I returned to Abeokuta from Ijebu Ode.
I have not been this excited about anything since March of 1980.
Chief Segun Odegbami
Then, against the odds, when Nigeria was not the best team in Africa, (Algeria was) 22 young and ordinary Nigerian footballers shouldered the responsibility of over 100 million Nigerians, fired by the energy and support of 100,000 Nigerians that crammed into a space for 60,000 that hot afternoon in Lagos, playing under excruciating pressure, fear and anxiety, overcame ALL and became Champions of Africa.
It is that kind of spirt and energy that were oozing through me on my way to Abeokuta.
I remember clearly. The power was in the raised voices of the PEOPLE. After all, the voice of the PEOPLE is the voice of the ALMIGHTY.
I am calling on the PEOPLE today.
When they respond, Nigeria will never be the same again.
That day shall soon come in the middle of the seemingly ‘impossible’ challenges and minefields that lie all around the people today.
I could sense it in my bones and being, even as I drove into Abeokuta.
Ayodeji, the coordinator of my project, and the leadership of the Labour Party were waiting for me.
Soon, my ears were full again.
My brother, the Governor is livid, I am told.
I did not tell him about my ‘ambition’ to be governor, despite our ‘close’ relationship and the mutual respect we have shown to each other.
My desire to become governor is not an ambition, and is only recent in creation.
This is a mission that the elements have placed on my little shoulders to carry on behalf of the PEOPLE of Ogun State, disenfranchised by the system and not through any particularly fault of the governor’s.
I am a part of these PEOPLE. They are the same people that made me who I am, that gave me my opportunities, that made me a household name, that blessed me with several honours and recognitions that sustain me till now, for which I am eternally grateful.
With these same PEOPLE guiding, driving and empowering me as they did on the night of March 22, 1980 when we had a taste of heaven, I know that even this present responsibility and challenge will end in success.
The PEOPLE always win their battles except when they choose not to fight.
What they need now is a pilot to steer the ship and carry the burden of responsibility. If I had a choice in the matter I would rather just join the passive people in society, siddon look and saunter leisurely through the rest of my life, lamenting and complaining too. But I have no choice. The elements summon me.
So, the governor is angry.
I pray he will find the spirit to ‘forgive’ his ward and brother, for no harm was meant.
I commend him for serving his State to the best of his ability and will now hand over to a new leader that the PEOPLE must elect of their freewill and volition. Period.
Ayodeji told me that Alhaji Agba, the governor’s elder brother, whom I have never really met in my life, lost his wife a few days ago.
Yesterday, I went to visit and express my condolence.
He welcomed me very well and, despite his grief, still managed to express his feelings on learning I was also contesting for the governorship of the State.
He reiterated that it is well that I am contesting on the platform of another party because APC, the party in power, would never have accommodated a contestant that is not from Ogun West.
That’s where the party is lending its weight to.
I shared my own opinion on the subject with him.
He obviously did not see my points.
He insisted that a political promise had been made and must be kept. Political correction takes precedence over who the best candidate is.
As I left him, his partying words were consoling.
Labour Party has no such zonal arrangement with anyone, and can choose to do its own thing.
He thanked me for the visit and wished me well.
He was a complete gentleman.
Back at home, the Party Chairman brought me up to date on the State of Labour Party all over the country, and in Ogun State, in particular.
His words were as exciting as they were daunting in the huge challenges they presented.
This is my philosophical summation.
The Party is like a blank canvas handed an artist with the task to paint his dream Nigeria.
With nothing to lose and a vision of a great country to create, he sets about creating and painting the best place in the world to live, work and to invest!
I am that artist.
The Labour Party, described to me, is the blank canvas.
I have the picture of my dream State and Nigeria in my head.
When I can show the people what this dream State will look at, and convince them it will meet all their necessities for a decent life, and they choose to trust and believe me, give me a chance and support me with their never-say-die spirit just as they did in 1980 when they made 22 young Nigerian footballers to fly to the moon and back, there is no force on earth that will stop the change that will create the greatest Black nation on earth from the little seed that will be planted in Ogun State in 2019.
This particular project is for the disenfranchised people of Ogun State, suffering victims of the shenanigans of the money and corruption-driven politics of the present times that have made, potentially, one of the richest States in Nigeria to become one of the ‘poorest’ for the PEOPLE!
This is the voice of the PEOPLE crying in the wilderness.
At the end of the day, I am in high spirits.
Embarrassingly, many people that I meet these days call me one of either ‘incoming’ or ‘excellency’.
Oh, how I dislike what those words connote to me.
Some may have good intentions and say them in prophecy. Others may say them in disguised mockery.
But either way, they do not fit into my spirit for as long as I cannot read ‘the minds construction in the face’.
I would rather people just referred to me by my ordinary names.
Otherwise, all is well – exhilarating and frightening at the same time.
By Segun Odegbami