Revisiting Aregbesola’s place in Osun history
by Kola Olabisi backup-author
3 years ago
UNARGUABLY, State of Osun Governor Rauf Aregbesola has not only raised the bar of requirements for governorship seat in the state, it is also to his credit that the progressive seed that has germinated tremendously in the state today is made possible through his relentless efforts to retrieve his stolen mandate from the reactionary party for three and a half years. Were the arrow or symbol of the struggle to bail out Osun from the shackles of the oppression of the reactionary a chicken-hearted type, Aregbesola, popularly known as Oranmiyan would have been frustrated out of the struggle and this would have translated into continuous glaring oppression of the people of the state.
During the three and a half years that the struggle lasted, Aregbesola demonstrated unequaled and unparalleled quality of leadership which is rear to come by among conventional politicians of our time. The period of the struggle was the time the whole state was turned into a prayer arena by the three common faiths, Islam, Christianity and traditional religions, at the time. It could be recalled that while the Peoples Democratic Party’s leadership and its disciples opted for outright display of violence with the help of some disgruntled security officers, what was in vogue then among the Alliance for Democracy (AD,) which later metamorphosed to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), later Action Congress (AC) and now All Progressives Congress (APC) through the alliance made possible by the AC, CPC, APGA, All Nigeria Peoples Party and some disenchanted members of the ruling PDP then.
Though politics to some people which is a vocation and professional to others could be said to be a fierce contest for positions, opportunities and authority, experience has shown that like any other professions, some people are found out to be more gifted in the art of politics than other people. Among the accomplished ones that wine, dine, think and dream politics perpetually is Aregbesola. The protracted struggle to reclaim his three and a half year stolen mandate from Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola was enough reason to mark him down as a political sprinter who does not become tired no matter what his hindrance might be.
Experience has shown that rabid ambition needlessly unsettles clean water in politics. To say that ambition to succeed Governor Aregbesola is not causing squabbles in Osun APC today is an understatement. No matter how minute the section of the APC who thinks they can do things in their own way may be in Osun today, it is important for the larger section of the party to find a way to bring them into the larger house. Whatever affects the part will definitely impact the whole. Afterall, politics is about meetings, agreement, disagreement and conflict resolution. It shouldn’t be too difficult to settle an intra-political rift in order not to go into an inter-political ‘war’ with a divided army.
My study of Aregbesola for over one decade has shown that he possesses a rear attribute of being hardened whenever there is crisis of any nature; he thrives in crisis. Thriving in crisis here is a virtue which Oranmiyan used to rattle a one-star Army General during his protracted efforts to secure his stolen mandate in 2010. Just like any mortal, Aregbesola has his own shortcomings. But these are not enough passports to deny him his rightful place in the history of the state. Time was in the history of the state shortly after Governor Bisi Akande was rigged out in the 2003 elections, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) had crumbled as none of the party’s leaders had the financial muscle to get the party going in the state.
It is on record that some leaders and members of the AD who could not continue to bear the brunt of the hardship crossed over to the ruling PDP while the principled ones were wallowing in abject poverty and squalor. The AD party secretariat then that looked like a traditional shrine could hardly be maintained and the frustrated members saw no reason why they could be meeting in their various wards; the AD then was in tatters.
Based on the then noticeable physical absence of the party faithful �in the state, the then PDP Governor Oyinlola who has since joined the APC, remarked that there were no longer AD members in the state, adding that the remnants of the party had joined the PDP while others had fled the state. It is on record that it was Aregbesola as a Works and Infrastructure commissioner in Lagos State who breathed life and confidence into the AD by spending his hard-earned money to sustain the party. It is also on record that apart from paying the rent for the traditional shrine-like AD office in Osogbo, he was paying the secretariat staff, funding local government elections and relocated the party secretariat to a more suitable place which nowy houses Osun Central APC secretariat. If not for the doggedness, resilience and open handedness of Aregbesola, the state will today be under the PDP, under which various and mind-boggling atrocities against the people of the state were made.
Provision of security of lives and property is one statutory achievement the administration of Aregbesola is noted for as residents of the state from Ifetedo to Ifedayo, Ifeodan to Ikire can sleep with their two eyes closed. Before the advent of Aregbesola, daily threat to lives and properties by political hoodlums used to be the order of the day. With the presence of anti-violence security vehicles strategically positioned in the nooks and crannies of the state, no one dear thinks or executes evil plan against his fellow human beings in today State of Osun as such mission may be a direct invitation to suicide. It can also not be easily forgotten that the source of funding of the 2007 general elections was Aregbesola. Nothing involving money could hardly be executed in the state without recourse to the Oranmiyan.
Apart from funding all the litigations concerning his stolen mandate that trudged on for three and a half years, he took over funding of all Osun political refugees in both Lagos and Osogbo for several years with spoon feeding of aspirants and candidates of AC extraction into various offices. It is a truism that Aregbesola facilitated contracts for some of the Osun political refugees who are now up in arms against him; it is also a known fact that some of his emissaries who were saddled with the responsibility of ferrying money from Lagos to Osogbo for political accomplishments, cut corner with it and built houses in choice areas of Osogbo. Others purchased expensive cars with their illicit stolen campaign proceeds. It is also important to mention it that without the political doggedness of Aregbesola, APC would not have clinched the centre.
It was the rear feat performed by Aregbesola during his re-election bid in 2014 that secured the federal government for the APC as it was combination of stubbornness and providence that worked in Aregbesola’s favourto win re-election. Based on the foregoing, as it is human to make mistakes, I am of the opinion that whatever mistake is adduced to him during the course of governing the state should be forgiven as he has never proffered to be an angel.
Aregbesola’s identified sins before his traducers is his hurriedness to develop the state as no sane mind will say that Oranmiyan has not transformed the state than the way he met it. Taking the totality of the achievements of Aregbesola into consideration before he came into office to date, it will not be an understatement to submit that whether in or out of office, Aregbesola will remain the quintessential leader of the APC in Osun and he should be accorded such regard required of the status for the smooth operations of the party.
Olabisi, former Managing Editor of Osun Defender newspaper, is a member of the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation Interim Management Committee.