electing Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), a man of pedigree, honesty and vision under the banner of ACN. The Ondo State people will join their kith and kiln in the South-West come October 20, 2012. That is history for it does not change it is only men that have failed to learn from history.
Idowu Ajanaku is the Director of Media, Publicity & Media of the Akeredolu Campaign Organisation.