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Aregbesola: The Hard Road to the State House

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Because majority of Nigerian politicians now see politics as a do or die affair, the struggle for political power in Nigeria has assumed a frightening dimension since 1983, resulting in repeated violence, riggings, annulments, maiming, oppression, repression and deaths. And because politics is not seen as a platform to deliver services to the people but another form of business to enrich ones pocket, the struggle has become very dangerous, very crude, messier, dirty and at best despicable. Majority of politicians do not go into politics to win elections but to manipulate figures to suit their whims and caprices and go ahead to use our security agencies to force themselves on the people. Nowhere has this dangerous game played itself out more profoundly than in Ekiti and Osun States in nearly four years. I am a living witness to how it all started, the beginning, the mobilization, the elections proper and the massive rigging associated with it, the fraud, the violence, the oppression, suppression, maiming, the killings and the deaths recorded.   I witnessed the fierce battles on both sides of the divide for almost four years, and how it ended. I took mental note of the heroes of the struggle, the villains, and the lessons of history. The former 'Governor' (with stolen mandate) of Osun State , Gen. Oyinlola thinks that only the armed forces of Nigeria can produce Generals and arrogantly thinks also that as a General, no bloody civilian can level up with him face to face, neck to neck, eye ball to eye ball, strength to strength and even mischief to mischief. Oyinlola did not know that there are military Generals as well as civilian Generals. After four years of bitter struggle for power in Osun State , Oyinlola now knows that kaki no be leather , he now knows that if leadership is measured by might, giants would have been ruling the world.  

  Oyinlola may have been deceived by Aregbesola's tiny figure but beneath the fragile figure is the man with the heart of hard steel. When Rauf Aregbesola believes in something, only Allah will stop him. When a man is not afraid to die please fear him. Oyinlola now knows that Rauf Aregbesola is a political civilian general that understands street wars, garrison wars and intellectual wars. I am sure Oyinlola is now persuaded that Rauf Aregbesola is even more than a General in the army. He has successfully outwitted Oyinlola in common sense, street wisdom, careful planning, creative intelligence and military tactics. While Oyinlola trusted in his chariots and horses, Rauf put his trust on Allah, facts and figures, rule of law, equity and social justice. On Friday November 26 , 2010 Oyinlola kissed the dusts and consequently ended tragically into the dust bin of history.  

  For those of us very close to Rauf Aregbesola, we saw the beginning, the preparations and the mobilization. And without sounding immodest, Aregbesola can only be compared to President Barack Obama of the United States as a unique person deeply endowed with the power of mobilization. Time and space will fail me to recall the several movements from Lagos to Oshogbo before the elections proper and the monumental crowd that graced the rallies. As part of that great movement I knew instantly then that Governor Rauf Aregbesola is a candidate to beat and he won the election fair and square in 2007. But the rigging cesspit called PDP will never accept defeat. Prior to the elections PDP killers sent Alhaji Hassan Olajoku and Ayo Oni to early graves just to send signal to the Action Congress on what to expect in the days ahead. After the elections, Oyinlola's war machines killed Gbenga Kayode, Sango Adekoya, Chief Lawal Adesina, Mr. Samson Olarewaju, Saheed Adebiyi, Alhaja Taibat Orija Jeunkogbadun. One Miss Tosin Ajekaye was raped. Arson and assassination attempts were made at AC Campaign Headquarters in Oshogbo , all this in the bid to keep the stolen mandate.  

His Excellency , Governor Rauf Aregbesola is indeed a very lucky man as he would have been killed by Oyinlola at Oroki festival in Oshogbo in 2008. If not because he was inside a bullet-proof Special Utility Vehicle (SUV) he would have been killed. Hours on end and for almost four years Governor Aregbesola was hiding from Oyinlola's killers. He slept in several unknown and awkward places in Lagos for fear of Oyinlola and his killer gang because he knew that if they succeed that will be the end of the struggle. He did not forget how the powers that be then killed Abacha and Abiola to end the June 12 1993 struggle. Nobody is going to forget in a hurry how Oyinlola deployed the instrumentality of all the Security Agencies to hunt him and his supporters for almost four years. Governor Aregbesola was the guest of the police at CID Panti Lagos and Force Headquarters Abuja , severally and he was not cowed even for one day. Again time will fail me to recount all the troubles, setbacks, limitations and even betrayals the Governor suffered to get to the government lodge Abeere today. I urge the Lagos State University or the University of Lagos to conduct a study on Governors Fayemi and Aregbesola on how they beat PDP and their criminal gang to their game for close to four years. The study will help this nation especially the dubious roles of the nation's Security Agencies and the cross-section of the Nigerian Judiciary.  

  As the four years nightmare was being brought to an end on Friday 26 November, 2010, I was on my way to Abakiliki, Ebonyi State to represent our leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the burial of the late Senator Polycap Nwite, a bosom friend of our great leader. It pained me that I missed the historic inauguration. However, as we celebrate the victory of ACN and Governor Aregbesola in Osun State , may we never forget the real heroes of the struggle. I am talking about the Chairman of Osun ACN Chapter, ACN members of the Osun State House of Assembly, the teeming millions of ACN supporters in Osun State who saw the need to support Governor Aregbesola to reclaim his stolen mandate and the cross-section of Nigerian judiciary. We can never forget the deployment of the full weight of Lagos State led by Governor Fashola in the struggle to liberate the South West and Nigeria from PDP. It is difficult if not impossible to fully appreciate the role of Lagos State as pillar of democratic ideals in the political landscape in bringing freedom to Edo, Ekiti and now Osun States . In all this, I think it is important to remind both Governors Fayemi and Aregbesola that they owe an irredeemable debt of gratitude to millions of the people of Ekiti and Osun States by providing the dividends of democracy as quickly as possible.   But in all this, one man stands extremely very tall, a lofty peak towering above a thousand mountains and hills, the scourge of dictators and election riggers, the undisputable leader of the opposition or the Asiwaju of the opposition in Nigeria . A book cannot tell all the stories of Asiwaju and all his political engagements to make things happen in Nigeria . This is a man who can deploy trusted men and women, time, energy, strength, money, power and whatever that is necessary to achieve whatever he wants for the common good. When democracy is fully entrenched in Nigeria and a book is to be written, our own Asiwaju will take his place of pride in Nigeria .

  As the battle ends in Osun State , it is pertinent here to ask if there is any lesson to be learnt from all this. Yes, I think huge lessons have been learnt that the struggle for political power is no tea party. We have also learnt that politics is not for the weakling or the lazy, it is for those who can stand the heat and go extra mile, and it is for the serious-minded. We have learnt also that you can tell a million lies or try to cover a simple truth by manufacturing one million lies but truth has a way of coming out. We have also learnt that with total commitment, hard work, tenacity, perseverance, faith and resilience Nigerians can enthrone true democracy in Nigeria where our votes will count.

  The events in Ekiti and Osun State are clear signals to PDP that the game is up. And if the signs are anything to go by, PDP is finished in Nigeria as a political party. In 2011, it is pack and go for PDP and no power in the tongue of any man, and no force in history will stop the total destruction and liquidation of this mad house that has wasted 12 precious years of democracy in Nigeria .   Joe Igbokwe Lagos