By Gbadebo Adeyeye
Apart from spending part of my life in Ibadan to witness the present political u-turn in the city, it has now been clearly recognized by those who have learned anything about good governance that a great democratic government must bring a driving vision to office and galvanize public support to lead its jurisdiction to a better future. Interestingly in Oyo State, this is the situation; especially when you add up PDP limitations for almost a decade of Molete based “So-sure” government when residents of Oyo State were at war with the most dangerous enemy that ever faced the region since the end on Kiriji war, and the political talents of the present governor, Abiola Ajimobi to remake Agodi into a result-driven powerhouse that Chief Obafemi Awolowo left behind in November 1959. This is the reason why Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear; to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, it can never be done”.
Without over-reliance on the traditional one-term politics of Oyo, however, I am convinced that today, majority of people in and outside the state want Governor Abiola Ajimobi to be given the opportunity of leading Nigeria’s most politically dynamic state for another four years! First, unlike those who ruled at the beginning of this democracy, Ajimobi has the capacity to make his next four years of peace, unprecedented prosperity, and true freedom. While civil servants in Ibadan experienced more hardship of runaway living cost than any city resident in Africa for eight years on the basis of poor earning and industrial strikes under PDP government, the gains of this present administration have been real, and because they have been sustained, they are far too easily taken for granted. Remember that the talents required to police the highways are always different from the talents needed to succeed as a democratic governor. That is why we must not allow just another Bozo at Agodi because after surrendering all hard-earned progress, the party will be over within 6 months. My late high school principal at Amoye Grammar School, Ikere – Ekiti, Mr A.S Asebiomo said that ‘There aren’t many people left in town that care what happens to their neighbours’. For example, think for a moment and you will realize that if the Oyo state government could divert the amount of money spent on skin lightening cream during the last two years of PDP administration at Agodi on common drainage system across Ibadan metropolis, many of those innocent citizens who died in a devastating storm on Friday August 26,2011 might still be alive today. As for peace in Ibadan, Oh Lord, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son had died in Ibadan political mayhem and ask if PDP is a government that should be left at Agodi indefinitely.
Secondly, it’s true that the primary objective of any good government is the welfare of the people under its jurisdiction. But the point is that while pursuing this objective, it’s practically impossible to please everyone in that jurisdiction. And measuring by delivered results in Oyo State right now, there is no doubt that governor Abiola Ajimobi had demonstrated unquestionable patriotism than any enthroned governor in recent years at Agodi. Confronting with bankruptcy and a government ridden into ground, the governor devoted his first term to transforming the post from a nitpicking pulpit into a platform that channels a riotous legislative body into productive governance. Whereas for many years, however, people in Oyo state, particularly in Ibadan have been tempted to believe that Agodi has become too complex to be managed by self – rule; that government by a group of terrorists from Molete is superior to government of the people by the people and for the people. But Winston Churchill said ‘ The destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, then we learn that we’re spirit , and not animals’
Thirdly, let’s set the record straight. There is no progressive way to pick the garbage in Ibadan. The great imperative is that any governor who calls himself a progressive must trade ideology for pragmatism starting from day one in office when people will demand much more earnest intentions. That is why many of us believe that the idea that Governor Ajimobi cannot afford to lead for another four years is fallacious. Those who doubt his worthiness to lead should visit Ibadan and see how he has helped the residents to recover from the devastation of Ogunpa flood. Agreed that he cannot afford to do everything, but he was able to do some important things. He sent the street hawkers back to Agbeni and integrated the NURTW overlords into the community of civilize and law abiding citizens. Today, the city streets are clean at the level undreamed of four years ago; the roads are relatively in good shape with automobile revolution in Ibadan, education is rescued from the culture of failure than it has been under PDP government; and without any doubt, the Ajimobi era will end with neighborhood reborn – from Fiditi to orita before the end of his second term. Although his record may not be perfect, nevertheless, no other government at Agodi in the past three decades can match it. It is a record of advancing not only his selfish interest but the values of political and economic freedom of all citizens in Oyo State. On this ground, Abraham Lincoln said: ‘when the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion should ever be adopted. Also, it is an old and a true maxim that a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall’. We must remember that the martyrs of history are not fools, particularly our honoured dead like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a man whom it was difficult to call a genius and even more difficult to call him less who spent his entire life time in Ibadan fighting to stop the advancement of political ‘Nazis.’ Innumerable times for example, Awo could have settled for what he had. He could have stayed as a teacher at Methodist school, Ogbe, Abeokuta where he started in January 1928 and overwhelmed by a monthly salary of two pounds. He could have stayed with his contractor uncle James and taken up construction business after helping him to execute some projects at Abeokuta including the construction of the road leading to the government reservation at Ibara. And of course, he could have remained as a stripe suite lawyer in Ibadan instead of running for office. But for all his unassuming qualities, Awo had a sense of destiny. In his mind, the Nigerian cause was to assure freedom for the free; to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders and to clear the paths of opportunities for all citizens. And for this reason, personally, if there is a fire in my house, I would first get my wife and children out; and then I would quickly run back in and get the Awo’s legacy that I own – my pen so that I can write in support of anyone out of his political royalty which is the context I expect to maintain until all Nigerians are truely free! After all, we now have the courage to say to the enemies of progress today that there is a price we will never pay; and there is a point beyond which they must never advance. And if Oyo State citizens fail to join us in support of Ajimobi, a personable, disciplined and thematic governor for second term, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose in the state did the least to prevent the happening!
*Adeyeye, Proprietor of Crown Heights College writes from Ibadan