There is nothing more disheartening than to see politicians and elected public officers wrangle unnecessarily for supremacy while ignoring the basic tenets expected of them to uphold, as well as failing to address the yearnings and aspirations of the electorate. Some are advocating for academics, probably professors, to contest for higher posts in the next election, while a few is disposed to traditional rulers and religious leaders contesting.
My write-up is compelled by the desire to see that more outstanding academics whose experience and leadership qualities have endeared them to the citizenry is encouraged to seek elective positions in future elections, to better the lot of their people and practically apply their theoretical knowledge on governance. Examples abound everywhere where politicians and political office holders, in their desperation to hold on or to grab power, have discreetly patronized outlawed groups or introduced diversionary tactics to win supports from the gullible public. It is not a surprise, therefore, that we have to face this startling reality of the existence of so-called OPC states, MASSOB Region, Sharia environment and the resources control communities whose philosophies are promoted and financed by some political bigwigs, for selfish reasons.
What is more worrisome is that some states, which do not belong, have similar ugly scenes within their localities. A vivid example is Kwara State where there are accusations and counter accusations of politicians who are said to be nursing the desire to foment trouble by introducing Afonja -Alimi dichotomy into the polity and persistently calling for the introduction of a millennium monarch from the blues. What is very clear to any watcher of the unfolding events is that there is no love lost between one of the leaders of one of the political parties, Dr. Olusola Saraki, and the younger executive governor of the state, Governor Muhammed Lawal.
Dr. Saraki, the acclaimed godfather and strongman of Kwara politics, is seen as the Mr. Installer, whose singular effort and support were said to be instrumental to the success of several administrators in the electoral process of the state. The executive governors include Alhaji Adamu Atta of National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Chief Cornelius Adebayo of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Alhaji Shaaba Lafiagi of Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the incumbent retired Rear Admiral Muhammed Lawal of All Peoples’ Party (APP). How he manipulates the electorate to vote en masse in his direction remains a mystery and an incredible tactical puzzle which none can fathom.
On the other hand, the present governor’s projects are said to be enormous with supporters increasing day by day by the innovation and tangibility of work which are inscribed with Up Lawal in almost all the nooks and crannies of the state. The acrimony between the political tactician and military strategist is tearing the state apart, as every discussion in the state is no more on welfare and developmental efforts but on the lingering loggerhead between the individuals. The politics of the state also greatly affects the direction of their party at the national level. This rancour, if allowed to continue, would be terrible for the next gubernatorial election as neither the political father nor the political scion intends to sheath the sword. An alternative arrangement may therefore be put in place before the D-day to avoid confrontation at the polls. Another politician or retired military man may not be feasible due to the foregoing, neither would traditional rulers nor religious leaders be preferred because of their inherent sentimentality. But an academic may, however, be called upon to contest.
Surprisingly, academics are at present elected to the legislative arm and appointed into executive positions at all tiers of government and they are performing exceedingly well but not as a governor of a state. The Kwara populace may consider this and break a record in the next dispensation by voting wisely for a university professor as the governor. Afterall, the new jumbo pay recommended by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission can attract the best brains to all levels of governance. The new man would surely be contented with the introduced remuneration package.
The state doesn’t need to go far to search for a credible academic that commands respect. The present Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, in the person of Professor Oba Abdulrahaman, an indigene of the State, is an example. Even though the man may not be interested but since his tenure at the university is soon coming to an end, Kwarans should see him as a messiah and interventionist to the rising political instability in the state and urge and plead with him to contest.
I was moved recently when, in a paid announcement, groups and unions in the university – ASUU, NASU and NANS inclusive, came out to commend the Federal Government for giving them Professor Abdularahim who is capable of transforming the institution to a good example of a citadel of knowledge where lecturers don’t go on unnecessary strikes because they have what it takes to be lecturing where students have no justification to protest or demonstrate since all facilities for conducive study are provided; where more hostels and classrooms have been constructed; where parents watch with admiration, at the graduation of their children within the stipulated academic period while academic excellence and discipline have been the watchwords.
Professor Oba is said to be respected within and beyond the state, especially by the youths who form the bulk of the beneficiaries of his stable academic calendar, and envied by students of other institutions that have been on compulsory long holidays, courtesy of incessant lecturers’ strikes.
If Professor Oba can maintain law and order and improve peaceful coexistence in the dynamic and sensitive academic environment, Kwarans can be better for it, if they consider this humble, responsible and indefatigable man as the next governor of the State. Unless the war between the powerful elderly and strong young politician is curbed, the electorates have no choice but to make the better choice. At least, let the state set the record as the first to elect an academic, a Professor for that matter, as executive governor in the next dispensation.
This article by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Thisday January 27, National Interest Jan. 28 and Tribune January 31, 2002