The fears are in the air, very obvious. The ticker the hand of the clock, the thicker the fears. This is the era of re-run, and that compounds our fears. Everything is being re-run. Nothing is excluded.
We have re-run many elections in recent times. That is the great fear for the Ondo State governorship election slated for November 26, 2016. The state is “endowed” with a rich history of election crises. It is not today, as they say. It dates back to the “Wild, Wild, West” of the First Republic. That was the result of the highly contentious 1963/64 elections in the old Western Region.
The present Ondo State participated largely in the burning of humans and properties (aka Weti e) that resulted from that election. As a province then, it was one of the theatres of war. It was the beginning of the fall of that republic, which eventually came on January 15, 1966, through a military coup.
The coup brought the “Khaki Boys” to our polity and politics. It really polluted our system and things have never been the same with us. We lost direction and focus. Greed, nepotism, ethnicity, et al, crept in. And the vices have been growing at an alarming rate since then.
Even in the so-called second, third and fourth republics that we pretended to run, the “Khaki Boys” were, and still are, as dominant as ever. Nothing practically and substantially changed.
That is why all the past republics collapsed like a pack of loose cards. The military that “generously” gave us these republics wanted them to crumble. They laid the mines for us and we fell for them. What they reluctantly placed in our “eager” palms were mere makeshift republics.
Ondo State has been a victim of this great conspiracy. It allowed itself to be used again in 1983. It was a gory repeat performance of the 1963/64 violence. Brothers went up in arms against brothers and they were as deadly as ever. The 1964 crisis was child’s play, compared to 1093. It involved loyalists of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola
In 1983, the principal characters were Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin and Chief Akin Omoboriowo; Omoboriowo was Ajasin’s deputy before they parted ways, which led Omoboriowo to the rival National Party of Nigeria (NPN) from the ruling Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).
Glaring booby traps were laid in the hot build-up to the elections. You could see hate in its raw form. War drums were beaten carelessly and as loud as possible. Omoboriowo secured NPN’s gubernatorial ticket on a platter of gold. What he alleged that the UPN denied him was an easy pick in NPN. Ajasin retained UPN’s ticket. And the stage was set for a showdown.
The havoc was monumental. The mayhem spread like wildfire, consuming whoever and whatever it found fit for its flames. Houses were razed, humans were cut down like trees, huge sums of money were set ablaze. The 1964 Weti e was no match.
This bedlam resonated throughout the state. Residents reacted violently to the result that gave victory to Omoboriowo. In the melee, Omoboriowo escaped to Lagos. That night, he appeared on television, highly fagged out, insisting he won the election. But Ajasin remained in his Owo country home, unruffled.
He was later vindicated. The court gave him back his mandate. But this was after lives and properties were lost. The cost was enormous in humans and other materials. The final loss was the Second Republic, which went down with the crisis on December 31, 1983. That was a re-run of the January 15, 1966, coup. We are yet to recover.
We are on the fast lane to a re-run of 1983 in a now smaller Ondo State. Then, it was a bigger Ondo State with the present Ekiti State. The bigger the crisis, the smaller the state.
The fear of a re-run violence in Ondo is not misplaced. It would certainly draw us back. In fact, it would land us in the Stone Age. A re-run of that crisis is not desirable in 2016, not the least in Ondo State.
The conflict in the state is, tragically, in manifolds. It is in layers and chaotically departmentalised. The build-up to the election of November 26, 2016, is worse than the build-up to the election in 1983.
In 1983, there were defections by Omoboriowo and his supporters from UPN to NPN. But the NPN still came out with Omoboriowo as its candidate. No uproar at its primaries; the same with UPN. After Omoboriowo left, the UPN picked Ajasin without stress or opposition. The two parties went to the polls without being factionalised.
That is not the case today, as the situation is precarious and volatile. Almost all the contending parties are in tatters. The most hit are the majors, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They are in a big mess.
There are serious contentions against their candidates. The PDP is particularly in a special class of its own. It has two candidates, Eyitayo Jegede and Jimoh Ibrahim. Its crisis is the most complicated. The two factions are far from being ready for a truce. Every attempt at making them see reason is being thwarted even at the conception stage. The warring parties are going farther apart each day. The gap widens by the minute.
The candidacy of Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has also decimated the APC. Nearly all who contested the primary against him have left the party. They are seeking greener pastures in other parties. All the same, the wounded APC still struggles to hold some form of rallies. The PDP dares not.
Suspicions are rife. You can feel it or smell it if you care. It is everywhere, there are powerful unseen hands wreaking havoc on PDP, the two groups in the party are deliberately kept active to smoothen the way for an APC victory at the polls. And this is working wonders.
This is the terrible build-up to November 26. It is more alarming than the pre-1983 crisis. The result is staring us in the face. It is dreadful and awful.
Yet, the masterminds, the unseen hands, do not give a hoot. They are eagerly expecting the calamity to happen. That is why one wonders why this crisis refuses to depart Ondo State. It keeps on occurring in larger dimensions.
Nobody should be deceived. These unseen hands are bent on setting the state ablaze again. They want to overrun the state by all means with their might, the reason they are yearning fort a re-run of the 1983 crisis. We fervently pray, God will surely disappoint them.