Thursday, May 5, 2016 6:33 pm
By Johnson Alabi
It is no news saying that he is in the news, once again. Indeed, he has always been in the news. At the beginning, he played the role of a chronicler of news. As a journalist, he had that unenviable task of daily serving the Nigerian populace with history packaged in a hurry.
And in that task, he excelled beyond many of his contemporaries. He scored several scoops including being the first journalist to discover the remains of the late Prime Minister of Nigeria, Tafawa Balewa, who was gruesomely murdered by soldiers during the first military coup in Nigeria.
In that glowing career, he eventually became the Managing Director of the Daily Times Newspapers. For a Nigerian journalist, that was the peak of the pack. From there he moved on to the political terrain. Again, he excelled. In no time, he showed the sterling qualities he is made of and became elected governor of Ogun State first in 1992 and later in 1999.
On both sojourn, Olusegun Osoba, the pride of the Nigerian journalism profession, proved that pen pushers could also excel in the field of administration and politics. Naturally that made him one of the forces to reckon with not only in the politics of Ogun State but also Southwest and national.
He however lost the 2003 election in that political Tsunami that swept through the southwest geo-political zone and removed all the governors except that of Lagos, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
After that, Osoba continued to play politics and remained relevant at both the state and national levels. In 2011, he teamed up with other progressives and supported the emergence of Senator Ibikunle Amosun as governor of Ogun State.
But that is as far as the story could go without having recourse to opening that chapter of the political life of this veteran journalist turned veteran politician that bothers on diminishing returns. Unfortunately, a combination of wrong choices and decisions colluded in further ensuring the success of the law of diminishing returns in the life of this man who is the hero of many in the journalism profession as well as in politics.
These wrong choices soon culminated in his decision to leave the All Progressives Congress, APC, a party he helped midwife in Ogun State. In the run up to the 2015 general elections, Osoba not only remained implacable in spite of pleas from well meaning Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari who was then candidate of the party, he even worked actively against his own party.
So why would he choose to commit what looks like a political hara-kiri? Those of us who are keen followers of political happenings in Ogun State can still recall that unfortunately, it was a little tending towards winner takes all tendency. Sadly, my hero decided, for reasons best known to him, that he was not going to be in a position to equitably share political offices with the incumbent governor and his team but would rather have it all.
He wanted a situation where the governor would only be in office as a figurehead, a puppet, while he not only pulled the strings but could in fact at some point decide to outrightly discard with the puppet.
Now this decision had nothing to do with whether the incumbent was performing in office to the admiration of his teeming supporters or not. It also had nothing to do with how much the incumbent respected him and or how accommodating the incumbent had been towards him and his supporters in the party.
Sadly, his action at that time was akin to that of a man who built a house and then decided, against the best advice, to demolish the same structure he helped to build. All pleas fell on deaf ears as the man also known as Akinrogun of Egbaland embarked on a journey to perdition. He took his supporters to the Social Democratic Party and insisted that the best thing to happen after slice bread was seeing his own party, the APC, fail at the 2015 polls.
As luck would have it, he and his supporters failed woefully at the polls. None of them was able to win any elective position in Ogun State. The APC won the governorship poll and also won most of the other elective offices in the state.
Today, that failure has turned out to be the saving grace of Osoba. The fact that he, his party and his supporters failed massively at the 2015 polls and the APC won has created a scenario where the former governor of Ogun State and veteran journalist still has a place to run back to.
That is why Osoba is back in the news. It is also why I am wondering, what if I were Osoba? What would I have done now that I have decided to return to the same house I did everything within my powers to demolish only a year ago? How would I go about returning to that house and how would I treat those who stayed the course and ensured that I didn’t succeed in demolishing our collective house?
Indeed, if I were Osoba, I will be grateful to those who, against my best efforts, ensured a preservation of our collective patrimony while I took a leave of absence. And in showing gratitude, I would ensure that my return to the house I once tried to demolish would be done by publicly apologising to my former compatriots.
I will prove that I am truly penitent by being courageous enough to actually return home and seek forgiveness and reintegration. I will not go to a foreign land and pretend to be penitent without consulting my people, my comrades-in-arms who I ditched when the battle was hottest and actually worked towards annihilating.
I will return to them quietly knowing that they are magnanimous in victory and would receive me like the prodigal son who returned to his father seeking to be one of the slaves in his own house but his father decided to return him to his previous status as a son.
That will be my approach, and I can only hope that will also be the approach of my journalism and political hero, the Akinrogun of Egba and Aremo Awujale of Ijebu.
Johnson Alabi sent this piece from Onikolobo, Abeokuta, Ogun State