Tuesday September 19, 2023, I walked into the office of my friend, Shuaibu Ipinmisho, a Special Assistant to the governor of Kogi State.
Shuaibu and I have been together for about 40 years, since our days at the School of Basic Studies, in Kwara State College of Technology Ilorin, together with our brother, the Iyah Gbede born billionaire lawyer and businessman, Barr. Tunde Ayeni. We were all students of Dr. Duro Oniemola, (who taught us politics). Prof (Mrs) Marietu Tenuche, (now the Vice Chancellor of Kogi State University, Anyigba) who taught us Elements of Government and Mr Kwabiah, (a Ghanaian authority in Religious Studies) amongst other fantastic lecturers of our time, taught us Christian Religious Studies. I can remember Panaki Ayodele and of course Akande our Economic teacher.
Shuaibu is a pleasant personality who has, like many of us, contributed by no small measure to the political developments in Ijumu and of course, Kogi State.
Though his resent appointment by Governor Bello is well deserved, I deliberately refused to congratulate him. In my message to him on his appointment, I even suggested he rejects the offer.
But I have always known Shuaibu to be a realist, who sees things as they are, and not necessarily as they should be. I am not. I am an idealist, my focus has always been on what should be.
My visit to Shaibu afforded me the first opportunity of a physical meeting with the Kogi State Honourable Commissioner for Special Duty, Hon. Yahaya Ismail.
Ismail on this meeting, left with me, an impression that strikes as a very humble and active personality. His huge stature and ebony complexion is admirable.
I greeted Ismail casually and returned to Shuaibu with a banter. I said, “Ore, you are really working. I am sure you are the one that advised our governor to start the rehabilitation of roads he abandoned for eight years, less than five months to the end of his tenure.
Shuaibu observed that exchange of pleasantries between the Honourable Commissioner and I was casual, he then said, to me, This is Ismail, and to the commissioner, “this is the very stubborn Stanley Ajileye”
Like I said, I have never met Ismail, but no one can pretend not to hear his name in Okun politics in the last few years.
Ismail said he knows me very well, but I did not believe him, but when he mentioned some of my write-ups he found fascinating, I knew, there is a connection.
On the humility of the commissioner: There was a single visitor’s chair in front of Shaibu, on which the Honourable Commissioner sat. He stood up and offered me the chair, but I declined the offer until Shuaibu called one of his staff to bring in another chair for me.
If my visit to Shuaibu’s office was by his invitation, I would have called it a set-up; As soon as I sank into the chair, Shuaibu repeated to Ismail: “This man you see is stubborn, but he is a realist” to which Hon Ismail responded that he knows. But between you and I, they knew me, but they don’t understand my philosophy. I am not a realist I am a core idealist. I do not belong to the school that adores status-quo, I see possibilities, I see change and I gun for change. I am not a bandwagon person, I don’t give up easily on what I consider as ideal. That is my stubbornness.
The same stubbornness that must have headlined me as stupid in the political book of Hon. James Abiodun Faleke and General JOS Oshanupin (both uncle of mine), when I refused to join them to support the second term bid of Governor Bello.
General Oshanupin is a man I love and he loved me, I don’t know if he still does.
He was always there to encourage me, pointing out how I am very suitable for the high political responsibility.
Problem came, during the emergence of Okun Think Tank. a political group that was established to bargain out Okun candidacy in the 2019 Kogi State gubernatorial election, for the second term of Governor Bello. I was in General’s House, which is located on Ekinrin-Adde Close in Mpape, Abuja, His family hosted me during a wedding of one of the members of my congregation that took place in that community.
General Oshanupin by my estimation, loved Okun land so well, and probably still does. His group, Okun Think Tank, is however a front player in realism. They were passionate about anything Okun, but erroneously believed, that Okun governorship can only be at the mercy of Governor Bello, based on what they called “reality on the ground”. As for me, I see the ideal not reality. A compelling ideal that makes me, like Nelson Mandela, always abhor ethnic domination under any form of reasoning.
“I cherish an ideal where people live together with equal opportunity ” – Mandela.
But this ideal is what my friend Shuaibu, S.A. to Governor Bello and his friend, Honourable Commissioner for Special Duties, Ismail, called stubbornness.
In their ambush, they wonder why I did not see the reality on the ground, pointing to the fact that, power of incumbency is everything needed to win the coming election. I did not allow them to land, before I put their postulation to eternal rest.
Election is no more business as usual. Governor Bello will have only one vote like me. The era of snatching ballot boxes, the era of conjuring figures like they did during the Local Government election and even during the 2019 gubernatorial election is gone. It is one-man, one-vote.
To blow their mind, I quickly reminded them of the categories of people that will vote during coming election. They include: the Local government workers who for eight years are paid only 10 percent of their salaries; they include Primary School Teachers, whose take-home salary could no longer reach home; they include pensioners who invested their active years into government services but are turned to street beggar because the state government refused to pay their pensions.
These voters will also include legitimate Kogi workers, who were screened out of their livelihood by Governor Bello; widows and widowers who lost their spouses during the first three years of Governor Bello, because they could not buy drugs for their various ailments, and of course, students that dropped out of school because their parents were denied their salaries. This are the ideal I see, that makes it clear to me, that Governor Bello will not get his third term.
Shuaibu interjected my narration to woo me, as being amongst those that are meant to work with Ododo if he wins. Well, it is not possible for two persons to win in an election. How can Ododo win, when Dino wins. Beyond this, what will make anyone think Stanley Ajileye fits into the agenda of GYB?
Toward 2019 governorship election, the then Speaker, Kogi State Assembly, Rt. Hon Matthew Kolawole had a meeting with me in Lokoja. A transaction brought us together. He passionately pleaded with me for us to work together, assuring me, that my name has been penciled with those to run the government of Kogi State from January, 2020.
I laughed at what made him think I can work with a government that I know will never do the ideal thing. And by my nature I can never be comfortable in a position where I cannot speak the truth. Realists work with their head, We the idealist work with our conscience.
I asked the speaker, how he wanted me to convince the unpaid civil servants to vote for the man that held back their emoluments? Kolawole, being a man of noble heart, was the first person that confessed to me, that the government owes salaries, but assured me that every penny will be paid before election.
Ironically, a year before my meeting with the Speaker, 2018 or so, the current Deputy Chief of Staff to the government of Kogi State, Hon Sunday Faleke, argued with me at a function, insisting that Kogi State government was not owing any civil servant a dime. Sunday was a Special Assistant to the governor then.
It was a function of Ijumu Development Union. Sunday Faleke came as a representative of the state government, I was a guest speaker at the event, we sat next to each other.
I humbly thanked Rt. Hon Kolawole for the offer, explaining how, working with their government, contradicted the dictate of my conscience. I am an idealist.
In my Tuesday’s meeting with the two Honourable, Ismail and Shuaibu, time did not permit me to educate them on why I see Senator Dino Melaye, winning next election.
Common arithmetic will connect us to a reality that our realist refused to see.
1) Many of our realist are not seeing the possibility of Hon. Leke Abejide, being a man of great mind, turning around to support Sen. Dino Malaye, knowing that, his future political career will be adversely affected if people begin to see him as agent that blew the golden opportunity that stares our faces now. I see the possibility of a last minute dialogue between Leke and Dino.
2) The Peoples Democratic Party is a traditional party for the Igala. If you call out the Igala people to vote today, Half of them will still go with their party the PDP.
3) Muri Ajaka of SDP was a core APC man that detested the electoral robbery of a primary, that produced Ododo. He opted out of APC, thereby taking his pounds of followers out of APC across the Eastern Senatorial District. That figure cannot give him a win but it depleted the chances of APC in the East
Ajaka had envisaged great followers from the west, unfortunately, it did not happen that way.
So, realizing the fact that he may not win this election, I see Ajaka collapsing his structure in the East for Dino of PDP in order to tackle Bello together and see to it that, his robbers do not win.
4) The recent victory of Natacha of PDP and the manner of jubilation across Kogi Central, is a directional pointer that her support base is solid. The PDP will get significant votes from central.
5 ) INEC has promised to transmit election results electronically from polling units this will make the usual manipulation difficult.
These are the realities that I want my friend to see as the Guber election hots up.
– Pastor Stanley Ajileye writes from Kabba, Kogi State.