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On their way to retirement

Published by The Nation on Sat, 18 Apr 2015

The repercussions could be politically disastrous for their image, career and confused followership. When a politician goes to poll with confidence, especially after much bragging and flaunting of experience, formidable structure and other pedigrees, they are hardly sensitive to the reality that the line of demarcation between success and failure is thin. Success has many fathers, but the burden of liability may be borne solely by the casualties of electoral defeat.Young politicians have time to correct the mistakes and strike back because age is on their side. They can return to the drawing board, re-strategise and bounce back. But not all of them would have a second chance. When the first lawyer from Akure, Ondo State, Akinola Aguda, stood for parliamentary election as an independent candidate against an Action Group (AG) candidate, despite entreaties to postpone his bid, he met his political waterloo at the poll. He quit politics for life. However, he later emerged as a giant of the bar and bench.Instructively, once the frontline Awoist, the late Chief Akin Omoboriowo, parted with his leader, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, his political career ended on that note. Also, when the late Chief Hezekiah Davies got employment at the CMS Bookshop during the colonial days, to the consternation of firebrand youths who adored him, their perception of his leadership position in the nationalist movement changed. There was loss of political trust. By the time the Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, appointed Davies as a Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, the old lawyer knew that the appointment was a prelude to his retirement.Indeed, some costly mistakes could mar the chance of old political war horses to spring new surprises. Thus, when the AG National Secretary, the late Chief Ayo Rosiji, lost his House of Representatives seat, following his defection to the defunct Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) led by the late Chief Ladoke Akintola and Chief Remi Fani-Kayode, his political career was on the eclipse. He was the last minister of information in Balewas government. The brilliant career of the colourful politician ended with the First Republic.In post-Jonathan period, what will be the fate of the Presidents sponsors in the Southwest, Southeast and Southsouth' Politics, no doubt, is in their blood, but will the pro-Jonathan campaigners remain active at the twilight of life' Will the tragedy of defeat make political retirement more compelling' What will be their role under the new government'AdebanjoAdebanjo is a foremost disciple of Awolowo. His assets are his devotion to Awoism, political consistency, integrity and contentment. Many Nigerians hold him in high esteem. In his own right, the Afenifere and National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) chieftain is a renowned pro-democracy crusader, an apostle of true federalism and a dogged fighter for the rule of law and justice. Since he entered politics as a youth activist in the AG, he has never looked back. Adebanjo was a member of the AG Youth Association led by Fani-Kayode, and later by Ayo Fasanmi. He was one of the first sets of the AG Organising Secretaries.In the days of political tribulation, he did not betray his leader. He was a foundation member of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), led by Awo. He was also the National Vice Chairman and later Acting Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was among the three Afenifere leaders who nominated Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for the governorship of Lagos State in 1999. Despite his long stay in politics, Adebanjo has never contested elections.However, the camp of his admirers was split during the recent elections. Adebanjo, a lawyer, is the most vocal and combative Afenifere chieftain. When the pan-Yoruba socio-political group endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan for a second term, tongues wagged. The perception of his support for the PDP contrasted with the perception of his backing for the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA), which was believed to be a protesting progressive party, in 2007.During the electioneering, Adebanjo did not hide his affection for the President, whose achievements he praised to high heavens. The Yoruba elder from Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, also hinged his support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government because the President, in his view, had accepted to implement the report of last years National Conference. Adebanjo was a delegate to the conference. However, another delegate, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said that its implementation would be a ruse. He explained that the Yoruba Agenda did not scale through at the conference, thereby validating the earlier warning by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that the conference would pale into a decoy, a jamboree and a Greek gift.A source said that Adebanjo mobilised Afenifere to support the PDP candidate to spite Tinubu, who fell out with them during the protracted AD crisis. Indeed, the crises came from two sources-Bola Ige/Olu Falae struggle for power and Ganiyu Dawodu/ Tinubu rift. But unresolved dispute has polarised Afenifere into Fasoranti and Fasanmi factions. While the former pitched tent with Jonathan, the latter supported Buhari. The damage done to Afenifere by the antagonistic positions of the two factions was monumental. According to observers, when the group supported the conservative government at the centre, it mocked its antecedent as an ally of progressive movements. Indeed, the majority of Yoruba ignored his call to vote for the President at the poll. Their feeling was that the group failed to read the correct mood of the marginalised zone. The question is: can the pro-PDP Afenifere faction now speak for Yoruba under the new dispensation'AjayiNinety-year-old Ajayi is an illustrious son of Yorubaland and a great Nigerian; brilliant, polished, discerning, hardworking and highly diplomatic. He is not a noise maker. He is a man of peace. The Isara-Remo-born Awoist is a lawyer by profession. He was a member of the AG, UPN and AD. He is an ex-Commissioner for Education in the old Western State. Many Yoruba people hold him in high esteem because he is a non-confrontational and non-controversial figure. He is very passionate about his race and its position in a modern Nigeria.Ajayi is one of the three leaders of Afenifere who called the shot until the group was factionalised in the post-Adesanya period. When Senator Abraham Adesanya was the leader of the group, Ajayi and Adebanjo, who were part of the controlling leadership, exerted much influence on the Ijebu-Igbo-born leader. When the pan-Yoruba socio-political group was engulfed in crisis, he was distressed by the turn of events. But efforts to resolve the logjam in the Lagos chapter through the 60/40 sharing formula recommended by the committee headed by him did not achieve the desired result.Ajayi, a Methodist knight, was a delegate to the National Conference. Although he strategically stayed in the background during the public endorsement of the President by Afenifere, many Yoruba believed that Adebanjo spoke his mind. With the defeat of his preferred presidential candidate, the elder statesman may recoil into his shell.FasorantiThe Akure, Ondo State-born educationist and politician became the Acting Leader of Afenifere when the crisis ravaging the group got to a peak. Under his leadership, the group has been decimated by strife, rancour and clash of ego.Fasoranti is an old Action Grouper, having joined the dominant progressive bloc in Yorubaland under Awolowo as a student of the University of Ibadan in the fifties. He was loyal to the progressive cause. A teacher, he served as principal in schools in Oyo, Iwo, Osogbo, Iju-Ita-Ogbolu and Ado-Ekiti. In 1979, the late Chief Adekunle Ajasin wanted to make him his running mate, but Awo suggested Omoboriowo for ethnic balancing. Fasoranti served as the Commissioner for Finance.A patriot, he surrendered his private school to the government during the take-over of private schools by the Ajasin Administration without asking for compensation. He later established another private school. In 1999, he was the natural choice for the governorship in Ondo State chapter of the AD, but he declined, saying that he was mourning the demise of his beloved wife. Throughout his public career, Fasoranti has always shunned avarice, opulence and materialism.However, as the Afenifere leader, he has presided over a divided house. Reconciliation in the fold has been difficult. A parley organised by relatively younger membersOlawale Oshun, Tokunbo Ajasin, Kayode Fayemi, Bisi Adegbuyi, Jimi Agbaje, Ayo Afolabi, Yinka Odumakin and Kunle Famoriyoto unite the group failed. Fasoranti, Adebanjo, and Fasanmi and Olabiyi Durojaye were present at the Ibadan meeting, but it did not lead to any reunion or renewal of contact.Unlike Adesanya, he has over-relied on the Ijebu Mafia in the group in decision-making, unmindful of their agenda. For example, his Akure declaration that the AD national convention that produced Chief Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa as the chairman appeared to have substantially satisfied the laid down party guidelines led to controversy, with the other group led by Akande, Tinubu and Osoba calling it quits with the party. When the faction also threw its weight behind the PDP governorship candidate in Osun State against Governor Rauf Aregbesola, many Yoruba started to have a second thought about Afenifere.But the straw that broke the camels back was the groups support for Dr. Jonathans re-election bid. It came after the outcry by Afenifere against the regime. At a press conference, Fasoranti had criticised the Federal Government for marginalising the Southwest in the distribution of appointments and social amenities. Thus, the u-turn was worrisome to many Yoruba sons and daughters, who felt that the organisation might have sold out.Despite its promise to the President Jonathan, Afenifere failed to mobilise the Yoruba to vote for him. There was a clear disconnect between the group and the people.OkurounmuOkurounmu is a Yoruba star. The engineer is a former university don. In 1979, he was appointed as the Commissioner for Education, and later Works, by former Ogun State Governor Olabisi Onabanjo. He was prominent in the NADECO/Afenifere struggle for the revalidation of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, the late Chief Moshood Abiola.In 1999, the AD chieftain was elected into the Senate. But he was defeated in 2003 by Senator Ibikunle Amosun of the PDP. Shortly after Mr. Ayo Opadokun was shoved aside as the National Secretary of Afenifere and Okurounmu became the scribe. In 2005, he presented Afeniferes position on the alleged third term agenda of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. But controversy trailed his submission in 2009 that Afenifere membership was open to all Yoruba, irrespective of party affiliations. In 2010, he also rejected the call for power shift by the North, saying that Dr. Jonathan deserved a second term.Last year, Okurounmu was appointed by the President as the Chairman of the National Conference Consultative Committee. The panel collated views from stakeholders from the six geo-political zones. Many Afenifere chieftains were delegates to the conference. But whether the report will be implemented is doubtful.The Egba-born politician campaigned for Jonathan as a chieftain of Afenifere, but PDP failed at the general elections in the Southwest.FasehunFrederick Fasehun, a medical doctor and businessman, rose to prominence with a dint of hard work. In the Third Republic, he was a presidential aspirant in the SDP. A Yoruba patriot, he formed what is now known as the ethnic militia, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC). That was during the agitation for the actualisation of the June 12 mandate. He was detained for 19 months between December 1996 and June 1998. He was released from detention 18 days after the death of the Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.Recently, Fasehun formed the UPN. The party was disowned by the former members of the UPN led by Awo, who also said that he had embarked on a fruitless voyage. There was a split in the party, with some members alleging that it was set up to drum support for the Presidents second term agenda. The controversy was still raging when news about pipeline monitoring contract filtered into the public.After the initial postponement of the election dates, OPCs protest in Lagos shut down the mega city. Socio-economic activities were paralysed. The group threatened fire and brimstone. At the close of polls, it was evident that the militia was highly deficient in political mobilisation.OsobaThe veteran journalist is a mentor and role model for many media practitioners. Since the late sixties, Osoba has been a household name in Nigeria. He achieved progression in his career under the military rule, but he maintained contact with the grassroots. As he ploughed back to his community, he extended frontiers of cooperation and tentacles of influence across the country. He left indelible marks in the Daily Times as the Editor and Managing Director, The Nigerian Herald as the General Manager, and Editor of The Sketch. He was a member of the 1988 Constituent Assembly. In 1992, he was elected as the governor of Ogun State on the platform of the SDP. In 1999, he bounced back as the governor on the platform of the AD. He was a delegate to the National Conference.Osoba is a founding father of the APC, but along the line, his attention was diverted by local politics. In Ogun State, crisis had broken out between him and the governor, Amosun, over the control of the state chapter. Osobas men, including Deputy Governor Segun Adesegun, Senator Gbenga Kaka, Senator Gbenga Obadara, and Senator Akin Odunsi, were up in arms against Amosun.In protest, they opted out of the APC. Osoba supported them to seek fortune on another platform. But their next port of call, the SDP, is a fragile party. It lacks a formidable structure. It is unknown to the people of the Gateway State. During the general elections, the party could not fly. Their governorship and senatorial ambitions crumbled. Today, Osoba is perceived as the backbone of one of the opposition parties in Ogun State.ClarkSenator Edwin Clark, lawyer, former Federal Commissioner for Information and Second Republic senator, knows his onions. He is a fearless defender of the Southsouth interest. The Ijaw Leader was very passionate about the Presidents second term project. During the electioneering, he exchanged hot words with prominent Northern leaders canvassing power shift, including Prof. Ango Abdullahi and Dr. Junaid Mohammed. But, Clark lost on two fronts. President Jonathan lost at the election while his wife, Bisola, who was the PDP senatorial candidate for Ogun West District, also lost her deposit. But Clark remains the undisputed leader of the Ijaw nation.Ikimi:The rich architect from Edo State came into political limelight in the Third Republic when he emerged as the National Chairman of the National Republican Convention (NRC). Before then, he was a member of the Constituent Assembly. He was also a Special Adviser to Abacha and later the Minister of Foreign Affairs.A serial defector, Ikimi defected from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), where he was a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT), to the PDP in 2001. He conducted the 2003 presidential convention of the party in 2003. In 2006, he joined the defunct AC. He played an important role in the merger of the legacy parties-ACN, ANPP, CPC and a section of APGA. He was the Co-ordinating Chairman of the Merger Talks. When the APC was formed, Ikimi became its National Vice Chairman (Southsouth). But he withdrew from the party last year because his chairmanship ambition was not supported by powerful forces in the party. Although he returned to the PDP, the party failed in its mission to install the majority of the members of the House of Assembly during the election.AnenihThe PDP-BOT Chairman is a strategist and a schemer. But in the last election, he could not spring a surprise in favour of the President and the PDP. At 83, the acclaimed Mr Fix It of Nigerian politics appears to be in a fix. The Iyasele of Esanland and frontline politician from Uromi could not also lead the Edo chapter to victory. The question is: Is pre-1999 Anenih the same as the Anenih of today'Anenih has never ceased to be on the firing line since the Second Republic. In 1981, he surprisingly displaced the late Chief Tony Enahoro as the Bendel State Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He led the party to victory in 1983, with Dr. Sam Ogbemudia of the NPN displacing Governor Ambrose Ali. That marked the beginning of his meteoric rise to fame.In the Third Republic, the late Gen. Sheu YarAduas group, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), installed Anenih as chairman. But the national chairman did not lend his voice to the June 12 struggle. In 1994, he became a delegate to the National Conference set up by Abacha. In 1999, Anenih, the PDP leader, became a full power broker. He was the Minister of Works in the Obasanjo Administration. Obasanjo, who held him in awe, called him My Leader, to the amusement of other chieftains who nodded affirmatively. In 2002, he declared that there was no vacancy in Aso Villa.But the tide begun to change for the powerful man in 2007. The former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Adams Oshiomhole, who ran for the governorship of Edo State on the platform of the AC, had called attention to the evil of godfatherism in the state. At the governorship election, he beat Anenihs candidate, Osaherim Osunbor. After the election, he was edged out of office by Obasanjo as the BoT Chairman. But he regained the seat when Obasanjo resigned.During the 2012 governorship election, Oshiomhole also dusted the PDP candidate, Gen. Charles Airhiabvaire. But ahead of the recent elections, the chief worked harder. Some ACN and later, APC chieftains, defected to the PDP. But unlike before, he could not re-enact the old feat.For 16 years, Anenih basked in the euphoria of federal power. He will now need to adjust to a full opposition role at the federal and state levels.EkwuemeThe former Vice President is a successful architect. He has five degrees, capping it all with a doctoral degree in architecture. In 1979, he became the Vice President. As a member of the National Conference, he served on the Committee for the Structure and Framework for the Constitution. The committee proposed the rotation of power across the six regions.Ekwueme was the leader of the G-34, which fought Abacha to a standstill. He was the first PDP-BoT Chairman. His ambition is to serve as the President, but the aspiration has always been aborted by powerful forces in the party. When the PDP was in deep crisis, he was the Reconciliation Committee chairman. In the last election, the former Vice Presidents intervention was limited. He complained that the party had neglected him. When the President later visited him, he urged people to support him.Ezeife:Ezeife was the governor of Anambra State between 1992 and 1993. In 1999, he was an AD chieftain. Later, he became Political Adviser to former President Obasanjo.During the last general election, he campaigned for Dr. Jonathan. But despite the success of the PDP in the state, victory eluded the ruling party at the centre.The post On their way to retirement' appeared first on The Nation.]]>
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