Festus Akingbaso: Looking Beyond The Tantrums

By Tunde Akingbondere

As much as I like to look away from strict issues, I see it as a bundle of responsibility on my neck to engage issues and personalities in their records and heroism. I like to pollute and inject my society with the thoughts on the pristine values that define good leadership, politics and administration. Being a watchman.

 

 

This bundle of responsibilities has launched me into the legendary strides and weaknesses of persons who have either enjoyed the applause or disapproval of people. Festus Olanrewaju Akingbaso, a young man, though renowned for his rare industry, business acumen and philanthropic gestures, has secured himself a befitting space in the book of the people’s history.

He is from the Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State and had brought his service to the reach of the people over the years. The sole financier of the Labour Party in the Local Government Area during the era of former Governor Olusegun Mimiko attended St. Paul’s Primary School between 1982 and 1988; he joined the Independence Grammar School, Ondo in the same year for his post-primary education. He proceeded to Akwa Ibom Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua where he bagged a diploma certificate in Business Studies. He further proceeded to the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State for a degree.

The story of this grassroots mobilizer breathes resilience and determination to break grounds, barriers. He, In the course of defying the existing order, has indulged in a lot of controversial actions. These actions, I think have forged into a glimmer of his rough and tenuous past.

Akingbaso’s life has overtime proven to be defined by the love of his community, its progression and healthy competition with other progressive platforms of the world. His appointment as a member of the OSOPADEC during the era of Governor Mimiko did not level up to his financial muscle and unwavering commitment to the Labour Party. He did not leave the party but stepped up during Mimiko’s second term when he was elected to occupy the office of the Chief Executive Officer of the Idanre Local Government. He had his administration shortlived by the opposition APC.

Akingbaso showed up to keenly contest against Barrister Smart Adeuyi Omotadowa, a founding member of the ruling All Progressives Congress. The Lagos-based lawyer is renowned for his legal fireworks and blunt approach to issues. He appears not to be in close touch with the local politics and its dynamism with the people. One of the reasons why he lost to Akingbaso with a total of 12,524 votes.

It is worthy of special note that Akingbaso, as at this time, had started operations at his AKINCHANG Quarry depot. He already portrayed himself to the people as a catalyst in the evolutionary and revolutionary process of the community. He was in fact seen as the biggest employer of Labour, whose tool of employment has gone a long way in liberating and ridding the society of to-be criminals, thugs.

He drew the credits of his admirers, the ire of his traducers, on disclosing his intent to lock horns with Honourable Tajudeen Adefisoye, another gifted young person whose politics defied all odds and disrupted the standing norms. He will be contesting against him for the House of Representatives.

The admirers of the Akingbaso brand appear to be everywhere in the federal Constituency; they in the course of stressing their solidarity with his candidacy make posters, banners. They hang them at the front of their homes. Some even brand their vehicles with his pictures. They capitalised on his renovation of comatose CAC Grammar School, Onisere Comprehensive School, Ofosu, Aseigbo Camp Primary School, Owena, Oja Jigbokin and Owena-Aponmu Bridge. They also leveraged on his mega empowerment projects, personal interventions and gestures.

A parent and member of the APC once showed up to disclose how Akingbaso raised the whooping sum of five million naira for an operation that was going to define the life of her young son who had a broken head. These and many others have greeted his resolve to contest for the House of Representatives. Several criticisms also followed from his traducers.

The traducers called him a deadlock; they challenged his inability to force the hand of the government into sponsoring his projects (via innovative bills). They wanted him to muster the oratory prowess of Martin Luther King Jnr; to do the shouting in an inglorious House of Assembly that could not facilitate the renovation of its dilapidated structures for so many years. Terrible!

As much as we like to engage every available loophole, I think we must not be too poor to consult our history and how it resonates with our standpoints. The House of Assembly is a House of 26 members: the ruling APC has 23 out of this 26 and the main opposition, PDP, 2. The Zenith Labour Party has one. This arrangement automatically produces a rubber-stamp Assembly, it also keeps it in the bag of the sitting government who teleguides the activities of the legislature from the executive Chambers.

The implication of this is that the government is not challenged on defaulting in its responsibilities to the people. The governor assumes the personality of a king who cannot be challenged, he is aided by an overambitious speaker who tactically begs the question of leadership by being mired in controversial theft. No wonder Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu could brazenly deal with Ogundeji Iroju, others believed to have foiled the impeachment plan against Agboola Ajayi.

Amidst the turbulence of the legislature came the blunt remark of Akingbaso, who was reported by newsmen to have said, “to me, I don’t plan to stay in Ondo State for any reason at all because there is nothing much to enjoy, particularly this dispensation in Ondo State. If God says yes, I have been trying possible best to give the dividend of democracy back to my local government and people, most especially the people of Idanre.

“This is why I have the confidence to say I am planning to go higher to represent my federal Constituency in the forthcoming 2023 election.”

I honestly think there is nothing wrong in his seeking a greater platform that better serves the interest of his constituents. Not even when he earlier complained about the government that had continually starved the Assembly members of funds.

He has been vilified for effecting projects with his personal funds, not even when the State has not been forthcoming in terms of making all its institutions available for the implementation of proposed motions. Meanwhile, all we need are projects and they are being effected – Either via government’s subscription or not. The beauty of good representation is in its ability to think outside the box or even bring something out of nothing. I also think the legislative business is not all about oration but human relations. One is blamed for bringing nothing and not something.

I was recently awed by the fact that a faceless group of young persons purportedly conspired under an association called “Idanre Youth Vanguard,” to spit expletives and further downplay his courageous move to bring a change. They recommended his boycotting partisan politics for a chieftaincy title, not even when titles are conferred on the basis of one’s giant strides and selfless contributions, not politics. Our young persons must be sensitized on the need to trigger virgin questions that command immediate answers from those who represent them, not tantrums. The peculiar situation of Nigeria has conscripted legislators into the ritual of providing infrastructural facilities for their constituents. Whoever is doing this should not be called a mediocre but the true servant of the people. Only time could tell.


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