Osun Poll: Yes, There Will Be Another Dawn! By Banji Ojewale

During the Cuba Missile Crisis in 1962, US President John Kennedy and his kitchen cabinet were shown “incontrovertible evidence” that the US’ Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, was equipping its ally, Cuba, (America’s next door neighbor) with nuclear missiles capable of striking  Washington and other US cities.

Americans got word that their country was going to bomb the missile sites in Cuba and thereby earn Soviet retaliation and trigger a third world war. A nuclear war was at the doorstep of the world!

There were remarks that underscored the gravity of the situation. American General William Y. Smith who spent the crisis in the Pentagon, Headquarters of the US military said: “I didn’t think any of us were going to survive. It didn’t make a lot of sense to do any planning (of surviving) because it wasn’t going to work.”  And Sergei Khrushchev, a nuclear engineer and son of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev said: “There was a feeling that if there is war, then it would be inevitable death for everybody and there is no place where you can hide.”

And such was the dread of unavoidable atomic attack on Washington if the US hit Cuba that the American Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara went home one night after a crisis meeting with Kennedy wondering “If there’d be another dawn.”

Now as we all know, there was no war over the Cuba missile crisis and so there was “another dawn” just as I believe that there will, by the Grace of God, be “another dawn” in the State of Osun after the poll on Saturday despite the threat of fire here and there.

The fear is that the ballot’s outcome- either favouring All Progressives Congress’ incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola or Peoples  Democratic Party’s Iyiola Omisore, the two main gladiators- would spark an “atomic war” to leave no survival behind. This gives the false impression that the election is a close call, that the well reported performance of Aregbesola in nearly four years is not a settled matter after all and would fail at the test of the poll.

That is a poor and tragic reading of what is on the ground in the State of Osun. But you may not really slam those who think this way. They have been used to “usual” governance as against Aregbesola’s “unusual” governance. They are not given to thinking out of the box! Yet that is what Nigeria needs, what the Black Race needs to be able to catch up with the rest of humanity.

We can’t be part of a progressive human race if we don’t drastically change the way we do things. And one sure way to start is to reform man through education, while putting in radical measures to also arrest the trend of decay in health, industry, infrastructure, agriculture etc. All these sectors had witnessed a steady decline in the period before Aregbesola. If he had resorted to the pedestrian style of administration he inherited, he would not be making a difference. Nor would he be honoring the acclaimed tradition of those he claims are his heroes: Obafemi Awolowo, Kwame Nkrumah, Pandit Nehru, Kemal Attaturk.

Aregbesola has made such deep thrusts of intervention in education and youth development and empowerment as to suggest that he is thinking of creating a new man who would be fit first for the society of today and  then of tomorrow. It is when you have such a well equipped being that you can talk of investment in other spheres of society. It is the reason he has said he is feeding 300,000 pupils every school day at the cost of N3.6billion a year since 2012.

Add this physical development of the young citizen to the unprecedented step of kitting them with computer technology (Opon Imo), the magic wand of the moment which has enabled advanced societies to acquire economic, military and technological mastery over others, and you have the complete change agent that can initiate and supervise subsequent radical reforms.

That is how society can be made to crawl back to life from the death it had been sentenced to in the past. I believe that is what we have been witnessing in Osun which is giving Aregbesola the upper hand. It has been a breakneck pace of developments, which would naturally be abhorrent to slow politicians not used to speed and progress. This does not suit the style of those who prefer the resources of society to be tied only to recurrent needs. The pocket of sponsored resistance to those changes is not sufficient excuse to halt them.

The Awolowos and Nkrumahs who embarked on similar expeditions laughed last as they persevered with their reforms in the face of enormous challenges. You can’t attempt such massive reform without some murmuring from the few who benefit from the old order. Besides, you don’t reap the results of revolutionary changes after  damage brought on by decades of neglect in a day.

When Senator Uche Chuckwumerije said the other day that he was withdrawing his endorsement of Aregbesola as the governor with the best education policies, he declared he based his U-turn on views “confirmed by political opponents” of the governor. Pray what else would disempowered “political opponents” with nostalgia for the sordid past say? It is the electorate and the vast majority of those enjoying the fruit of good governance in Osun who would decide and expect more new dawns ahead.

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