Thanks goodness the organized madness which accompanied the Ondo State gubernatorial election ended last Saturday without any violence. We can now tuck away- safely- the side effects of the malady until 2016.
Ondo State Labor Party Governor Olusegun Mimiko aka Iroko was comfortably re-elected with 260, 199 votes. PDP’s Olusola Oke polled 155, 961 while Rotimi Akeredolu of ACN came distant third with 143, 512 votes.
Of the 18 local government areas of the state, Governor Mimiko’s LP won 13, ACN 3, and PDP 2.
From the word go, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) most coveted political prize was bringing back the ‘lost sheep’ as it were, into the family fold of southwest governors.
Yanking Iroko from the Labor Party (LP) was not going to be easy.
To cut down Iroko, many real and imagined unbelievable varieties of popular myths that left many of us naked with no place to hide must be devised and applied.
The ACN on behalf of its challenger, Rotimi Akeredolu with glorious hyperbole demonized the incumbent Iroko. No one was left in doubt the doom prepared for Iroko.
Politics is not conducted by rational adversaries with a sense of history. For sure, there is no limit to the absurdities in politics.
Since the dawn of politics, emotional impulse to “get the better of one’s opponent” has been the name of the game. Thus, the enmity and bitterness nursed against Iroko metamorphosed into a do or die affair.
With sardonic attacks on traditional morality, Iroko was not spared by ACN. The electorate was badgered with those familiar twins – fear and hate.
The pivotal base of ACN’s argument was the ‘seditious’ charge that Iroko is a “traitor” to Tinubu the southwest god father.
Iroko was demonized and characterized as a prodigal son who should be denied a return ticket back home.
Tinubu as the story goes had helped Iroko to recapture his lost mandate that was rigged by PDP. For that favor, the god father wanted Iroko to pay back by trading LP for ACN, taking orders from Lagos, and forever remain silent. This was what the noise was all about!
In superstitious moments, god father and his ACN cohorts tried very hard to persuade us that if Iroko was re-elected, greater impiety, looting of the state treasury, backwardness would continued unchecked.
The ACN badly needs Ondo State to fall within its column and be part of the much vaunted southwest economic and political regional integration.
If Ondo State remained outside ACN geo-political sphere, it would be the weakest link capable of halting or out rightly immobilized the “progressives” southwest states from marching forward, so we’re told.
A good product advertises itself. If the progress and development of the southwest sates were that shinning and stunning, there is no need for any god father to coerce or manipulate, or even try to buy elections. Willingly, other states would join the progressive band wagon!
This past Saturday, I was one of a three-member panelist on Sahara TV. The ebullient Sahara TV moderator Rudolf Okonkwo, fielded questions centered on hot button issues ranging from the US presidential election, the return of First Lady Patience Jonathan from “vacationing” abroad, to Ondo State gubernatorial election.
I argued that godfather Tinubu had no business to dictate or impose who would be the next governor of Ondo State.
Furthermore, I said the much touted developments in ACN controlled southwest is selective as opposed to the overall development of the state.
Example that readily comes to mind now is Lagos State where island areas such as Lekki, Ikoyi and other prime sections of the city are being developed at the expense of the mainland.
A case in point is the construction of Abesan Road. In July I was in Lagos on vacation. Traveling on Abesan Road to see a friend who lives at Jakande Estate, I noticed a sign post on the road with detailed information publicizing the contract for the construction of the road.
I asked my nephew who was driving to stop so I could read the info on the sign post. According to the info, the contract for the road was awarded as far back as July 2011- one old as at that time.
To my utter chagrin no trace of any construction activity ever took place after one year since the contract was awarded. The closest thing to construction on the road was the abandoned heap of sand and stone that could be taken for desert dunes waiting to be blown away by the wind any time.
Seventy per cent of the sand and stone materials had been washed away by rain making the road more hazardous for motorists and other commuters.
Lest we forget, the right to vote is the most important and dramatic emblem of representative democracy.
Every effort was deployed by the godfather to adulterate the electoral process and the right of Ondo State people to choose who would preside over the affairs of their state for the next four years.
As part of the political war game, it was rumored that god father spent between 13 and 33 million Naira to unseat Iroko.
The advocates of unreason from the ACN believed that there is a better chance of profitably deceiving the people of Ondo State if the electorate believed the fabrications and campaign of calumny railed at Iroko.
The restraint of foresight by the ACN lured it to false faith that frenzied monetary exploitation would dethrone the LP party in Ondo State. Now god father and party stalwarts know better.
The re-election of Iroko breathed the much needed air of portentous and conclusive wisdom of the triumph of democracy – the will of the people.
First, in a democracy ultimate power to change a government belongs to the people. If the people of Ondo State approved the performance or non-performance of their governor so be it. And needless to say, they’ll live by it for the next four years.
Second, more than anything else, the woeful defeat of ACN signifies the beginning of the end of political god fatherism in the southwest in particular and in Nigeria in general.
Third, that Ondo State people are not stupid to determine their own fate. For them the four years of Iroko was a record good enough to run on. They don’t need any god father to sell them oranges and call them apples.
Fourth, “Ondo people will not serve a foreign god.”
And so for yet another time, Iroko has weathered the storm. He’s known to have taken cliff edge political risks and survived them all.
He began his political career nearly 30 years ago. In 2002 as commissioner for health in Adebayo Adefarati’s administration, Iroko resigned and decamped to PDP and teamed with Segun Agagu PDP’s flag bearer in Ondo State.
After helping Agagu to power, once again he resigned from the administration. On the platform of little known LP, he contested the gubernatorial election with Agagu and won.
Tinubu had successfully sent three PDP governments in the southwest – Osun and Ekiti in 2010, and Oyo in 2011 – to political oblivion.
But last Saturday, Iroko saved Ondo State from being overrun by stopping the ACN juggernaut. Tinubu the god father is the huge collateral damage under the victory train of Iroko.