ONDO APC AND THE BEAUTY OF UNITY
By Ojo Oyewamide
The gubernatorial battle in Ondo state is over, at least for now. The people of the state have elected their next governor. Their choice is still the same Governor Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN. Their decision is an endorsement of the sterling performance recorded in Arakunrin Akeredolu’s first term. They wanted more of good governance. That was why they opted for more of him.
So, the battle is over. Forget about the legal challenge by one of the contenders. It is nothing, and nobody can build anything on nothing. However, not a few people see the legal action as a kind of opium. It is meant to numb the initial shock of defeat. It is a strategy of the shepherd to prevent the flock from scattering.
The move was made to keep hope alive. And we all know hope is needed to sustain life. At times like this, it is needed to keep the major opposition party alive in the minds of its members and, of course, the people of the Sunshine state. Their song now is “Eyi kin se opin” (This is not the end). Songs like this are surely good for the souls of the defeated. They give psychological healing. But is it not wiser to face the reality of defeat once and for all?
The All Progressives Congress (APC) knows its victory in the October 10 governorship poll is a deserved one. It was legitimately given by the state electors, and no legal move can upturn it. Now, the major focus of the ruling party is how to sustain its unity. Good enough, leaders of the party are genuinely intent on keeping the prevailing harmony. It is the realization of all that the platform must be strengthened for the future political ambitions of members.
A couple of days ago, some APC leaders visited Governor Akeredolu in his office. They included Chief Olusola Oke, SAN, Ambassador Sola Iji, Hon. Issac Kekemeke, Prince Jimi Odimayo, Chief Olayide Adelami and Hon. Akinsehinwa Apata. All of them sought the ticket of the APC to contest the October 10 gubernatorial poll in the state. Governor Akeredolu was the lucky winner of the party’s flag. But they rallied round the governor and ensured the victory of the party at the poll.
The leaders came with a vow to maintain the peace and unity in the party. Their pledge was with a view to making the platform stronger for future elections. Unity is strength. It is desirable. “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack,” Rudyard Kipling wrote. It is instructive to note that the unity in the state chapter combined with the sterling performance of the Akeredolu government to clinch victory for the party in the just-concluded governorship election.
For about four years, peace eluded the state chapter because it lost its unity. The 2016 gubernatorial primary election was like a big stone thrown into the calm water of the party. The ripples continued to spread. In 2018, the congresses of the party generated its own crisis. So were the 2019 general elections. The storm was strong, tossing the ship of the chapter here and there.
The party was still at the middle of the storm when preparations for the July 20, 2020 gubernatorial primaries commenced. A group within the party, the Unity Forum, emerged. It looked like more trouble for the chapter. But its name was prophetic. It was predictive of the nearest future of peace and unity.
While the storm lasted, the vultures of opposition waited patiently to profit from it. But they waited in vain. The apocalypse they predicted did not happen. No carcass for the birds of prey to devour.
As the APC approached the shadow poll, reason intervened. It wrestled down emotion. Aggrieved leaders of the party sheathed their swords and opted for reconciliation. This abated the storm. Harmony returned and brought back peace. The APC standard bearer emerged without any rancour. To God be the glory.
Ironically, the major opposition party whose wish was for the APC in the state to remain in perpetual crisis found themselves on the brink of disaster. Providence removed the real Okete from the APC. They accommodated him. Soon, they became a victim of his treacherous inclination. It is safe to say the exit of Okete was a blessing for the APC. It seemed to be what the chapter needed to regain unity and peace.
“In order to have a winner, the team must have a feeling of unity; every player must put the team first – ahead of personal glory,” noted Paul Bryant. To always be a winner, the APC must continue to see unity as a desirable virtue. They must see it as a necessity. Every member must see the interest of the party as superior to his or her own.
As observed by Theodore Bikel, “No doubt, unity is something to be desired, to be striven for, but it cannot be willed by mere declarations.” It is hoped that the leaders of the state chapter will keep their promise of sustaining the prevailing peace and unity in the party.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” said Helen Keller. That’s the beauty of unity.
*** Oyewamide is Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on Media and Publicity