Ogun: Season of Pilgrimage

Pensioners storm SSG’s office, Abeokuta

By Folorunso  Fatai Adisa

In the final month of Dhu’al-Hijjah, millions of Muslim faithful travel on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in order to tick one of the pillars of Islam. Similarly, the Christian faithful visit Jerusalem. While the aforementioned set of people, on spiritual grounds and to make significant changes in their lives, visit those holy places, the most powerful people in Ogun State have also embarked on a pilgrimage to the United Kingdom and the United States. Resultantly, at the moment, Ogun State is headless.

With placards that had inscriptions such as “Gratuities are on sales to pensioners”, “Governor Dapo Abiodun, honour your father and treat pensioners well” and “Governor Abiodun, we don’t deserve this worst humiliation” and so on, pensioners in Ogun State, on Wednesday 23, September 2021, shut down the governor’s office in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, in protest against non-payment of N68 billion, which is a 10 -year outstanding gratuity.

Earlier, on Monday 6, September 2021, residents of Sango-Ota in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state staged a protest when they lamented the deplorable state of roads in the area. Unmoved about the aforementioned cases, court closure in the state, amongst other issues that beg for urgent attention, Gov. Dapo Abiodun embarked on a fruitless political pilgrimage to the U.K. Incontrovertibly, the action of the Governor, at best exemplifies his disregard toward the people of Ogun State; and it demonstrates his non-observance toward the oath of office that he took.

According to an online news medium: “It was gathered that rather than for the Governor to hand over power to his deputy, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele as required by the Constitution, the affairs of the state are being run by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Tokunbo Talabi.

This reportedly infuriated the Deputy Governor, who rather than allowing the matter to degenerate into a crisis, decided to also take a trip to London until further notice.

“The SSG, Tokunbo Talabi who was not voted for is now the de facto governor of the state and he is now the person directing the affairs of the state.

“This is purely against the Constitution of the country and it could lead to a crisis that the Governor would not be able to control when the time comes,” said a source.

We equally gathered that the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Olakunle Oluomo, who should be third in line in the state, is attending a conference in the United States of America.

Sources said that this was the first time in the history of Ogun State, when the governor, the Deputy and the Speaker of the house of assembly would be out of the country at the same time, leaving an unelected official of the state in the person of the SSG to be doing what he likes with the affairs of the state.”

Our current saddening experience as a people, in Ogun State,  is a product of our docility. We are a group of people who revel in our misfortune and clung to hope and/or prayer (miracle). The ancient Greece phrase, “the Gods help those who help themselves” and  the Arabic phrase man jadda wa jadda) — “whoever strives shall succeed” are a testament to the importance of self-initiative and agency— the power of reasoning and questioning: Accountability. We neither ask questions nor challenge the decisions and actions of those whom we have elected into public offices. Consequently, we are being taken for granted and government officials who live on public funds make decisions that please them, even to the detriment of the state and its peoples.

Sadly, it is this lack of questioning that sometimes transforms the regular Ogun State person into the most vociferous defender of his own oppression— a case of those who are busy defending the Governor’s condemnable actions on social media. You criticise their paymasters and the cyber attack dogs ferociously charge at you. They are the proverbial prisoners who are in love with their chains. These are a part of the oppressed who would continue to defend with their last breath the same irresponsible government officials who are raping their present and mortgaging their future.

Overall, Ogun State is a state of many firsts: the cradle of journalism, the seat of enlightenment, the home of the mercurial Tai Solarin, the inimitable Olabisi Onabanjo, the fearless Fela Anikulapo and the seasoned Soyinka and so on. It is execrably dispiriting that a State who parades the aforementioned galaxy of dazzling stars could descend into a pitiable state of lackadaisical governance. Ineptitude.

*Folorunso  Fatai Adisa writes in from Abeokuta.