Nigeria is out of recession! So, let all men of goodwill clink glasses in celebration of the valuable worth of a country that will neither wear out nor rust out!
Having said that, to say that all is well with party politics in Nigeria, especially, as 2019 draws nearer, depends on which side the observer is looking at. Like Siamese twins, things are scarily looking up for the ruling party and the opposition is closer to fire than it is to frying pan. The political lion and the economic bear are strategizing; even the wolves and the hyenas of our ethno-religious belongingness are waiting in the wings, desperately hoping to devour whatever remains of the country called Nigeria. It is therefore time Nigeria’s David woke up to the responsibility of killing the uncircumcised Philistines before they kill Nigeria dead. In my considered opinion, such an important task must start from the State of Osun!
With only one year to the end of the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration as governor of Osun, it’s expected that the party in government at the national level would have examined all its cards in the overall interest of retaining power in the state. The challenge of power-shift, the sudden death of ‘Serubawon’ and the replacement of Adeleke with Adeleke, among others, have further underscored what needs to be done to rescue its Israel from losing focus of what lies ahead.
From the look of things, the configurations are somehow unsynchronized and, if the permutations are not carefully handled, they may lead to conflagrations of unimaginable proportions which one can only pray would not consume the party. For all I care, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) brought us to this sorry pass and it shouldn’t be allowed to take us for collective amnesiacs. Essentially therefore, genuine plans by All Progressives Congress (APC) to remain in Aso Rock in 2019 should start with retaining Osun for the party in 2018.
On the road to this all-important victory, there may be some thistles and thorns which must be clinically uprooted before things get out of hand. For the constraint of time and space, I will restrict myself to only a few. First is the issue of salary, pensions and allowances of its workers which must be proactively resolved in order to prevent the ravenous, drained and docile opposition from wickedly feasting on a national stench to rubbish Aregbesola’s achievements. Apart from the fact that more than 20 other states in the country are also caught in this web, the recently-held “peaceful protest” by retired military pensioners in Abuja to, among other things, demand “the payment of balance of gratuities of contributory pensions” and University College Hospital(UCH) doctors’14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government, also on salary- and allowances-related matters are indications that the challenges being faced by Nigeria’s workers are not limited to Osun. Also in this group are Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU).
To be fair to him, Aregbesola saw this coming as far back as 2013 and immediately took measures to confront it through salary apportionment. But, rather than appreciate his foresight, the governor was needlessly vilified and unnecessarily pilloried. As Nigerians can now see, the road once forthrightly travelled by Osun is what is now giving some states like Kogi, Ondo, even Bayelsa States a lot of hassles.
Secondly, APC must avoid becoming victims of its own wrong choice. All over the world, cutting the nose to spite the face as a way of resolving differences has never been found to work wonders. Those who doubt this assertion had better ask members of the now-expired President Goodluck Jonathan’s party how it feels to be on the other side of the rung. Indeed, this is where those insisting that Aregbesola should “play aloof” in the succession battle but are in turn hobnobbing with men of questionable characters who spend more time in the courtrooms, attending to one allegation of impropriety or the other than they do to their constitutionally-assigned responsibilities, also owe Nigerians some explanations!
At a time like this, regular meetings and wide consultations aimed at gestating and fertilizing ideas on how to move the party forward cannot be said to be unimportant. Impliedly, if the government has not been blowing its trumpet well enough, it is time the Esther in APC who first saw herself as a mere housewife was woken up by its Mordecai. And this is where the involvement of committed foot soldiers, especially, the youth, becomes relevant.
Thirdly, complacency at a time like this may be dangerous, both for the ruling party and Nigerians. The realness or otherwise of the claim that empowerment has always been a scarce commodity within the progressive camp must also be critically looked into in the interest of the party. In my considered opinion, positive steps must be taken to correct wrong or negative impressions so as not to confer an undue advantage on the opposition.
But all about Osun is not a tale of woes. As a matter of fact, the state has gone too far to look back and credit must be given to the forward-looking governor. Within a very short period of seven years, Aregbesola has given a new hope of a state gloriously conquering, not miserably failing! For example, while the state continues to pay sufficient attention to the education of its students, every teacher on its payroll now knows that he or she has the potentials to rise up to the topmost level of his or her career. Through activities of the Osun Broilers Outgrowers Programme Scheme, aka OBOPS, the state has not only “placed Osun second to Oyo State in broiler production in the country”, “about 1,000 farmers and over-3,000 food vendors” have also been gainfully employed. In Osun, cases of Poliomyelitis are now consigned to the past due to the administration’s effective and extensive immunization initiatives. It will also interest readers to know that the state came 9th in the just concluded National Youth Games with 9 Gold (including 3 Non-Scoring), 5 Silver and 4 Bronze medals, the first of its kind in a long while.
All said, who is a better politician: one who builds bridges across the Niger through provision for, and investment in his people or one who merely constructs bridges across the stomach?
May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, backfire!
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (firstname.lastname@example.org)