The Story Of Osun Election: And The Lessons For The Future – By Muiz Banire
“The people must be integrated into the party while the party must be in incorporated into
Today’s event is a great story in many respects. One, it is a confirmation of our aspiration to be recorded in world records as part of civilised nations on one hand, but on the other, it is an opportunity to reflect on the unenthusiastic state of our polity being strangulated by certain retrogressive forces whose antecedents in statesmanship are questionable and political consciousness brazenly criminal. However, it must be realised that today’s occasion is not a jamboree to treat ourselves to fulsome praises and self-indulgent congratulatory back-patting adverts but a window to do a clinical diagnosis of our political malaise and a prognosis into our uncertain future as a nation.
We would all recall that a governorship election held in the State of Osun on the 9th day of August, 2014 in which the honouree of today’s event, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, emerged the winner. It is not the victory of this great son of Oodua that made the election spectacular but rather the war-like circumstances in which the election was held during which the psyche of the nation and the progressive forces in the State of Osun were subjected to physical and mental siege.
Prior to the election and few weeks therefrom, the governorship election in Ekiti State was held in which our party, All Progressives Congress lost in questionable circumstances. It was a great setback but it was also a revelation of what might befall us in Osun if greater care was not taken despite the popularity of our candidate. A Yoruba adage says: iku to pa ojugba eni, owe lo pa fun ni – which means, the demise of a neighbour is a clear signal of one’s mortality. We took a cue from that as we knew that the setting in Ekiti was a reinvention of the Hobbessian state of nature in which life was being made nasty, brutish and might at any time be cut short.
The catholic acceptability of the personality of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola dates back to his eventful declaration to contest the governorship seat in the then Osun State on the 16th day of April, 2005 where multitudes trooped out to welcome him around Station Road in Osogbo, the capital of the State. This has been a regular feature at every occasion from the time when this monumental icon stepped into public view up in the State of Osun up to the election time in 2007 and thereafter till this moment.
Incidentally, this state of events has been a terror to the Peoples Democratic Party government and its rogue clan of violent stooges in Osun who have vowed to recapture the State by all means possible. The plan was to deploy the entire machinery of state terror whereof seventy thousand armed soldiers, policemen, officers of the State Security Service and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were to provide shield for a horde of Niger/Delta snipers who had been imported into the State two weeks to the election and local PDP thugs in the bid to unleash massive brutality on leaders and members of All Progressives Congress and the general electorate.
Thus, in the façade of providing security for the electoral process, the Federal Government at the instance of Peoples Democratic Party mobilised thousands of security officers into the State few weeks to the election. Most of them were fully masked, all armed to the teeth and displayed poetic love for violence as they shot sporadically into the air to scare the people of the State. The machinery of federalism as preserved by the Constitution had been wiped off as the only thing the Federal Government had not done was mere paper declaration of state of emergency in Osun. The armed men roamed the streets of the various towns in lorry loads in scary appearances while the candidate of PDP, Iyiola Omisore, did not spare a moment to let the world know that he was out to capture the State for keeps.
However, whenever these agents and merchants of death shot into the air whether in broad daylight or in the dark recesses of the night, the determined people of Osun hailed the bullet rains with the slogan of “APC – Change” or “Aregbesola for second term” which tended to infuriate the armed terrorists more. Iyiola Omisore’s campaign venues were utterly deserted save for a few who wanted to collect his money and later vote their conscience. On the other hand were the tumultuous crowds that attended Aregbesola’s rallies in different towns, villages and communities. This continued to send jitters down the spine of the PDP goons who rather tried to mask their unpopularity by what they termed house-to-house campaign and tried to perfect their rigging machinery by purchasing voters’ cards of innocent registered voters in order to decimate the huge number of supporters and sympathisers of Ogbeni. All these failed to achieve the desired goal.
All these intimidating credentials of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola left the PDP elements with no other option than to bolster their resolve to further militarise the electoral process more. Despite the fact that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has no power under the Constitution to deploy the military for electoral process and notwithstanding the pendency of the suits filed by APC at the Federal High Court, Osogbo, challenging the unconstitutional deployment of soldiers for electoral purpose, the PDP government at the centre, not enamoured with the glorious dictates of the rule of law, proceeded in a determined manner to use the same formulae it deployed to win Ekiti few weeks back.