CRYING MORE THAN THE BEREAVED
BY IBIKUNLE IKUYINMINU
From time immemorial, tears are a language and symbol of pains, sorrows, compassion and joy. And in its very watery language comes the symmetry of flood of a thousand words.
In the lead up to the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, it is expected that the three dominant parties, the All Progressive Congress (APC), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would officially flag off their campaign in Akure, the Ondo State’s capital. In this connection, the “Almighty” APC (Almighty with a quote) which carried out this all-important ritual on Friday 4th of September at the International Event Centre (DOME) in Akure had no problem on this choice of venue as it has the machinery of government at its disposal. As for the PDP whose flag off came up on Saturday 12th September at the MKO Abiola Democracy Park in Akure, the party was made to pay a sum of #5 million by the authorities in charge of the allocation of this facility. Now it is the turn of the ZLP which has opted for the same venue used by the PDP with the understanding that the #5 million paid by its PDP counterpart is the standard fee and with the issuing authority, acting under the instruction of Mr. Governor and Candidate of the APC that the party must pay a sum of #11 million, #6 million bigger than what the PDP paid.
May I use this medium to bring some issues into proper historical perspectives? In the first place, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) should be reminded that like Esther said to Modecai, “you are there for a time such as this”, and that nobody in the history of our dear state has enjoyed the gracious privilege longer than Olusegun Mimiko, Akeredolu’s predecessor and National Leader of the Zenith Labour Party. He was governor for eight uninterrupted years, but today he is addressed as a former governor. Governor Akeredolu and his cohorts are better told that one thing that stands a political office holder out when he leaves office is the legacies left behind.
Let me also remind the governor that the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, Agboola Alfred Ajayi is the current Deputy Governor with whom the Governor was given a joint mandate by the people of the sunshine state. The last time I checked, the Ondo State House of Assembly met a brick wall in her efforts to impeach him for bidding the APC farewell. Credit to providence for giving us Oluwatoyin Akeredolu as the Chief Judge who faulted the process in its entirety. Does it mean that even as the No 2 citizen of the state, he no longer has a sense of belonging in the government? Oh! Pardon my ignorance; I’ve forgotten that Mama Betty is the de facto Deputy Governor. This is better imagined than described!
Arakunrin and his political advisers seem to have forgotten that by denying the ZLP the right to host her flag off, having earlier given permission to the PDP, then APC is sending a message to the people that the PDP is not a threat as far as the race is concerned and that it is the ZLP that must be tackled. Even when the party’s candidate initially went to the PDP to pursue his governorship ambition, we have heard of the attempt by the governor to commit some millions of naira into the purse of Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), PDP’s standard bearer, to boost his chances of defeating Ajayi in the primaries. And even in the ZLP, we were told of how Mr. Governor had promised Rotimi Benjamin who had earlier been elected, through the indirect mode of the party’s governorship primary election held in Akure on July 11 until the party changed its gear and picked Ajayi (asking Benjamin to step down) a sum of #50 million to ensure that he never withdrew his candidacy since he had already participated in a valid election of which he polled 65 votes ahead of his fellow aspirant, Olusegun Osho who polled 20 votes.
To situate the matter in the historic political milieu of the people who know quite sure that it is a misnomer to give it to a party for #5 million and another party for #11 million is to sing a song of decay or what is called “o di le” in my native folklores to APC in the state. In other words, these are official confirmation that Alfred Agboola Ajayi is the man to beat and that since his entry into the race, all seems not to be well with the APC.
Of a truth, the acts of the Governor and whichever agency used to perpetrate this sinister act is against the principle of natural justice, equity and good conscience. This idea of trying to confiscate the rights of the ZLP, the same rights
having earlier conceded to the PDP, does not in any way fit into the idea of good governance at such a juncture of time like this.
And to the APC media handlers, why do you tend to be more catholic than the Pope? Why do you cry more than the bereaved? On the facebook walls and twitter handle of many of them, you get to read their “Press Release” to the effect that the Government Field at Ore is the venue of the flag off ceremony. Is that any business of theirs? The Ondo State electorate are better informed and I am sure this dastardly act will promote the “Agbogboye” mantra beyond the realm of imagination. When in 2016, the PDP fielded her candidate from the Central Senatorial District, contrary to the zoning principle which should have favoured the North or the South (the immediate past Governor coming from the Central and having spent 8 years), the electorate themselves rejected this fierce resistance of the Central and voted for Akeredolu so he could complete the North’s 2 terms after Chief Adebayo Adefarati (gone to glory). And so, one would expect that these electorate will support a candidate from the South this time.
As for Donald Ojogo, Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Agboola Ajayi’s kinsman from Apoi, Ese-Odo Local Government Area of the state, you think you can eat your cake and have it back? The Deputy Governor meant well for you when he brought you into the government. But because of your selfish interest, you suddenly turned against your benefactor and you have since been an instrument in the hands of the Governor to bring down the person of the Deputy Governor. At such a juncture of time like this, one can only admonish you with the Yoruba saying that “ti a ba ran ni nise eru, a fi je t’omo” (if you have been given a delicate job to execute, use common sense in doing it). Of course, the Honourable Commissioner should know as well that “ile si ni abo isimi oko” (no matter how long you sojourn elsewhere, you will one day retire home). What will posterity say about you? What defence have you got as the spokesman of the government in support of the denial of the facility for use by the Zenith Labour Party?
We are hopeful that those who specialize in systematic rigging would not find it easy at all with modern communications technology at the disposal of all electorate. It does not require you to hire a video camera to record those snatching ballot boxes or those thumb-printing at the back of their houses. A little phone camera would do that and before you know it, it is already on the internet. For us, vigilance must be perpetual. We must also be careful of who shall get our votes. We should not be so stupid to collect stipends or what is now commonly referred to as “see and buy” from politicians who we voted or supported but who turned against us soon after getting into power. For every one of the governorship candidates, let us carefully scrutinize. We are supposed to be enlightened people. The politicians, we dare say, should not continue to take the voters for a ride. You were nothing and the voters voted for you to occupy political office. You run an exclusive government with a lot of loots and people are watching. Now you come around again (not even with a sugar-coated mouth as that music maestro Demola Suzi would say), wanting to take the people into a journey into the unknown. Such people should know that the patience of our people is running out.
The voters must be allowed to freely vote for the candidate of their choice irrespective of tribe, provided they can trust such people for their words. In other words, if it is Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) that they think is most credible, competent and most capable of affecting lives positively, they should vote for him. If they consider Agboola Ajayi as the best person that could turn their lives positively, they should go ahead and vote for him. Furthermore, if they think that of a truth, Governor Akeredolu has transformed their lives these last 4 years, they should go ahead and vote for him. What is preposterous is collecting 3 cups of rice and #2000 to vote. If they do that, then they have sold out their birth rights. We encourage you to vote according to your conscience and once you have done that, defend it with all your might and power. And for those who cry more than the bereaved, the flag off will come and go and Akure or no Akure, it is only certain that a winner must emerge as there will be losers. Even as we can only hope that this time, the election will truly lead to development of our state at the expense of deceptive political hangers on, I will like to end this piece with a Jewish proverb which every despot must fondly remember: When the tally of bricks is too heavy, then comes Moses!