by Akin Osuntokun
I have for some time now imposed on myself the mission of campaigning against the resort to demonisation as a rough and ready tool of flagellating political opponents, more so, when the attribution beggars belief.
“A disappointed Bamidele failed again in a Senate bid. Too impatient, he moved over to the other party that he so publicly disdained in words and deeds. Now, it is not about opportunity but opportunism, a pragmatic desperation. So he bivouacs with a quisling and a whitlow, who has the nod of master Jonathan. He becomes the lackey of a lackey. He, a lackey of Mimiko, the whitlow, who is Jonathan’s lackey. Bamidele is now servile to the slave of the presidency. He is running with confidence given to him by his fellow quisling, Governor Mimiko. When I wrote a column last year, Brother today, gone tomorrow, I witnessed an eruption of choreographed rage from his publicists. None of them pointed out any major achievements except markets that local governments’ funds could build without a whimper. They also pointed out a token clinic for mother and child”– Sam Omatseye writing in The Nation newspaper
“We went to the massive, ultra-modern, state of the art, all-purpose conference centre (which is still under construction in Akure), the Medical Village in Ondo Town (which houses the most advanced, best equipped and most sophisticated set of hospitals in Nigeria, catering for virtually every known aspect of medical care from serious accidents, to childbirth and to major surgery and whose services are completely FREE OF CHARGE), the beautiful mega schools (which are state-run high schools that are, in terms of infrastructural facilities and equipment, including computers etc., at par with any state-run high schools in Europe or America and whose infrastructure is absolutely astounding), the free school-bussing system for children, the ”ten-minute response” ambulance system all over parts of the state, the smooth roads and street-lighting system all over Akure and other and so much more.
The truth is that I was ashamed of the fact that so much is going on in Ondo State in terms of development and services to the ordinary people and yet we as Nigerians, and particularly as Yoruba people, have refused to acknowledge or admit it either for self-serving political motives or for other reasons which are best known to ourselves.”-Femi Fani-Kayode, APC chieftain
The contra-position above is on the same personality, in his capacity as a politician and state governor. The views are so sharply divided and opposed that it is impossible to reconcile the two positions. It has to be the case that one is speaking of reality and the other is not, even though both writers share the commonality of a penchant for overstating their advocacy. This notwithstanding, to declare that nobody could point out any major achievement except markets that local governments’ funds could build without a whimper…..and a token clinic for mother and child’ as the summation of the infrastructural development of Ondo State under the administration of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, is to do extreme violence to the truth of Mimiko’s stewardship.
The prelude to the extermination of the Jews in the Second World War was the unrivalled propaganda of hate and dehumanisation levied against them by the Nazi propaganda machine headed by Dr Joseph Goebbels. Unfortunately for the Jews, history (as severely distorted) was a witness against them. For centuries they have been accused of the archetype crime of deicidekilling the son of God (Jesus); of Devil worship; child sacrifice, witchcraft and all abominable and diabolical deeds the human imagination could conjecture and fantasy. Were the Jews truly the killers of Jesus? Biblical scholars have of recent been reviewing the authenticity of some of the accounts of the death of Jesus Christ as passed down through the ages. And the story of the last hours of his death seemed increasingly implausible.
Contrary to the impression of a compassionate and dignified law giver portrayed in biblical recollection, Pontius Pilate was in reality a very cruel and ruthless Roman colonial administrator of the province of Judea. To suggest that a man so mean and contemptuous of his subjects could suddenly attain to apotheosis and be seized of compassion to the point of becoming solicitous of the well-being of a rebellious colonial subject charged with treason, should confound the imagination.
Personality transitions of this nature are so rarefied and had only one parallel in the Bible-that of Saul of Tarsus’s conversion to Paul on the road to Damascus. The controversy surrounding the death of Jesus is not fully resolved but there are many who believe that the Romans, under whose authority the Bible was compiled, were foresighted enough to realise the consequences of being attributed with the death of the Messiah-hence the deflection of the guilt to the Jews.
I think it is fair to suggest that the gravity of the charges laid against Dr Olusegun Mimiko and Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, by my friend and colleague, Sam Omatseye, was of commensurate and sufficient magnitude to invite the terminal sanction of cruxification-bearing in mind, especially, the fate suffered by the evocative precedent he himself cited (that of the Second World war personification of betrayal, Vinduk Quisling). Fortunately for Mimiko, many of the readers of The Nation newspaper may not require the mediation of any writer to assess and reach a fair conclusion on the accounts of his assumption of office as Ondo State governor and his performance on the job.
My position on Mimiko is well known and has been repeatedly made in the media. I was part of his journey from being a minister of the Federal republic to becoming governor; and I have been a keen observer of his performance in the lofty office he holds in trust for the people of Ondo State. As a student of Nigerian politics, I find in him quite a fascinating subject matter and empathise with his heroic political struggle against all odds, to first become governor and then contain and defeat the ferocious assault he encountered during his bid for a second term in office. Above all, I salute his sense of duty and commitment to the welfare and well-being of the people of Ondo State.
There remains the peculiar charge of him being a quisling. And the question arises: quisling to which person(s) and to what cause? The way we are going, words will sooner start losing their meaning but if it will be of any help, I will restate and reiterate some facts here on the adventurous journey to the office he presently occupies. The mother of ironies is that how he became governor is specifically the story of how not to be liable to the label of a quisling. When he was leaving the federal cabinet to engage in the Ondo governorship election, Mimiko sought to mollify an angry President Olusegun Obasanjo with the pledge that he will pursue his aspiration on a nominal (Labour) party platform which would in effect amount to contesting as an independent candidate.
He specifically assured Obasanjo that he WOULD NOT join the Action Congress of Nigeria to avoid a wrong interpretation of his departure from the government as an adversarial act. In my capacity as political adviser to President Obasanjo, I monitored this falling out and his exploits as a lone ranger on the field. He was one of the unique cases on which some of us, including Nuhu Ribadu and Femi Fani-Kayode, parted ways with our principal-Obasanjo.
Nuhu was on record as publicly disagreeing with Obasanjo’s soap box insinuation that Mimiko had issues with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC). After the governorship election in Ondo (and at his request for my views) I told President Obasanjo that I was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Mimiko won the election and recommended to him that the results declared by the INEC, alongside other states similarly affected should be voided. If a man contested election and won on his merit, how then does he become a quisling to those who fielded a candidate against him?
I have for some time now imposed on myself the mission of campaigning against the resort to demonisation as a rough and ready tool of flagellating political opponents, more so, when the attribution beggars belief. As I earlier extrapolated from the Second World war and our own recent political history, demonisation breeds dehumanisation and incitement to visit indiscriminate violence and sometimes murder on the basis of political divergence and conflict. It demeans the advocacy we make and inhibits the capacity of society to make balanced judgments when we levy allegations whose veracity cannot stand the test of factual reportage and representation.
In calling it quits with the ACN turned APC and seeking to consummate his governorship ambition on the platform of Labour Party, Bamidele has exposed himself to the present danger of a spiraling campaign of hate and incitement to personal destruction at the behest of his erstwhile political constituency. It is a left handed salute to his political stature and utility that his departure could excite so much anxiety and animus from the camp of his former political associates and friends. It is difficult to see how his send forth party could have been otherwise but choosing to pitch his lot with the Labour Party reeks with the added flavour of the chicken coming home to roost.
For Mimiko, apparently it is pay-back time. The bad news is that the ramifications of the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State go far
beyond the state and the rival governorship contestants-in its capacity to serve as a portent for what 2015 holds in stock for the PDP and the APC, particularly the latter. And I am not at all happy that, in consequence, fellow Ekiti people are in for a rather wild roller coaster party, the likes of which they have not witnessed before.
The post is published with permission from Akin Osuntokun
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.