There are times when silence may not be golden. Let’s get something clear: an allegation as grave as the one recently made by Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun, the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, is one that deserves all the attention it can get.
Addressing the media in Abuja, Lasun had accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), of rigging him out of the 2018 Osun Governorship Primary through “a serious, well-orchestrated and coordinated” gang-up. The former Honourable Member representing Irepodun/Olorunda/Osogbo/Orolu Federal Constituency of Osun State also alleged that Ovie Omo- Agege was compensated with the Deputy Senate President position for presiding over the nebulous exercise.
To start with, political party formation and structure can be likened to a man casting his net into the sea to catch fish. Of course, the fish to be caught by the net are to come in their kinds. Since the net is not discriminatory, it catches all manners of species of fish that will swim in the direction and spread perimeter of the net in the sea. In like manner, political parties are made up of mixed multitudes. However, the stronger the Constitution of a political party, the more it reflects the party’s character. In other words, if the Constitution of the party is weak, and lacks legitimacy, so shall every individual attempt to impose his or her freewill on the party! Suffice it to say therefore that the possibility of such a political party to gravitate toward a party of strongmen, with strong opinions, but with no checks or overriding control, is high.
That said, the first fear is that APC will have to work on the internal dynamics of its Constitution to rein in everybody who pleasures himself/herself in behaving contrary to the grundnorm and essence of the soul of the party. This step becomes necessary for there’s no explanation, or, justification for Lasun’s offensive outburst against his party, unless, of course, the politician is not aware that political parties are institutions that require certain procedural protocols to deal or interact with them. Even if there are conflicts or knotty internal issues, there should be copious mechanisms in place to deal with them within the party.
In the current situation, even if the former Deputy Speaker should have his way, there’s already a residue; and it is what becomes of the people’s psyche about the ruling party being a rigging party. In simple terms, even if his governorship issue is settled, the fact remains that Aspirant Lasun is from a rigging party. It is not so much about Mr Gboyega Oyetola rigging him out, or Omo-Agege being compensated for supervising the rigging. No! Not at all! Instead, it is about the fact that APC will have to deal with the institutional damage dangerously presented by the Honourable’s weighty allegation, and applying sanctions as appropriate. This shouldn’t be one of those cases that are wittingly swept under the carpet. If there is an iota of truth in Lasun’s allegations, the public will be interested in it.
‘Pares cum paribus/Pares cum paribus facillime congregantur’ (A man is known by the friends he keeps). It is sad that, at 61, Nigeria is like a chess game. Like a bird, looking for where to perch, everybody is looking for where a situation benefits him/her the most. People mask their personal interests under the guise of group interests. Ultimately, those interests accrue to personal pockets. The late Emeka Ojukwu understood this much, and particularly voiced his distaste for it before he eventually went his own way.
Sad also that, in this society, the ‘character profile’ of a person has been relegated to the background. Why did I say so? When you belong to an Association, the character of that Association is what the people look out for. For instance, if Lasun belongs to APC, and APC is a rigging party, then, Lasun is a rigger. It is as simple as that! Therefore, for him to now start acting like a saint is not only unacceptable to good conscience but also tells the world who the former Honourable Member, really, is! In any case, tongues are already wagging, that this man went to represent nobody but Lasun Yusuf in the Federal House. His sojourn for a few years ‘fetched’ him the best hotel in Osogbo, the State Capital. Rumour even has it that the lawmaker has another one in Ikeja-Lagos. For God’s sake, isn’t this the same man who would rather pollute the entire river than for him not to have a particular fish from it? Is Lasun not trying to bring the house down just to have his personal interest protected? So, who is fooling who?
If one may ask: is the matter on hand not yet another in the series of ‘ajegbodo to n wa eni kunra’ (the guilty one, who is always looking for an accomplice) against Rauf Aregbesola as the former governor of Osun? Without being immodest, Lasun’s allegation has also impugned Ogbeni’s reputation, as the former Deputy Speaker was indirectly saying that Aregbesola oversaw the rigging. And, that’s a serious accusation!
In all of these, Governor Oyetola deserves commendation for his ‘sidon look’ approach in the face of needless provocation by an erring member of his party. He deserves a pat on the back for neither taking the law into his hand nor abusing his power as the incumbent Governor of Osun State. Were he to be of the tribe of aggressive leaders elsewhere, he most probably would have responded; and that would have spoilt the broth for the institutions that are trying to put the issue at stake in check.
Talking seriously, Lasun’s allegation should also serve as a lesson in season, especially, for those who are currently applauding him for bringing his party into disrepute. Yes, it’s one thing to start singing ‘Hosanna’_ simply because the former lawmaker has done something that’s “marvellous in” their “eyes.” However, Nigerians must equally weigh the future implications of his disruptive and selfish actions, especially, in making future political calculations and decisions.
All said, Aspirant Lasun should still be allowed to contest future elections in the ruling party, if he’s interested. After all, Nigeria is a democracy; and one of the essential attributes of a democracy is the ability to vote and be voted for. In other words, the politician should not be denied his right to contest on account of the rigging allegation. But then, providence demands that he does it, not in a way that will rubbish the entire system. Well, Nigerians may not see it now; but what the former lawmaker is trying to do is to spoil the entire foundation upon which the electoral system is built. Except we are being economical with the truth, what he did amounted to an insult on democratic norms and values; and this transcends party affiliations. The more reason something must give, either to rectify the situation, or, modify it. Otherwise, it will always be a metaphor for the barber’s chair: motion without movement!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
By Abiodun Komolafe