Saturday, 5 October 2013

New Political Thinking In South-West

THERE appears to be a new political thinking in the South-West. At least that was what the discerning mind observed at a tribute session for former Ondo State governor, Olusegun Agagu at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Oyo State and sponsored by the Ondo State government, on Monday.
Agagu was a one-time acting Head of the Department of Geology. So, the department, in conjunction with Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), set aside a day to celebrate him.
Remarkably, however, while the event demonstrated the common universe of Yoruba humanity across political lines, it also provided an opportunity, however momentary, for political foes to celebrate one another, so that in death, Agagu may be said to have made a powerful statement on uniting the home front.

It was a day when political sworn-enemies buried their differences within the common compass of humanity. The tributes session held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, saw Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and his predecessor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, not only embracing each other very warmly but also serenading each other, in the belief that governance is a continuum, a space that will eventually be vacated by each temporary occupant, so why perpetuate political bitterness?
By sheer accident of facts, the predecessors were older than the serving governors, and Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi’s reference to Chief Olusegun Oni as Egbon was quite natural---Aregbesola did the same while serenading Oyinlola---but then Egbon as utilised in that context and with the same warmth was indicative of a newfound rapprochement, the hard PDP-ACN politics of the immediate past notwithstanding.
For some time to come, the picture of Dr Kayode Fayemi and Chief Olusegun Oni embracing each other, throwing banters and having a swell time will continue to be told, but even more so will the kind words offered by the serving governors. Former Governors Oni and Oyinlola did not speak on the occasion---that role was undertaken on their behalf by former Governor Gbenga Daniel---but a semblance of the new thinking in South-West politics was easily discernible in the applause they gave their successors. What is more, it seemed sufficiently clear, as many would later observe as the day dragged on, that this was one occasion where politics took a back seat and brotherhood reigned supreme, but then whether or not this new tempo will be sustained is a matter for conjecture.
At the tributes session were former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola; former governor of Ogun State, Chief Gbenga Daniel; former Governors Segun Oni, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Ayodele Fayose, together with the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olusola Oke; Dr Olu Agunloye; the Commissioner for Information in Ondo State, Mr Kayode Akinmade, and Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, represented by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Christian Ita, among others.
The wife of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bola, broke down in the middle of her tribute session and the Master of Ceremonies had to complete the former president’s statement. “We will miss Olusegun Agagu. The children will miss Agagu. Friends, community and Ondo State will miss Agagu for his innumerable contributions. As a political colleague, I miss an honest adviser and a dependable associate. We have indeed lost an honest adviser, hardworking colleague, indomitable leader, lover of his community and a committed worker in the political vineyard, who brought his intellectual ability to bear in my government,” said Obasanjo.
Also, Governor Fayemi, who saluted his predecessor, Chief Segun Oni, described Agagu as a knowledgeable person who never played politics of bitterness and lived beyond politics of deceit.“Agagu was a man of honour and intellect. He is the true ‘Kokumo’ because he will forever live in our hearts. He lit the candle and showed the pathway to some of us...We saw in him a responsible intellectual who always enjoyed adding value to people’s lives until he breathed his last.
Agagu was a good role model in academics and in politics who will be missed by all,” he said.
In his speech, the Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, described the late Agagu as a worthy scholar and politician who left worthy legacies in the state. Represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr Kola Ademujimi, Mimiko said: “Throughout my years of political relationship with Dr Olusegun Agagu as a commissioner in the Olumilua administration in old Ondo State, comprising the present Ondo and Ekiti states, of which he was the deputy governor, and as Secretary to the State Government during his own administration, one thing that stood out more than his well-known intellectual brilliance was his enormous capacity for hard work.
“He was very energetic and had a multidisciplinary talent which seemed to bend his academic specialisation in Petroleum Geology, which he obtained from University of Ibadan, as he could handle very many areas of knowledge with ease. He had a discerning social base; a discerning with and a knack for instant name calling. The moment Dr Agagu met you, subsequently, he would not only call you by your first name, he would remember your surname and your (alias).
“It is customary to mourn the dead because nobody knows when his or her appointed time will come; but for those whose lives were accomplished on earth, those who touched the lives of others and were held up as exemplars of purposeful existence, we need to celebrate their lives and eulogise them even as we mourn their hopes. It is therefore in the context of the above parameters that a man who attained the highest possible academic degree and became a national political figure cannot but be eulogised for his outstanding accomplishments,” he said.
Mimiko had reclaimed his mandate via the Appeal Court in 2009 and sent Agagu out of the Government House, but political differences were non-existent at the tributes session, as the state government was determined to give Agagu a most befitting burial.
Governor Aregbesola, when he grabbed the microphone, expressed deep admiration for his predecessor, Prince Oyinlola, saying that he could not fathom how his elder brother was able to make the event, having had a delayed flight. He had met Oyinlola at Heathrow Airport only (the previous day), he said; and instead of their plane arriving Lagos at 5p.m, it had actually arrived at 10p.m. Aregbesola thumbed up Oyinlola’s efforts saying “Egbon, kudos.’’
Of Agagu, he said: “I am here to celebrate a life that towered higher than the Idanre mountain. He had sound knowledge of his field and we saw in him a responsible intellectual who, with his richly stocked house of knowledge, saw beyond the narrow confines of individualist thinking. To know him was to know a man whose professional reputation was truly prepossessing.”
He noted that Agagu was favourably disposed to the idea of integration and contributed significantly to the development of the South-West though he was not a member of his political party, and he was committed to his profession and service. “Agagu was unassumingly humane. He connected without collision with people; brave without being brash and pleasantly accommodating.”
But Governor Ajimobi was even more direct in his appreciation of the former governors. “The lesson of today is that, one day, we will all be ex-this or that,” he said when he mounted the rostrum. “Some people abuse political parties but, like I have always said: don’t abuse political parties.” And looking in the direction of Oni, Daniel, Oyinlola and Fayose, he said: “All these people have tried. Without yesterday, there can be no today and without today, there can be no tomorrow.” The applause was deafening.
Ajimobi described the late Agagu as a bridge builder in Nigerian politics and a prince of Yorubaland. He said, “Today is a very solemn day in the lives of the people of Oyo State. We have lost a friend, a patriot, a brother and a resident whose decades of living in Ibadan had made him to effectively earn the honour of being one of us, an indigene of Oyo State. At a time the general conception was that only the worst of us participated in politics, he literally bit the bullet, removed the hallowed gown of the academia and mounted the rostrum to campaign for his people’s votes.
“He was indeed the Agagu of Yorubaland... A good leader will take his people to where they want to go, but great leader will take his people to where they ought to be. He was indeed a great leader. In life we envied you, in death we also envy you because we are not sure that people of these qualities will celebrate us when we depart.”
Chief Gbenga Daniel, in his tribute, described the late Agagu as a committed patriot who worked assiduously towards the development of the power sector in the country and towards the vision of making Ogun State one of the oil-producing states in the country. He said, “Agagu remained a most consistent politician who brought dignity, candour, decorum and loyalty into politicking. We have lost a consummate political gladiator, a humanist and complete gentleman.”
Daniel, in his tribute entitled, ‘Not How Long, But How Well’, which he read on behalf of former Peoples Democratic Party governors, said Agagu had a soft spot for the poor and always had the interest of his people at heart. He said: “Dr. Agagu’s name will forever linger in our hearts for his diligence, humility, loyalty, patriotism and quiet philanthropy.”
Source: Tribune

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