Gov Abiodun’s Betrayal, Triumph and Karma

Prince Dapo Abiodun

Prince Dapo Abiodun

Femi Ogbonnikan

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State is the man of the moment. Having emerged winner of the just concluded governorship election conducted on March 18, 2023, his victory celebration is still resonating among the supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State. Similar to the event of the 2019 general elections, the party witnessed open disloyalty and anti-party activities both from within the allies of the governor and his foes alike. He would eternally be thankful to God for the triumph of the truth over falsehood.

What the eye does not see, they say, the heart does not grieve about. Unsuspecting of their innate wicked disposition, Abiodun reposed trust in some of his supposed close friends to guide his flank while electioneering lasted. But for no other reason other than self-preservation motive, they stabbed him in the back, plotted his defeat, and surreptitiously entered into an alliance with the opposition for them to have a field day. In the end, the wish of the people ultimately prevailed. The Ogun State’s sophisticated electorate smelt the rat but refused to be swayed by the offer of the N10,000 worth of credit cards each used as bait to buy their conscience. Instead, they turned out in their numbers to cast their ballots for Governor Abiodun. With their unflinching support, he secured his second term re-election clean and square despite the treachery of his political adversaries who were masquerading as his friends.

Like the previous one before it, the contest was largely a three-horse race between Prince Abiodun as the incumbent governor and the candidates of the opposition PDP, Oladipupo Adebutu, and his counterpart in the ADC, Biyi Otegbeye. They both fought fiercely to wrest control of power from the APC-led government but only one party and its candidate can win at a time. Abiodun won with a narrow margin of 13, 915 votes, polling a total of 276,298 votes as against 262,383 votes scored by his main challenger, Adebutu.

And that, of course, makes it a sweet victory. Sweet victory because all the plots orchestrated by those of his trusted allies to make him lose the election eventually came to naught. But for the people of a good conscience, who in appreciation of the sterling performance of his administration in less than four years, decided to stand firm on the side of the truth by overwhelmingly voting for continuity, the story would have been different.

In all of this, what the sad experience has taught us is that when those in public office do the right things, they can be rest-assured that they will find a favoured refuge in the ordinary people whom they elected to serve.

Once again, Governor Abiodun has earned the mandate of the good people of Ogun State for his second term to nurture his transformative agenda into fruition. As a trustee of the people, it is now left for him to administer the trust with absolute prudence, probity, and public spiritedness. He would do no less because the spirit behind his inclusive governance style is to ensure transparency, openness, and accountability in managing the affairs of the State.

On Tuesday, precisely, March 21, 2023, Governor Abiodun was received with a heroic welcome when he paid a thank-you visit to his Iperu-Remo country home. For the first time, he voiced out his pains for the betrayal of his supposed allies and thanked them for playing the ostrich.

While speaking at a reception organized in his honour at the garage area of the town, Governor Abiodun attributed the victory at the governorship and state assembly polls to the Almighty God and the people for standing solidly behind him during the election. However, he could not hide his emotion about the betrayal of his friends. He had this to say: “This election has shown that man will always be a man and God will forever remain God. In the course of this election, people we thought were our friends betrayed us, people stabbed us in the back, and many disappointed us.

“I know that even those who called themselves our friends did not vote for us, but that does not matter anymore because the election has come and gone, and God has given us victory.

“But we should not be surprised because even in the Bible, our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed despite all the good things that he did. We should be grateful to God because, despite all the betrayals and all, God still granted us victory. “

Betrayal is one of the most painful things that we have all experienced at one time or the other in our lives. And as the governor has rightly noted, the saddest thing is that it never comes from your enemies but from your friends. People often say that politics is a dirty game. Politics is not dirty; it is the character of those who play politics without decency and decorum that makes it a dirty game. There are many reasons why people break trust. One thing to note is that a betrayer is not loyal to you and you probably must have given him space to hit you by trusting him. So, instead of blaming him, blame yourself and learn a lesson. If you blame him, there is a possibility of creating more mess in your mind.  Therefore, when it happens, the best way is to learn your lessons and move on. Abiodun has since moved on.

The election has been fairly and keenly contested and the winner has emerged. Now, having secured a renewed mandate, the onus is on him to rally the support of all the stakeholders to achieve the vision of his administration for the greater interest of the greatest number of the people. The starting point is to recognize the right of every citizen who has a genuine desire to render public service and aspire to lead the state and to as well accept the essence of opposition as an integral part of the tenet of a multi-party democracy like ours. It is by so doing that we can grow our democracy and increase the political space to enhance effective participation in politics. It is not only that opposition is necessary for good governance but also offers the electorate a variety of choices among contenders. Anything to the contrary is another road to dictatorship and tyranny of leadership.

There is no gainsaying that the successful outing of Governor Abiodun in this election is a hard-fought victory that is worthy of celebration. But this is not a time to gloat. There is no time for such frivolity because there is so much work to do and time is of the essence. In any case, he doesn’t believe in gloating over victory. In his usual magnanimity, he has said that he has forgiven those who knowingly and unknowingly wronged him in any way.  He has also extended an Olive branch to his co-contenders, seeking their hands in the collective effort to reposition the economy of the state.

In his address to his audience at Iperu Remo, he explicitly stated that the renewal of his mandate was an indication that people appreciated what the administration had been able to achieve in less than four years in office, adding that “it is a call to work even harder for the people”.

In essence, the mandate carries enormous responsibility which if not properly handled can turn the winner to a miserable loser. This is why he decided to extend hands of fellowship to his co-contender, knowing full-well that he alone cannot achieve the vision to build a prosperous state of our collective aspiration.

“I, therefore, use this opportunity to call on all Ogun State people irrespective of their political affiliations or religion, to rally round me to build this state because it belongs to all of us,” he declared. 

He further re-echoed the call while addressing market men and women on the sideline of the reception, thanking them for their individual and collective efforts towards his victory, adding that support and cooperation would be needed for the success of his second term in office.

In response, the Iyaloja General of Ogun State, Alhaja Yemisi Abbas, who spoke on behalf of the market men and women, appreciated God for not putting them to shame from the outcome of the election, noting that the performance of the governor in his first term led to the victory. “You worked very hard, and this victory is the reward for that hard work. I want to assure our governor that we the market men and women of this state will support you, we will stand by you to ensure that you succeed in the second term just as you succeeded in your first term,” she promised.

Now, to those who are crying blue murder, alleging manipulation of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and, therefore, trying to instigate violence and social unrest to express their grievances, please tarry a while. Those who are determined to alter the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in the state on the altar of parochial self-interest should know that Ogun State is the only place we can call our own. Violence is alien to us as a people. It is not part of our culture. It is not who we are. An election is not a war. Yes, no one goes into an election to lose. But the truth is that two persons cannot govern at a time. If the desire to serve the people is the primary reason for contesting an election and the people did not to vote for you, don’t pull the roof down. Don’t spill the blood of innocent citizens, for no ambition is worth the blood of any individual.

This election has been fairly conducted and won. Let us join hands with the government to build the state that our children and children’s children can all be proud of. In terms of human capital development, enlightened citizenry, rich cultural heritage, political sophistication, and good leadership orientation, Ogun State remains a leading light in the country. It is the only state in Nigeria with a pleasant coincidence of producing the finest political leadership and foremost crop of intellectuals cutting across all fields of human endeavours. We cannot at this point reinvent the wheel.         

The “Building Our Future Together” mantra of the present administration does not mean that we must all belong to the same political party before we can contribute our quota to the development of the state. We can be in the opposition and hold the government accountable through constructive engagement and criticism. Stoking the ember of disunity or perpetrating violence is both disruptive and destructive; it will not do anyone of us as individuals and as a collective group any good.

Therefore, the agitation by the aggrieved parties calling for the cancellation of the governorship election that has been successfully concluded and won is not only unnecessary and diversionary but also an uncivilized approach to issues. While the Constitution recognizes the freedom of individuals to rightful indignation, the law does not permit self-help options. Doing so will amount to an invitation to chaos and no responsible government will fold its arms watching people take the law into their hands. Those who cannot endure the pain of defeat are not entitled to the joy of victory. Governor Abiodun’s victory is divine, for he has passed through the thick of darkness to reach the thin light of the day.

For the pathological betrayers who rode on the crest of the goodwill of the governor, there is always another day. There is nothing wrong with trusting people but everything is wrong with betraying them. Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong” says Daniel O’Connell. Good or bad, everyone will reap the fruits of his needs, for there is no indulgence in Karma. 

Ogbonnikan wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State.

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