•OGUN ZENITH LABOUR Party Candidate, SEGUN ODEGBAMI
Just in case anyone chooses to join or support me in my quest to become the Governor of Ogun State in 2019, this is the time to do so. They should start by reading to the end of today’s report in my diary and doing the needful. My party should not be a hindrance. They should support ME. It is Wednesday night.
Too many things are happening around me. I am doing low level visitations to the people, small communities and groups in various parts of Ogun State. I am not doing the conventional rallies. I do not have the resources to move the already converted around the State on a jamboree with a noisy motorcade, massive security and rented crowds that are available to all and sundry parties.
In short, I choose not to create
With limited funds and help from friends we are gladly cutting our coat according to our cloth in Zenith Labour Party. The finish line is just ahead in the distance – three weeks. Any discerning mind will tell you that Ogun State guber election does not have a front runner but the real prospect of a dark horse emerging Governor.
Trust me, my chances of victory, controlled by circumstances that don’t even have my input, are brighter than ever before. I am delighted to introduce, for the first time, my Deputy. She is from Ijebu Ode, adding a new and exciting dimension to the political drama. Shè comes from a powerful demography in the State as wife of the Chief Imam of the Ansarudeen movement in Ijebuland, an educationist and a journalist. Her entry at this time will nudge the political dynamics in the State. I can feel victory in the air. I have tasted it several times on my sports career to know what I sense.
So, I am committing my energy to the daily grind of very personal and intimate campaigns, even though a tough, long and lonely road to travel. The experience has been rewarding and revealing of the huge work that lie ahead, the matter of the disenfranchised masses, the depth of depression, the vast places and communities still untouched by any development, and the pain in most homes. I feel a renaissance in the air, a spontaneous social uprising, a political reawakening like no other, and the birth and berthing of a cultural revolution on the shores of Ogun State. There are some 27 days to go.
We celebrate and thank our Creator for the divine escape of the Vice President from the brink of a freak helicopter incident that could easily have been fatalistic. We thank Our Creator for mercy and grace. I have been trying to unravel a political mystery – how do politicians do it? I have a confession to make – Ayodeji and I are as broke as church rats. Our little funds are drying up fast.
We have had to pocket our pride and seek direct support from friendly taps that are just getting round to see what we see in the political drama in Ogun State. A friend asked us who we are supporting for the Presidency on the absence of a presidential candidate in our party. Who would Papa Awolowo have supported were he offered the present 2 major options? That is a no-brainer. Warts and all, his choice of President in 2 weeks time shall be……too dangerous to mention here understandably. In Ogun State my visitations have been a revelation on how impoverished the people are.
The people are broke and broken, going through very hard times despite the best efforts of previous governments that may have gone more to infrastructural development than to the people’s welfare and wellbeing.
It is time to make the People, government’s Priority. How will that translate to success at the polling booths on election day? Politics is a crazy game. It can be likened to 10 football teams playing 5 different matches on one football field, with the use of one ball! Try to imagine the chaos that would be. That is what I see in the politics around me.
The polling booths are the key to the elections – the game that goes on there and who plays it best. Now I begin to understand what Dotun, the friend I met at the Abeokuta Sports Club in my last posting in the diary, meant when he said, rather arrogantly, that my ‘threat’ in these elections will terminate at the polling booths; that they know how to win the elections at the polling booths, with raw cash!
He had asked the very pertinent question: where would I get the 10 to 20 thousand Naira per person I will require to buy the loyalty and clandestine services of the agents at 5000 polling booths? Ayodeji and I have been trying to do the maths and solve the equation.
These booths are in all the nooks and crannies of all towns and villages, many of them located in unimaginably isolated places! Located where they are, I can start to appreciate how election figures can, and have been, easily manipulated with ignominy. INEC can only try to make the best of an almost impossible situation. I am thinking and making a mental calculation of what it will take to break this jinx of fraud at polling stations that we seem compelled to accept as the norm and inevitable. Some of us are thinking ‘No’, that things must change. I multiply 10,000 Naira by 5000 booths. If I had such funds I would make a big difference in the lives of people in Ogun State.
One of the weaknesses of my political adventure, some people have told me, is my lack of a ‘Structure’. Until now I never quite understood. Now I do. I see clearer what ‘structure’ means – the people available to a party at the polling booths acting as party agents and canvassers. They make or mar elections. The part they play can, ultimately, determine who wins or loses an election. they are the fighting soldiers on election day.
Every booth will have at least one or two agents representing each of the parties, monitoring the conduct of the elections and signing off on the final figures to be transmitted to the Collation centres. That’s the determining factor – how many of the candidates can get those numbers in personnel and pay them. Politicians with the most money to spend know how to ‘win’ therefore.
So, here are Ayodeji and I, pontificating and doing the painful maths, wondering how we shall overcome this serious handicap. With what we have seen and experienced on our journey around Ogun State we can see glimpses of hope that can become an real change in attitude, an avalanche that can wipe away the ‘business’ at the polling booths on election day.
The worst part of my experiences so far has been our failure to even make a massive dent on the endless demands by people of money for any services, imaginary and real, rendered during the electioneering process, even as we try to convince voters to leave out money from politics to allow more good people to get involved. Biting hunger and poverty make the rate of change rather slow even though, slowly and surely, things are improving in isolated trickles.
We are telling ourselves to keep doing what we are doing best, and to leave the rest to the elements that have made the Ogun State elections the most unpredictable in Nigeria’s political history. There has never been a situation of such complexities and contending forces. For now all we can do is get down to more hard work, encouraged by the steady stream of daily new converts to the new order of decency, progress, good conduct and integrity.
I am taking this message of hope to every corner of Ogun State in very small and peaceful visitations. It has been an incredible journey in this ‘war’ of truth versus lies, good versus evil, a journey that reminds me of lessons from my sporting days when to win is the unguaranteed product of dedication, discipline, self-belief, focus, hard work and the favourable face of the elements.
That is what I am counting on as the finish line approaches in the distance and Ogun State people get ready to demonstrate to the world the meaning of ‘People’s Power’. Ogun State will wake up on March 3, to new realities and a life that they will create themselves which will take them to the promised land, one flowing with milk and honey! It will happen, believe me. It will be the greatest upset in the political history of Ogun State. Finally once again, just in case anyone has ever thought of supporting me, this is the time to do so. They can send a widow’s mite, no matter how small, even 1000 Naira will be manna from heaven, to a special election fund in my name in Access Bank, acct no. 0774800545. Kajo selu, Kajo segun.