“The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions which are inimical to development.”
—Lee Kuan Yew
By Omoniyi Salaudeen
Last week’s inauguration of Senator Ademola Adeleke as executive governor of Osun State marked the end of the 12-year reign of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. This included the tempestuous eight-year tenure of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and his immediate successor, Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola, who spent only four years in office.
From August 1991, when former military President Ibrahim Badamus Babangida pronounced the creation of the state along with nine others by decree, Osun people have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in governance.
For the newly installed psychedelic governor, it is too early in the day to determine what his administration will be offering for the state’s good governance.
The inauguration of the “Dancing Senator” as the sixth civilian governor of Osun State on Sunday, November 27, 2022, brought back to life the age-old Adeleke political dynasty in Ede, Ede Local Government.
Politics runs in the family. His father, Ayoola Adeleke, a renowned labour activist, and a Senator in the Second Republic, who represented Osun Senatorial District 11 comprising six local governments – Ede, Osogbo, Irepodun, Ifelodun, Odo Otun, Ila Orangun in the old Oyo State, had held sway as the founding father of the dynasty.
But from the outset, its fortune had been punctuated at one time or the other by series of military interregnums, the last of which was the Theophilus Bamigboye administration (from August 1998 to May 29, 1999).
Though he leveraged the structure of his late brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, to win the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) two consecutive times, the road that led to Adeleke’s emergence as a governor was not paved with gold. Rather, it was one long, bumpy, and tortuous journey to victory. Both within and outside his party, he had to fight a multilayered battle to find his way to the Osun State Government House. But, as they say, it is not over until it is over. Other hurdles having been crossed, the proceeding of the case filed by Oyetola at the governorship Election Petition Tribunal still remains a running battle.
Former Governor Oyetola is challenging the declaration of Adeleke as the winner of the July 16 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on two grounds. One is the allegation of over-voting in 749 polling units spread across 10 local government areas of the state. Two, his qualification to stand for the election. Oyetola through his legal team is insisting that Adeleke ought not to have been declared winner as he was not qualified to contest the election in the first instance, having submitted a forged certificate to the INEC.
The case is still ongoing at the tribunal level and there is every possibility that it may drag on to the Supreme Court before it can be finally laid to rest. Though the wheel of justice may be slow, it will surely come to a halt one day and the truth shall ultimately prevail.
But before then, what is of utmost concern to the generality of the Osun people who have been yearning for something newer, refreshing, and assuring, is the implementation of a policy that can guarantee sustainable economic growth in the state. Regardless of all misgivings about the ousted APC-led administration, Osun State had recorded significant progress in poverty reduction under the immediate past administration of Governor Oyetola.
According to the latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC), Osun State is one of the states with the lowest poverty and inequality index in the country.
The report, which was computed between September 2018 and October 2019 took into account some basic socio-economic indicators that contributed to poverty and inequality in the states of the Federation.
Out of the whole lot, Osun State has a poverty index of 8.52 per cent, which is the state’s lowest index since the return of democracy, and third in the federation only behind Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub; and Delta, an oil-producing state and one of the highest revenue earners from federation account. Lagos State has a 4.50 per cent poverty headcount rate, while Delta State has 6.02 per cent.
With the latest ranking, Osun State has already assumed a good standing among the comity of states in terms of poverty index.
When the time comes to access the administration on the journey so far, that will be the minimum threshold with which to measure the performance of the new government in the years to come.
Thus, Governor Adeleke must only not be seen to hit the ground running, he must also face the arduous task ahead with the presence of mind and the right attitude it deserves to deliver on his electoral promises.
Even as the legal firecrackers over the legality or otherwise of his tenure rage on at the election petition tribunal, he must do the job conscientiously for the ultimate good of all.
As his predecessor did, he must create a pedestal of well-being that transcends the borderline of poverty, and by extension contributes to sustainable economic growth.
Governance is by no means a tea party. Having fought hard to secure the people’s mandate, the time has come for Governor Adeleke to settle down for the real business of governance. All the while, it has been a long celebration of victory with rhythmic follow of the right tunes and dancing steps to match.
At his inauguration ceremony, he demonstrated his dancing prowess to the chagrin of his audience. It is still all about the joy of victory.
On the flip side, the victory itself is all manner of things to all manner of people. To some, it is a pyrrhic victory. To others, it’s a victory well-fought and well-deserved.
The truth is: Political arena is forever a battlefield. And unlike conventional warfare, no one can turn everybody into an army of enemies and expect to win.
Curiously and erroneously, that was exactly what Adeleke did with his vindictive mindset upon assumption of duty when he pronounced all elected local government chairmen, three monarchs, and 12,000 workers sacked by executive fiat otherwise known as Executive Orders 3, 4, and 5.
But he later recanted.
His Spokesman, Malam Olawale Rasheed, denied the directive, saying that a panel had only been raised to review Oyetola’s appointments to ensure that they followed due process.
In any case, that was not a good starting point for the new administration.
Such a ruthless and vindictive approach can only wake up a sleeping army of opposition that can truncate whatever is the good intention of the government.
In the first place, the decision to interfere in the administration of the local council is not only hasty, ill-informed, and ill-advised, but was also prejudicial as the case concerning the legality of the last election that ushered in the new council administration still subsists in court. It underscores the underbelly of a governor in an act of hasty revenge. It smacks of lack of regard for due diligence and simple rule of procedure.
What Adeleke seems to have forgotten here is the fact that APC still remains a formidable force in the state and will continue to be so for a long time to come. Even if the petition at the tribunal goes in his favour, any step taken to upset the current balance of forces will be severely resisted by the opposition party and the state will be the loser for it. As currently constituted, 24 out of the 26-member state assembly belongs to the APC. It only takes any one of the members of the majority lawmakers to wake up from the wrong side of the bed to move a motion for impeachment.
And that will be the end of the game. The situation truly calls for caution.
Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke represented Osun-West Senatorial District from 2017 to 2019 to complete the tenure of his late brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke.
He contested the 2018 governorship election, but lost to Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola.
To many political pundits, Adeleke is a perplexing paradox and a bundle of contradictions. For those who dislike his exuberance, he does not seem to have prepared himself for the office. But those who admire his energy and dancing skills think otherwise. Time will tell!