The luminosity of the solar-powered streetlights had welcomed Persecondnews team to the serener Ikenne, a congenial atmosphere pervading the entire town, home to the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late Chief Kehinde Sofola (SAN), Nigeria’s former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), and presidential aspirant.
It is also home to the late Mr Kehinde Onafowokan (SAN), Chief Idowu Sofola (SAN), Mr Kehinde Sofola (SAN), the late Dr Tai Solarin, Pa Omotayo Odumusi and Engr. J. Olatunji Osibanwo, one-time President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others.
The streetlights, courtesy of Osinbajo, were so welcoming and illuminating that navigating parts of the expansive town was without difficulty.
Our mission in Ikenne: To feel the pulse and gauge the moods of the people with their son, brother, father – Osinbajo in the presidential race, about 35 years after the late sage and the “best President Nigeria never had’’ left the stage in relentless pursuit of that ambition.
No doubt, the modest city pulses with life, expectancy and hope as we buzzed around. From the cross-section of the people, who spoke with Persecondnews.com, they were all bussing with excitement amid a flurry of activities – political and social.
Virtually all the vehicles particularly private ones carry branded additional number plates in Osinbajo’s acronym “PYO’’ in APC colours while branded campaign vehicles also crisscrossed the city. Billboards and banners also adorn Ikenne, the headquarters of Ikenne local government, once described as the political headquarters of the Yoruba right from the pre-independence era till when Awolowo exited the world in 1986.
It appears Providence is visiting Ikenne again even the Awolowo family as their son-in-law who became a Professor of Law at the age of 36, has been drawn out to contest the highest office in the land from the vantage position of the nation’s Number 2 citizen – the Vice-President, Acting President on several occasions.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) had written more than five centuries ago, “All the world’s a stage’’ – a phrase that begins a monologue from Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy – “As you like it’’. All the world’s a stage; and all the men and women merely players – meaning this world is a stage-like show with all humans as merely actors. The infant Osinbajo through being a whining school-boy creeping to unwillingly to school, teenagehood, youthhood and then full-grown with masterly accomplishments in his chosen field, vocation and avocation; a legal icon, administrator, technocrat in politics is on stage to play his part — service to mankind as he had been served from childhood to adulthood.
Awolowo posited in 1978, about 44 years ago in one of his titles on service:“I want also to asservate that at this juncture in my life, my one and only ambition is to have an opportunity to live the rest of my life for history, by means of selfless and beneficent service to the peoples of Nigeria in particular and of Africa and the back peoples of the world in general .’’ The same clarion call, sacrificial service is beckoning on Osinbajo to bring back the glory for posterity. There is a nexus between Awo’s avowed commitment to service and Osinbajo’s scrupulous and diligent call to service.
To Osinbajo of ebullient personality, a character of intense individuality, astuteness and sharp-wittedness, it’s destiny call. Observably, since his emergence on the political scene and lately the presidential turf, there has been a lot of diatribe, vilification, abuses and insults being heaped on Osinbajo for being a “traitor’’. In short, it smacks of hell breaking loose as orchestrated by the attack dogs of a notable politician from the Southwest for mundane reasons of envy and selfishness.
An African proverb that “the sky is wide and vast enough for two birds to fly without their wings touching’’, is quite apposite. The main and critical spring of politics should be service, development and good governance but for most “professional’’ politicians especially moneybags it is for personal gains.
Law firm in IkenneAgain, trying to hound the other fellow is to say the least a disservice. Just like Chinua Achebe said in his book, A man of the People : “I believe that the hawk should perch and the eagle perch whichever says to the other don’t, may break its own wings.’’ Politics particularly in Yorubaland, Nigeria and Africa should not be a do or die. Any and every Nigeria with some measure of competence has the inalienable and fundamental right to come out and as the employees of Nigerian people should write qualifying exam and whoever comes atop or is successful gets the job. Finish !
We are all living witnesses to the stellar performance and public service record of Awolowo, who recorded several firsts as Premier of Western Region; gave the people free and compulsory free education, built the first TV in Africa (now NTA, Ibadan), Liberty stadium, Rediffusion, the 26-storey monument – Cocoa House, Ibadan, the first skyscraper in tropical Africa and Nigeria.
With Osinbajo coming from that background and provenly too, Nigeria, APC should give him the chance to lead a national development drive, a 78-year-old, Pa Gabriel Omotayo Odumusi, a private man all his life, told Persecondnews at his expansive estate in Ikenne.
Odumusi, who is the Asiwaju Onigbagbo in the town conferred on him by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said: “He is a chosen person. God Himself appointed him to come and repair the damages in Nigeria including Ikenne, Ogun. We believe it is time. We always say God’s time is the best; it is now time for God to deliver the country from the current challenges and national malaises.
“His coming out is God-inspired and in Ikenne we believe that we should rally round him. Before he even thought of coming out, people from outside his geo-political zone – in the North and Southsouth had come out in support of Osinbajo.
“After 60 years of Nigeria being in a quagmire, it is Yemi that God has brought out to address the problems.’’
On political mobilisation for him, Odumusi said rallies have been held in Osinbajo’s support, adding that after the APC presidential primary election, they would go out full blast for him. Pointing out VP’s antecedents, the septuagenarian said: “As acting President, he achieved quite a lot during the several months he acted for our dear President Buhari. He derives a lot of joy by making others happy especially the less privileged and the youths.
“He is a problem-solver; he will sit with you and listen to you. What Nigeria, Ogun and Ikenne had lost in the past, God is seeing it as the time to redeem the country and for the glory to come back.’’
For Barrister Femi Adeniyi, Osinbajo’s entry into the race is a good development, saying Osinbajo will be “one of the best Presidents Nigeria will ever have.’’
He said: “It is a thing of joy for us to have one of our sons to become the President of Nigeria. The late Igbo leader, Odumegwu Ojukwu, described Awolowo as the best President never had. Awolowo tried but God says he will not get there but he had paved the way for others to get there.
“People pushed Osinbajo forward and it is the voice of the people which is always the voice of God. His profile, wealth of experience, intellectual capacity clearly mark him out and it is causing envy. He has being training youths, old men and women and empowering them at his skills acquisition centre in Ikenne – giving them money and equipment to start their own businesses.
“It is the glory being brought back to Ikenne and Nigeria after about 35 years of Awolowo. His son-in-law by Divine Providence will restore the glory.’’
On rallying support for the Vice-President, Adeniyi said there is only one political party in Ikenne as the two major parties – APC and PDP – have collapsed into a political force for the Osinbajo project. “We can’t wait to see it happen.’’
A powerful voice in Ikenne, Otunba Adedoyin Adesina, the President of an umbrella socio-cultural organization – Ikenne Development Association (IDA) could not agree less with his kinsmen’s perspectives and positions.
According to him, Osinbajo represents a generational paradigm shift as a politician with integrity, quality representation in governance and timely intervention.
“Our hope, our prayers is that what we could not get right from the late 1950s to 1979, we can get it right now. We will guard it jealously and ensure that PYO delivers.
“We are happy, more than excited that for the first time, Osinbajo became No. 2 man, Acting President. In a way, the glory has returned. His contributions to the development of Ikenne can’t be quantified – he transformed the major market, rebuilt it with solar power, provided solar-powered streetlights, remodeled Obafemi Awolowo Model Primary School; Nursery to Basic 3 classes are fully computerized, and facilitated the construction of a major bridge on Odogbolu road through the Federal Government’s Ecological Fund among other several projects,’’ he said.
Adesina, who is also the Aare Asoludero of Ikenne, also recounted how Osinbajo set up a skills acquisition centre while his wife, Dolapo, also a lawyer, established a Women Development Centre in the town just as she did in other states.
Urging the ruling party and other stakeholders to shun sentiments, prejudices and biases in choosing the country’s leader, Adesina, a former President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers in Lagos State, said it is time to place a premium on technocrats or professionals in politics.
“It is only in Nigeria that we play money politics, use sentiments and bias when we want to take decisions. Osinbajo has what it takes to be the President of Nigeria.
“Benin Republic now has a technocrat as President and even Rwanda and they have turned the economy of their countries around. In Benin, it is now N1, 000 to a 1,000 cfa.’’
Interestingly, there is a strange twist to the home support for Osinbajo. A chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ikenne confirms that they are on the same page with Osinbajo for President campaigners and the aspirant himself.
To Alhaji Mukaila Rufai of Akindoyin Street, Ikenne, the Osinbajo project transcends inter-party local politics in the area as they are in league with APC members.
“PDP can’t have a chance here as our son will make everyone to vote for APC in the 2023 polls. It is an unwritten agreement that we have to unite and close ranks both as PDP and APC to give him the support in the local government area.
“We are happy to have Osinbajo as a presidential aspirant and we pray and hope that he will be the candidate and then President. We are confident that he will make it.
“He distributes food items from time to time to everybody not only during festivities and not on party basis. He has been training youths, women and men for the past six years when he did not know that he would be contesting,’’ Rufai told Persecondnews.
Aside from the massive support from his kinsmen and the party, a bridge-building initiative, an inter-ethnic brotherhood and a throwback to the earlier times, is also being given to Osinbajo by the Igbo community in Ikenne.
“We have been looking up to VP coming to power as President. He is a learned man with the exposure that will bring about sanity, and good governance and give us security, food and restore national unity and reconciliation.
“Today most of our children are not in school, youths are not enjoying social amenities and infrastructure such as electricity that will engage them economically and take them out of social vices, crimes and criminalities.
“Industrialisation is not getting the good attention of the government to create jobs and take millions of unemployed youths off the streets,’’ Chief Godwin Ndu Nwankwere said, pledging Igbo support for Osinbajo.
He said: “We need leadership that will bring about meaningful development and we can see that in the man as demonstrated in most of the programmes he has been coordinating or talking about. Nigeria will be better for it.
“Igbo community in Ikenne has invested a lot in his campaign so far and we will still do more when by the grace of God he gets the ticket.’’
From the aggregate views, wishes and prayers of the Ikenne people, the thread of the message is a plea to APC to give them Osinbajo. His pedigree – a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, senior pastor, a Spartan and disciplined man, strong, healthy, standing for several hours speaking extempore with facts and figures, dogged and redoubtable, Osinbajo is a man of destiny, currently passing through and hopefully triumphing over all the vicissitudes and political travails.
Let me close with this from the Scriptures.“The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong nor bread to the wise nor riches to men of understanding …but time and chance happen to them all.’’
The events of the next few days will shape, make or mar the political destiny of Nigeria.