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WESTERN VOICES: HOW NOT TO PLAY POLITICS

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By Abraham Olaopa

 

In May 2013 when a US state under

the control of the Republican Party was

hit by deadly tornado, politics of division

and exclusiveness was shoved aside by

the stakeholders to bring succor to the

people who had been bereaved, injured

and rendered homeless. Democratic Party

President Barack Obama who was far away

from the scene promptly ordered massive

federal support.

A president who is often embroiled in a

struggle with the Republicans over their

disdain for expansive federal agencies,

Obama nevertheless went to Oklahoma

State under the Republican Governor Mary

Fallin, who only the year before described

the Obama administration as pursuing

“failed policies”.

She declared: “In Oklahoma, we could

teach Washington a lesson or two about

fiscal policy and the size and the proper role

of government,” adding that the Democrats

were having a record of “dysfunction and

outrageous spending”.

But that was all politics, unfit for realistic

governance in the face of a situation that required

the two politicians to govern and not

to play politics at the expense of the welfare

of the people. To be sure, they did eventually

come together as two statesmen elected

not to massage their egos but to submit

themselves to service to the people.

That I think was the point the ex-governor

of Abia State Dr Orji Uzor Kalu was

making the other day when he called on

Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State in

Ibadan. Noticing the monumental progress

that Oyo State has witnessed under the

administration of Ajimobi since his advent

in 2011, Orji Kalu warned the politicians

in the area not to allow divisive politics to

rubbish these great advances.

He “called on politicians across various

political divide in Oyo State to support

Governor Abiola Ajimobi in order to

promote good governance and leadership

in the State.” He commended Governor

Ajimobi’s administration for its developmental

strides across the state adding, “I

am convinced that you (Ajimobi) have done

very well and I give a very high mark. I have

been in Ibadan before and I can see the

development that has taken place. We have

seen a lot of change… If Governor Ajimobi

wins (again) in future election, he should be

supported.”

It is clear that what the ex-governor of

Abia is preaching has to do with doctrine

of how not to play barren politics with

governance. But for politics not to be barren

and make nonsense of the mandate

of the electorate, the interest of the society

must be reckoned with. So, if there is a

performing government in place as it is

with the Ajimobi administration in Kalu’s

well considered verdict, all of society in Oyo

State should rally around the Governor

in support and loyalty, regardless of party

Right-thinking Nigerians would find it

easy to align with Kalu’s position, since he

pins it on the need to “ensure the enthronement

of an egalitarian society and ensure

development” as he put it when he spoke

with Governor Ajimobi. In other words

if the citizens of Oyo state truly want a

progressive and stable environment the

ball is in their court to cooperate with their

governor and his administration. They

should seek to constitutionally perpetuate

a system that is fostering peace, progress

and development and refuse to be swayed

by ethnicity and divisive politics. Truly, Oyo

state has seen breathless changes lately.

This development is assuming a spirit that

is taking the citizens where they ought to be

rather than where the poverty and visionless

path of the past was herding them.

There is no partisanship in the delivery

of the good things of life to the people. It

would patently be unpatriotic for politicians

to confuse the people about politicking

and governance. The former is manipulative,

blinding the masses with the idea of

government as exclusive political machinery

aloof from the people. But the latter is

the collective administration of society that

seeks the welfare of the people who put the

representative government in power.

We must draw the line and let the people

know that real test for a public office holder

lies in performance not in his ability to

play politics. In Oyo state, the people are

recognizing for the first time in more that

decade that if you have a disciplined and a

forward-looking administration, it can be

trusted with the tax payers money to initiate

projects that benefit the larger society

and not a few.

Today the citizens of the state are wondering

where the founds came from for

the construction of new roads, the rehabilitation

of long abandoned water works,

the provision of brand new buses for free

transportation of workers and student, the

cleanup of Ibadan, the prompt payment of

workers and retired civil servants’ entitlements

etc. The money was always there; it

was only waiting for a good husbandman

with a disciplined profile.

*Olaopa is a retired civil servant in

Saki, Oyo State.

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