Akeredolu And The Burden Of Moral Leadership In Ondo State, By Musa Kosemani
“Tell the Senator he is not a member of the APC. Everyone involved in anti-party activities can’t come back through the back door, they would have to go back to their various wards to reapply for APC membership cards. They should also do the needful”.
The statement above is credited to Akeredolu during a dinner after his inauguration as Governor of Ondo State. (See Punch, February 27, 2017 p. 12, titled Akeredolu accuses Ondo Senator of disloyalty). Coming from a supposed political leader, the statement is both misguided and unfortunate. It is also an arrogant display of immaturity by a self styled SAN. Anyone familiar with the flawed processes that saw his emergence both as a candidate and later as a Governor would have advised Akeredolu to be more mature and careful especially on issues he is less morally qualified to talk about.
Benefiting from being imposed with impunity on more qualified candidates in the 2012 election and being the principal actor, beneficiary and a product of a controversial, flawed and heavily monetised primaries with deep moral scars on APC, Akeredolu should have been advised to face the challenge of reconciling aggrieved members of the APC who showed their moral conviction and anger against the criminal manipulation of the election processes in his favour.
Hence, rather than face the reality of the deep division within the Ondo State APC which he caused, he is casting aspersion on a Senator who almost single handedly resuscitated the party (ACN) in 2012 after Akeredolu’s woeful and disgraceful public exhibition of gross incompetence and inability to articulate his campaign programmes convincingly in a televised debate which illuminated his intellectual bankruptcy and legal emptiness.
The platform, the APC, of which Akeredolu now benefited as Governor through a fraudulent process was built and sustained by the Senator he arrogantly accused of working against the party.
The Senator he is accusing or threatening with anti-party activities has contributed much more than Akeredolu in building the APC in the state. Until very recently, Akeredolu is seen as a “stranger” in APC. In a comment in The Nation (July 3, 2016 p.45) an analyst described Akeredolu as “a tragic manifestation of a man’s self-centeredness and egomania. Here was a “stranger” who was imposed with impunity on more qualified candidates (in 2012)”.
Akeredolu should be reminded even at the risk of possible metacognitive aberrations and dysfunctions, that the senator in question represents and symbolises, more than him (Akeredolu), the hard core values of honour, humility, honesty, integrity and the rule of law which since inception had defined the operational ideology of APC in Ondo State until the basterdization and premature obituary of these values in the electoral processes which saw the emergence of Akeredolu as Governor.
Akeredolu’s “success” at the gubernatorial primaries and his “victory” in the governorship election have left a deep moral scar on APC in addition to making Ondo State a shameful reference point for the most monetised gubernatorial election in Nigeria history.
In just one stroke and all alone, Akeredolu’s misguided political misadventure in Ondo State has caused disaffection among leaders of the party both at state and national levels. It has also left a legacy of mega mess as regards the electoral process which he and his sponsors must contend with in the party. Akeredolu has in addition left the party deeply divided on ideological and moral grounds.
Given his narrow political base in the Ondo State chapter of APC, evidenced by his controversial victory in the primaries election and the fact that he pulled only 244,000 votes out of 1.6m votes in the gubernatorial election, Akeredolu should have been humbled by the results. Because of this factor and in addition to the disaffection he has caused among the national leadership of the party, rational Nigerians expect Akeredolu to seek peace and reconciliation. He needs to widen the political base of the APC and reposition it to face forth coming elections in a process which must involve all the leaders of the party. I hope the illusion and euphoria of transient power and arrogance will not becloud his assessment of the magnitude of the challenges that stare at him as Governor of a State which traditionally has been a reference point for progressive, honest and credible politics.
Hence, the health of the party must first be restored by an ideological mechanism that must include an unreserved apology to all members of the party at all levels by Akeredolu and his foreign sponsors. They have polluted both the party and the State. The aggrieved members who showed their moral uprightness and commitment to core values of honour, honesty and integrity should be persuaded back to the party unconditionally.
Akeredolu has neither the moral authority nor the political legitimacy to dictate terms and conditions to APC members who are manifestations of the core values of APC. We hope the Governor knows the difference between victory and success in electoral political processes even as Albert Einstein reminds us that in times like this, individuals with great ideas and spirits have always encountered mischievous and morally bankrupt oppositions from docile and mediocre minds. Our state still yearns for a moral political leadership which embodies and exemplifies APC’s core values of honour, decency, honesty integrity, the rule of law and ideological uprightness all of which are captured by the Yoruba concept of Omoluabi.
Dr. Musa Kosemani is the Coordinator of Progressives Unite Against Imposition (PUAI), Ondo State chapter of APC.