From Mohammed Akanbi
Hatred is the rare drink that consumes whom imbibes it. In one of my earlier essays, I admonished those who play the game of politics not to be impolitic. There are so many political players who turn every serious political matter into political football. The past few months have been both quite intriguing, sensational and evidently, it took a lot of sweat, verbal punches and bad blood between the two warring factional leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara and their supporters to get to this predictable end.
Hippos and hipsters in rugby: For the many months this needless and pointless battle lasted, the party landscape in the state was like a land of hippos and hipsters. A muddy swamp teeming with mongoose and amphibious mammals. It was a real Rugby show and a game much described in political parlance as suicidal. Here the thugs writhed in mud and when mud is thrown real hard, some of it sticks.
In this political rugby, the rule of engagement was that there is no rule of engagement and the golden mean was that there should be no golden mean. It was a free for all affrays in which no weapon was too sacred or too profane to be pressed into urgent battle.
God bless Patrick White wherever he chose to be after his earthly sojourn. It was he, the Australian novelist and 1973 Nobel laureate in literature who once famously described rugby as a game of thugs writhing in mud. It was really an unfriendly dig at the English Upper class. Rugby, with its echoes of manliness and muscular menace, it’s refined violence and public school pabulum, is a game very dear to the English upper crust. Unlike football, you can take rugby out of England but you cannot take Englishness out of rugby.
More than ever, that this mud war would create some uneasiness within the opposition members and the public was self evident following the perverse anti-intellectualism that substitute muscle-flexing and myths of manifest destiny for serious thoughts. It was really a mystery as to why this senseless mud wrangling commands the attention of the literati. It is either that there is a muck-raker in all of us or we are genuinely concerned with the urgent need for a common resolve in the interest of the Kwara agenda.
For whatever the outcome of the Abuja settlement, there is the victor and the vanquished. We must admit this if we must progress. Even if the party’s supporters’ urgent concern is the amicable settlement of the impasse, Senator Ahmed Makarfi had summed it up much earlier and re-echoed also by Prince Sunday Fagbemi in his recent interview – ‘reconciliation does not mean giving to another what rightly belongs to someone else’.
To situate properly, it then means giving the victor his right and then integrate the vanquished. This is their own true position. If so, why do we delight in padding falsehood simply because we need peace? I think we should desist from distortions because the PDP needed to reconcile and move on. Peace is not derived from words scrawled on official parchment, it first emanates from a new frame of mind and a changed heart.
What is noble and bad: In causing people to believe in the existence of peaceful defeats to the troubles confronting them is to justify and subject them to reality. We delude ourselves so much in Kwara to the point that we even fail to realise this – leading to our continued inability to differentiate between what is noble and bad. If we must work together as one in pursuit of our common goal, we must learn to be wise and understand too that there is something to be learned from everyone.
Not that the ‘aoni gba’ group had any personal animus toward Iyiola Oyedepo. Their opposition was more fundamental. While the very concept of his continuity revolted them, it also symbolised the evaporation of a way of life. It was like the murder of a loved one except that the killer not only went unpunished but was publicly rewarded for the crime.
Anger was further rekindled because the scribes of their reactionary view would record them as those who failed to safeguard the ship. They ignored two injunctions. First, never fight two wars on two fronts at the same time. Secondly and more importantly, they ignored the fact that he who throws the first blow will likely receive the last.
These ‘genteel’ have taken to slandering their party chairman and felt no guilt in raping the truth. By pressing too hard on the fighting button, they not only mismanaged the matter and misled the public but caused a torrent of setbacks for the opposition and the people thus making the opposition suffer like a wingless bird. The worst offence of a liar as I have often said is not the untruth he tells another person but that which he tells himself.
Let no one misunderstand my writing. It may tend to focus on things you feel I ought to have left out because the matter has been resolved in Abuja. I confess to a recent comment from a reader that we always fail to address the truth but wallow in self delusion. There are some things that stops evil and wrong from claiming total victory. That the PDP has survived this dark assault does not mean that there are no lessons to be learnt.
But anyone who my writings may lead to despondency, I ask that you discard the shrunken-feelings and revive your spirit. In human also lies my garment. (Eniyan ni aso mi). In all that I write I tried to justify why we must re-examine the past to correct the present and safeguard the future and why we must reject evil and self deceit but remain resolute.
Men who lead without any greatness: The fact still remains that modern day rebels hardly surrender by making ghoulish pledges of support come hellfire. What happened to the ‘aoni gba’ group call for self re-examination and retrospect for future benefits.
This episode has become a bleak chapter in the history of PDP in Kwara whether we like it or not. The tragedy in all of these is that this ‘war’ was avoidable as any accident. The trouble was not due to its unalterable fate but to ignorance, ego, falsehood and narrow thoughts. It is disrespectful to the citizenry to dish out lies and half truth and also expensive when the truth is discovered. This is but a cautionary tale for Iyiola Oyedepo who is now proclaimed the authentic party chairman about the woes that come when men aspire to lead without any greatness.
Therefore, the demands of his office now required more than ever that he pilot the party affairs with fairness, justice, openness and greater steam. He should extend further the olive branch to other unknown ‘aoni gbas’ still within and outside the party. Eschew bitterness, remain resolute and compassionate. He should explore further means of consolidating on the Abuja accord for the task ahead.
If we decide we are open to endless possibilities, Oyedepo must not only examine past failures but must also be willing and together with the party put in the work. Iyiola Oyedepo must also realise that he carries a heavy burden now than before and this factor should shape his decisions and everything he does. This is a sacrifice he must make to take the people where they desired. It would be sad for a people who have experienced bad leadership so much to fall again. For the sake of us all, may the past remain where it is.