Today marks my last outing in active politics. As it were, life is not one straight road. It has its curves and its bumps. There is time and season for everything. In all my life endeavours, my foray into the murky waters of politics appears to be my most remarkable and eventful episode. It remains indelible as posterity is expected to be kind in ensuring that our labour and the labours of our heroes’ past shall not be in vein.
It has been almost sixty years of politicking, business and writing. As a youth leader of the Zik movement, through the UPN days of Late Professor Ambrose Alli, to the SDP days of Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua, and later the Peoples Democratic Party PDP where I served as the chairman of all the I8 Local Government Areas of Edo State PDP and much later sojourn into the Grace Group, a formidable group which metamorphosed into Action Congress and through the political amalgam of 2015, the All Progressives Congress, it has been an eventful journey of my life.
Every day of the rest of my life, I should thank God for His mercies over my life and those of my family members. It has been God all the way. As a youth leader of the Zik movement, we mobilized strong youthful support for the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons/ Northern Peoples Congress (NCNC/NPC) merger plans which saw Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe emerging as Nigeria’s first President under a parliamentary arrangement with Sir Abubakar Tarfawa Balewa emerging as the Prime Minister.
In politics, sometimes you win, other times you lose. As a Zikist, I mobilized support for the realization of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Presidential bid during the second republic under the banner of the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) which did not materialize as Alhaji Shehu Shagari emerged the President in the 1979 election conducted by the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO). Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe remained as opposition leaders as Shagari held sway from 1979 to 1984 when the military led by Muhammdadu Buhari struck and ousted the Shagari regime for ineptitude and large-scale corruption which saw the economy plummeting and the nation drifting towards anarchy. Over thirty years of military rule again almost ruined Nigeria until the regime of Abdulsalami Abubakar handed over power to a democratically elected Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP in 1999. Since then, I have been very active in politics.
In politics, I can proudly say, I came, I saw and I conquered! I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I have fought the good fight and have served my fatherland meritoriously in my own little way. As a Septuagenarian, it is time to take my bow. This is more so when placed in context of the current happenings in Nigeria and our dear Edo State. The adage of my fore fathers is instructive and states that: “if an old man stays out for too long, little children will use his walking stick to chase goats and fowls.”
In the past fifteen years or more, my pen has been flowing in politics. We have seen the indispensable power of the mainstream media in Nigerian politics. It has been used to make and mar. We successfully used it to establish unbroken democratic rule in Nigeria from 1999 till date and still counting. We used it to plant and uproot leaders at various levels from the grassroots to the central government. We used it ferociously to establish and sustain a PDP federal government when the need arose and we equally used it to pluck PDP out of power and enthroned the All Progressives Congress–which remains my joy today as I bow out. It is the biggest success story I can thump by chest to have contributed as I retire from partisan politics.
For me, quitting politics is with a mixed feeling. The feeling of self-fulfillment which I sated earlier and the feeling that Nigeria and Edo State are at cross roads. For Nigeria, I am worried that the country is still enmeshed in issues of ethnicity and religion which beclouds leaders sense of reasoning. Political leaders tend to speak like Janus, the double-faced Italian god. They talk of Nigerian Unity in the open and behind the scene, they fan the embers of ethnicity and religion which divides us. This is Nigeria’s biggest problem, not just corruption and other governance malaise. It is only when the issue of ethnicity and religion are addressed, that Nigeria can begin to make progress. The problem has eaten so deep into the fabrics of Nigerian state that political decisions are now taken in religious houses and forums.
For my State, Edo, next year which begins tomorrow is a year of election and politicians are plotting on how to capture or retain power. I am sad because the ruling party, APC, for which I resign is in turmoil. A party that ought to have a seamless retention of political power is enmeshed in some crisis that is open ended. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight as all parties to the crisis hold on to their strong grounds. All entreaties for peace seem to have failed to yield any result. This calls for concern for all Edo people because APC came with huge promises of delivering the people from the throes of a spineless political party. Eleven years of ACN/APC leadership in the state has made a lot of difference in the life of citizens who daily yearn for more dividends of democracy from the party in power. I remain optimistic that whatever the outcome of the current tussle for the soul of the state in the hands of political gladiators, Edo people will always be better for whoever the APC throws up next year.
As an incurable optimist, I also believe that the reform agenda of the APC-led government in Edo State remains the right path for Edo people to go as the PDP is certainly not an option. As I take my bow, it is my sincere prayer that affliction will not visit Edo State a second time.
Let me use this medium to thank all those who affected my life positively all through my sojourn in politics. I thank my people of Evbonogbon, Ugbogui and Ovia South West for all support given to me. I thank members of the fourth estate of the realm for their kindness and spirit of comradery which saw to their use of my stories and articles over the years.
In the same vein, I wish to humbly appeal to all those who may have been bruised in the course of my duties. I urge such persons to find a place in their hearts to forgive me. Such persons should know that in the game of politics, there is neither permanent friends nor enemies—only permanent interests. But to those who we worked untiringly together to improve the lots of our people; I say Viva! I believe that our paths would certainly cross again in my private life in the months and years to come. I wish Edo State and Nigeria well. Long Live Edo State, Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Being A retirement from politics message of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Edo State.