Busuyi Mekusi PhD

Politics in Nigeria has been reduced to mud-slinging, character assassination, cheap blackmail, atrocious vituperations and damnable fabrication of lies for the purpose of condemnation, in order to score undue goals or gain undeserved political mileage. However, this is not to bring political office holders to scrutiny when they get embroiled in controversies relating to mismanagement of public funds or abuse of office. The ongoing investigations and interrogations, both by anti-graft agency and the public, of the allegations made against the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu, and her immediate predecessor Sadiya Umar Farouq, are mere assaulting reminders that public office in Nigeria is largely for profiteering and criminal accumulation of wealth. In this case, we are only hoping that the ‘better education’ that Betta Edu (‘the beauty pageant’) had would get the cup to pass over her, as she is led to Golgotha.

Like protruding teeth, the issue of the handling of funds to restore humanity to systematically dehumanised Nigerians has been traced to a company, New Planet Project, that some people are trying to link with the Ondo/Nigeria Star Boy, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the extraordinary performing Minister of Interior, who said he resigned as a director of the company in 2019. Tunji-Ojo has demystified the Interior Ministry as not being synonymous with the announcement of holidays, by emplacing sweeping reforms in the various agencies under him. Of particular interest is the breaking of the passport cartels that made life nightmarish for the peoples. The clearing of the backlog of passports applications by Nigerians, and the recent automation of the protocol for applying for passports, with minimal human interaction are notable. The N438m consultancy fee paid New Planet Project for the National Social register may not have been a fraud, but one of the established ways public funds are filtered away. Instances abound at various levels of the magic that causes meat to disappear in the mouth.

The idea of good governance has been redundantly overemphasised, so much that the platitudinous relevance of the term has overshadowed the desirability of the material realities of the concept. Simply put, good governance has to do with institutional processes and results that are needed to attain development, and it is determined by the degree to which the promise of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights are met. It is to this end that the United Nations defined good governance as participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, and follows the rule of law. The foregoing may, nonetheless, be esoteric to ordinary Nigerians, given the popularisation of ‘dividend of democracy’ by the political class to encapsulate deliverables traceable to governance.

In Ondo State, the democratic government of the first civilian governor of the State, Adekunle Ajasin, raised the bar, with the introduction of free education, massive infrastructural development, as well as facilitation and establishment of industries like Oil Palm Mill Plc at Okitipupa, NIROWI at Ondo, Cocoa Products Company Ltd at Ile-Oluji, Oluwa Glass Company Plc at Igbokoda, Nigerian-Ceramics factory at Ifon, among others. The government of Adebayo Adefarati attempted to resuscitate the progressive ideals of Afenifere that Ajasin entrenched before the disruptive incursion of the military, emplaced free education, massive road construction that got muzzled by the withholding of funds by the central government of Obasanjo, due to the resource-control agitations led by Adefarati, leading to the inevitable sweeping away of the government. Agagu’s government was meticulously methodical and daring, as he expanded infrastructure, by constructing township roads in hinterlands and building new roads and bridges across waters in the coastal areas of the state. The Omotosho Power and Owena Dam Projects are some of the legacies of Agagu that politics stultified.

The regime of the superlative maverick Iroko, Olusegun Mimiko, was a populist one, with free health programme for women and children (Mother and Child Hospitals), construction and beautification of roads, free shuttle buses for students, etc. Mimiko was and still a toast of the people. His Iroko; Gbasibe slogan received household ownership! The emergence of Akeredolu as the governor of Ondo State was unique, as it was devoid of the notation of ‘godfather’. He brought bluntness to power, and modesty to governance, but got hated by party people, who felt fenced out of political opportunities, while his wife and children were believed had a field day. He also built standard roads, completed projects he inherited, and reawakened industrialisation through the Ore Industrial Zone, and a few others that one hopes would not die with his death. He stood tall as the Amotekun General in the Southwest, and a loud national voice for the restructuring of Nigeria.

Unfortunately, the albatross Arakunrin Akeredolu bore, and still bears, was/is the wife, who was believed to have used the non-constitutional office of the First Lady to arrogate power and resources to herself. The public behaviours of Arabinrin that some people abhorred led to the redundant stereotyping and profiling of women of Igbo extraction as undeserving of opportunity in a Yoruba space. People with mischievous intentions have also been harping marriage to an Igbo woman by aspirants in the 2024 guber election as a sign of leprosy, when it should be applauded as a bold step at nationalisation and a commendable scintillating handshake across the Niger. As an expert in identity, I am sufficiently aware that stereotypes along ethnic, racial, gender, politico-economic and religious divides are as poisonous as the venom of a snake, as individual human agency has unique attributes that are different from others, even among twins. Stereotypes are instruments of the weak, defeated and malicious, and should not be allowed in matters as important as electing a governor in 2024.

It is, therefore, needless for detractors to stigmatise Olusola Oke, Eyitayo Jegede and others for having a woman of Igbo extraction as a wife, most especially when people of one’s household are always the worse enemies. I am aware that Oke has an Ilaje PhD holder as his first wife, apart from Nkem, who could be the First Lady, if elected governor, just like Jimoh Ibrahim is said to have three wonderful wives out of whom he could ‘adorn’ one. Others whose wives are not known are rumoured to be shrewd merchants, like wale Akinterinwa, who has been linked to some of the excesses in the Akeredolu’s government. Jimi Odumayo Faduyile, Akinfolarin, and others might not border showcasing their wives, as I am of the opinion that we should concentrate more on important things, as we take a decision in whom to entrust our future. This is more so as sexuality and marital orientations remain complicated. Polygamy gets justified today by reasons including infidelity in bigamy, and sexual atrocities in celibacy.

To prevent the wool these opportunists want to pull over our eyes, in determining our choice in 2024, we must avoid Mr. Know-All that is priggish and cantankerous, people with controversial antecedents, who would rather buy your conscience and pawn your future; businessmen and women that would turn our state to a cash cow, using proxies and masked companies; treacherous money-mongers that have stolen us dry already; unknown Man Friday that is responding to some puppeteers; and others that are either faceless or of no known address. Rather, we must emphasise capacity, integrity, good track records and antecedents, cordiality in human relations, empathy, quality programmes, emotional stability to accommodate people across different divides, for needed reconciliation and healing, and someone with the attributes of a galvanising centrifugal force that would help evolve a robust development template for Ondo State. We hope the new certificate controversy trailing Governor Aiyedatiwa is not a mere fluke, an addition to existing ‘blurred’ allegations.

We must ensure the birth of an all-encompassing Consultative Forum of Stakeholders that would help ensure seamless decision-making at critical times, openness in governance and ownership of government by the people of Ondo State. As Ondo State is ‘on the march again’ in 2024, we must not allow opportunists and hired agents use things that matter little to delude us, as the position of the First Lady is not as important as the personality of the holder of the office of governor. By the way, where is the First Lady of the governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, who has frontally told us that he does not need a First Lady to govern the State? I must take a stand; less we all fall!

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