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Makinde And Our Conception Of Opposition Politics | Oladeinde Olawoyin
The finest form of opposition politics isn’t necessarily a summation of needlessly combative press statements and/or political gangsterism. In the first republic, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s appeal as “Opposition Leader” didn’t essentially draw strength from the public interventions of Anthony Enahoro and Bola Ige. No. Awo’s appeal, which was essentially AG’s, rested largely on the strength of his ideas and the brilliance that went into their execution across the region.
Ditto the second republic, when the good ol’ Ebenezer Babatope (Ebino-topsy) held sway in media interventions.
It’s quite easy to now attribute the mass appeal enjoyed by the APC in Yorubaland in the years leading to the 2015 general elections ONLY to Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s numerous “Ijakadi”-esque press statements (or even Kwankwaso’s Kwankwansiyya magic in Kano, Murtala Nyako’s conspiracy theory in Yola, Bukola Saraki’s defection in Ilorin, or Rotimi Amaechi’s mortal combat in Portharcourt). But in retrospect, a little stretch of one’s imagination would show that that may be a tad erroneous a judgement. And a deeper look into all of the dynamics may reveal that Governor Raji Fashola’s performance in Lagos, even if over-hyped, indeed played a (if not THE) major role in swaying our peoples’ thoughts favourably towards the opposition APC. And unlike all other dynamics, Fashola’s was simply a pan-Nigerian appeal built around governance ideas driven by clinical execution of same—–WARTS(!) and all.
I made a post about opposition politics in the Southwest and I noticed this sentiment that seems to suggest that gangsterism (or combative press statements) is a summation of “opposition politics”. And that by implication, therefore, the seemingly meek-looking Governor Seyi Makinde and his disciples may not make a virile opposition.
Now, I do not discountenance the import of Gra-gra, “gangsterism” and combative press statements in politics and electioneering. No. After all, even in the first republic, an otherwise principled Awo had to manage the thuggish excesses of people like Lamidi Adedibu who wanted to “break down” the gate of Mapo Hall one hot afternoon because Awo was prevented from entering and addressing a rally even after the party paid for its usage. Awo did not call for Adedibu’s suspension from the party, you know, if Adedibu’s own account is to be believed.
In this republic, Mc Oluomo and his disciples also have their “usefulness” in the APC too. Even Governor Makinde too has Auxilliary (and before they disagreed, Sunday Igboho) on standby for “mobilization” during electioneering. So I am not naively “bookish” to the point of under-estimating the place of these things in our terribly chaotic political system.
But the point remains that they aren’t the sum of excellent opposition politics geared towards overall development of the polity. In fact, they are a stumbling block to development. Given that that’s all the Fayose-Eddy faction has to offer, apart from their flirtation with the ruling party, is that the opposition we should crave in the region?
For instance, beyond his Ponmo-eating stunts and distasteful newspaper advertorials, what political capital did the ever-combative Governor Fayose generate for the PDP as an opposition in the southwest through visionary leadership when he held sway pre-2015, pray? In fact, some of my friends in Ado believe Fayose did far better in his first coming than the second, despite his combative “opposition politics”.
Anyone who knows me would know that there are over a thousand areas I disagree with Governor Seyi Makinde. But because my own disagreement, always, is issue-based (and I try to assess these issues on their individual merits), I will say it the way I think it is, frankly. As we speak today, Governor Makinde is the face of good governance among many Nigerians––warts and all—–and that perception isn’t without its merits.
But the big question is: did he achieve that on the strength of Auxilliary’s gangsterism or Buoda mi Akeem Olatunji’s numerous press statements? Not necessarily. He did largely on the strength of his novel ideas and commendable innovation in governance, even if flawed, which we can all see. Some of these things are not perfect, like I always say, but they have gone a long way in showing people how simple governance could be under a transparent leadership. Although the dynamics are different, this is what Fashola represented for many Nigerians, especially those in the West, pre-2015.
And that, for me, is the quintessence of opposition politics: one that offers the people a window into seeing how things could be done differently from––and far better than—–the way it is done in the mainstream/ruling party. Now imagine having a first term Fashola and Makinde in opposing parties, but with same resources, competing for excellence in their respective states. Even our region will be better for it.
Now, that’s the kind of “opposition” I crave as a citizen. It may be “too idealistic” or even impossible, but that’s the kind of “opposition” I am convinced can engender growth and development across our region.