I salute my good people of Okeogun, the region consisting of the 10 of the 13 local government councils of the Oyo North Senatorial District of Oyo State. The people are no doubt noted for farming, hard work, industry, business, honesty and hospitality. Politically and economically backward because of years of neglect by the federal government and marginalisation by the state government.
I sat down and pondered on the way we do or play our politics and could not but come to that irresistible conclusion that we are the architects of our own misfortune. I have been a strong of advocate of political power shift to Okeogun since 2011 even though my involvement in the scheming and sensitization on the need for the rotation of power among Ibadan, Ibarapa, Okeogun, Ogbomoso and Oyo dated back to 2000 when I joined Okeogun Youth Consultative Forum.
As a very good student of history and a political activist, I have been studying the politics of Okeogun since 1983 to date. I reckon with that date because it was the time I was physically present and involved in the politics in Nigeria one way or the other. Let me say that I think the politics of Okeogun is fantastically amusing and funny. Just as there is the good, the bad and the ugly of many things, the politics of Okeogun could be said to be free from political brigandage and money until recently when area boys and others who have been influenced by alien cultures from big cities are returning home. Your guess is as good as mine. Nevertheless, our people can still be saluted for not allowing full political thuggery and brigandage to find a seat in Okeogun. Even the influence of money on the choice of selecting and voting candidate is still minimal. I gave Okeogun people a passing mark on that.
Okeogun politics is not however free from peculiar mess. The politics of Okeogun to say the least is characterised by townism, partyism (blind allegiance to political party, self centredness and religious and other antediluvian considerations.
Is it not funny that a region or geopolitical zone of Oyo state that has produced several first class materials in all fields of human endeavours have not been able to influence the reconfiguration and calibration of the politics and political machinery of Oyo State? What is the reason for our political marginalisation and perhaps somnambulism? Why are we still crawling in politics? Fellow compatriots! Where were we a few years back and where are we today politically? How does tomorrow look from the way we are playing our politics?
Let it be on record that I have not contributed to the political backwardness or stagnation of Okeogun but rather troubleshooting. I’m by no way apportioning blame on anybody in particular, neither am I trying to absolve the elite totally from the political quagmire that we have found ourselves in Okeogun. Assuming one did not contribute directly, at least for doing little or nothing is blameworthy.
The questions of the day is where are we and where are we going? What exactly do we want?
I have asked several questions repeatedly without concrete and positive responses from the stakeholders, super critical stakeholders and opinion moulders and colleagues on the social media about the leadership of Okeogun. I know I have and still doing my best and posterity will judge.
It is true that political power is not served a la carte, neither is political emancipation a tea party. I have challenged the moral right of agitation for Yorubaland without a new political configuration for Oyo State. I have used social media to stimulate discussions, generate ideas, get feedback, sensitise and conscientise our people of Okeogun, particularly the elites who have access to the social media to let us change the face of politics, to change the political narratives and review the strategy that has not been working for decades. Up till date, I have neither heard of such initiative been carried out, neither have i been invited to any. The only efforts in the recent was the Okeogun Project Forum formed in 2015 by EsV Ismail Bimpe Asewoyin and my humble self to fight for the zoning of the governorship ticket to Okeogun for 2019 election. We tried our to sensitise our people and posterity will judge.
My distinguished kinsmen! Some of our people from Okeogun recently have said Okeogun is not ready for power, while others simply dismiss “Okeogun Lokan ” as a hoax. The antagonists of “Okeogun lokan” believed there were no foundations and structures on ground upon which to erect such a political edifice.
What baffles me most is the often irreconcilable actions of the political actors from Okeogun. Everybody for himself, God for all of us. We seem to have no direction and target. There is no one single acceptable political leader. The political terrain of Okeogun is vulnerable. Anybody can declare himself a leader. A chairman of a local government on assumption of office can say he is the leader of the local government when the space is so porous and has become free for all.
What do we want? We need to sit down in a round table conference and spit on each other’s faces. We need to ask ourselves several fundamental and existential questions if we must not continue like this. We must be honest and frank with ourselves. Those elders who have led the area and have held several important positions at the federal and state in the past must be brought together to give accountability of how they have led the areas. Those who squandered goodwill and bungled opportunities and those who used the opportunities only for themselves and their families at the detriment of Okeogun people must be given “awards of excellence”. We must see the faces and put their names in the hall of “fame”. They are bad examples of leadership and must never be emulated.
I’m asking again, what do we want as a region or a community of ten local governments in the present Oyo? Do we want governorship or deputy? Do we want a Deputy Governor or senator? Or do we want Governorship and Deputy Governorship? Or do we want Deputy governorship and senator at the same time? Or do we simply want the trio of Governorship, deputy and senator?
Let us sit down, do a little political permutation and calculations. Let us do some rehearsals, mark and score ourselves. What are our chances of getting one, or two or three of the aforementioned options? I must tell you, I’m very confused. Honestly, I can’t beat my chest and tell people outside Okeogun what my people want? What concerned me about 10 against 3 or 3 against 10? What does it mean, using 10 to serve 3 or 3 chances 10? I’m less bothered about that argument. Instead of focusing on others, why don’t we face your own, pursue your own ambition and refuse to be distracted by others? There is a yoruba saying, A man can only resist being led, no sane person would refuse to be obeyed and followed by others. We said we want Governor, at the same time, we are scheming against another person from being a senator. Unfortunately, the person being complained against wants governorship. Who is more serious, who is more focussed? If Okeogun contested for governorship, will you also take the senate from Ogbomoso?
What is wrong with us Oke Ogun? Did we get our bearings right? While we are saying we want governorship, some of us are scheming to be deputy governors. Let me explain as follows:
PDP: Okeogun PDP rejects Governorship even if it was dashed to them. All they pray for is deputy governor. Okeogun PDP has sold the gubernatorial ticket out of Okeogun and may not hesitate to deal with any of her members that manifest any intention for the Agodi seat of power in Oyo state. They have come to accept the judgement of God that they cannot eat their cake and still hold it in their hands.
The implication is that if you are a bonafide son of Okeogun and you want to be governor on the platform of PDP in 2023, there is no vacancy for you. You have to find another platform as your people have mortgaged your right and 2023 by the unsolicited and eye service endorsement of Gov Makinde for a second term. We will see that sincerity, a few months to the election and also on the day of voting.
In that same PDP, no less than 3 sons of Okeogun have started jostling for the deputy governorship of the state. You all know them. They have been scheming against the incumbent Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan even before the middle of their current tenure of four years. The implication of this is that having a son of Okeogun as the governor of Oyo State is a foregone issue to this set of people. They know they are not governorship materials and cannot put themselves forward to our people. They have no name, political clout and credibility. They have no resources to even prosecute such an agenda hence they gang up to frustrate the one who had shown and demonstrated enough capability for the number 1 seat.
They are simply dogs in the mangers.
There is a vacancy in APC. Yes, there is a possibility for a non-Ibadan to emerge as the governorship candidate of the APC. If the feelers of assurances we are getting from the party are anything to be reckoned with, there will be no imposition of candidates. We are told there will be an open, fair and transparent party primaries to pick the gubernatorial candidate for APC for 2023. If that is so, then the party is set to dislodge the present government of PDP that is on a mission of self-destruction.
Two persons from Okeogun have so far shown interests, they are Prof. Adeolu Akande, the chairman of NCC and Barr. Adebayo Shittu, the former Minister for Communications. With the purported endorsement of Prof Adeolu Akande as the candidate for Okeogun, I’m afraid, the division and disunity among our people have reared its ugly head again. I have read the rejoinder of Bayo Shittu to that purported endorsement. The chances of these two aspirants even within a divided and disunited Okeogun will be analysed later.
I think it’s preposterous, premature and illogical for a zone or community to start endorsing an aspirant now. You don’t endorse an aspirant but a candidate. If you must endorse an aspirant, you will do it silently. It’s more of underground thing with serious lobby, not open endorsement. Public endorsement of an aspirant is not good for the ambition of the aspirant. Let us assume, your endorsed aspirant fails to clinch the ticket, what happens to the endorsement?
See how funny we are as a people. From the same region or zone which wants to produce the next governor of Oyo State, we have about 6 possible running mates. I mean six people have made up their minds, they want to be deputy governors only. We have those who are ready to nominate and support people for deputy governors. See wahala. What sermon will you preach to people like these to convince them that what we need is governorship of the state.
There are about 5 aspirants already for the senatorial tickets. Each of these aspirants have adopted their preferred gubernatorial candidates outside. The senatorial aspirants do not pray that the party should zone the governorship or deputy governorship to Okeogun area. It doesn’t pay them.
Because it is impracticable for any political party, no matter its popularity to zone both governorship and senatorial to Okeogun and neglect Ogbomoso. It’s also illogical and suicidal for a political party, even the ruling party, to zone both the deputy governorship and the senate to either Okeogun or Ogbomoso. So, what are we not saying?
In the light of the above analysis, I have given up my hope and advocacy on Okeogun lokan for 2023. It’s simply not realistic, unattainable and mere wasting of energy and resources unless a formidable candidate surfaces before the expiration of the day for the submission of candidates list to INEC. From all these shenanigans and miscalculations, I am not prepared for another political humiliation in 2023 as some Okeogun experienced in 2019 when their endorsed candidate could not score 2000 votes in all the 33 local governments of Oyo state.
Let no group or community endorse any aspirant. We can only recommend, advise or appeal to a political party to field an aspirant as her candidate. Endorsement of an aspirant can only be done by a political party either by a way of primary elections within the party, by a consensus or any other practice and directions of the party as allowed or provided for in the constitution of the political party. Therefore, pocket your endorsement and do not use it to divide your members. If a senatorial, local or ward has a preferred aspirant for any elective position, you lobby, canvass and woo other groups and members to support him.
Barr. Waheed Lawal is a lawyer and a political activist in the APC.