By Olumide Lawal
Senator Felix Kolawole Ogunwale a.k.a Jumokol, who represented Osun Central District (2003-2007) at the National Assembly, is ever relevant and outstanding in Osun Politics, come rain or shine. He remains a reference point, as far as political philantrophy and dispensation of favour are concerned. All these, he amply demonstrated before he was elected a Senator and thereafter. He commands cult-like followership, those who genuinely give him unalloyed loyalty. He in turn gives them recognition, appreciation and reckoning. He visits his supporters in the remotest parts of their villages to identify with their yearnings and aspirations.
Jumokol’s sojourn in politics, which dates back to late 80s and blossomed in 1998, when he turned out to be the financial soul of PDP and its alter ego, when the people of Osun and South-West would not have anything to do with no other party, but the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD). He, along with a few juggernauts, built the party from obscurity to stardom. The rest, as they say, is history. Chief Felix Ogunwale has seen it all. He has experienced his own political “baptism of fire” from friends and foes. He endured them with sagacity.
But for sometimes now, a lot of people who believe in Senator Kola Ogunawale’s school of politics and ideology are asking pertinent questions: where is the colourful Senator Ogunwale and what is he up to in the political firmament of Osun State? Why the long silence? Is he on political sabbatical? These are questions agitating the minds of his vast admirers and to which Jumokol owe his admirers an explanation, before mischief-makers take over the day.
Flowing from above, it dawned on this writer, of his own volition, to research into Senator Ogunwale’s amiable political past and what the future holds in stock for him as a man, who in the past, played the eminent role of a kingmaker. He put many people in appointive and elective offices, even where some of them have turned out to be ingrates and turncoats. But the Iragbiji-born politician and sure-footed team player has remained focused, consistent and pragmatic in advancing his political career. He is always a man of his own-independent minded.
He enjoys serving his people, though he is misunderstood by a few, perhaps, because he does not suffer fools gladly. Between 2003 and 2007, that he was in the Senate, as Chairman, Committee on Industry, he impacted tremendously on the lives of the people of Osun Central District, so much, that the then Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, gave him a letter of commendation as the Best Senator from Osun State. Perhaps, this informed the reason, the initial military administration in Osun State, at its formative stage, co-opted him into a Committee on Economic and Industrial Development of Osun, an assignment he performed admirably.
Rather than diminish, Senator Ogunwale’s grassroots appeals continue to gain ascendancy. It is an unassailable fact, that in 2010, during the final funeral ceremony of his illustrious father, Papa Ogunwale, of blessed memory, Chief Ogunwale, effortlessly brought to his ancestral root, Iragbiji, over 70 first class traditional rulers, led by Iku Baba Yeye, His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr.) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, the Alaafin of Oyo, Kaabiyesi ooo! Jumokol created a wave and a record that is still the talk of the town up till today. He asserted that any day, anytime, he is well loved by the low and the mighty. That occasion, just as it was during the installation of his mother, Mama Sinatu Ogunwale, as the Iya Adinni of Osun State, proved to be payback time for the kind gestures Senator Kola Ogunwale has extended to the people over time.
Senator Ogunwale is a proverbial political cat with more than nine lives. A long distance runner, who now should tell his teeming admirers, what he is doing in “political hiding”, for some time now, when he needs to freshen up and brighten up the political atmosphere in Osun State. As a politician who will never shy away from any contest, as demonstrated in his onslaught with Prince Oyinlola in 2006. It is time he comes out of his cocoon and offer Osun politics the benefits of his immense wealth of experience in whatever category he deems fit. He is eminently qualified to hold his own among his contemporaries, as he is seen as a politician who abhors cheating, but is ever available to prove his mettle, without depending on god-fatherism to achieve his goals.
Now that he is a ranking member of APC, and did not contest the outcome of a Senatorial primary conducted at the Government House without informing him, believing that doing such would amount to an affront to his party, the APC, what is next on his political agenda? What should his teeming supporters and large followership expect from him as days are turning into months, and months into years in the politics of Osun State? He should re-strategise, with a view to keeping in one fold, the formidable political structure he painstakingly built since 2003 and probably evolve to try his hands on the plough in whatever way to continue his political relevance and service to the people of Osun Central District, nay Osun State, with absolute commitment. It will be refreshingly edifying as a homegrown democrat and indigenous politician to assert himself as such without further delay.
There is no doubt, that there would be political re-alignment and re-positioning in Osun before 2018 and 2019. Where does this stand Chief Ogunwale? You are tested and trusted, accountable and dependable. Give your supporters a direction and sense of belonging, to avert the drift the state is into at present. He who have ears, let him or her listen. The electorate who are now the game changers in the political arena will not desert him at his hour of needs, when the time comes, and if indeed, he is desirous of staking a shot at any elective office.
•Lawal, a political analyst, writes from Ede, Osun State.