I have been eagerly awaiting a critique of my paper of last week titled ‘Osun Election: A Pathway to Nigeria’s Democratic Growth’. At last, I got one in the reaction of my friend, Segun Ayobolu on the last page of The Nation, Saturday, November 8, 2014 edition.
As usual of such reactions, (some patronage here and there before the slicing knife is applied), Segun introduced his discussions of my paper with some pejoratives and later took a descent into his opinion of what is right.
His allegation that “Banire treads treacherous and slippery analytic terrain” (whatever that means!) was supported by what he thought did not make sense in making a distinction between a party and his candidate. I am sorry to say that while that assertion might appeal to ordinary consciousness, a good understanding of politics would prove otherwise. In any political clime where a party fields an unpopular candidate, there is no assurance that the electorate would gullibly buy into the party’s craze.
A good understanding of Osun politics reveals that Aregbesola’s emergence in the first term was kindled by his political records in Lagos and the declining popularity of the government then in power whose policies the people were clamouring against.
It is to that extent that the fate of a party and his candidate may roll into each other. If the Action Congress had produced a candidate of less public approval in 2007 in Osun, the story could have been different as the people would not see any difference between the government in power and our offer of redemption.
There, I believe my friend did not get the purport of our analysis. If in 2014 we had presented in Osun a candidate not better than the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, the outcome would probably not worth the celebration of today. That emphasizes the need for our political party to be more pragmatic in its choice of candidature.
Segun queried what would have been the incentive for the electorate to vote against our party in Osun. What was the incentive for the electorate when they voted against our party and candidate in Ekiti on June 21, (not August 9 mistakenly stated by Segun in his article)? Whether the party and its candidate are gnashing their teeth now is not the issue but that our party would have been out of power just as happened in Ekiti.
The fact remains that popular programmes of Aregbesola largely retained political patronage from the masses in favour of our party and no emergency gospel of stomach infrastructure recklessly flaunted by the PDP would have dissuaded the masses.
Segun did not seem to follow the opinion poll conducted by some reputable organizations before the election which justified my assertion that the popularity of the candidate overwhelmed the rating of the party in Osun.
The politics of today requires every candidate to organize direct grassroots interaction with the people which we did on the basis of door-to-door campaigns by which we distilled our facts and got better acquainted with the feelings of the people. It was a direct practical approach we adopted and not an armchair analysis of events.
We practically learnt from the less privileged who did not seek any political appointment and are not in any vantage position to seek political appointments. They are political followers of many Aspirants at the grassroots level who felt disappointed by the pranks of such leaders and a fortiori, the party, but expressed great satisfaction about the policies of Ogbeni.
Segun’s stance that probably those who condemned the party were political appointment seekers did not come out of reality but mere conjectures. Such conjectures would not align with factual situation which we encountered during the preparations for the election.
The reference to Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Lateef Jakande is greatly misplaced. If those leaders had failed in their performances, they would not have secured the eminent and glorious positions they retained today in history.
Segun also asserted that why Aregbesola was able to contest in the first term was because the party fielded him. This contention smirks of childish historical conclusion as the process by which the party fielded Aregbesola in the first term is what we are concerned with and not merely that the party fielded him.
Is Segun suggesting that Aregbesola was imposed on the Osun people in his first term? Far from that! Aregbesola won the primaries of the party in 2007 fair and square. So many candidates came up and a credible primary election was organized in which he emerged winner.
The same process was embarked upon in 2014 even when Aregbesola was the only one who purchased nomination form on the platform of All Progressives Congress.
He was not imposed on the people and nobody hid the form from any other aspirant and neither was anybody prevented from aspiring for the job.
The party still ensured that a primary election was organized in line with the Constitution in which Aregbesola was given the party’s banner following a popular affirmation process.
The reference to Babatunde Fashola is grossly misplaced. While his emergence in 2007 has turned out to be a blessing to the people and the party, if we had made a mistake of dropping him as sought to be done by some political jobbers in 2011, we would have been in political doldrums. His performance secured him the ticket in 2011 and if he had run on the platform of another party we would have been in the opposition by now.
The fact that the party gave a credible candidate an opportunity to run in the first place does not mean that where the party is engaging in political suicide we must all remain complacent or coldly indifferent. Such attitude would only be a mark of sycophancy or political indolence. This we eschew, as we are loyalists of the party and not sycophants.
Interestingly my friend said that “it is difficult for one to scientifically determine the meaning of imposition in a situation in which, for instance, over 20 aspirants are gunning for a given position and each believes that if he does not win, it is because the winning candidate has been imposed on the party!” this is a completely naïve appraisal of our paper and the political situation in our party. One would not expect such a political conclusion from Segun since we both served in Asiwaju and Fashola’s governments. I recall that Segun was press secretary to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and he ought to know better notwithstanding that he would claim livelihood in journalism and not politics.
The allegation of imposition in our party is not as jejune in nature as Segun tried to paint same. Our understanding and definition of imposition is more scientifically determined than Segun’s understanding of it.
Where in a primary election an aspirant scored the majority votes and the loser was rather imposed by an overlord, can Segun give us a worse instance of scientific imposition than that.
As a leader of the party, I received petitions against imposition on a daily basis during any electioneering process and yet some people would prefer that we must keep quiet.
What is the usefulness of featuring candidates rejected by the members of the party only to satisfy the political gusto of some few individuals?
This menace has wiped away the needed sense of political responsibility among our office holders and now people have been comparing us negatively with our political opponents.
The need to project the party in favourable light to the people has made some us compulsory advocates of the truth.
If Segun’s analysis of what transpired between Awolowo and Akintola in the First Republic is actually correct, must we still promote the politics of self interest at all costs which Segun has pretended not see its negative impacts.
If, as argued by Segun, that development brought the crisis that engulfed the West and reverberated all over Nigeria leading to catastrophic consequences, must we now perpetuate same simply because it is not the same characters of the past that are in the saddle today and we feel obliged by sentimental considerations to the present leader of the party?
It is this kind of attitude among followers that destroys leaders and glorious institutions they profess to build but which over time they tried to pattern along their personal ego.
How on earth can Segun justify zoning and religious considerations above merit? Reference to federal character in the Constitution does not justify Segun’s argument as the approach we condemn in Lagos State does not fall in line with theories that dictate progress in plural societies.
If such balancing as argued by Segun is a necessity, then today our Party must not be celebrating Tambuwal whom we identify as a great asset and align with against the zoning arrangement.
Would Segun rather have preferred the PDP-sponsored Speaker? Why must we give fillip to negative sentiments by quoting redundant political theories rather than project the best interest of the people.
Pandering to suggestions such as made by Segun would only justify the negative aspects of our living.
We all must endeavor to save our party and even our political overlord from self-destruction as we are loyalists and not sycophants.
The Yoruba say: bi ara ile eni ba n je kokoro buruku, here huru ona ofun e ko nii je ki a sun which means where your neighbor consumes inedible insects, his disturbed breathing would later disturb your sleep.
I must reiterate my recent conclusion in another paper where I stated thus: “We must sit tight and realise that meretricious approach to politics and flirtations with dictatorship and mediocrity can never salvage our endangered future. Our lives and those of our generations unborn are too precious than to engage in a careless frolic on the compass of sheer egotism.”
By the volatile nature of this issue, I expect further discussions, dissensions and distended dissertations. If telling the truth could be regarded as treachery, then I admit otherwise as always said, truth is bitter and change is usually resisted but constant. The earlier we jettison the unfashionable practices in our party, the better for us.
Dr. Muiz Adeyemi Banire
Principal and Founding Partner,
M. A. Banire & Associates and
National Legal Adviser, APC.