Osun: Ogbeni’s Simplicity, Humility Will See Him Through By Dimeji Daniels

“The welfare of citizens is a supreme Law for any government.” – Rauf Aregbesola

It is not often in Nigeria that public office holders do not have an arrogant air of importance or overrated intelligence about them. The common people from among whom they rose – who sweated blood to put them in office are no longer “smart”.

They quickly make new friends, discarding in the most callous ways their old friends. In their blighted self-conceited intelligence and 419-like manner, they re-enact “boju-boju” – a game of adolescents- in the most hideous manner, approbating and reprobating in matters concerning the welfare of the masses with whom they dined before their present status.

These are the politicians who are only nice during re-election period. This is when they dance with the hitherto scorned masses, hug the “too shabbily dressed” elderly people, court the favour of the workers who have all along just been labouring but with nothing to show for it.

Described above is an average Nigerian public office holder, whether elected, selected or appointed.

What I saw in Osogbo, Osun State (or State of Osun as the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, would rather have it called) on Thursday, 31 July, 2014 at the opening of the Osun Emergency and Citizens’ Inquiry Centre and the graduation, so to say, of youth in entrepreneurial training was a sharp departure from this. As a reporter, I was at the inauguration of Aregbesola on 27 November, 2010. It was the same Aregbesola of almost four years ago that I saw only last Thursday.

The simplicity with which he carries himself is to say the least heart-lifting. There simply were no fierce-looking gun-wielding security men pushing away the people – the supposed voters – rudely. No bloated ADC or orderly breathing down his neck as he addresses and interacts with the people. You could hardly see security men around. The few around were cultured and civil. I have noticed this long before now that security men are hardly seen in the background of most public pictures of the governor.

I remember a certain one in which he was decked in school uniform in the midst of pupils. He caught the picture of a loving father in the picture, with pupils not just crowding him, but pressed against him and almost jumping on him. Knowing Nigerian politicians very well and being in the business of media, I waved it off as propaganda. Last Thursday changed that thinking as I saw Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola up close and in his element.

He felt too free to think his people would harm him. Outside his lodge in the Bola Ige House, this governor whose mode of dressing has not changed with his new status walks around chatting and laughing his heart out with the people. It was as though he was in his personal house with no security men around. I could not see that rigidity that comes from arrogance of office and self-proclaiming intelligence. He was simply the same Aregbesola.

My inquiring journalistic mind would not let me be taken in by this. I had to hear from the people. My investigation took me to pubs, restaurants, okada riders (commercial motorcyclists), market women and many more in the category of the hoi polloi. What I could deduce from them is that Aregbesola understands their language and he did not allow his position to change him from being a product of the masses, a man who rode on the sweat and sacrifice of the people to where he is today. He, according to them, has always been with them – on their side – even when he errs, as he is also human. He has never claimed superiority of intelligence. The people see him as one of them – from them and representing them.

It is this simplicity and humbling humility that would probably speak the most for Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in this Saturday’s election. It has always been what sets him apart and will definitely be a deciding factor with the voting masses of Osun on Saturday.

‘Dimeji Daniels writes from Ado in Ekiti State.

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