Since he joined Politics to run for Ogun governorship a few months back, ace footballer, Segun Odegbami has kept a daily record of his activities. He calls it My Political Diary.
In one of his recent accounts ,he revealed why he dumped Ogun Labour Party to join The UPN. Below are excerpts of his diary.
22ND SEPT. 2018
This past week I got my first taste of the shenanigans in Nigerian politics. I had been expecting that side of things, of course. Everyone had warned me since the day it became public that I was venturing into that murky world of lies, deceit, corruption, treachery, endless demand and quest for money, unconscionable horse trading, decisions laced with venom, and so on, things that have impoverished a very rich country and made it one of the poorest, through its decadent politics.
Bob Dee, in particular, had taken me through his own shocking experience that left me wondering if such conduct was really possible.
This week, it happened to me, even though I’d rather not completely narrate here.
My diary should not detail such perfidy.
Permit me, therefore, to summarise in the following carefully chosen words.
I have concluded that everything in life is connected; that nothing happens by accident but by a divine script; that life is like a jigsaw puzzle.
My experience this week is for a purpose, an essential addition to my political learning curve, divine pieces of lessons fitting into the puzzle that will produce a new Ogun State.
The elements have not led me this far to fear or to turn back as a result of ordinary sentiment-driven obstacles, but to discover and to experience vital things wherever they lead me.
I have learnt to surrender to them, to be guided and to be used by the Creator of the Universe, who knows all things, inorder to fulfil a divinely constructed purpose.
The past few days have tested my principles and beliefs, and stretched my patience and resolve to their elastic limit.
Fortunately, by virtue of my attitude to seemingly negative events, as I write this, I am more excited than ever about the march to Oke Mosan simply because there is nothing in the horizon that is clear or comprehensible. Beyond human comprehension only unprecedented confusion reigns everywhere.
The Labour Party primaries for the governorship position of in Ogun State should have taken place last Wednesday, (19th Sept) one week after a similar one took place by special arrangement in Kwara State. I was in Ilorin to learn, observe and to report it.
The date and a special arrangement were agreed strategically following several discussions held to protect the ‘star’ candidate in the Party. On the eve of the election, designed to be a relatively quiet affair, I enter Abeokuta. The atmosphere around town is still charged and chaotic with uncertainty. Everyone is fed up the endless conflicts. I am assured everything is in place for the event the following day, following the fulfillment of all my obligations and all righteousness – relevant fees paid, my part in the arrangements completed, and a verbal assurance from the leadership that all is well, no shaking!
Wednesday arrives quietly. Something is not right. It is too quiet. I can’t reach the party leadership. They won’t pick my calls and won’t respond to my text, all day.
I sent emissaries to the venue. Nothing is happening. It is empty. Clearly, no primary election is scheduled for that day. It takes all day and frantic calls to every top person I know in the party to get a response about what is going on – nothing!
So, I calm down and chose to wait for word from the one person who holds the key to this entire mystery.
No word comes from him. So, I choose to wait. But not forever.
It has been 4 days since that day. I have returned to the deep, rerunning the whole series of events again in my head, and sharing them with a few others. I have more clarity now about what took place and the political games being played with me as a pawn. So, its time to follow my instincts again as well as the leading of the One who knows all things.
In the chaotic political labyrinth in the whole of Yorubaland, when simple words stop been bonds, where does one turn to for a compass to the future? I had asked myself that question, over and over again, before settling for the platform that birthed my political career, that served me a great purpose, and has taken me as far as it can go, but, surely, not to the destination I seek.
I have now humbly surrendered my path once again to the elements and shall not question the new path that Labour Party has chosen that is different from mine. So, that chapter temporarily closes for me, even though the journey to One Mosan continues with even greater vigour.
Today is Saturday. I am led to seek out the only person who I believe can answer my question; the one on whose political altar most Yoruba ‘worship’; the one who represents the best version of Yoruba leadership.
In the past 6 months I have reached out to several people that knew or worked with the great man during his life time. None of them gave me a definitive response.
Last night, it all came to me in one moment of absolute conviction.
It makes absolute sense – to ask the man himself.
The man lies peacefully in a mausoleum in Ikenne. He must be stirring in his grave at the narrow interests and vision of political leaders that have either ignorantly or selfishly truncated the once- glorious future of the Yoruba who now wander lost in political limbo.
That’s where I am heading to now, to Ikenne, brimming with excitement at the prospect of the answer I will receive when I finally ask Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo himself my million-Dollar question: What will you do Sir were you to be alive today in Ogun State?
His answer will inform what I will do going forward on this political odyssey.
(27TH SEPT. 2018)
Five days after, Odegbami wrote a follow up. Today, I announce my movement to the party founded by my adopted father, the late sage, thinker, lawyer and ‘Best President Nigeria never had’, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo.
Today, I take my leave of the Labour Party and move to the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN. Taking the decision was easy. It just made sense. Divine forces were at work. They led me to a platform that will catalyse and accelerate a great revolution out of the ongoing political conflagration in the country.
My ‘conversation’ with Papa Awolowo was the clincher. The events in the Labour Party the week before that were the crucible of fire that I had to pass through in order to be ready to confront the mountainous challenges that lie ahead in the oncoming elections.
In Ikenne, I finally found the reassurance, strength and peace of mind that I would need to successfully navigate the treacherous minefields of Nigerian politics.
Without question Labour Party was a platform that served me a good purpose up to a point in our relationship. The vision of the party in Ogun State and mine were not in congruence, unfortunately. The party is contented to participate and be seen in an election, I want to win the election! Needless to go into what actually happened to warrant my decision to leave. If something does not work, it makes sense to leave it once the fault cannot be fixed without doing more damage.
I, therefore, thank the leadership of Labour Party at all levels for the opportunity of the tutorial I received in the art of real party politics in Nigeria. I hope that somewhere down the line we shall still find the space and spirit to relate again or to collaborate. For now, my own mission is different from the Party’s. There is too much hunger, poverty and discontentment in the land than for me to be a part of playing political games with the lives of the people.
So, I am leaving peacefully. In fact, last night I slept like a baby for 4 of the 6 hours it took to fly on British Airways from Lagos to London. I am taking a short break away to catch my breath from dramatic scenes coming out of the elections in Osun State that have left many in a dizzying state of wonder as to the future. Mindboggling tradeoffs are being reported with the lives of the citizens between political parties and desperate leaders that want to get to power by all means. The best interest and free choice of the masses, torn between the devil and the deep blue sea, are not even in the conversations.
What absurdity will poverty and hunger not create in this land of Oduduwa, a once-proud community with sky-high values and a culture that mesmerized the Western World at a point in history, and made Nigeria the black country to watch in the World? Osun State’s experience is just a start. There is still the real possibility of a political tsunami happening in Ogun State and, later, in the rest of the South West come February 2019.
The elections in Osun State have become a litmus test of what the future can portend in Yorubaland under the present political architecture, and it is not palatable. Nothing is happening in London here to report.
Except that friends are calling to ask details of my political pilgrimage to Ikenne. They want to understand what happened. They won’t believe me even if I told them. So, I am in here spending time watching television and thinking of what next to do after Ikenne. As I wrote in my last posting in my political diary, Chief Obafemi Awolowo would denounce most of the present political leaders were he to come back to life now.
To fix the States in the South West does not require rocket science. The needs of ordinary Nigerians (and they are in the vast majority) are so small that all Nigerians should feel ashamed that with the abundance of every conceivable ‘gift’ of nature and intellect they are to be counted amongst the poorest people in the whole world in 2018. Things need not be so. They can actually be different. Ogun State can be a lot better than it is.
“The vision of the party in Ogun State and mine were not in congruence, unfortunately. The party is contented to participate and be seen in an election, I want to win the election”
As I have decided to ‘worship’ on the political altar of the late sage and philosopher, Chief Awolowo, as we enter the battle for the soul of the Yoruba race, I am changing course today by announcing my final departure from Labour Partyto join and help to rebuild the only political Party Chief Obafemi Awolowo ever founded by himself during the onset of the Second Republic in 1978 – the Unity Party of Nigeria. That is my new party– UPN.
Although, the party exists within the present political firmament, it does so without the involvement of many authentic Awoists, people who live the best traditions of the ideals, philosophy and liberal ideology of the great thinker.
The elections in 2019 in Ogun State in particular, and the rest of the South West States, will be a straight fight between the forces of money, intimidation and other corrupt influences and the reaction of a disenfranchised and unhappy people struggling to restore their good name and values espoused by the Omoluabi.
Hear Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s words many decades ago: “The Yorubas are a fastidious, critical and discerning people. They will not do anything in politics merely to oblige a fellow Yoruba. If the Yorubaman is satisfied that your policy is good and will serve his interest he will support you…” That was the Yoruba of a rich culture and traditions not the Yoruba enslaved by hunger and poverty and motivated only by lucre irrespective of its source.
Under the present reality it will be extremely difficult for anyone to challenge the present hegemony all over the South West and hope to win. The price to pay will be too high. Yet it must be done or else the people and generations to come will remain in this limbo for a long time to come. Unless, of course, a new army of citizens overcome doubt and fear, and do something about it including calling upon the deep for intervention.
As for me, I am joining Papa’s new ‘army’. We shall start to rebuild and reposition the Unity Party of Nigeria to chart a new political course for the Yoruba in the entire South West of Nigeria starting from Ogun State in 2019. So, I stand with the Awolowo political school with the mantra of integrity, decency, fair play, meritocracy and justice.
I have never been under the illusion that this political journey would be easy or cheap. Far from it, I always imagined it would be a hard, rough, tough, expensive, and dangerous journey. February 2019 promises to be a political watershed and a moment of truth for the citizens of Ogun State, a choice between the forces of imposition and the will of the people.