Sometimes in 2006, the Ife University management, then led by Professor Michael Faborode, rusticated some Students’ Union leaders: Akinola Saburi (Malcom X), Ogunma Segun Adrew (Karl Marx), Taiwo Hassan (Soweto), Tunde Dairo(Barry Blacky) and others for politically-motivated reasons and had the vibrant Great Ife Students’ Union proscribed. The students, particularly we the then freshmen, were left at the mercy of the University management and its notorious security men known as “crackers” (a group that fallout of the earlier Modakeke-Ife crises) whose mandates includes but not limited to harassing, intimidating and suppressing students’ voice particularly students with progressive orientations and ideological groups on the campus.
While on his way from Osogbo (the Osun state capital) to submit a petition concerning election fraud (during the 2007 Gubernatorial election on OAU campus), Akinola Saburi, then President of the Students’ Union, was arrested on the orders of the then Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun state. The Union leaders’ fate from that point was now out of reach of the university management. Malcom X, as Saburi was popularly called, had to spend over 7 months at Ilesha prison with Soweto and Barry Blacky to spend 4 months in detention. Somehow, Ogunma Segun (Karl Marx), then the Union’s Speaker, managed to escape been caught. The ban on the Union will later be lifted in 2008 and I joined its ranks. Against all “admonitions”, and at great personal discomforts, I joined the movement to campaign for the reinstatement of the victimized activists.
The battle to reinstate these lads soon took titanic turn as the political bigwigs in the state became interested in their case. For those who do not know, the Great Ife Students’ Union in its entire history, as I recall, has little or nothing to do with partisan, let alone in local, politics. The question Akinola Saburi simply asked the Tribunal to decide(before his arrest) was how a political party can amass about 30,000 votes on OAU campus while students were not in school in the April, 2007 election. At this point, no one needs to be told that the fate of these lads lie in the outcome of the Election Tribunals (there were many of them!). So, while we did our bests to negotiate their release and subsequent reinstatement, we kept a weather eye on developments at the Tribunals. This was how some of us became involved in Osun politics ever since!
I need to add that Rauf Aregbesola won back his mandate at the Court of Appeal, sitting in Ibadan, in 2010 and within few days of this victory, Saburi and Karl Marx will be allowed to resume their studies at Ife.
Those following events in Osun state will probably notice the patterns have since changed since 2010. I wouldn’t like to bother my readers with the intrigues involving the “forces” trying to stop Aregbesola from becoming Governor, but I will say here that there is nothing really new with the notion that he is an “Islamic fundamentalist”. He was once alleged to have links to al-Qaeda, a dangerous Islamic sect in Africa and the Middle East. No one should really be surprised that all these started years before he even became governor!
One would have thought that since becoming Governor, his detractors would have at least surrendered after losing the tough duel, but they regrouped under different names. The same elements using some compromised staff of the Department of State Security (DSS) came up with another narrative in 2012 that the Governor is under “security watch” over a fictitious plan to “Islamise” Osun. A curious observer will see the dangerous politics adopted by the age-long rivals in desperate bid to “unseat” him in the 2014 election. The only difference then was the DSS became the cat’s paw in the well-acted script!
No one recalls Aregbesola “Christianising” Osun or coming up with “Christianisation Agenda” when he appointed 18 Commissioners out of which 10 are Christians in a state that boast of majority Muslims. No one told us that Aregbe’s immediate family members contain a sizable number of Christians (including pastors in two well-known Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria). They deliberately forgot his generous donations to several Churches in the state. Traditional religious worshippers were short-changed in this scheme of things, but those who love us more did their best to lampoon the “Opon Imo” (Tablet of Knowledge) and the new state’s logo (which included cowry shells) as having something to do with idolatry or idol worship. If you think that is inconsistent, I must confess to you that it took me a long time to recover from these confusing arguments!
Lest we forget, the opposition went to town with new sets of propaganda that Osun wanted to secede from the federation with the introduction of the state’s anthem. On getting to know about this allegation, I had to painfully agree with Bola Ilori, who recently told us of a “satanic agenda” at work in Osun state. It is understandable for emotions to take over reasons when it comes to religious issues especially in this part of the world, but for anyone to see a state having its own flag, symbols or anthem as the basis for secession defiles every known reason. I had to agree with him again, because, what is happening in Osun is not any religious agenda as some people might have innocently thought, but a “satanic” political agenda!
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