Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When the Hunter Became the Hunted: The Ironic case of Olagunsoye Oyinlola

“History proves that all dictatorships, all authoritarian forms of government are transient. Only democratic systems are not transient. Whatever the shortcomings, mankind has not devised anything superior. -Vladimir Putin

There are some Nigerians who enjoy the coterie of power so much so you can’t remember when they were ever out of the loop of power. They are the AGIP-Any government in power- group. They are constantly moving up in governmental circles; in fact they will do anything to stay in power. They have little or no scruple or principles; they abuse those who dare criticize their masters. They are always available to be use to launder the image of whoever the traducers in power might be. Among these motley lots is my state former governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola (I say Prince guardedly as that is what he now wishes to be called, even though he was a former military man turned militricians).

Oyinlola has been within the circle of governance in Nigeria since 1993, holding the levers of power as military administrator (Lagos State), governor (Osun State) or national secretary (People’s Democratic Party). In any and all of these positions there is nothing you can point to as achievement during his misrule. On the other hand, there are abundance of evidence pointing to corruption, abuse of power and anti-democratic tendencies. For example, in September 2009, a spokesman for the United Action for Democracy (UAD) accused Oyinlola of being the 'chief conspirator' in the alleged murder of Kudirat Abiola, wife of the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election Chief MKO Abiola, who was assassinated on the road between his (Oyinlola’s) office and that of the Canadian High Commission.

In July 2009, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, banned Igbo people in Osun state from parading themselves as Eze Ndigbo (king of Igbo), an unprecedented executive overreach. In his words he did this “in order to protect the Igbo culture and traditional institution from ridicule.” At the same time, he sought constitutional responsibilities for traditional rulers in the country, something outside the current constitution, he had sworn to protect and defend. He used the levers of power to hound his opponents as governor of Osun state, so much so that at one time he practically put the state capital on lockdown for more than 48 hours in other to stop the opposition party from campaigning against him. He empowered the local government administrator he handpicked to ride roughshod over the citizen of the state with impunity, and one of them actually crush the skull of a respected citizen of my hometown-Ilesa. He used his power as state governor, to detain and brutalized his then opponent, who is now the current governor of Osun state, Comrade Rauf Aregbesola. In April 2009, as national secretary of PDP, Next magazine reported that Olagunsoye Oyinlola was caught on tape telling local PDP politicians he would supply army uniforms, arms and ammunition so they could rig the runoff elections in Ekiti State. I could go on and on, but you get my drift, the lists of his misdeeds are endless.

Now fast forward to present interesting times. After 20 years of hobnobbing with the rich and almighty in Nigeria, he has now found himself out of corridor of power for the first time in over 30 years. Not only is he out of power, he is also getting a huge dose of what he doled out to democracy activist when he was in power. His new PDP has been locked out of their secretariat contrary to an order of court which expressly prohibits police officers from interfering in intraparty brouhaha. He is now constantly watching over his shoulders as he could be arrested by agents of President Goodluck Jonathan and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-the party chairman. He is hunted by the ghost of his past and the realities of his present. He is as much a wanted man as he once made many who oppose his misrule.

The ironic thing here is that he now runs to some of us in the prodemocracy activism in Nigeria to rescue him. And sadly, we have to defend him. As our principles, especially on freedom is not hinged on who is being deny the rights we are fighting for but the very existence of freedom itself! The fact that Oyinlola is suddenly a “democrat” at least for the moment, matters little to the fact that freedom endures. He is now ruing the misrule at the center, attacking his party boss with the constitutions, the same paper he never read but used to wrap “akara” and “boli” when he was in power. Let me made it abundantly clear though that the irony is only lost on him.

I think it was Vladimir Putin (himself a dictator) who was quoted to have said “History proves that all dictatorships, all authoritarian forms of government are transient. Only democratic systems are not transient. Whatever the shortcomings, mankind has not devised anything superior.” I wonder why they never learned this homily when they are in government. Irony does writ large at these interesting times of mankind history.

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