By abiodunbalo • 15th Mar 2019 • 37 views • 7 comments

- It ’ s incredible how eight years have ended

as a two - word parable: constituted authority . That ’ s what

Governor Abiola Isiaka Ajimobi would be mostly

remembered for – the epigram from his encounter with

students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology

(LAUTECH ). That episode was perhaps one of the most

catastrophic Public Relation disasters of Ajimobi ’ s eight -

year tenure.

A teachers ’ strike over the status /funding of the school

two years ago left the students stranded for nearly one

academic year . When the governor finally met them , all he

needed to do was to climb down from his high horse and

show some empathy .

Tell them he felt their pain and frustration , and what he

was doing to end it . Tell them that anyone of them could

have been his own children and the last thing he would

wish was for his children to be out of school for one year ,

no matter what the problem was, with still no end in sight .

Soothe their pain, calm their nerves and come down to

their level .

He did not . Instead , as tensions flared and a few in the

crowd taunted him, he railed back like a village

headmaster, desperately looking for a scapegoat or two

among the students to give a few strokes of the cane on

bare buttocks . How dare the students challenge

“ constituted authority !” Never mind that it took this

“ constituted authority ” nearly one academic year to

discover that its own university was shut down .

Ajimobi yo - yoed with the idea of unleashing the police on

a few vocal students in the crowd, then pulled back when

he saw he was playing with fire .

But it was too late . The video went viral and the governor

earned himself a new name, a moniker , which I ’ m told

even cabinet members use to mock him behind his back:

constituted authority .

Later the same year , the governor expanded his

battleground to include the Olubadan in a suicidal political

mission to downgrade the palace to his Boys ’ Quarters

and make the Olubadan just one of the numerous tenants.

Whatever the governor ’ s rationale for tampering with the

chieftaincy laws , the malicious intent was not going to be

forgiven easily in a state with a long memory , a sharp

tongue , and a deep, unashamedly old - fashioned

attachment to its myths and traditions .

But Ajimobi still didn’ t get it . Not even after the initial

ruling by the court that he was out of order and many

high- powered representations to dissuade him. He stuck

to his guns and increasingly assumed an air of infallibility .

He had, in fact, done what Napoleon could not do , so

where was the mountain left to conquer ?

He is the first governor in Oyo State ’ s history to have a

second term . And this historic feat had created a certain

sense of self - assurance and immortality that banished

that intuitive sense of danger , sometimes vital to self -

preservation .

The primary question was always , who ’ s next to conquer ?

In that sense , the demolition of the music studios of Yinka

Ayefele , after the governor ’ s personal assurances of

amnesty to the distraught Mrs. Ayefele who begged

Ajimobi in tears at the Government House the night before

the bulldozers moved in , was just a blip . There was

nothing too hard for the governor to do .

Insiders said the governor came only inches from

demolishing the fence of Tribune newspapers in

Imalefalafia, brushing aside attempts to restrain him each

time , with the reminder that even if he turns out wrong in

the end , “ It ’ s not my money that will pay for restitution.

It ’ s government money !”

The summary of Ajimobi ’ s eight - year tenure is that he did

not know how to talk – and worse , he did not know how

to listen . I wish I could say it in elegant English , the

Ibadan way. If he killed himself by not knowing how to

talk , he might have been redeemed from the political dead

by listening before choosing a candidate to carry the

party ’ s flag . Unfortunately, even that potentially

redemptive act became the final nail in his own political


This is not how it was meant to be. After years of

turbulence and rancour , which left Ibadan as a glorified

village and most parts of Oyo backward for decades, the

coming of Abiola Isiaka Ajimobi as governor was

supposed to be a breath of fresh air.

After a 26 - year private sector experience Ajimobi is as

cosmopolitan as they come . He did not seem encumbered

by the provincialism and identity politics that were the

albatross of a number of his predecessors .

A one - time senator and two - term governor , how

benefitting it would have been to crown his modest

achievements in infrastructure with another ticket to the

Senate and a successor to carry on his work .

But that is not to be . Instead , for some time to come , his

tenure would be a standard reference in Sunday school on

the perils of pride and the vanity of hubris .

Ajimobi is not entirely without comfort , though . Rochas

Okorocha , the outgoing governor of Imo State, is facing

his own moment of truth . After eight years of Iberiberism,

a homegrown political philosophy which lavishes the

state ’ s treasury on family and in - laws, while using what is

left to build statues and honour crooks . Okorocha is

finding out the hard way that foolishness digs its own

shallow grave.

At a time when he would not pay salaries or pensions , he

found money to create Africa ’ s longest Statues Street ,

lining up images of whoever he fancied , as if the people

would eat statues for their labour . When teachers were on

less than half salaries, Okorocha still found enough

money to make large billboards , with pictures of himself

in benevolent smile over a state in misery . In the summer

of 2015 , he famously celebrated his visit to the U . S . on

Buhari’ s entourage by erecting a large billboard in Owerri,

with a picture of himself smiling sheepishly before former

President Barack Obama .

The lowest points for me were the times when school

children whose teachers were on half pay and whose

parents didn ’ t know where the next meal would come

from were brought to perform for the governor and to sing

his praise. It was iberibe on a whole new level .

Apparently , the fellow doesn ’ t know it ’ s over now ; or

maybe he knows but just lacks the grace to accept it and

compassion for the long- suffering people of Imo .

Okorocha still put himself forward to represent Imo West

in the Senate ; his son - in - law as candidate to succeed him;

and his wife as the state ’ s matriarch - in - chief .

When it became clear to him that his bid had failed , he put

a gun to the head of the returning officer – the same way

he has held Imo at gunpoint for eight years – to declare

him winner .

Let ’ s see how far that gets him.

If the All Progressives Congress ( APC) ever sits down to

take stock of the 2019 election , it would find that in a

number of the states where it lost – or could still lose – its

governors were the party’ s worst enemies. The only

exception , perhaps , is Plateau , where the governor ’ s

obsequiousness in handling the herdsmen - farmer ’ s

clashes could cost him his second - term bid .

As Governor Abdullahi Ganduje ’ s fate hangs by a thread

in Kano , it is clear that he is not the oracle that he

pretended to be. His attempt to humiliate and depose Emir

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi over the so- called dodgy palace

expenses ; his spectacular fallout with his former boss ,

Rabiu Kwankwaso ; and the controversial video of him

lining his pocket with wads of dollar bills , have eroded his

popularity and diminished any modest achievements .

After last Saturday ’ s election , thanks to an extraordinarily

courageous and professional commissioner of police ,

Mohammed Wakili, it must have dawned on Ganduje by

now that the one million people who voted for Buhari on

February 23 did so not at the governor ’ s behest , but in

spite of him.

Whatever Ganduje promised Buhari or thinks Buhari owes

him, he forgot that in Kano politics , it ’ s charity and

honesty , above all . That ’ s how it ’ s been since Aminu

Kano . Kano does not follow the crowd; it creates its own

crowd and makes its own choice. It voted Buhari not

because of what he has done or not done , but because

Buhari promised to jail thieves . Now , voters are pointing

him to a piece of red meat in the Kano Government

House .

The wind that swept away Ajimobi in the south west and

claimed Governor Okorocha ’ s senatorial ambition in the

south east has just arrived in Kano . It ’ s hard to see how

Ganduje will survive it .

Ishiekwene is the Managing Director /Editor- In- Chief of

The Interview and member of the board of the Global

Editors Network


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