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Aketi: Of Endorsement and Service

Aketi: Of Endorsement and Service
July 14
15:10 2016

It is only meet that we throw in an early caveat concerning shared affinity with Aketi, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and an APC gubernatorial aspirant in the forthcoming election in Ondo State. We do this to absolve ourselves of the charge of partisanship and groveling sycophancy. He is a senior colleague, friend and big brother, a quiet philanthropist and humanist, who clings to the ideal of rectitude, tenaciously. We enjoy the privilege of watching and interacting with this epitome of decency at close quarters. We are also not afraid to intimate readers with our disinterestedness in partisan politics as understood in our clime. These facts, we make bold to assert, place us at a very vantage position to comment freely on the sterling qualities of this quintessential gentleman of the Bar. It is not difficult for us to conclude that members of his political tribe are very few in politics. His types are not cut for our own brand of prebendal politics.

The clarification becomes exigent considering the nature of political hustling currently played both at local and national levels, especially among those jostling for positions in the ruling party, APC. That ignorance pervades the land is no news. It is very easy for any certificated clown to wax lyrical, churning out all manner of garbage, from the ludicrous to the most tragic, in a bid to justify the inducement received from shadowy and cowardly sponsors. These characters engage in the liberal dissemination of political faction, an unintelligent admixture of plain truth and concocted lies, deviously spun to confuse the gullible and simple. The idea of service is easily misconstrued with unthinking rabble-rousing. The “man of the people”, combative demagogue, must always be with the people. It means nothing if he has no understanding of the conundrum which ensures that a state richly blessed wallows in abject poverty. He must be the one who organises regular fiestas to showcase rootedness.

Akeredolu practises law in Ibadan and Abuja in a partnership, Olujinmi & Akeredolu. All his children are graduates. Two of the four studied at Ife and Unilag, respectively. The other two studied abroad out of choice. His first daughter works as a medical doctor in Abuja. The other female is a lawyer who lives with her husband in Nigeria. Aketi had built his house in Ijebu Owo GRA before the 2012 gubernatorial contest. Only mischievous persons will spread falsehood that he has no house in Ondo State as if that is part of the requirements for altruistic service. Only a mischievous person will deny the fact it was this man of courage and discipline who projected the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria as a serious contender for the political trophy. Is it not strange that persons of doubtful ancestry in Ondo State will cast aspersion on this man whose rendition of Owo dialect is impeccable?

It was Aketi who galvanised the party in the state. It was he who conferred credibility on the process. Anyone who alludes to the released gubernatorial results of 2012 in Ondo State to gauge popularity and relevance is not wise. It is true that the apex court ruled in favour of Labour Party. There was no dispute as regards the established fact that hundreds of thousands of votes were injected. The contention was that no one was certain that the winner was a direct beneficiary of the fraud. Aketi was the best among those who contested, including those who strolled into the party with a view to picking ticket. Those who decided on behalf of the party relied on a combination of factors, chief among which was his outstanding qualities, not only as the leader of the Bar, but also, and more significantly, because most of those who came out to contest with him at that time had nothing to offer the people other than the much vaunted experience in creating confusion in the polity. Nothing has changed, fundamentally, now to alter the situation in favour of any hustler. Aketi should make a shortlist in any decent group.

To the ignoramuses and jobbers, politics is an avenue for self aggrandizement. The euphemism understood and promoted as “empowerment” is an unabashed predilection for mindless exaction on morally deficient politicians. An “experienced” politician, in their warped perception, is he/she who must go bankrupt while feeding an army of jobless, hapless and mendicant band routinely. He must “settle” elders whose preoccupation in politics stands at variance to the interests of the people. He/she must “live” at home to “understand” grassroots politics, even if he does nothing for living. Service, to these indolent fellows, is equated with the supply of trailer loads of “essential commodities” and money which must be shared at ward meetings.The readiness to perpetuate mediocrity and looting, on the whole, is one of the criteria for eligibility. In short, anybody who is reluctant to continue with the retrogressive practice which has reduced the people to mere serfs in their country, is considered naive.

The APC has many aspirants who hope to “serve” Ondo as governor after the exit of Mimiko next year. Virtually all of them believe in their capability. All campaign promises appear predicated on “service” to the downtrodden. Everyone, including those who decamped recently to the party, seriously crave the office of the governor. Only one of them will be chosen after the primary election which holds in a couple of weeks from now. The level of desperation displayed by some of these aspirants, through press interviews, newspaper articles and the social media, is appalling. There seems to be just one aspirant, Aketi, who is generally perceived as the headache of the rest.

Some of these aspirants are quick to remind the people of the state, especially the party members, of how Akeredolu was “imposed” on other aspirants and, consequently, this fact led to the loss of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria. Others accuse the party leadership for not becoming the candidate. The anti Akeredolu campaign is predicated on a ludicrous premise. He is generally perceived by these comic elements as “inexperienced” in politics, an expression easily interpreted to explain his “uncooperative attitude” to indolent, ignorant and backward elements. Many, who solely depend on patronage, don’t see Aketi as a politician who understands the “rules of engagement” in Nigeria’s politics. They come up with asinine reasons why, in their estimation, he will not serve their purpose. They mask this predilection for unbridled greed with the hypocritical chant of service. They want a politician who doles out patronage endlessly for the ultimate aim of extending the short end of the stick to the people.

Shamelessly audacious in the proclamation of organised extortion and criminality, these characters spread falsehood to deceive the unwary and naive into supporting their diabolical schemes. These “veteran politicians”, descend on the political landscape like locusts. The debilitating effects of their nefarious activities are pervasive and ubiquitous, mass poverty, virtual and real assassination of political opponents, disenfranchisement of the electorate through bulk purchase of voter’s cards, disruption of the electoral process, among others. These are the credentials presented to justify relevance. They weave spurious yarns to malign, excoriate, deceive and confuse the people. Anyone who stands out against this unabashed act of moral turpitude is considered “inexperienced”, “unsellable” and “naive”.

A politician must play the grassroots politics. He must “live” in the state, or better still, hover around his provincial ambience and reproduce like bed bugs. It does not matter if he is a professional. It is of little concern to these vermin that most people who desire progress leave their villages for the proverbial Golden Fleece. A politician must come home to organise feasts to be accepted. His vast experience is established beyond doubt through ubiquity; he must attend all social gatherings and commiserate with the bereaved to show concern for the people. Any society which insists that a highly successful lawyer, senior advocate, former president of the NBA, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State, relentless advocate of the downtrodden and oppressed, decent gentleman, family man and consistently focused personality cannot serve, does not deserve progress. A people which promotes prebendalism and subsumed altruism under brigandage is doomed to exist in crises.

The concept of service in Nigeria of today is misconstrued. This is the reason why the mass of the people live below animal level, seventeen years into the so called civilian rule. It explains why the so called states are virtually bankrupt. It is the evidence for misrule and impunity. The justification for non performance is the prepaid mentality of the miscreants who parade themselves as politicians. Some unscrupulous elements receive peanuts on behalf of the people and mortgage the future of our children. Nobody considers the programme of service as presented by politicians. It is not important if governance is reduced to payment of salaries and contractors after the hand outs from the centre. Is it not stupid for anyone to expect a politician who has spent billions to pick the so called ticket will not steal money? Why will anyone be surprised at the mindless looting in the land?

Ondo State has been deceived for so long. The story is the same. The tactic not significantly different. Play up the ethnic note. Divide the people with tribalism and religion. Spread falsehood repeatedly till it assumes the garb of verity. Malign the personality generally regarded as urbane, tenacious and honest to discourage quality persons from taking interest in politics. Promote thuggery and brigandage to the status of a popular art. The consequence of this is the deplorable state of despondency in the state. It is the reason why workers are in dire straits. It is the main explanation for why there is pervasive infrastructural decay. It is the justification for the widespread poverty and the attendant want.

The choice is before the people. Only they can endorse the candidate whose antecedents approximate their desire for progress. Anyone who cannot present a convincing programme of redemption is still living in the past. The Nigeria of today is poised to free itself from the stranglehold of criminals who struggle to keep us all down.

Aketi stands out among the pack.
Dr Doyin Odebowale

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