It is amazing how history often repeats itself. Or is it that fools are won’t to repeat the mistakes of history as George Santayana, the Spanish born American poet and essayist, would want us to learn and accept.
The recent removal of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola from office seemed to share some odious likeness to the ordeal of the former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, who was disgraced beyond his own wildest dreams for corruption.
Incidentally, the two of them are from the same State as well as from the same Senatorial District. Both of them have been arrogant, contemptuous and unduly condescending to the citizens of their State and other Nigerians. They both seemed to be “full of themselves” until fate brought them down and taught them a lesson that should be instructive for those who still have the capacity to learn before it is too late.
Oyinlola and Balogun were very flagrant in their contempt for the people or the feelings of the people. Both were convinced that things would not change and that they would continue to have their ways with the people and do what they liked. Incidentally, both are very constant to and conversant with the United Kingdom – London to be specific.
Few weeks to his arrest and arraignment for corruption, IGP Balogun had told a closed circle of friends in London that Nigeria could not be reformed. He had boasted “Things will never change.” He insisted during the privileged discussion that no one has “the audacity and the bravery to clean up Nigeria” because “that person would be dead before he starts.” Then, unwittingly manifesting a foolish tempting of fate, his voice, extricating itself from a cocoon of baritone, exuded with unmistakable confidence, “We will make sure of that.”
Balogun was talking as if he was God. He was so sure of himself and what he was saying that it would be a gross understatement to characterize his confidence as “palpable.” But like the Christians religious book once contended, the madman is accumulating wealth without the knowledge of who will squander it. Balogun, in that brief moment of indiscretion seemed to have forgotten the common aphorism that says “Man proposes but God disposes.”
The extent to which Balogun was extremely unguarded and foolish was attested to by the reaction of fate to his utterances a couple of months after. He was accused, arrested, arraigned and convicted for corruption. He was granted bail but not let go. He was handcuffed and dragged around on the floor in the public that those who did not know him actually sympathized with him. He was a pitiful sight. The ignominy he suffered was beyond anyone’s imagination if only for the fact that this was a former Inspector General of Police.
Yes, someone who seemed beyond the law was humiliated and disgraced to that extent. He was among the big boys and had accumulated billions in different currencies. This was the same person on whom TheNews magazine did an expose on his corrupt practices several months earlier without any consequence. What did he need to be afraid of? Why would he have to worry about such things especially in Nigeria where only money and power talks. To be fair to Balogun, he was not wrong to think that such things could never happen to him in the country called Nigeria. This writer thought so too like many millions of frustrated Nigerians.
Oyinlola was reported to have admitted to his friends that he has “no doubt” about the fact that he won the election of 2003 to become the Governor of Osun State but he was “not sure” that he won the re-election of 2007. He was reported to have confided in his friends that he was very upset with Oshogbo people to whom he gave everything they asked and yet they did not vote for him in 2007. He was said to have been “dismissive” of the Ijesha people and called them “losers” while boasting that it would probably take them “about half a century before they can ever have the chance to produce the governor of Osun State.”
Oyinlola was also reported to have related how he kept the PDP Local Government Chairmen in check when they wanted to become “unruly and disrespectful.”He was said to call them and reminded them that it was important that they (the PDP Local Government Chairmen) remembered that they were not in their positions by the mandate of the people and if they continued with their “disrespectful behaviors” they would find themselves out of office in the coming elections. “Since I reminded them what they know to be the truth, they have never bothered me,” he was reported to have said with an imperial imprimatur.
Oyinlola was said to have related to his close friends with an omnipotent aura, how he was the one to determine who would become the next governor of Osun State in 2011. He was reported to have boasted that anyone has the right to nurse an ambition but not everyone’s ambition would be fulfilled. “I know who will not succeed me,” he had reportedly said with a tinge of ebullient confidence.
But like Tafa Balogun, Oyinloka was also dead wrong. Just like the Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon. Adejare Bello did play God when he predicted that Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola would never rule Osun State, Oyinlola probably had same person in mind when he reportedly made the statement that he knew “who will not” succeed him. A couple of months after this flagrant utterance of arrogance by Oyinlola in London, he was being reportedly “stoned” out of Oshogbo on his way to Okuku after the swearing-in ceremony of Ogbeni Aregbesola.
What this writer wants the readers to pay attention to in the narrative of these trajectories is that he (Balogun) was so comfortable in London that he ran his mouth ceaselessly before nemesis caught up with him in Nigeria. His trajectory was not different from that of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who also had occasion to say some things to some of his close friends in London before he was chased out of the Bola Ige House, Osun State Secretariat, Oshogbo.
While London might not have played any direct role in how these men came to meet their waterloo, there is probably something about London that seems to make these men more comfortable, relaxed and candid. Or it might be that these men felt that they could trust those close circle of friends with whom they could meet outside their immediate environment of power. Or it might be that those friends actually did not have the intention of revealing these “privileged conversations” and were “just feeling important” when they were relating these conversations. Or it might just be that these two men were exuding confidence as a result of their level of involvement in the rotten system and were sure of what they were capable of doing to ensure that their will and not the peoples’ will prevailed.
Whatever it is, it is evident that Providence has a way of humbling people who think that they are more than ordinary mortals. Today, wherever Tafa Balogun is ensconced, he would no doubt be playing in his mind the scenario in London when he was speaking like someone who knows tomorrow in juxtaposition to his highly unexpected public humiliation. Oyinlola who was reportedly boasting that he knew “those who will not” succeed him and has Ogbeni Aregbesola at the top of the list would be regurgitating these thoughts in the tiny nooks of his hearts from the dark cranky crannies of his Okuku mansion.
Both of them would presently be wondering how things managed to turn around so fast so completely for them. They probably are still reeling from serious shocks. Someone suggested that the shock was so overwhelming for Oyinlola that he had to do a “thanksgiving service” that he had been humiliated out of power (ever heard of that?). One would think that “thanksgiving service” was to celebrate and be grateful for positive accomplishments.
For these two men from Osun State, it seemed that being unusually comfortable away from home has made them to unwittingly tempt fate and providence. Unfortunately for them, such unwise, unguarded and stupid acts had serious, as well as fatal consequences for them. For those still reveling in their usurped positions across Nigeria and especially in the Southwest, it is important for them to borrow a leaf from these men – check yourself from exuding arrogance of power, do not over value your relevance, (or is it irrelevance?), look down not on the people, remember that power (legally or illegally appropriated) is temporary, you may be giggling now, others may yet have the last laugh – because very soon that power could and would be taken away from you.