For Aregbesola at 60
He has never achieved anything without struggle. As commissioner for works, I didn’t know more of him until he declared intention to run for the governorship position of Osun. Not many, including this writer, believed he was going to make it. Many people willingly joined the struggle. Anyday, anytime, Aregbesola is a crowd-puller. Only few people can match the followership he commands on the streets.
On many occasions, he cheated death. It was a tortuous journey. From the pre-election till when his mandate was restored, it was one day, one trouble. He won the election but the incumbent was declared. And the legal tussle began. The first tribunal was compromised. Many people laid their lives unnecessarily. Why? They were tired of the locusts which had almost sucked the state’s treasury dry.
And finally, on November 26th, 2010, the Appeal Court, sitting in Ibadan, affirmed the judgement of the reconstituted tribunal, by declaring Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the duly elected governor. That day, the jubilation was indescribable. Many major towns were thrown into ectastic celebration. He couldn’t be sworn in that day. Before the second day, it was evident that the will of the majority eventually prevailed.
From the beginning, it was evident that he was prepared for governance. Within a twinkle of an eye, he left no one in doubt as to his capacity to effect changes in the shortest time. His many O-projects many of which have become models for many states have earned him recognition and awards locally and internationally.
His many projects were unusual. The few condemn him while the majority commend him; and that is why he is always happy to associate with the common man on the street. He is not known for his flamboyance. It didn’t take many residents of the once-upon-a-time state of the living spring to know that their prayers have been answered. The more than 7 years before Oranmiyan came on board was akin to the years of the men in khaki.
Like his first election and the legal tussles that followed, the re-election bid was also fought with everything. He contested against the candidate of a party that was bent on entrenching its hold, no matter what it would have cost. The people were determined like the first term. They believed that the O-General needed another term to solidify his achievements. At last, despite threat from far and near, he was announced as the winner.
Though an engineer by training, the way he has handled the economy of the state calls for applause. Many of us are even baffled how he has been able to achieve what other states, especially the financially-buoyant ones have been unable to do. His would be successor is lucky. All what he or she needs is to device means of sustenance through prudent management of resources and fund generation internally.
Despite all his good intentions, there are still opposition in the state. A compromised section of the media has made itself available, as a tool in the hands of the never-see-well. He was alleged of attempting to islamise Osun. He was criticised for merging schools. Every good thing he does is not good in the hands of some minority few. It is not that the opposition doesn’t see that all his projects are unusual, they are angry because he has spoilt business for them. You don’t expect a baby to be beaten and not cry. Every time, he triumphs. It seems he has the magic wand to transform misfortune to fortune.
The worst of it all is that those who had undeservingly benefited immensely from his generosity are part of the enemies within. They are terrible students of history. They have forgotten that everything about the husband of Sherifat is tied to struggle. There is nothing they have not said about him. Some even said he is an Ajele (District Officer) after over 10 years in the politics of Osun. That is incredible.
But why has he always triumphed against his adversaries? For an upcoming politician, Aregbesola is an example of who to follow. Just like he is loyal to his mentor and pathfinder -Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, he rewards loyalty. Those who are closer to him say that he is restless; that he likes working in the dead of the night, when his colleagues are snoring. He has demyified governance by always covering many kilometers with his people. He once said that he doesn’t look like a governor because he is ‘haggard’.
However, all these achievement can be rubbished in a matter of weeks if he is unable to present a successor. As the first governor of the state to use two-term and with a lot of credit to him, he needs a man who can think like him; who can continue from where he would stop. That is my fear. And it is not even a fear. I cannot only but pray God to assist, guide and guard him in his choice of the best man for the job. Whether you like it or not, no governor or politician wouldn’t be concerned about who succeeds him.
Recently, an attempt to blackmail him ahead the 2018 governorship election hit the rock and Ogbeni appeared stronger. It was a business in disguise and those who planned the inhuman plot are regretting it.
Just like Oranmiyan, he is an intrepid politician. He is a veteran of many successful battles and wars. Some have even referred to him as the heir apparent to the throne of Bourdillon. This, he has displayed through his rare support for any cause he believes. Some even said he has one of the few persons who have the ears of the “Lion of Bourdillon’.
As people besiege Osogbo, the State of Osun capital to celebrate the diamond anniversary of Ogbeni on earth, I wish my mentor many more glorious years on earth.
Wa inna jundana laomul’ galibun.
Akinola can be reached via email@example.com.