By Funmi Branco
THE gang-up was massive. At the eleventh hour, and when it mattered most, friends turned foes and associates turned persecutors. Criticism underlined by pure mischief took over the airwaves and naysayers shouted themselves hoarse, railing against the people’s governor. Their conscience captured by the rustle of naira notes, they called him every ugly name under the sun, from fraudster to ex-convict. The desperation was dramatic: they dug up old photographs and superimposed letters on them to create a false narrative. Social media influencers suborned to subvert democracy swore with every fibre of their being that their fake news was flawless truth. Hack and hired writers spun falsehood in print and social media mobs rolled out leaflet after leaflet from the fiction mint. The bile was so barbarous, the hate laced with hauteur.
But at the end of the day, it was all for nought. The purveyors of acrimony did not reckon with the people’s massive goodwill, the gratitude of a populace long harassed but now breathing refreshingly fresh air. It is not for nothing that the Yoruba say that anyone the Almighty has made cannot be imitated (Eni Olorun da ko se farawe). The Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun’s massive triumph over political gangsters will now be the stuff of legend, and if we have an intelligent director, it could be the stuff of an epic. So epochal was the victory and so richly deserved are the celebrations across the Gateway State.
The dramatis personae included Adebutu, the major opposition candidate accused of making a visa/ATM-like card into which the sum of N10,000 had been programmed for vote buying. It was distributed across polling units. With your code, N10,000 entered into your account. Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and men of the Nigeria Police busted some of these criminals. But while votes may be bought, only God gives power: anyone destined to make it does so regardless of the antics of men. The web of intrigues against Abiodun in the election just concluded was thick; only a personality providentially destined for greatness escapes such a trap.
There was Ibikunle Amosun, the ex-governor who sees himself as godfather of Ogun politics, indeed the ultimate political god. He was disgraced and humiliated, and so was his adopted candidate, Biyi Otegbeye of the ADC, who has just been confined into political quagmire. Prior to the election, the megalomaniac was everywhere in the state engaging in a campaign of calumny against Abiodun. He spun falsehood with professional proficiency, thinking that Abiodun would be defeated and deflated. But he and his candidate faced the real test of election on Saturday and crashed very quickly.
Yet most painful and perfidious was the alleged role of the Ogun East senator-elect, Gbenga Daniel. OGD, as he is fondly called, came into the APC shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari won the 2019 election. He had played a key role in former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s failed bid. Indeed he was the South-West coordinator of the Atiku campaign. He promised to give support to Dapo Abiodun, the APC gubernatorial candidate. Abiodun won the election and he exulted in the win. And that also gave him the opportunity to escape the hell he had faced hell at the hands of Amosun.
In the eight years that Amosun spent in Oke Mosan, Daniel was persona non-grata, his name dragged through the mud. He was a regular guest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). His major businesses, including Continental Hotel in Abeokuta, the state capital, were crippled. As a matter of fact, the hotel was marked for demolition. Had Amosun’s candidate won the 2019 election, Daniel would have had his properties confiscated. But thanks to Abiodun’s emergence as governor, his business was saved. And with the governor’s help, the evil tide was upturned and his associates were quickly absorbed into the party. Naturally, there were many, including Lekan Mustapha, the incumbent senator occupying the seat that Daniel won on February 25, that were interested in representing Ogun East at the 10th National Assembly. But because of the intervention of the Awujale of Ijebuland, the governor conceded the seat to him. That created friction between Abiodun and some vested interests.
Strangely, however, no sooner had Daniel won election on the ticket than his handlers went to town painting the governor black and saying that the senator-elect could not work with him. Few days to the election, they launched acerbic attacks on the governor, accusing him of not paying salaries and pensions and of inflating the cost of contracts. It was all lies, but the Steve Oliyides of this world did not care. There were even stories of nocturnal meetings with Adebutu, the PDP candidate. The two other winners of senatorial seats came back to the governor to appreciate and take pictures with him. Not Daniel. Despite Governor Abiodun’s moral and financial support for his own election, he took a different course, apparently thinking that the governor could be interested in the Ogun East senatorial seat after his second term, which would present him (Daniel) with a monumental electoral hurdle, as they are both from Ogun East. He ensured that the governor did not win the re-election battle in his domain: Sagamu, Odogbolu, Remo North, etc.
And then we come to some political appointees of the governor. Despite the massive support that the governor gave them, they never came out boldly to support him, and he lost in their domains. The massive road construction efforts in Ikenne, the Agro-Allied Cargo Airport on Ilishan-Iperu road, etc, did not translate into electoral victory. But not to worry: a prophet has no honour in his own home. The governor had a decent outing in Ogun West and Yewaland, including Ado Odo/Ota, Ipokia, Ilaro and so on. The most important thing, though, is that those who assumed awesome powers and fought tooth and nail to unseat the governor could not turn back the hands of the clock. Regardless of the governor’s imperfections as a mortal, he is the one providentially destined for the seat. His re-election furnishes him with the opportunity to complete his development agenda and write his name in gold in Ogun State.
When it mattered most, the people came to the aid of their beloved governor, dumping self-styled political godfathers in the sea. Dapo Abiodun, the Iperu-born prince, is governor yet again. Abiodun’s story is captured by the motto of the Royal Air Force: Par adua ad astra (through difficulties to the stars). Let the celebrations continue…
Branco contributes this piece through firstname.lastname@example.org