Yoruba Unity And The Ideological Question
THE presentation of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, the DAWN document in Lagos, and the reported outburst of Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, the Governor of Osun State against Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State once again brought forth the ideological question involved in the restive, if not elusive unity in the House of Oduduwa. And this is rather unfortunate, except that wrong principles laced more with sentiments are being proposed where concrete reality with all soberness should be canvassed. Thus, in the absence of a grand strategic-objective within a holistic paradigm, we will once, again, as in the past, win some battles, but ultimately lose the war.
A dispassionate review of the video tape of what was supposed to have transpired would readily agree with the view that reports of the event, as carried by some newspapers were a bit off the mark, suggesting some adverse political twist to the story, except the video did not capture some ugly events that occurred in the chamber of city Hall, Lagos. Yet, those of us who were not physically present had to do with the audio-visual reports of the video tape.
Yet, the bit captured on the video reveals that the governor of Osun was hyper-active on the rostrum and his intervention went on over drive, eliciting some agitative gesture from Sola Ebiseni, the Commissioner from Ondo State, who represented his governor who we were informed, was unavoidably absent at the event. Aregbesola was so much in the trenches mood that Fola Adeola, the event compere, could be heard asking the governor to wound up his rather intrepid submission (or is it tirade)? against those he chose to see as enemies of Yorubaland.
Unless the Osun State governor was reacting to some past indiscretion on the part of Segun Mimiko, unknown to the rest of us, his was a missed opportunity to articulate the DAWN agenda beyond ideological name- calling, as he tried to do in reference to his Ondo State counterpart and his political platform. I suspect the comrade-governor of Osun State was more interested in scoring ephemeral political points than obtaining a consensus around what, in principle, should be another welcome endeavour to forge an economic unity among a rather egoistic South –West rulers.
The present DAWN agenda, as some of the members of Afenifere Renewal Group should know, is not original. At least, Jimi Agbaje, who was the Treasurer of Afenifere and the Secretary of Afenifere Political Committee and Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere Publicity Secretary and member, Afenifere Political Committee can attest to it that there was an Oduduwa Development Council Document on the political economy of Yorubaland under the initiative of Afenifere led by Pa Abraham Adesanya of blessed memory. It is on record that the AD governors, more interested in individual empire building ensured that the cooperation needed for the attainment of the envisaged regional integration was missing. Their only level of cooperation was in the destruction of Afenifere from which ashes we have the fledging ARG. It is on record that Governors Olusegun Osoba of Ogun State and Lam Adesina of Oyo State campaigned more for Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency in 2003 than any one in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did.
The rest is history. The point to be made, in all of this, is that the call by Aregbesola that all of the South West needed to be on one political platform for the regional integration to be effective is at best desirable. But definitely, not a necessary condition. And if there would be a condition it is to the effect that individual occupants of the respective state houses, wielding power, must be ideologically in agreement with one another for the regional agenda to be effective. Thus, mere membership of the same political party does not necessarily deliver the required tubers of yam on economic integration. Were it to be so, Afenifere-inspired AD government in the whole of South West geo-political zone offered the best opportunity for regional integration.
Conversely, individuals, with similar ideological best of mind, even if operating from dis-similar political platforms may well attain some common objective. But Aregbesola would rather throw away the baby with the birth water.
Yet, let the truth be told, Segun Mimiko has more identical ideological gene in his veins than Aregbesola may hope to find in the blood stream of Ibikunle Amosun and Abiola Ajimobi with whom he currently shares the use of brooms. For the records, both Segun Ojo, the Finance Commissioner under Governor Adefarati of Ondo State and Segun Mimiko, then Health Commissioner were nominated members of the political committee of Afenifere under the chairmanship of the respected C.O. Adebayo. If Mimiko is today not sharing a conference table with Aregbesola in ACN, and he has chosen to continue his ‘Aluta’ with the Labour Party, I suggested his wishes should be respected. And except he is seen to be deliberately working against Yoruba agreed interests, beyond what members of Labour Party are alleged to be doing in the National Assembly, his full Yorubaness cannot be that cavalierly denied as Rauf Aregbesola would suggest.
It is even an irony that the Osun State governor is asking for political correctness from Segun Mimiko reducing ideological correctness to membership of the same party. And if we may ask: where is the histo-political relationship between Aregbesola and Ibikunle Amosun? Today, both are co-habiting under the same political party which to all intents and purposes does not afford the two a common ideological platform, but rather a common platform for power acquisition, as political parties have become in the present dispensation. The issue is, can we, in all honesty, affirm that an ideological convergence exist between the former PDP Senator, who also sought, albeit unsuccessful, to be a governor under the same Olusegun Obasanjo inspired PDP, and who also failed to be governor on the platform of ANPP before being accommodated in ACN, and the former Lagos State Commissioner for Works in an Afenifere inspired AD government. Yet, Abiola Ajimobi, the current helmsman in Oyo State was also with ANPP before anchoring his political ship at the shore of ACN.
This stated supposed different ideological temperament, among co-party travelers, need not distract us from what the two may be perceived or seen to be doing in terms of service delivery in aid of good governance in their respective states. It is within the context of appreciating good governance that we must come to see relationship among South West Governors in quest of regional integration and cooperation in the vacuous of ideological state in which all our political parties currently operate in Nigeria. Or can anyone identify a common denominator between Awo’s UPN or Adesanya’s Afenifere inspired AD and the present ACN, purportedly anchored on the progressive template of an Awolowo inspired socio-political thinking and engagement, beyond the grandstanding of some of the ACN leaders, for whom internal democracy and contestation for power is a matter of convenience?
In the clime past, the difference between the political parties was sharp and distinct, so much that you can determine, a priori, who would be members of which party, and your guess would turn out right. Today, political parties are mere platforms for power contestation for the purpose of getting to the government house which becomes an end. And this is precisely why Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice president under the PDP could easily move out of the PDP to AC(N) seeking a platform to contest for the denied opportunity in the political party where he was more ideologically at home, and at ease, given his political pedigree. Any wonder it was convenient for him to return to ‘base’ when he felt the opportunity beckoned.
For ACN to insist on writing a manifesto or a political blue print for the rest of the South West there is the need for value re-orientation, most especially amongst its leadership and in its recruitment template. Desperate to win votes, there has been many rejects of other parties, even from the PDP, that have, in the past appeared on its ticket, so much that it may be convenient to say that the difference between the PDP and the ACN, with respect to contestation for power, is between six and half a dozen.
Akinyemi Onigbinde who taught political Philosophy at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, was a member of Afenifere caucus, and a member of the Political committee of Afenifere. 1999-2006.
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