Editor's note: Bamidele Arogundade, a political commentator, writes on the just concluded Osun governorship election, stating that setback the All Progressives Congress (APC) faced in the election, must be put squarely blamed on the actions of the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Ede, the sleepy town along the Osun river in Osun state is the setting of the Ola Rotimi classic, The gods are not to blame. The plot of this tragic play, bears some relationship with the political situation in Osun state, where the incumbent ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), contrary to general expectations, could not wrap up its hold on power in the state at the first time of asking. It seems like the APC will eventually clinch the governorship election in the rerun, but the conversations must go deeper than the binary win-lose narrative.
The Osun election is becoming a question that has been on many people’s minds. How can the PDP, with all of the challenges it has had since 2015 and with little or no structure in the South-west, achieve such a bold, ambitious and telling hit to the reputation of the APC, in what is supposed to be the stronghold of the Mandate Group, a political group within the APC, seeking to among others, install the next governor of Lagos state.
As a south-westerner, who is a keen admirer of the APC, I have been running an inquest into this situation and I find a somber correlation between themes in the Ola Rotimi classic, set in the same state where the drums of electoral war are currently being sounded. No matter how we look at it, the rerun in Osun state has taken some sting off the momentum of the APC in its quest to consolidate its hold on the presidency and the 3 other South-west states that will take to the polls in 2019 to elect new governors. This is a setback that must not be understated, and the blame must be put squarely on the shoulders of the self-proclaimed leader of the Mandate Group, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Fate and Determinism
Like King Odewale, the protagonist of The gods are not to blame, who emerged from leading the people of Kutuje to conquer their enemies, Ogbeni Aregbesola emerged from the ashes of an AD pummeling in the South-west by the PDP in 2003, to wrest power. With Osun established in the PDP’s South-west kitty, Aregbesola fought an arduous battle which took him to the courts to claim his mandate, unseating Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who was already in his second term.
Aregbesola became the poster-boy for the resilience of the ACN (a party the AD later metamorphosed into), in its bid to reclaim the entire South-west. Fate played its part, so also did hard work and strategy on the part of Jagaban Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Like King Odewale of The gods are not to blame, a new leader, had emerged. Well, so it seemed. This was meant to be and Ogbeni was in the right place at the right time.
Aregebsola took up an identity as the soon-to-emerge leader of the APC in the South-west, focusing largely on building a political base, perhaps to the detriment of his electoral mandate to deliver good governance to the people of the state. The jury is still out on his performance. While some people feel like he has done quite a bit in soft and hard infrastructure development, there is widespread consensus on the damage his non-payment of workers’ salaries has done to the economic lives of the people of Osun state. Here is a politician who failed to focus on the primary reason he was mandated, rather throwing himself around as heir-apparent to the APC South-west throne. He probably assumed too much of himself and has been humbled by a PDP that is barely standing on two legs, in a contest where he had significant home advantage.
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The APC at the national, South-west and Osun levels need to be very circumspect and cautious about celebrating what looks like a victory in the Osun state rerun. Whilst the party may have won the battle, the PDP has been given a clear indication that it can match the APC in the South-west when untested candidates or their stooges are put on a ballot in the eventual war in 2019. The APC has to particularly be careful in Lagos atate, where a Jimi Agbaje must be rubbing his palms in anticipation of more than a fighting chance he must know he has against a Jide Sanwo-Olu, if the APC settles for that candidate. This can domino to other states across the South-west and across Nigeria, especially in the light of some significant defections from the APC to the PDP.
A famous thought from Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to blame reads: “Sickness is like rain. Does the rain fall on one roof alone? No. Does it fall on one body and not on another? No. Whoever the rain sees, on him it rains. Does it not? It is the same with sickness.” If it so happens that the APC struggles to consolidate its grip on power across the South-west and the country, the gods must not be blamed. In Osun, they served the spectacular, but this was met with the ordinary.
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