âThe best way to celebrate a great revolution [that is, if there is any to celebrate in the first place] is to concentrate attention on its unsolved problems.â - Vladimir Lenin
BAGHDAD! We all remember its story. We all remember the story of the Ancient Babylon city that was once the global centre of Arab culture and scholarship. We all remember how Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, then, Iraqâs president, came, destroyed Iraq and left Iraqis devastated. Of course, Baghdad, Iraqâs capital and worldâs once richest city, was not spared. We should not forget in a hurry how Hussein amusingly mistook the number of an army for its strength and took on the rest of the world in a war that was unnecessary in the first place. And, by the time âthe Mother of all Warsâ came to a designed end, Baghdad not only lay in ruins, Hussein also has become an object of perpetual stillness.
Baghdadâs fated fortune refreshes our memory of Ogun State. Widely regarded as the epicenter of Nigeriaâs civilization, the state can conveniently pride itself on having the highest number of Nigeriaâs key leaders, politicians, technocrats and musicians. With its vast industrial potentials, its natural and manpower resources, and its geographical propinquity to Lagos, Nigeriaâs commercial nerve centre, Ogun State is unarguably Nigeriaâs âGateway State.â And there was certainly no reason for it to have played host to the good governance deficit that in recent past became its lot.
Once upon an era, Ogun State became a poignant portrait of what a state in country rated as the âgiant of Africaâ should not be. No thanks to the importunate gladiators who, for the better part of eight years, held the state by the jugular and ran it like a personal fiefdom. Armed with the base ambition of ruling the state at all costs, an emperor assumed the reins of power and Ogun State went gaga. Good governance took flight, bullets replaced bread and the state descended into a slippery slope of socio-political instability.
With unrivalled artificiality and unmistakable lack of creative vitality, the emperor in question turned âGateway Stateâ into a series of accidents. He willfully sold for a pittance its peopleâs collective patrimony without recourse to decency or Due Process. Roads got decrepit and were left untarred even as the people were deprived of basic amenities. Spanners were thrown into the wheels of legislative progress and the House became divided against itself. There and then, legislative duties fell apart and the centre could thenceforth not hold. For reasons not too far from opposition intolerance, Sudan was imported into the state and janjaweeds went on rampage, destroying every good thing in sight.
As if these were not enough, negligence took the place of intelligence as cheerleaders, pranksters, sycophants, wheeler-dealers and professional clappers who could not measure beyond the gauge of Oke Mosan were recruited and heavily funded with the odious mission of fiddling at the side of Nero even as Rome burned. In fact, it was as if the government was at war with the governed!
But how come Ogun State has all of a sudden become so fated? For instance, prior to 2003, the state used to be peaceful; the atmosphere, convivial; and the people were, in the real sense of the word, friendly. Economically, Ogun State was viable and, in terms of social activities, it was boisterous. With an exceptional revenue generation capability and a Gross Domestic Product, GDP, always next to Lagos in the Southwest region, the state was indeed the investorsâ haven and touristsâ centre of attraction. However, by the time the last regime expired on May 29, 2011, âGateway Stateâ has not only slid into an unproductive interregnum of inexcusable socio-economic quandary but has also drifted into a veritable turf for political savagery: âOGD Warriorsâ here; âOBJ Boysâ there; âJMK Gangâ on one side; âOmo Iluâ on the other; all competing for space in a dubious âdesire to serve.â
It was in this fetid wilderness of political carcasses that Ibikunle Amosun took over the mantle of leadership and has since assumption of office as governor been striving to reposition the state along the path of wealth and pride. One only hopes the governor would learn from the mistakes of the past and do only things that would make the choice of April 26, 2011 the right one.
But the blame should not be heaped lock, stock and barrel on the doorstep of the power behind the throne during the era under review. The chameleonic system has for long been with us and only God can save us. From Oyo to Osun, from Edo to Enugu, and from Kwara to Kebbi, democratic practice in Nigeria has become dirtied by hypocrites who scandalously deny Nigerians the benefits of good governance. Contrary to its description by Barrack Obama as a system "in which those who are governed grant their consent, and the laws constraining liberty are uniform, predictable and transparent, applying equally to the rulers and the ruled", democracy in Nigeria has become a âdo-or-dieâ project with predictable aftereffects: negative capabilities, a bastardized economy; a cloistered present and an uncertain future.
Little wonder dear country has sunk into a stratified capitalist society and neo-colonialist enclave comprising the âsmall fliesâ whose âsocio-economic condition reveals little or no inter-generational mobility relative to their parentsâ and the âgreat fliesâ - unrepentant irredentists and blinkered opportunists - who immodestly âabuse their positions for private and pecuniaryâ innuendoes.
I have previously remarked that Nigeria is a funny entity and that Nigerians are even funnier people; that, here, we do first things last while we leave the last things undone; and that we make so much noise but do so little and end up achieving so petite. The situational reality is that we are in a terrain of vanity and falseness where those who lay claim to service self-servingly covet and convert into personal use our collective patrimony while those presumably being served gasp and pant under the fangs and pangs of unmerited starvation. We sneeringly sabotage our own efforts, clumsily commercialize our essence and risibly destabilize our polity. The sad side is that, probably, due to what we believe in; stand for; or, stand to gain; we pretend not to know what is happening, turn the other eye or simply refuse to tell the truth to power. This is why we are where we are, wheezing!
On a serious note, what is democratic practice but the replacement of one insensitive and supercilious regime with a focused and people-friendly one? Of what essence are Probe Panels and Commissions of Inquiry which reports are unimplemented? And, with a particular reference to governance in Nigeria, who fixes what and how is it fixed? Again, how does that which is fixed fit into the trend of things and how do we gauge its success or failure? In any case, have we for once pondered why, despite the evidently abundant benefits of freedom, frankness and democratic rule, the masses still fall easy prey to lies and threats of public disorder by the ruling class?
There is no doubt that, like Nigeria, Ogun State deserves a better deal. Therefore, as history has now beckoned to Amosun to reconstruct this Baghdad, he should work untiringly at reversing the portentous naughtiness and hypocritical propensities of those we had better refer to as men of yesterday. In his quest to bring his people up out of the valley of incompetence, lack of direction and paradox of governance however, the governor should avoid unnecessary distractions from pseudo-democrats, political sorcerers and the usual band of four hundred prophets who will always hang around Ahab and Jehoshaphat even as the kings march on Syria.
Essentially, SIA, as he is fondly called, should always bear in mind that democracy is premised on life, liberty, justice, truth and the pursuit of happiness. It is about an atmosphere of equality, patriotism and the Rule of Law. Without doubt, he has started well, going by the volume of construction works currently going on in the state. Concrete measures which he has put in place to tackle the menace of armed robbery have also shown that he is on top of the situation. But, since winners are those who are always very angry with failure, times, things and trends can always get better for the âGateway State.
Beyond the pressing challenge of security, Amosun must also strive to fulfill his other campaign promises, notable among which are affordable education, rural and infrastructure development, healthcare delivery, employment generation and agriculture production/industrialization. His promise of providing âelectricity to targeted public buildings and infrastructures through mini-power plants and the national gridâ should be pursued with vigour while his resolve to re-engineer the stateâs finances and the accounting process should be accorded a human face.
May God save our politics from (the hands of) our politicians!
Komolafe writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State (ijebujesa at yahoo.co.uk)
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Ogun Professionals Lagos, Nigeria May 29, 2012
There is no doubt that ogun state has been under siege during the PDP years. The new government in the state has a responsibility to reclaim the heritage of the state, which is a passion for industry and excellence. So far, i will say that Governor Amosun has not betrayed the April 2011 mandate; and hopefully he wont.
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