Sunday 30 July 2023

Gov Adeleke talks his dances....By Adekunle Ade-Adeleye

The last political quatrain, 2019-2023, gave Nigeria the excitable Rivers State ex-governor Nyesom Wike who acted the giddy script to the hilt, producing an indescribable mixture of mirth and gravitas. In the entire political North, neither Kaduna’s Nasir el-Rufai nor Kogi’s Yahaya Bello, both of whom threw themselves into the art of projecting governance as a controversy, could hold a candle to him. Nobody compared with Mr Wike in the Southwest, and there was none like him in the South-South or Southeast, not to say the North Central. But it must now seem to the dismay of Mr Wike that Osun State governor Ademola Adeleke will step into the large shoes he has left on the national stage. And what is more, former Osun governor Rauf Aregbesola will have the undistinguished honour of playing a subordinate role to the governor in a rural state he had schemed to transcend.

Mr Wike is of course incomparable. A lawyer and workaholic, he infused his government with gaiety and affability without diminishing his achievements. Mr Adeleke on the other hand has a nondescript certificate he has spoken glowingly about, claiming to have a degree in criminal justice in 2021 from Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia. But controversy swirls around his studies and degree. He was in the senate between 2017 and 2019 where he completed his late brother’s term, but was virtually anonymous throughout. With no educational pedigree or legislative proficiency to boast about, and was thus not expected to flourish in the exerting role of leadership, he nevertheless won the July 2022 governorship poll, defeating the more cerebral and even-tempered Gboyega Oyetola. After the Supreme Court finally validated his election last May, Mr Adeleke has set about forming his cabinet, and he has done it with his customary carefree flair.

Before and after the 2022 poll, Mr Aregbesola was at daggers drawn with his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). He, therefore, felt compelled to lie in bed with the PDP’s Mr Adeleke against whom he had worked years earlier. The APC didn’t think the former governor’s betrayal would be consequential. It was, and Mr Oyetola lost, and in addition lost by a gloomier and more severe margin in the following House of Assembly poll. In constituting his cabinet, Mr Adeleke allotted offices to Mr Aregbesola’s men, thus calcifying the separation between the APC and their former leader. The ex-governor, fondly called Ogbeni, attempted a bigamous relationship with both the APC and the PDP. The APC spurned him, accusing him of betrayal. Henceforth, Mr Aregbesola must now play second fiddle to the cavalier Mr Adeleke, a sad declension for the Ogbeni who had feigned rigour and academic excellence throughout the eight years he pontificated with grandeur as governor.

But far beyond the declination of Mr Aregbesola, a tragedy Osun must get used to, the state must now develop shock absorbers to cope with the superficialities of their governor. Other than placating and ultimately skinning and neutralising the APC defectors led by Ogbeni himself, Mr Adeleke has approached his cabinet composition with as much triviality as possible. And he defends the impossible. He now has 30 advisers. And among his commissioners was his sister-in-law, who will manage a ministry dedicated to federal matters, while his nephew will superintend the local government service commission as chairman. His critics say he has 17 Christians in his cabinet to seven Muslims, two women in a constellation of 25 commissioners, a lawyer to head the health ministry, and all the commissioners sourced from 20 local governments, leaving out 10 LGs. Mr Adeleke will ignore these complaints or offer robust defences. Overall, he will simply proceed with the conviviality he has been used to.

Governor Adeleke comes from an illustrious Ede family. That illustriousness paved the way for him into national limelight, but was unable to inoculate him against the frivolity and ideational dullness that now characterises him. Indeed, he broke into national consciousness on account of his flamboyant dancing skills, especially the suggestive way he heaved his rotund frame in dance halls and churches. Yet, he is not particularly religious. Indeed, some think he behaves distinctly polytheistic, and others observe that the controversy he raised at the Eid praying ground in Osogbo during the last Sallah showed his secret longing for syncretism. It is not clear which will have his undivided attention going forward: the church or the mosque, assuming he is proficient in their liturgies. Nor is it clear that both major faiths will not give him the cold shoulder thereby forcing him even more into the embrace of any of the traditional faiths.

But in the end what will task him the most will not be whether he can live up to the fame of his illustrious family, or what faith he will eventually settle for, but how well he can govern. His appointments so far do not give indication that Osun is about to witness a great leap forward. Mr Adeleke’s beginning has been idiosyncratic, but he is of course not solely to blame for what is about to hit the state. Over many election cycles, Osun voters had equally been cavalier in electing their leaders, and have had a penchant for committing electoral suicide with the frenzy of fatalists. It is hard to imagine gloomier reinforcement between two entities.

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