2019: Of Political Travellers in Ogun State

Ibikunle Amosun

Soyombo Opeyemi

Traveller, you must set forth
At dawn
I promise marvels of the holy hour…

The 2019 general elections hold in Nigeria in about a month from now.

Senator Ibikunle Amosun is the incumbent governor of Ogun State. He hails from Ogun Central Senatorial District. He defeated the senator representing the district in the 2003 general elections to emerge a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He triumphed over the candidate of the then governor to emerge the state’s helmsman in 2011. He repeated the feat in 2015 to serve the good people of Ogun State for another term of four years.

From the foregoing, it is evident Amosun is used to victory (He’s still believed by many to have won the 2007 governorship poll, even though he accepted the judicial verdict). However, the reading public should not misunderstand this. Power comes from God. But our God is an embodiment of hard work. You cannot sleep in your house, expecting God to deliver victory to you in a contest in which you’re expected to play a huge part.

And one must mention in parenthesis that losing an election does not necessarily imply you didn’t work hard – a free and fair contest is what is paramount.

Wrote Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, in his memoir, You Must Set Forth At Dawn, “Early morning departure was my favourite hour, you caught the road’s exhalation as it rose from the tarmac with the sun’s heated awakening, piercing the early mists in a proprietorial mood – you owned the road and all that lay revealed along its rises and plunges, its contortions and its arrow directness on both flatland and crests that sometimes appeared aimed at a horizon shimmering at the very edge of the world. Even the rarest encounter with another vehicle in that sublime hour was an act of generous concession on your part – it is only your early morning kindness that permitted it to trundle past, another wraith from the bowels of the earth.”

That was the vintage pen of Soyinka pronouncing – figuratively – that early risers among travellers owned the road to success – a productive stretch of the imagination!
While Amosun has heeded the counsel issued by the literary icon, his opponents in the February 16, 2019 elections are still in bed!

Amosun has hit the road. Like a traveller, he has set forth at dawn. Despite his intimidating political status, which gives him a clear-cut head start among the contenders for Ogun Central Senate seat, he has refused to take the voters for granted.

Apart from a few posters around Abeokuta metropolis, which the majority of voters take no notice of, it is difficult to know if Amosun has contenders for the 2019 Ogun Central senatorial seat beyond the state capital.
Where are the competitors? Please, try if you can easily recall any name from the other parties. But you have them as candidates of political parties on the INEC list. They will certainly contest the forthcoming polls.

They are still in bed – yes, majority of opposition candidates vying for elective offices in Ogun State – are in deep sleep, even after dawn. What manner of travellers are they? Worse, many of them have no political track record to lean on, even if that were sufficient. What then is their game plan?

Some opposition elements now resort to campaign of calumny against Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who fought insecurity to a standstill in Ogun State. They weave tendentious narratives around the persona of the governor in order to bring him into disrepute.

Imagine the oral diarrhoea from some procured activists:
“The Governor of Ogun State, who swore to protect lives and property in Ogun State, should not be seen to directly and indirectly be in the forefront of heating up the polity of his state for any reason whatsoever…”
“However, we are very worried and disturbed that Governor Ibikunle Amosun, by his utterances, has become a threat to the peace and tranquillity of Ogun State, because he has been quoted copiously in the media as boasting that all hell will be let loose in Ogun State, except his anointed candidate for the governorship of Ogun State, by fire and force, becomes the person he will hand over power to in 2019.”

Where exactly did Amosun issue those threats?
“… quoted copiously in the media…” Can these emergency activists name a single medium where the governor issued a threat? Of course, they won’t find any because such never existed in the first place.
A choreographed mendacious propaganda – such as Save Our Souls Letter to President Buhari by some sponsored activists – seeking to equate Amosun’s rejection or indignation against injustice as tantamount to “heating up the polity” can only mislead the unwary. It will not guarantee them victory either in the February 16 or March 2, 2019 elections. To quote the inimitable Wole Soyinka once more in his seminal work against injustice, tyranny and tyrants, The Man Died:

The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny. In any people that submit willingly to the ‘daily humiliation of fear’, the man dies.

These better-life politicians, whose preoccupations are mischief, mudslinging, propaganda, hitting below the belt and scoring an offside goal, will begin their campaigns one or two weeks to the election. They will invite press men to accompany them to one or two local councils, cities and towns. They will not go to the rural areas like Amosun. They won’t do ward-to-ward campaign like Amosun; village-to-village and house-to-house.

Yes, you could see the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, in a cloud of dust, sweating it out in the scorching sun in out-of-the-way villages. Lo and behold, not even a single poster of these late-riser opposition politicians could be sighted anywhere in the remote villages. They are fair-weather politicians, the city political class who have no regard for the commoners, hence cannot identify with their low estate.

Governor Amosun spoke heart-to-heart with voters at the grassroots. You could feel the bond, the aura of ‘this is our own man’, a sense of shared humanity perfumed the atmosphere in those distant wards, which the city politicians and late risers among the political travellers would not even know exist.

When the results are announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and hard work is rewarded, these slumberers and late risers will be the first to cry foul. They will claim electoral manipulation in favour of the incumbent governor. They will raise all manner of dust. They may even go as far as filing needless petitions at the Election Tribunal in the hope of winning through the back door – but our courts know their antics.

Winning election is not all for a political party or politicians that know their onions. There’s need for political education and sensitisation.

“Your PVC is your weapon of liberation. Do not be a servant in your own land. Do not sell your PVC under any guise. Some politicians will come and tell you to exchange them for money. They want to deceive you; put you and your children in bondage. Do not mortgage your future. Go to the polling booths and vote candidates that are consumed with passion for your welfare. Vote performance. Reward hard work.”

That was the kernel of the message of Amosun from one point to the other during the electioneering and it resonated with the electorate as they dispersed from one ward to the other appreciating better times ahead with Muhammadu Buhari as President, the man with a tall cap – an early riser – representing them at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly and his ilk taking over as the Governor of Ogun State and Members of the House of Assembly in the next political dispensation.

––Soyombo, a media practitioner, sent this piece via densityshow@yahoo.com