The War Called the Osun Elections; By Segun Tomori
Weeks before the August 9th gubernatorial elections which was won by the pragmatic Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the APC, it was obvious we were up against forces other than the people of Osun state which naturally should be the determinant of how the elections will swing. The All progressives Congress (APC) still smarting from its shocking defeat in the previous Ekiti elections had literarily sworn it will lose Osun over its dead body. The murderous villain fielded by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), outrightly unpopular with barely a few dozens of people trailing him at campaigns however wore the confidence of a Governor-In-waiting. He they didn’t care a hoot about the people’s wish, all that matters was the full compliment of the paraphernalia of State activated by an imperial President though utterly clueless, but desperate to add Osun to his conquest in furtherance of his still-born second term bid. So lo and behold, the die was cast!
I have not been emotionally attached to any elections in Nigeria as I was with the Osun elections, maybe June 12, 1993 Presidential elections presumed to have being won by my President, M.K.O Abiola could be an exception. It wasn’t because I had affinity with anyone in Ogbeni’s government or because I enjoyed any form of patronage but because I just couldn’t imagine my home State go back to the disastrous “years of the locust”. I had participated actively in the campaigns, interacted with the people, felt their pulse and the story was the same – Osun has never had it so good, the people vowed to defend their votes by all means possible! From that moment I had made up my mind to give my all and put myself at harm’s way if need be to ensure we form a bulwark of resistance against the machinery of State to be deployed to thwart the people’s wish.
When I was about to proceed on my journey to Osogbo, the Osun State Capital on Monday preceding the elections I prepared for the worst. Few associates privy to my trip advised strongly that I removed any APC sourvenir from my luggage,any ID card that can associate me with the party amongst other security tips. They were right to be apprehensive, soldiers, officials of the Department of State Security(DSS) including the hooded ones,lorry loads of mobile policemen had since being deployed across the nook and cranny of Osun State. Bearing in mind the desperation of their paymasters, we knew they could stop and search vehicles and abduct anything synonymous with APC, so I took all the precautions. I took off on the journey which in itself was dramatic.
As we got close to Oshogbo, a discussion ensued in the bus and I found out I was not alone in the Save-Osun initiative. Most of the passengers shared the same sentiments with me and were also natives of the State. They spoke emotionally and fiercely about their determination to ensure Aregbesola’s victory. Speaker after speaker reeled out programmes and interventions of the Governor that has brought smiles to the faces of the people. They concluded he was the best thing to happen to the State since its creation. The menacing apparatus of State then suffocating the enviroment will not deter them, they thundered! “Ko si ohun ti soja o se, a ma duro gboin gboin lati dibo Aregbe” they said in yoruba dialect meaning “there is nothing Soldiers can do, we will stand firmly to vote for Aregbe”. I thought to myself, we are about to witness mass resistance unequally in our national history if anything go against the people’s will. Hopefully, the soldiers we met on the various check-points didn’t stop and search, they just peeped through the bus windows and passed us on. I heaved a sigh of relief when I arrived Osogbo safely late in the evening.
I have attended rallies, mega-rallies , name it, but what I saw on Tuesday at the grand-finale of the campaign was frightening. A stadium whose capacity can’t be more than 60,000 almost caved in due to pressure from an unprecedented mammoth crowd. Every space on the covered stands were over-filled, the main bowl of the Stadium was virtually unpassable. My associates and I had to hold ourselves to navigate our way through the crowd, it took us about an hour from the entrance of the stadium to find somewhere to perch! Yet thousands more extend to adjoining roads outside the stadium. It was the APC mega-rally and to say it was awesomely mega is an understatement! We even heard that the Lord of Aso-rock caught an instant migraine seeing the magnitude of the rally! The effect of that was seen in the sealing off of the freedom park that was supposed to host workers rally the next day by “hooded soldiers” They got the now familiar, albeit emergency “orders from above” to forcefully if need be halt the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliates endorsement rally for the Ogbeni.
Co-incidentally, Wednesday, 6th August was my birthday but I was in no mood for celebrations of any kind. I told my well-wishers, family and friends that you don’t clink glasses in a battle-front! Interestingly, one of my compatriots who was also a major ‘battle-axe” and good friend’s birthday was 8th August so I told him we’ll do a birthday plus victory party on the 10th, a day after the elections,when we triumph at the polls. We know we had the people behind us, we never gave defeat a thought! By Thursday, preparations had reached feverish pitch, the towns, hamlets and villages was now massively flowing with uniformed men of all hues and shades. Some DSS operatives came to the restaurant we were having dinner, Thursday evening, apparently on surveillance mission. We got the message and we left in a jiffy! On our way to our location, we noticed a car trailing us, so we had to take a decoy to a bar. As we turned to the bar, the car also turned in another direction. Their mission still remains a mystery. Thank God for little mercies!
When we arrived our abode, we swung into action to put finishing touches to our master-plan which was to run a co-ordinated and effective live broadcast of the elections on social and online media in collaboration with the APC situation room which was to start from Friday evening till the announcement of the results on Sunday. This was necessary because leaking the plans of our devious opponents was key to frustrate their rigging machinery; announcing results online as we get it directly from our agents was also crucial to frustrate any manipulation at the collation level. By Friday afternoon, I had to tactically separate from my friends who then proceeded to a high security location. The curfew was going to start around 5-6pm. By 4pm, I arrived at my own secure location and quickly moved to set up. I surveyed the enviroment to assess the possible threat level. I saw that it was negligible so I settled down for the task ahead.
By Friday evening we got intelligence report that notorius election rigger, Chris Uba was in town with a unit of 50 soldiers attached to him. We sent that out and made sure it went viral. Later that night, information about the arrest of our leaders ranging from APC Publicity Secretary, lai Mohammed, the Attorney-general Of Osun State, barr. Wale Afolabi, Tinubu’s Special Adviser on media, Mr Sunday are, Commissioner for Agric among others were swiftly publicised with dispatch. The far-reaching effect of the noise we made contributed in no small measure to the release of most of those picked up by Saturday morning. We discovered by Saturday morning that fake soldiers and policemen had surfaced in many locations. Their logo was a red ankara tied to their left hand. Quickly we activated our instant alert to our people,through all means possible. That again thwarted efforts to manipulate the elections from the beginning.
The elections started peacefully however in most locations with accreditation going on smoothly. The only snag was the continued harassment of APC leaders across the State. The case of the 1st Civilian Governor of Osun State, Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke was quite instructive. After failing to assasinate him over-night due to resistance by his security aides, he was trailed from the polling unit to his mother’s residence where he went after accreditation. He escaped the siege by the whisker after he was discreetly notified. He couldn’t come back to exercise his franchise. The results started trickling in by afternoon and the PDP demolition squad sensing their rejection quickly switched to a plan B to disrupt the collation process. We instantly alerted the public about their norturnal meeting and evil plot. What really helped the APC apart from the determination of the people was our access to classified information. We were always a step ahead of them and that frustrated the election riggers.
I got an anonymous call from a patroitic police officer around 8pm who claimed he was at a location at modakeke and that results being collated was about to be altered. You could detect the fear in his voice as he asked me to ensure his cover. He was an igbo officer deployed from other states, he wasn’t familiar with the terrain but what was gratifying that there could still be few men of integrity in the corruption-ridden Nigeria Police Force. In order to confirm the authenticity of his Statement, I asked the Apapa Local Government Chairman who was with me to speak to him. He sounded credible, he concluded. So I made some calls to the authorities and sent text message to our men to act immediately.
Before 11pm, we already had all the results and we had won, though unofficially. What sealed the deal for us and put paid to any manipulation the PDP had in stock was the unexpected congratulation of Aregbesola as the winner of the election around 9.40pm by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade. Omisore according to our sources had already informed Aso-rock that there was fighting in his home-town of Ile-Ife because according to him, the results we were circulating were fake and he was actually leading in the “original” results. The Ooni swiftly debunked that, not only congratulated the Governor-elect, but also stated that nobody was fighting in Ife! That took the sail out of the wind of Omisore and his treacherous gang.
If we thought the threats have been subdued, we were in for a shocker! The returning officer whose task it is to announce the final result was under pressure to collect a whooping N1b and announce Omisore winner! They were ready to damn the consequences and ask us to go to court. So we had to practically go on our knees! I salute the indefatigable people of Osun State, they were resolute, they stood like a rock, stayed on the streets all through and formed a human shield around the collation centre. Then the returning officer came in around 1.35pm. The results of all the local governments were announced before 5am. Then we now witnessed dilly-dallying of the highest order. It got to a point around 7am, anxious journalists and people started singing asking for the results. Lo and Behold, at about 7.10am, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was finally pronounced the winner!
There was instant jubilation across the nook and cranny of Oshogbo. Never in the history of elections have I seen such spontaneous excitement pervade the landscape because of results announcement. Within the twinkle of an eye, the whole town went agog with people clutching their brooms- symbol of the Governor’s party, congratulating themselves, okada riders driving menacingly in such euphoric ecstasy and finally we could say hurray! We won! We didn’t win an election, we won a WAR with a stone like the biblical david. Goliath came to battle with the best arsenal at his disposal but we came with the will of a determined people that vowed that never again shall they go the road of perdition they once trodded. Who says the voice of the people is not the voice of God? Because ultimately the hand of the Almighty saved the day and gave us victory. Osun ti dara ooooooo.
Political Analyst; 08062672869
Email; email@example.com, twitter; @seguntomori.
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