Friday, December 20, 2019 8:42 am
By Soyombo Opeyemi
This exercise is not akin to the Labour Party being in disarray or playing the blame game after a crushing defeat by the Conservatives. Several opinion polls had given the Tories an edge, which was why Prime Minister Boris Johnson kept on calling out Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn to agree to an early general election in the face of paralysis in the British parliament, occasioned by Brexit. It’s possible but I was not aware of any opinion poll that suggested, even remotely, that the Labour party would lose in its traditional strongholds, where voters had never endorsed a Tory candidate as Member of Parliament. The issue was not that Labour lost but how it lost the election. So, no one saw the political earthquake, a milestone loss coming from unexpected quarters, the Corbyn-led Labour might rightly and understandably claim.
Not so with the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) in Ogun State. At the material time, the ex-governor was advised to jettison the new party, compensate its candidate and negotiate, “as no party formed on the eve of an election ever won a state-wide poll in Nigeria: at best, it would only secure a couple of legislative seats.” Despite the rational analysis presented before him, he was “so certain”, “so supremely confident” of victory for APM. Behold, the March 9 results came as predicted!
Again, after the victory of Prince Dapo Abiodun at the conclusion of the March 9 governorship poll, the former governor was urged to seek reconciliation and counselled to abandon the path of litigation as nothing would come out of it – but to no avail. Alas! Supreme Court’s ruling on December 18 came as predicted.
The Ogun APC ‘civil war’ was triggered by the choice made by one party chieftain to select all the candidates for the forty (40) elective seats in Ogun State – governor, deputy-governor, 3 senators, 9 House of Representatives members and 26 House of Assembly members! This is unprecedented in the annals of party politics in the state, not even under the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, when tendencies within the parties were not as disparate as they are today.
After the victory of Prince Dapo Abiodun, the former governor was urged to seek reconciliation and counselled to abandon the path of litigation as nothing would come out of it – but to no avail.
I likened the political crisis within the Ogun APC to a civil war – feud among members of the same family. In a fight between brothers and sisters, there will be ‘no victor, no vanquished’. We cannot talk of winners. Neither can we speak of losers.
In this connection, one must laud the magnanimity of Governor Dapo Abiodun in victory. Indeed, his stoical mildness is worthy of emulation. Throughout that turbulent period (September, 2018 to May, 2019), Prince Dapo Abiodun never for once attacked or threw darts at the then governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Such an enviable quality is uncommon in our politics; I was pleasantly surprised.
The generosity of spirit of the current governor is not just in words. Considering the enormous challenges he had to overcome to become the governor, Abiodun could have abandoned altogether the projects he inherited from the previous administration, as it is common in this part of the world. “The funds expended on such projects belong to Ogun State,” Abiodun was once quoted as saying. And this is a lesson for the political class. No governor or president spends his personal money to execute any projects on behalf of the people. Except projects that are not viable or self-serving in nature, efforts should be made to save tax-payers’ money by completing inherited projects.
The current APC government in Ogun State is on the right track. From Owode to Ota, from Ilaro to Ijebu and from Abeokuta to Odeda, visible renovation of public schools is ongoing. The Abiodun-led administration has abolished all forms of payment in all public primary and secondary schools as well as technical colleges across the state. It reduced the cost of Transfer Form to public primary and secondary schools from twenty thousand naira (N20,000) to five thousand naira (N5,000). The new administration also restored payment of running costs to the schools.
The Ogun APC ‘civil war’ was triggered by the choice made by one party chieftain to select all the candidates for elective seats in the state. This is unprecedented, not even under the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, when tendencies within the parties were not as disparate as they are today.
Just recently, the Abiodun government announced that it had taken over 28 schools established by different communities in Ogun State and absorbed 577 teachers in these schools into the civil service. But for this gesture, about 10,000 children would have been out of school as communal efforts waned and no help came from the previous administration. The current government conducted a staff audit of the state-owned schools and discovered that teachers were unfairly distributed. Some academies had more than enough teachers to the detriment of others. This asymmetry is being addressed while efforts are being made to employ additional teachers.
The resuscitation of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic is one of the major achievements of the present government. Adjudged one of the best in the country and the most financially independent in the state until it went under three years ago, following the crisis of conversion to a university, history will be kind to Abiodun for getting MAPOLY back on an even keel.
History will be kind to Abiodun for getting MAPOLY back on an even keel. It is still very early in the life of the Abiodun government and the fact that it could pull off these feats despite all the distractions is an indication that the future is full of hopes.
The pathetic case of Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE) is best illustrated by the imagery of ‘dying cattle’ in Wole Soyinka’s memoirs, You Must Set Forth At Dawn: “Usually one sees them in still photos – images of dying cattle in a land overtaken by drought, now landmarked by carcasses and skeletons, withered shrub and dry water holes. Occasionally however, the cine-camera takes charge, lingers over a calf that is reduced to nothing but skin stretched over a cage of ribs, and the final contractions of emaciated muscles. Flies settle and crawl over what remains of moisture on the prostrate beast, mostly around the eyes, ears and nostrils… At some point, you know the calf is doomed, its life slowly ebbing into the sands…”
Under the Abiodun government, the foremost teacher-training institution is gradually regaining its strength. TASCE held its very first convocation ceremony in eight years a few weeks ago!
We laud the decision of the current administration to complete and convert some of the inherited model schools to vocational and ICT centres. The example of Ogun Tech Hub at Kobape is a step in the right direction. And in one iconic gesture, the senator representing Ogun West Senatorial District, Chief Tolu Odebiyi, recently complemented the efforts of the state government by giving university scholarships to some students of Ogun West – a reminder on the need for individuals or groups to support government’s efforts in the sector.
It is good the current government has accorded workers’ welfare a priority. It pays salaries as and when due and has set up a committee on the new minimum wage.
Time and space will fail me to write on the current government’s intervention in the areas of health, road construction and rehabilitation, security of lives and property, among others. It is still very early in the life of the Abiodun government and the fact that it could pull off these feats despite all the distractions is an indication that the future is full of hopes.
Now that the battle is over, it is time for reconciliation in Ogun APC. Let’s all pronounce like Gowon did at the end of the Civil War: ‘No victor, no vanquished!’
-Soyombo, a media practitioner, sent this piece via [email protected]