We have been warning about the dangers of one man dominated democracy in Kwara State for quite a long time. It is dictatorship masquerading as democracy. Not all dictators are however crude and primitive. There are benevolent dictators whose thoughts and actions are informed by enlightened self-interest. Such leaders force real developments down the throats of unwilling members of the society. When a leader went to Britain in the early independence Nigeria and saw television and came back to Western Nigeria to establish same, he was integrating his people into a world information system. When though he could afford to train his own children in the elite schools of the developed world; nevertheless opted for free education for all, his passion for education as a liberation instrument among his people is not in doubt. Those thinking of the welfare of all, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, class and station in life, even if they use undemocratic means to achieve their laudable objectives can be called benevolent dictators. In the league of benevolent dictators is Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. Yew became the Prime Minister of Singapore in 1959 and did not step down till 1990. Within that time however he grew the economy of his country from a per capita GDP of US$400 to US$12,200. Within that time he brought his country out of the well-known third world problems of poverty. Another is Mamman Gadaffi whose years of political hold on his people brought a lot of prosperity to his Arab nation. His political liquidation was externally induced. President J. J Rawlings of Ghana lined up four former heads of government of his country and killed them by firing squad. He is still being called ‘’junior Jesus’’ in Ghana today for with that, he has given his people good governance.
The destiny of 2.5 million people is in danger of one man dominated politics in Kwara State. Ours is a crude, arrogant, and primitive dictatorship. Its manifestation is not only in the rejection of Bejamin Yissa at the Senate screening for non-executive membership of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC); it is indeed in all facets of our life in Kwara State. Come to think of it, participation of people in the democratic process in Kwara State has been abrogated. There are errand boys in the form of Senators, House of Representatives members, House of Assembly members, commissioners and Advisers, but do they really amount to anything in the governance of this state? Many of these people are picked to satisfy constitutional provisions: they are there to represent the interest of the leader and not the State or their constituencies. If the law of the land permits an occupier of the governorship seat to stay ad-finitum, there would not have been a Fatah Ahmed as the governor of Kwara State. Can a Nigerian act a Mandela? How many people in the camp of the leader can defy unlawful instructions of the leader to satisfy the interests of their people? Benjamin Yissa on my mind.
We have lost all. You want to be ward councillor in the remote village of Bani in Kaima; Local Government Area, Chikanda in Bruten LGA, Iwo, Isin LGA and Isolo in Ekiti, LGA; Kwara maximum ruler, not the people of the ward must nominate and endorse you. Kwara maximum ruler nominates, endorses and ensures elections are manipulated for his candidates. As it is for the councillors so it must be for House of Assembly members, National Assembly candidates, choice of ministerial, Special Advisers, Board appointments both Federal and Kwara State. Nobody becomes anything in Kwara State without the approval of the maximum ruler. A Senator under the maximum ruler is not a Senator properly so called. He is a caricature of the original. At the committee or plenary level of the Senate, the Senator of the maximum ruler must take instructions or watch the mouth or demeanours of the maximum ruler before he can air opinions. Our nine members in the National Assembly are nine in one. Kwara State government even since 2011 have the shell in Ilorin but the substantive authority of government permanently resides with the maximum ruler. He carries the government to wherever he goes. His Excellency the governor might be in Ilorin, the authority of his office might be in London. Maximum ruler is the owner of the twenty four members Kwara State House of Assembly. The house is twenty four in one. Twenty four members with only one constituency: the maximum ruler is the constituency. Benjamin Yissa supposedly has a Senator of a Nupe extraction in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, why is he unable to save Benjamin? Benjamin Yissa, you are in my mind.
The qualification to be the president of Nigeria is school certificate which you need not even pass. Bejamin has a master degree apart from his far above ordinary level qualification in Nursing. He successfully piloted the Kwara State House of Assembly for four years without blemish. He was for two years the Chairman of the Nigerian Speakers’ Forum. He is widely travelled with certificates in leadership trainings in recognised Leadership institutes outside the country. And above all, he is a member of the ruling party, APC. He could be rated as one of the most outstanding Speakers, Kwara State had ever produced. He is by far better than any Speaker of the maximum ruler from 2003 to date. What are the qualifications of our Senators and Governors that they now vary the constitutional provisions on qualifications of those that may want to be in public office in Nigeria? Let the Kwara oracle look for some other reasons for the disqualification of Benjamin Yissa other than his educational qualifications. Oba Abdulraheem is a Professor and former Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, maximum ruler stood against him when President Jonathan presented him for a second term at the Federal Character Commission. The same was done to Femi Ogunsola, PhD. It was Senator S.S Ajibola that came to their rescue. The only offence they committed was that of doubtful loyalty to the leader or that it was not the leader that picked them. No Kwarans must make it to any form of leadership in Nigeria unless you are approved by the Kwara maximum ruler. If we are to judge output by qualifications, then we are to question the validity of the qualifications of our leaders since 2003. For though we have a maximum ruler we have been given minimum government since 2003. We have since been told some NCC commissioner nominees were passed by the Senate who possess lower qualification than Benjamin. There is a Bejamin Yissa in all of us, so Benjamin Yissa, you are in my mind.
I was made to understand that Benjamin was in the crossfire within the family. Senator Gbemi Saraki rewarded loyalty by making an appropriate choice of a man of character and integrity. But the rejection of Benjamin questions the audacity of her choice without reference to the ‘’emerging Tiger’’ as nicknamed by his chorus boys. Lai Mohammed must continue to thank his stars that his own name went to the Senate before the maximum ruler found his feet as the Senate President. If it were to be now, Lai would not pass the ministerial screening. Igbomina would have begged the maximum ruler, Kwara South would have been on their knees, Lagos boys would have pleaded, Ansarul or Ahammdiyya may plead; the maximum ruler would not allow Lai to go. After all, CAN in Kwara State, traditional rulers in Nupe land and perhaps association of nursing professionals begged on behalf of Benjamin and I understand his Senator wept, the situation remains unchanged. Even now Moddibo Kawu must also be thankful to God that his appointment did not have to go to the Senate. As we are disappointed with the Senate handling of the case of Benjamin, may we not experience the same in our ambassadorial hopefuls; Alhaji Nura Mohammed and Professor Gana, Perhaps, we should urge them to go and worship at the temple of the oracle. There is a Benjamin in all of us and this makes Benjamin to be in my mind.
Truly there is a Benjamin in all of us. In other climes they look for men of character, skill, integrity and talents. Here in Kwara State we look for tested loyalty not to the system, the State, the Community or Constituency, but rather to the narrow interest of the leadership. In other states, young vibrant men and women are making it to the top, only cronies are preferred in Kwara where even corruption is not democratised as access to the common pot is in the hand of one man. If Benjamin could be rejected at the Senate, my name should not be mentioned at the corridor, not to talk of the hallow Chambers of the National Assembly where the maximum ruler holds sway. At the dying days of the bourbon monarchy in France, Louis XVI personified not the bourbon monarchy but the state of France. Louis was the State and the State was Louis. Uprising of the 1789 French revolution abolished the despotism of the bourbon dynasty in 1792. Today our maximum ruler, Dr Bukola Saraki is Kwara and Kwara is Bukola Saraki. All powers from history are transient. Benjamin Yissa take heart, you are in my mind as you are in the minds of several people that desire genuine change in Kwara State.
Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo