Widely known for committing his resources to the enthronement of good governance, Governor Seyi Makinde’s foray into politics dates back to about two decades ago; and with his immense contribution to ensuring that our people live a better life, he started partisan politics over 17 years ago.
There was no election year he did not contest for political offices,Senatorial and Governorship, 2007-2015 which unfortunately he never won. This earned us a derogatory sobriquet, ‘serial loser’ (including us, his die-hard followers) from our antagonists. In all these years, his optimism never waned. He is a purely incorrigible optimist.
However, our story changed when GSM and his supporters tasted, felt and experienced electoral victory for the first time ever when he was declared winner in the evening of Monday 11th March, 2019 with an unprecedented margin of over 157,000 votes. Meanwhile, before he was declared winner, at about 1:00am on 12th March, GSM had sent for me to join him at the ‘safe house’ for an important assignment. Earlier, on the election day, he was calling some of us to feed him minute- by-minute report on the field, occasioned by All Progressives Congress supporters’ threat to unleash mayhem on anyone who voted for People’s Democratic Party.
So there was apathy on the part of the electorate in the morning. They feared for their safety and stayed indoors. I and others had to use both social and traditional media to appeal to people to come out and vote and at the end of the voting exercise across the state, we were getting reports that we were leading. Meanwhile, impeccable sources in the society had informed us including members of the ruling party that they were meeting to rig the election against us, as all indications suggested that Seyi Makinde was coasting home to victory. It was agreed that he should do a 4-minute video where he would implore members of the public to protect their votes. We can never thank the good people of Oyo State enough for their love, bravery and patriotism.
When I set my eyes on him at about 1.00 am, he looked so calm and unperturbed. I addressed him as “Your Excellency” for the first time and we embraced each other saying at last we did it. Shortly after we finished recording the video and we were analyzing events and possible reaction of the APC. I had a call from Ibadan Southwest collation centre where I had kept vigil with others to monitor the collation of our votes. I was informed they had sent all PDP members out of the Local Government Collation Centre.
I had to rush out to join them. Ibadan South West Local Government was a known stronghold of the APC. The 2011 and 2015 elections were won by APC with the result of Ibadan South West Local Government being the game changer. The video went viral early in the morning and it became difficult to activate their evil plot. Rigging against the people’s choice was dead on arrival.
There have been different stories on how Engr. Seyi Makinde contested for the highest office in Oyo state. As much as I wouldn’t want to say whether they were wrong or right, the truth is that as a young successful businessman, who had seen it all in the upstream sector of the Oil and Gas industry, he never showed interest in politics and the situation remained so until much later.
He shares a somewhat similar story with one of America’s greatest and iconic political figures, President Bill Clinton, whose brief encounter with President J.F Kennedy changed his thought on politics, governance and influenced his decision to go into politics. GSM’s encounter with former Governor Lam Adesina, who commissioned the first ever ICT centre in a Public Secondary School in Oyo State, which Engineer Makinde singlehandedly constructed as a 32-year-old. The then Governor was shocked to know that the donor, Seyi Makinde was in his early 30s and moreover, GSM was willing to assist Oyo State more in tackling the myriad of problems facing the state, like finding lasting solution to lack of power supply in rural communities with the then evolving technology- the gas turbine which the Late Alhaji Lam Adesina had instructed one of his aides to work with him on.
He however found it difficult to navigate the government circle (of course you know why). They made it difficult to sail through. He wondered why people would make it difficult for a private citizen to assist the larger society to enjoy dividends of democracy. That failed attempt to get government support contributed significantly to his decision to throw his hat into the ring and join partisan politics. The hidden fact is at barely 32 he had wanted to become Governor of Oyo state. According to him, “we all lose the moral right to ask questions when we refuse to participate in politics”; and as Plato aptly put it centuries ago, “people who refuse to participate in politics are ruled by people who are inferior to them”. He pitched his tent with PDP by joining a group of young professionals called the Fortune Group who are determined to support a successful businessman and professional with Chief Rashidi Ladoja fitting their request.
He never had it easy and smooth in politics though. Turbulence, obstacles and landmines permeated the political space already laced with mischief and treachery. Unimaginable blackmail and outlandish lies are tools commonly used in this part of the world to excel politically. His attempt to ‘do it differently’ was vehemently resisted by the powers that be but it was only a matter of time. In his first message to the people of Oyo State, he reverted to his mantra, “Doing it Differently”, during the launch of his 2019 governorship campaign.
When some businessmen who masqueraded as religious leaders started a campaign of calumny against us in 2019 that Seyi Makinde is anti-Muslim, we knew it was another dead on arrival project. Since he became a politician and till date, Muslims among his close aides outnumber Christians. He never considers anyone from religious, tribal or social status, as reasons to engage or relate with them.
Let me use this opportunity to thank all religious leaders who rose to the occasion to quench what could have caused a religious war in Oyo state. The efforts of The Muslim leaders, led by the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta, Alhaji Dawud Makanjuola Akinola and the Christians, led by the Oyo State Chairman of Christians Association of Nigeria, Pastor Benjamin Akanmu who ensured interfaith groups came on board to settle the matter. Efforts of the Deputy Governor, Engr. Rauf Aderemi Olaniyan too cannot be over emphasized. He rose to the occasion by personally visiting critical Muslim leaders all over the state. GSM went to various radio stations to state what he has done to propagate Islam and ensure peaceful coexistence with people of other religions.
I was convinced that this is our time. Reason? In his characteristic manner, he assured me when I approached him on the outcome of the coalition meeting in former Governor Ladoja’s house, even after the first meeting ended abruptly. Feelers had suggested that the coalition may not see the light of the day. He had however assured me that “Akeem, trust me, this is our time” irrespective of what might happen. Frankly speaking I was not satisfied with his assurance and I became anxious. This was so because an opportunity of such presented itself during the PDP pre-primary power play in 2015.
The then National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Ahmed Muazu had summoned three leading aspirants in Oyo State, Otunba Akala, Senator Teslim Folarin and GSM to Wadata Plaza so that they could settle the matter before the primary. Alhaji Adamu Muazu had told them that Former President Jonathan was waiting for the outcome of that meeting and he would send him the name of who they all agreed to be the governorship candidate while two other aspirants would be given a senatorial ticket and a ministerial appointment. But they all failed to agree. The three of them became candidates of three political parties; Labour Party, PDP and Social Democratic Party respectively, which eventually paved way for Governor Ajimobi to win a second term in office. That was the reason for my anxiety.
I just couldn’t imagine us losing the election for the fourth consecutive time. Losing elections is not something you wish for your worst enemy particularly when you have never won before.
My mind raced back to what we have gone through all in the name of being different politically. Let me share a little with my readers. In 2007, GSM had contested against the biological son of the ‘Garrison Commander of Ibadan Politics’, Late High Chief Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu. In fairness to the old man, Baba Adedibu had offered to give him Ibadan Northeast/Ibadan South East Federal constituency but GSM insisted it was Senatorial ticket or nothing. It was not only a most audacious attempt for a first timer like him but also the most dangerous thing to do. I reserve what transpired on the election day, when he escaped being kidnapped by agents of the state narrowly for another day.
Meanwhile, before we settled for the All Nigeria People’s Party platform on which GSM contested for Oyo South Senatorial election. Within two weeks, we criss crossed about three political parties; Action Congress of Nigeria to Advanced Congress of Democrats, and lastly ANPP.
In 2011, we moved back to PDP and it all appeared that we would get the ticket given a free and fair primary. More so, High Chief Adedibu has passed on and there was no love lost relationship between Governor Adebayo Akala and Senator Kamorudeen Adedibu. We had thought this was an opportunity to latch on. How wrong we were!
Few days to the primary election, the new mantra, “Omo Oloore” became the song on the lips of political leaders. On the eve of the primary, we were warned not to come near the congress ground after several appeals to withdraw from the race failed. On the eve of the primary election, GSM called a caucus meeting to strategize and at that meeting, we concluded that we couldn’t win at the primary. Some suggested we should boycott the primary while GSM insisted that we must participate in the primary and learn from it. “Whatever happens will be a lesson that will help us prepare in the future”, he said.
Besides, he was resolute to contest the 2011 Oyo South Senatorial District election. As we were going to the congress ground, my Aunty of blessed memory, Chief (Mrs.) Bola Amole called me more than five times to inform GSM to halt his plan to participate at the primary. I only delivered the message once because I had also made up my mind to witness it, particularly as we had arranged a camera man to pose as a journalist and record all proceedings. However, this failed as our camera man was caught and beaten blue black and till this day we have not found his camera. Despite being beaten beyond recognition, he was also detained at Iyaganku and I could not secure his bail till the following night.
What was worthy of note at the primary was that despite the intimidation, brute force and threats. GSM won in three local governments; Ibadan North East, Ibadan North West and Ido. Senator Adedibu however emerged as PDP senatorial Candidate for two consecutive times.
Our return to PDP in September 2017 is a story we will tell some other day.
Conclusively, it will be of great disservice to those we lost in the course of the struggle in 2019. We lost two gallant soldiers who were extremely committed to the struggle, the Ibadan North West PDP woman leader, Mrs. Iyabo Ladapo who can best be described as loyalty personified. In 2015, when we lost the governorship gallantly, Mrs. Ladapo called me and was crying profusely. My appeal to her with assurance that GSM had forgotten about the result of the election and as a matter of fact had not only congratulated Governor Ajimobi, he had also taken his breakfast didn’t stop her from crying for the next two days. Also, Surveyor Diran Owolabi of Ibadan North East who died of cardiac arrest inside our campaign vehicle which was conveying party leaders to the inauguration of our campaign in Ogbomoso and so many others who are not alive to savour the joy of electoral victory.
And last but not the least, the man who nurtured the soul we all gathered to celebrate today, his mentor, best friend and father, Pa Solomon Olatunbosun Makinde (who passed on in 2012) , taught him in his wisdom most of life’s lessons he uses today. It is painful that these souls only worked ,witnessed and tasted bitter pills of our political failures they could not wait to feel, experience and enjoy our electoral success. God knows best. But I can assure them that the GSM I know will not disappoint them on the ideals of a better society they all shared in GSM aspirations and the dream of a better society will be fulfilled as he mounts the saddle of leadership in Oyo state. One could say it’s not going to be possible but God and the people of Oyo state said It’s possible. Expect the dividends of democracy as we have promised in our campaigns.
I welcome you all to an era of possibilities.
Alhaji Akeem Azeez writes from Ibadan
Credit; Omi Tunutun Magazine
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‘go and read the story of Baale Irefin who lost all in 1914’ Journalist, Lasisi Olagunju Warns Lagos Speaker, Obasa
Top journalist and the Editor of Saturday Tribune, Dr Lasisi Olagunju has a piece of advice for the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Mudashiru Obasa.
In his article titled ‘King Obasa of Lagos’, the journalist rang some words of warning to the lawmaker over the crisis that emanated from the refusal of some Commissioner-nominees from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu by the State House of Assembly.
Olagunju faulted Obasa’s response to a question he answered on live television where he said ‘do I look like someone who can be threatened?’ and also comparing the Governor’s political pedigree and his while saying…
“The governor has been around for long. He was SA to the former deputy governor, Otunba Femi Pedro. While he was serving as S.A. to the former deputy governor, I was in this House, (as) chairman, House Committee on Rural Development. He was S. A. Establishment, Pension; I was chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts (Local Governments). And when he was heading LSPDC, I was Chairman, House Committee on Economic Planning and Budget… (then) I was the speaker of this House. And, when he became the governor, I remain the speaker.”
In his last warning, Lasisi referred Obasa to the story of an Ibadan Chief, Baale Irefin who lost all…
he should read the story of a Baale of Ibadan who lost all in 1914. Baale Irefin was pressured by his chiefs to write a petition against the Resident, Oyo Province, Captain Ross, and the Alaafin. He wrote and they all affixed their thumbprints to their text of complaints. But the chiefs later met the government and wrote a counter-petition disowning Irefin and his letter. They said the Baale forced them to put their thumbprints on the offensive document. Irefin lost his throne and his life. In that same Ibadan, there was also Balogun Ola who thought other chiefs were with him in the fight against negative colonial actions in Ibadan affairs. Ola had gone too far in the battle before he realised that he was alone; his colleagues had withdrawn from that cause. The Balogun lost his title and his life. He was asked to kill himself or leave the town. The one who preferred death to shame put himself to sleep one bad day in 1917. Ibadan’s history is a composite account of all manners of intrigues politicians are capable of. The records say so and that is why I cited those two cases as a sermon to the feuding strongmen of Lagos. There may be no winner in their fight.
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