Governor Oyinlola Must Go!

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Nigeria has always been a theatre for repugnant politics, but if the statements caught on tape about the Osun State Governor, Mr. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, revealing plans to use violence, deception and intimidation to abort free and fair gubernatorial election in Ekiti State are true, he has clearly crossed the line of political expectation and should either leave office voluntarily or be relieved of his current job as governor.

The story headlined: “Governor caught on tape promising violent rigging of Ekiti poll,” published by Next on its web site on Saturday, April 19, 2009, reveals the most blatant attempt yet in this democratic dispensation to criminally steal votes and impose an unwanted candidate on the people. If true, Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, no longer has the moral justification to lead, having shown an unmistakable disgust for the lofty ideals of democracy and disregard for the law of the land. A law breaker should not oversee any part of the political system.

How can a governor, of all people, rent a crowd of criminals to desecrate the military, which is already reeling under bad public image - the same profession upon which he based his curriculum vitae? Such a bad judgment in an attempt to scuttle the sacred wishes of the people should be critically viewed and harshly punished.

The same Governor is under legal scrutiny regarding how his own election to office was conducted. Not only does it seem that Mr. Oyinlola has valid questions to answer about the office he currently occupies, but also about an attempt to export election rigging to other parts of the country. It is a dangerous trend, a threat to the system and deserving of concern.

The Citizens for Nigeria (CFN) calls on President Umaru Yar'Adua, to immediately take action on the “OyinlolaGate Scandal” that was reported to have reached the President's desk. The President promised to clean the political system, following the massive rigging of the 2007 general elections, of which he was the prime beneficiary. Already, questions have been raised about Mr. Yar'Adua's commitment to restoring electoral credibility. President Yar'Adua has talked the talk; it is time he walked the walk.

If he closes his eyes on this serious matter, only because Governor Oyinlola belongs to the same political party as himself, it would indicate that the President can only pay lip service but is not a true believer in democracy. Having clearly muddled the war on corruption, the Presidency, if it drags its feet on this issue, will be sending yet another signal to the nation that this administration lacks the will to solve any of the nation's serious ills.

In the same vein, the members of the Osun State House of Assembly under the leadership of Hon. Adejare Bello should begin an honest investigation, with a view to ascertaining if the voice caught on the published tape belonged to the Governor, and immediately impeach him if he is found to have been the author of those despicable statements. If the Osun State legislature refuses to probe Mr. Oyinlola, if found to be the one who made those ominous remarks on the tape in question, simply because most of the members belong to the same People's Democratic Party, then, the lawmakers will have failed the good people of Osun State; and therefore, would collectively be undeserving of representing the people in that State Assembly.

All over the world, lawmakers find occasions to rise above political party loyalty to ensure damage is not done to the rule of law by those who may see themselves as being powerful and influential. Only recently in the United States of America, the Illinois State Capitol immediately impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich, when it was revealed he schemed to profit from a political appointment. The majority of the legislators in Illinois were of the same Democratic Party as the former governor. The legislature of Osun State, Nigeria, has a historic opportunity in this case to demonstrate similar principle, honor and respect for the law, just like its counterpart in Illinois, USA.

Above all, considering that there is so much disregard for the rule of law in Nigeria, and recognizing that influential people do get away with crime very frequently, we call on all well-meaning people, the mass media and civic organizations to take on this issue as a symbolic demonstration of their commitment to the survival of democracy in Nigeria, and act swiftly to ensure the dream of longlasting rule of the people, by the people, and for the people is not aborted by those who should be protecting it.

If we allow this too to pass, we will only be removing another cornerstone from the delicate structure of governance in Nigeria. In the end, when selfish politicians remove enough building blocks, the house will weaken; and suddenly, it will collapse again. We have to be watchful and reactive, if we believe in keeping intact this republic called Nigeria.

The Citizens for Nigeria (CFN) calls on all patriotic Nigerians to stand with one voice! Let Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State be the example of what we don't want in our budding democracy.

Released by: Chris Tunde Odediran, New Jersey, USA

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