THE NEW ORDER IN THE SUNSHINE STATE
The APC came into power last year chanting the change mantra which saw them make history by defeating an incumbent. More than a year later, some critics have renamed the APC to ‘All Promises Cancelled.’ The current recession didn’t help matters as Buhari and his egg heads are bashed on a daily basis for their seeming cluelessness in proffering pragmatic solutions to the nagging challenges that the country has been plunged into. The constant reference by Buhari to the shortcomings of the erstwhile Jonathan administration only worsened his increasing unpopularity with former President Olusegun Obasanjo taking him to the cleaners by telling him to take full responsibility since he is now in charge.
The elections in Edo and Ondo States had high stakes because they were the litmus test for the foreshadowing of 2019. The postponement of the elections in Edo to a week day didn’t go down well with the opposition as they saw it as a subtle way of disenfranchising many Edolites especially the non-residents in the state.
There were many forces that battled for the soul of Ondo State as the stakes were extremely high.
The incumbent, Dr. Olusegun Rahman Mimiko fought the battle to remain politically relevant by wanting his former Attorney-General, Eyitayo Jegede SAN to succeed him. Iroko as he is fondly known as had fought many battles and triumphed in the past. He was anxious to metamorphose into a godfather as being an opposition leader would have guaranteed him nothing in the centre. Even if he had plans to go into the Senate ,that would still be three years from now and the present zoning system would not have been in his favour if he had plans to become a principal officer there.
The emergence of Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim as the factional flagbearer of the party greatly threw him off balance. The conflicting court judgements sowed the seeds of discord which halted the campaign steam of Jegede. Iroko was so distraught that he ran to Aso Rock, tail between his legs for succour.
Ibrahim boasted to the High Heavens that he would retire Iroko and openly discredited his government and ‘sold’ himself to the electorate as a ‘viable alternative.’ The loquacious Ibrahim popularly called Araba chided him for owing a backlog of salaries and flaunted his ‘business credentials’ as the elixir that the state needed. By the time, the Supreme Court made the final pronouncement on the factional candidacy in the state, Jegede began to plead for more time so as to recover lost grounds. The appeal was not hearkened to and Ibrahim dumbfounded pundits by confessing that he merely played the spoiler role and urged his supporters to massively vote for Akeredolu. This act was a big shocker as he had contested the gubernatorial elections there thirteen years ago. His loss made him metamorphose into a ‘business tycoon.’ Why reappear on the scene after over a decade later to be reduced to a mere mole? Even if he stooped so low, did it make any sense to openly beat his chest about it? The pristine game of politics as it’s played in Nigeria always throws up hilarious surprises.
The governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu a.ka. Aketi was contesting for the second time having earlier lost to Iroko in 2012. Four years ago, he was a protégé to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu a.k.a Jagaban. The wizardry of the Lion of Bourdillon was insufficient to make him coast to victory. As there are no permanent friends in politics, Jagaban decided to back Olusegun Abraham to Aketi’s chagrin. This was a disguised blessing as it afforded him the opportunity to be politically liberated. Against all odds, he defeated Abraham in the primaries. Tinubu was so livid that he called for the head of John Odigie-Oyegun as he watched helplessly as his political hold in the west was been decimated. Simon Lalung had to make an excuse at Jagaban’s noticeable absence at the last rally that he was bogged down by an ailment only for Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi to refute it. His lack of contribution to Aketi’s victory confirms what renowned socio-political commentator; Femi Aribisala said that it is better to be Tinubu’s enemy than friend. His enemies are the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ministers while his friends have been exiled to Siberia. Aketi has certainly added to that list.
A great miscalculation of Iroko was fielding Jegede who also hailed from his senatorial district. In a country where zoning is taking seriously, it was an act of political suicide as the electorate ensured that he paid dearly for it. He must have arrogantly thought that his ‘charisma’ would carry the day. He ignored the clamour for power shift that had been in the front burner. Aketi cashed in on this as he is from Owo. The last time an Owo son was governor was during the time of Late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin. Iroko’s hubris was his failure to read or pride to adequately respond to the signs of the changing times.
In Robert Greene’s ’48 laws of power’, a war hero was publicly acclaimed by his people as their liberator. They cheered him on only for his head to end up openly displayed on the stake. This seems to have been Jagaban’s fate as he is the biggest loser in last Saturday’s contest. Last year, the media both local and foreign praised his genius and dexterity in unseating Jonathan. Today, he has become something akin to a pariah. His case is similar to that of the Carthagian General, Hannibal Barca who fought the Romans to the very gates of Rome in the Second Punic War. On getting there, he lacked the resources to pull down the gates and roamed the countryside for fifteen years. By the time he got back to Carthage, the Romans had long regrouped and sacked his beloved city. It was one thing to have forged the coalition to take over power, it is another as events have shown to have benefitted from the ‘change’ that he facilitated.
Former PDP Strongman, Chief Tony Anenih had a book launch recently where he announced his long overdue political retirement. With the continued loss of Jagaban’s ‘territory’, perhaps it is time to take a bow as godfatherism has no place in the current scheme of things.
The dawn of a new era of retiring godfathers has begun to sweep through the entire polity with the ferociousness of a Jihad. Another interpretation to change may have been used against Jagaban as the hawks are bent on moving away from the dark days of mafia like godfatherism. Perhaps it’s time for Jagaban to truly change.