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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Fatai Diekola: When the blackmailer misses his mark. By Tunji Awojide

"The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways."
- Deuteronomy 28:7


I would have refrained from joining issues with Fatai Diekola Oyedele for three main reasons. First, his tirades, as far as yours sincerely is concerned, are a non-issue. So, responding in kind can only be likened to killing an ant with a sledge hammer. Secondly, even in the political configuration of Osogbo, FD, as he is fondly called, is a lightweight. For this reason, dissipating energy and time on such a petty politician is like according him an undue attention. Thirdly, and most importantly, the real succession battle has not even started. What we are currently being treated to are mere scratches. When the real battle eventually commences, I have no doubt in my mind that Rauf Aregbesola's achievements in office as Osun State governor, including those lives he has positively impacted, are capable of taking the battle to the doorsteps of his enemies.
That said, facts on ground have constrained one to ask: what does Diekola want again? While my job here is not to discuss who brought 'what to where' as that has been appropriately taken care of, that Diekola could capriciously succumb to the allure of pelf to the detriment of his benefactor and the ruling All Progressives Congress, his acclaimed party, did not come as a surprise. After all, it is an established fact that his despicable roles in the attempted bastardization of the ethos of progressive politics did not start today. He was said to be one of the major sponsors of the little-tattle that Aregbesola was not an indigene of Osun State. Though booted out of People's Democratic Party (PDP), he is alleged to have been dining with APC chieftains in the daytime only to howl with the opposition under the cover of darkness. Besides, he was said to be one of the brains behind the disgraced Justice Folahanmi Oloyede's petition to Osun State House of Assembly accusing the governor of recklessness and corruption. He was also said to be a principal promoter of the political jamboree tagged 'Internally Displaced Pensioners' (IDP) protest in Osogbo early this year.

Well, while a leader's derailment is a complex topic on its own, the classic trap for managers of men and resources is to misconstrue high performance for high potential. Of course, that's where those who always refer to progressive politics as a cult seem to have got it wrong. For the avoidance of doubt, progressive politics is about loyalty. It is about commitment to the ideals of progressivism and respect for constituted authority. But this loyalty is not calibrated; it is total. Otherwise, it is not loyalty. Unlike other tribes, you can't denigrate or betray our leaders in Yorubaland and get away with it. Remember the teacher-student relationship that once existed between Emmanuel Alayande and Bola Ige and how the former eventually played his roles as a loyal party man. Till date, what became of Ladoke Akintola and Bode Thomas and whatever was left of their legacy remains a subject of debate.

Once upon a Southwest, there was a man called Lateef Kayode Jakande. We are not ignorant of what has become of his place in the scheme of things in Yoruba as well as what led to the collapse of Baba Kekere's political empire. Again, where is Ebenezer Babatope whose word was almost law in the now-rested Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN)? Where is Oladipo Diya and how did Akin Omoboriowo end the story of his political journey? Quite the opposite, Oscar Romero, Nelson Mandela, Aminu Kano, Tai Solarin, Gani Fawehinmi, among other worthy individuals, lived and died for their unwavering commitment to "a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities"; and the world has continued to celebrate them even in death. If those examples are too far to cite, at least, we can see how Muhammadu Buhari, Yemi Osinbajo and Aregbesola are reaping the fruits of the ideals of loyalty.

In his letter of March 18, 1542 to Fr. Simão Rodrigues, St. Ignatius described ingratitude as “the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins.” Basically, the Jesuit priest was drawing our attention to the fact that "a man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness" but a man who derides the base degrees by which he ascended a ladder is an unworthy servant. From the look of things, that Diekola has presented himself as an ungrateful soul is no longer debatable. When the going was good, he had the opportunity of unfettered access to the man of the people, yet, he used his influence to deny the man's people access to their man. Aregbesola committed huge resources into rescuing from the edge of death and dying. Actually, only the governor can disclose how much in terms of financial resources the project has so far gulped. But what did he get in return?

Osun State House of Assembly treated this conscience mortgagor like 'the special one' even as he never stopped harassing Aregbesola's commissioners - those who he always referred to as 'Awon Omo Online' - with one phony demand or the other. And, while his followers were wallowing in the labyrinth snarl of demeaning and dehumanizing penury, this man of poetic hypocrisy was annoyingly reveling in false values and transient affluence. Some Nigerians say he owns 54 houses while others put the figure at 49. Well, while not contesting the appropriateness or otherwise of these figures, I know for a fact that they are not less than 33, most of them monstrous in structure and all, bought, post-2011. But this is a man who could only boast of a flat pre-2011. His comrade-in-deceit, whose identity I will want to reveal for now, also has more than 15 to his credit. Anyway, that's a matter for another day!

At times, I wonder what some political harlots take Nigerians for! Maybe Diekola and fellow 'chop-clean-mouth' travelers on the road to perdition have forgotten that Nigeria has long left the jungle where prisoners act as warders; where criminals take over the responsibilities of policemen. For God's sake, a man who is unscrupulous with regard to the welfare of those placed under him will no doubt lose his moral bearings in a feigned fight for workers' rights. For instance, how has he catered to the needs of 'State Boys', a group of young and energetic members of youths saddled with the responsibility of assisting the state government in the socio-cultural and political mobilization of the people for its developmental activities? It is also the right of Nigerians demand the details of FD's monthly financial commitments to his personal driver.

To the best of my knowledge, it will take only those who don't have accountability in them to insist that Aregbesola has not delivered on his election promises. As a matter of fact, those mentally-challenged men and women on whose rehabilitation this administration has committed enormous resources will always have a special place in their hearts for the governor. Those over-fifty medical students in Ukraine who will soon become graduates, courtesy of Aregbesola's magic of purpose and love, will, for a very long time, remember his worthy deeds long after prophets of false dreams, who are futilely trying to subvert their benefactor in his divinely-ordained cause, will have withered.

And "who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?" Still, what does Diekola want? In my view, any or all of three things: invitation by the ruling party with a view to being 'settled'; or crass possibility of poaching by the opposition with a view to amassing more fortunes; but, as always, at the expense of the electorate. He may also be playing the usual spoiler's game characteristic of woeful losers. While the last two options may still be open to debate, the first option seems to have been nullified by the vote of confidence recently passed on Aregbesola and his government by the leadership of Osun West Senatorial District.

So, where lies Diekola's next destination? Back to his vomit, the near-the-grave carcass called PDP? Or the about-to-be-formed-but-dead-on-arrival Advanced People's Democratic Party (APDP)? Or the political wilderness, specially reserved for backstabbers and tales-bearers like him?

Ananias and Saphira had their day with judgement for their love of money, hypocrisy and lack of integrity. Gehazi paid dearly for covetousness and blind materialism. Even Peter, on whose rock the Lord eventually built his Church, did not escape the consequence of denying the Master. Ditto for Judas Iscariot, for betraying Jesus Christ. Again, this is where APC's roles in Osun State come to play. In other climes, the leopard in Diekola that has refused to change its spots would by now have been sanctioned by the party as a way of sending a strong signal to prospective blackmailers. Anyway, it is not too late for the party to further prove to Nigerians that it is capable of resolving its differences.

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