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Routing of PDP in Yoruba States not a wholesale endorsement of the ACN – D.H. Habeeb

In the aftermath of the political eclipse of the PDP following serial loses to the opposition in the 2007 gubernatorial and the 2011 National Assembly elections in Ondo, Oshun, Ogun & Ekiti States, the Tinubu-led Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, assumed a position of unchallenged political dominance in the southwest.

So total was this dominance that, even the lone Labour Party administration in Ondo State was initially perceived as a friendly government and virtually, more like the opposite side of the same ACN coin. Not only did the ACN and Labour Party share so many similarities in political world-views and ideology, their mutuality of policy thrusts even permitted key ACN operatives to be part of the Labour Party government in Ondo State. Then for a while, it seemed as if the mainstream Afenifere, led by Pa Reuben Fashoranti, was at the end of its political relevance in the geo-political zone. To a large degree, the ACN sought to supplant the Fashoranti-led Afenifere in the quest for complete socio-political dominance of the southwest through using the new Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, as an ethico-political compass.

However, it is the view of political pundits that rather than ascribe this turn of events to the southwest’s wholesale endorsement of a new political order, the ACN’s leadership should have understood the Yoruba’s pragmatic and compelling necessity to make, as the first order of political business, the extrication of the southwest from the vortex of the politics of ‘mainstreaming’ that past President Obasanjo had disastrously plunged it!  Fact of the matter was, the PDP as a political party, was not any less liked or, any more hated, than any previous party in the southwest; just that the people simply felt uncomfortable to let Obasanjo be in charge of their collective political destiny, period! This much was evident in Ogun State where Obasanjo hails from and also in Oyo State where he had a surrogate in the person of former governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala. The routing of PDP in the Yoruba States was therefore, definitely not a wholesale endorsement of ACN.

Many people believed that ACN’s misreading of this singular development as equating a regional political mandate, instead of looking at it as another phase in the consolidation of power, engendered a boastful, arrogant, and predatory spirit that eventually exposed its political underbelly. Snug in its belief that the electoral battles waged for the liberation of the southwest were won because people believed in the supremacy of its progressive ideological content and that the party, was the true inheritor of the Awolowo political legacy, the ACN, started a vicious campaign for total dominance of Yoruba politics that brooked the administration of no other political party, even of a similar ideological hue!

It was through this ACN’s needless and reckless electoral misadventure in the Ondo State gubernatorial tussle of Oct. 2012 that the Afenifere Patriarchs regained the political momentum by aligning with achievement-based records and issues-oriented electioneering. Basing their support on observable performance monuments that dot the Ondo State political landscape, the Fashoranti-led Afenifere backed the administration of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko for a second term of office and thus, raised political correctness a notch higher in the internecine political battle within the southwest.

ACN apparently had wanted to ‘feast’ on a relatively smaller and lesser known party in power in Ondo State because, it felt insulted and affronted by the decisive independence with which Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, governor of Ondo State, ran his government and treated the call for regional political uniformity. It was and still is, the stand of the Ondo State government that, as sister States in the same region, all the States share so many things in common such as: language, vegetation, culture, geographic contiguity and progressive political ideology. Therefore, areas of common co-operation must exist in agriculture, energy and industry where individual contributions from each of the five southwest states could pull together to be of synergetic effect on the overall fortunes of the geopolitical zone as a whole.

However, rabid ideologues in a party otherwise suffused with rational egg-heads, took over the ACN rhetoric, dishing out such high-voltage verbal abuse on Dr. Mimiko, and advertising such frightening state of electoral preparedness for the October 20, 2012 gubernatorial election in Ondo State that, unprecedented numbers of policemen and soldiers were deployed for the election.  The result of the election not only provided an anticlimactic end to an encounter deliberately revved up to symbolize the onset of the Jagaban’s political onslaught against all perceived ‘recalcitrants’, it also demonstrated the Yoruba’s fidelity and appreciation to observable performance in office.

Apparently voting for performance and definitely unimpressed with the bravura and political grandstanding on display, the Ondo State people voted overwhelmingly for Dr. Mimiko’s Labour Party for a second term. That may forever remain for the ACN an odious chapter in a book of political odyssey within the Yoruba land that the party, despite all the preceding hoopla, came a distant third even after the PDP, in the Ondo gubernatorial election of 2012.

This was what recently pitted the old Afenifere group against the ACN-leaning Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG. In this proxy-battle through the gubernatorial election in Ondo State, the ACN appeared to have been put in a position of an impulsive political amateur that could not read or properly gauge the people’s political inclination before acting. The Ondo State gubernatorial election vindicated the Afenifere’s position that “nothing succeeds more than people-centred politics and that enduring loyalty is usually the reward of performance”.

At the national level, the loss of ACN in the Ondo State gubernatorial election in some ways, did nothing to increase the political esteem of its leaders and might have opened a floodgate of reform-minded elements within the party to openly call for party restructuring and reconciliation with the mainstream Afenifere. It has even been admitted by some that the misadventure to openly take on another progressive administration, much celebrated for sterling performance in office, was responsible for the diminished political vibrancy suffered thereafter. One of the planks of ACN’s virulent antagonism, the southwest integration agenda’s conditionality of political uniformity, was eventually diagnosed as being intellectually deficient and probably conceived in political treachery.

The current identification of people previously estranged from the Afenifere Patriarchs, signals a growing awareness that the trajectory of the politics of the southwest may not after all, be dictated from the fashionable addresses of Lagos, but, collectively by the politically discerning Yoruba people. Whichever faction within the Yoruba socio-linguistic abstraction of Awo’s party that aligns with the people, will eventually continue to control the soul of Afenifere. The Fashoranti-led group, presently, is not doing a bad job of that.

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2 Comments on “Routing of PDP in Yoruba States not a wholesale endorsement of the ACN – D.H. Habeeb”

  1. emotan77 Says:

    Dear Dr. Ajao,

    Thanks for contributing to this.

    As I’ve repeatedly written from the days of writing in The Nation on Sunday, “Yoruba Leadership is not for sale” because leaders almost always emerge. They cannot be anointed or imposed. As I mentioned in that essay which is up on this blog, retd. General Obasanjo’s case is a shining example of how NOT to go about seeking leadership because despite eight years as president, 3-years-plus as military head of state, he failed to attain leadership among his own. If he lives to be a hundred, I do not believe he can ever attain Awo’s stature – in life or death. Why?

    He is self-absorbed and very selfish; does not have group’s interest; self-seeking; feels he’s all in all; very autocratic AND VERY DIVISIVE. He ruled Nigeria but that’s a “leadership” born of deals.

    I do not think we need worry because all will eventually be sorted out in the Southwest either through compromises or through the so-called “federal” set-up that would enable us see east-or-west-home-is-best. I do not believe the direction of my-way-or-the-highway – as a saying goes – will help us in the Southwest in the short or long run.

    Sincere regards,
    TOLA

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  2. emotan77 Says:

    From my tolaadenle@emotanafricana.com Mailbox:

    Your analysis of the political landscape in Ondo State is correct in my opinion.
    But one thing I think you did not mention is that Mimiko has been a grassroot Awoist long before NADECO let us know that the then little-known Tinubu was hobnobbing with the likes of Anthony Enahoro. Mimiko had been attending meetings at Ikenne and later Ijebu-Igbo with original Action Group/Afeniferere which eventually begat UPN which begat SDP which begat AD and now begat the ACN leadership.

    It has been a long journey. We heard of Tinubu only when SDP and Abiola had his mandate annulled by Babangida. It is therefore no suprise that Afenifere backed Mimiko, an old trusted hand who is performing well and redefining governance with people-oriented programmes that will make Awo smile if he looks down from yonder. So Fasoranti Group and Tinubu cannot be on the same level of political understanding unless Tinubu comes off his high horse, relinquish the title ‘Asiwaju of Yoruba…’, realize that the Yoruba in OOOOE states are different from people in Lagos when it comes to politics relating to AWOISM.

    Obasanjo tried it with cunning, money, political appointments, assassinations and failed.

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