- Ogun State Governor, Sen. IBIKUNLE AMOSUN
The challenge of politics is entirely a different kettle of fish” reveal Gov. Ibikunle Amosun. According to him, in the year 2000” , I decided to delve into public service, as I realised that while I was able to do things for the under-privileged in my private capacity and had been doing so for many years, the most veritable tool to reach out and touch people across all cadres of society is” through active partisan politics. “What may be a subject of intense debate would be how to realise this vision, given the challenge of what many would describe as the corrosive and corroding political environment.
And that was the crux of the matter – the challenge. To this end, I joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), contested for and won a seat in the Senate, representing Ogun Central Senatorial District in 2003. Perhaps, I have presented my successful contest into the Senate as a piece of the cake – nothing could be far from the reality. Prior to my involvement in politics, my primary calling, my professional practice, has clearly defined rules of engagement. So, you could easily predict what the outcome would be, given the input and the standardised processes and procedures.
After all, the principle of double entry, in accounting, remains the same, every time, everywhere. However, I found that unlike the accounting profession, the rules of engagement in politics do not largely follow any standard. Indeed, the rules of engagement may as well be defined as absence of any codified, nay sacrosanct, rules. Those who coined the phrase “political expediency” perhaps had this in mind. For a professional with little or no prior engagement in politics, I found the environment for my new calling, to put it mildly, challenging and intriguing.
Accounting is about numbers and inanimate objects. Politics is about people, who have emotions, who could decide to be rational or irrational, who have interests and nurse ambitions – all of which may align or be at cross purposes with those of others. Friendship is not permanent in politics. Interests are constantly shifting and the measure of time and space is different.
With this background, let me return to my election into the Senate. The goodwill I had garnered growing up in Abeokuta – the heart of Ogun Central Senatorial District – stood me in very good stead to have a relatively easy win of the Senate seat. As in every endeavour, the timing of the contest also helped a great deal in the success. The parliament provides a good platform to make laws, nudges the executive in a particular direction and generally has a feel in the governance of the country. However, the real day-to-day running of government lies with the executive.
So, I realised that to power my vision, I needed to work with others to have the. mandate of the people to lead our State at the Executive arm of government. So, in 2007, I contested forthe position of Governor of Ogun State on the platform of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). By now, old friends had become implacable foes, some foes became friends, old alliances had become impracticable to maintain, while new ones had to be formed. Those who had their hands on the political levers of the State and those who wielded even higher political powers were rallied against my ambition. I kept two things paramount: my faith in God and my ability-cum-focus on the people – the real essence of my being in politics.
We went into the elections and the umpire declared my opponent a winner. Of course, I went to the tribunal to challenge the outcome, which I and a significant numberof people believed were atvariance with the will of the good People of Ogun State as expressed through the ballot boxes. In all, I traversed all the courts in the land for three years (April 2007 to March 2010) – from the election tribunal, Federal High Court, through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.
These efforts were not fueled by ambition to be Governor at all cost. I was just determined to challenge, on one hand, the impunity that characterised the 2007 general elections, defend the tenets of democracy, and, on the other, justify the confidence the electorate reposed in me.
The court endorsed the results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). As a democrat, I respected the verdict even though I thought otherwise till today. The 2007 experience did not discourage me from taking another shot again in 2011, that time, on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). I did. I won. INEC confirmed and I was so returned as the winner. I guess I am here today speaking to this August audience because of that victory. Again, the unseen hands in the affairs of men prevailed. As they say, winners don’t quit, quitters don’t win. Faith triumphs.