By abiodun KOMOLAFE
Let me start by declaring that, no matter the difficulties encountered on Osun State's journey to greatness, I'm of the tribe of Caleb; a harbinger of good report and nothing seems capable of obliterating this perception buttressed by what is on the ground.
Having said that, let me also confess that I did not originate the title of this article. It was a product of interactions between passengers in a commercial bus, yours sincerely inclusive - on a recent trip from Ijebu-Jesa to Osogbo in Osun State. The discussions went back and forth until the discussants decided to look ahead, post-Rauf Aregbesola's tenure. By way of illustrating my stand further, may I state that I do not have any clue on the incumbent governor's preferred aspirant; not even the colour of his fabrics. In any case, it is not my call! I listened with rapt attention as names of both pretenders and genuine aspirants were mentioned one after another. And, finally on this, let it be known that I have come across diehards of the incumbent governor who are prepared to stake their lives for performance as the most important deciding factor. I have also seen some 'bread-and-butter' Gentiles and '10-for-10 kobo' hypocrites - quite a few of them - whose joy is in doubling the people's troubles.
All said, there is a great political battle ahead in Osun State and only the Strength of Israel knows how it will end! Already, posters of different shades and colours have started competing for available space in the state; with the political atmosphere gradually heating up with melancholic provocations; and tempers supposedly flaring with grandiose bellicosity. There are cracks here and there within the parties. These may eventually lead to realignments here and there. Some aggrieved politicians from the ruling party are talking in the same tone with some disgruntled members from the inveterately enervated opposition and its crude appendage of unreconciled dancers and clappers. That the battle ahead, therefore, has the capacity to be fiercely chaotic, even giftedly bitter is a forgone conclusion!
Also, with the loss of power at the centre by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015, followed by last year's demystification of Iroko in neighbouring Ondo State, and, lately, the tragedy of depletion that has struck its national membership base like a plague, it may not be out of place to say that All Progressives Congress, APC, as the only party standing well in Osun State, is not unlikely to repeat the feat of August 9, 2014. Besides, with some great jobs done by the current administration, especially, in areas like infrastructure development, road construction, agriculture revolution, investments in education, and its huge contributions to the political stability and economic growth of the state, coupled with other legacy interventions scattered here and there, the clock is likely to tick in favour of a successor committed to following in the footsteps of the incumbent governor and most invariably endorsed by him.
Well, while political permutations may not translate into outright victory for the ruling party or 'by any means necessary' for the opposition, one cannot but wonder when idle and unrewarding sobriquets like 'Home-based', 'Lagos-based', 'Osun Abroad', 'Pathogens', 'Awon Omo Online' (Yahoo Boys), and 'Atohunrinwa' (Hinterland dwellers) criminally crept into Osun State's political lexicon. Among other premises which paint a rather frightening picture of a society that is lacking in the use of its conscience are zoning (that it is the turn of a certain Senatorial District to produce the next governor); current economic realities (trying to make Osun the Guinea pig of other states); as well as primordial anxieties about current administration's capacity to complete ongoing projects before leaving office.
Henry Brooks Adams describes politics as "the systematic organization of hatreds." I have once argued that the Nigerianness of politics in which every negative thing is not only a right but also a command is one that makes one angry, sad and sympathetic. Otherwise, exploiting 'Place of Residence' as an obstacle to one's political aspiration in a state of his birth is tantamount to asking Donald Trump to uphold, even unleash the full force of his travel ban order on Nigerians living in the USA for the pointless excuse of 'dollar' flight from America to Nigeria. It is like driving the highly-technical Julius Berger out of the country on the fallacious reason of 'naira flight' from Nigeria to Germany. For instance, who is a 'home-based' politician and who are 'Atohunrinwa' ? What are the characteristics of 'Awon Omo Online' and what does it take to be deregistered from the cult of 'Osun Abroad'?
At times, Nigerians are too greedy, and, in the exact sense of the word, deficient when confronted with reality. That's why some people may never want to learn from Lagos State's story of success. Aregbesola is not an indigene of Lagos State. Yet, he was a two-term Commissioner in the Bola Tinubu-led administration. I am sure the experience he gained from that duty post has helped him in successfully steering the affairs of Osun State away from the paranoiac edifice of plunder, wastage and malady that was once its defining characteristic. Rotimi Agunsoye, also, an indigene of Osun State, once served as Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in Lagos State. As we speak, he is a member of the House of Representatives, representing Kosofe Federal Constituency of Lagos State. Dele Alake (Ekiti), James Faleke (Kogi), Idowu Ajanaku (Ondo), and Ben Akabueze (Anambra) are other examples of deeds which have continued to speak Lagos State. So, if our sons and daughters could serve and excel elsewhere, what stops them from giving their best to the state of their birth?
In Dwight Eisenhower's words, "the history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice!" At a time like this, exploiting the global glut as a fig leaf for crucifying the current administration can be likened to a divisive falsity that doesn't offer an example of faithful commitment to democracy as the best form of government. For example, Saudi Arabia, with not less than 18% of the world's petroleum reserves and world's largest exporter of petroleum, has not been spared the aftereffects of the oil price plunge that has for some time bedeviled the crude oil world. Same goes for India which imports not less than 70% of its crude oil requirement. Essentially therefore, if the 'gold' in Saudi Arabia, with about 12.9% of the world's oil supply to its credit, could rust, then, pity the 'iron' in Nigeria, which produces only about 2.7% of the world's oil supply. By extension, pity a state like Osun which has for a long time depended, largely, on allocations from the centre.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Osun State!
(KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (firstname.lastname@example.org))