Democracy, and by extension, the society, is better served when the marketplace of opposing views is very wide and robust. And just as any authority requires the conducive atmosphere to thrive and deliver on its assignments for which it is constituted in the first place, those who come to equity must also come with clean hands when they put the authorities to task on issues of accountability, transparency and good governance. There is an ongoing trend in Osun, South-West Nigeria which is at best a tragic abuse of the basic tenets of democratic environment.
In recent times, there has been an ochestrated campaign against Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his government. At the forefront of these campaigns is a group that goes by the name itself Civil Society Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun.
This was the group that claimed responsibility for disrupting the peace and tranquility of the state capital on July 4th with its now failed and politically motivated protests ostensibly in support of a misguided judge who went the way of the opposition and outside the norm to write a petition against the Governor with a barrage of allegations not in anyway different from the same spurious ones amplified repeatedly by the opposition in the state.
The group has also caught in on the national wage crisis in which Osun is one of the states owing salaries to claim to be fighting in the interests of the workers. It is instructive that the leadership and members of the labour in Osun have dissociated themselves from the violence unleashd on the state capital few weeks ago, accusing those behind the protests of opportunistics use of the workers’strike to fan the embers of discord in the state.
And what is the character of this group? A cursory look at its emergence just seven days before its failed protests in Osogbo shows that it is no more than a mortely crowd of bellyaching individuals whose selfish expectations from a government that is committed to collective (rather than selfish individuals) aggrandisements knows no limit.
By its own admissions especially through a press statement it sent out on July 8th, 2015, the fake group (for want of any other name to call it) had exposed itself by confessing that it was less than a week old.
“For your information, CSCEO is just a week old today. We have no allegiance to any political party in opposition to Osun state government nor financiers as being wrongly insinuated by the ruling APC regime, rather, we are together as men and women previously slumbering but have all been woken up by the realization of the doldrums in which we now find ourselves as a result of the recklessness, cluelessness and wanton disregard for time-tested principles of public management and international best practices of those who we have trusted with our collective destiny in the last four years.” That was part of a mail sent out by Seun Adeoye, a former reporter of The Guardian who left in an inglorious manner and whose current assignment is to send out such malicious messages in the name of the coalition.
While the group lies to unsuspecting members of the public it enjoys no affliation with and sponsorship or romance from any political party or politician in Osun, discerning minds must demand from Seun Adeoye, the gains and reasons for the anti-Aregbesola errands he runs for the defeated candidate of the PDP, Iyiola Omisore, that of the Accord Party, Niyi Owolade and Social Democratic Party and, Mr. Segun Akinwusi.
Media platforms become terribly abused when challatans like these hide behind the credibility that civil rights activism can provide to inflict anxieties, falsehood and concuctions on unsuspecting members of the society. The daily purveying of falsehood in forms of emails to media houses to confuse people, malign the government and curry underseved sympathy are not only condemnable but also immoral.
Need we say anything else especially when the group of very credible, notable and known civil rights and pro-democracy organisations in Osun came out to put a lie to the activities of this group to unveil the scam behind it.
In Osun, the story of pro-democracy and human rights struggles are incomplete without ample mentions of the likes of Comrade Amitolu Shittu, Comrade Waheed Lawal, Wale Adebisi, Waheed Adediran, Saka Waheed, Bashir Oduwole, Abbas Onaolapo, Barrister AbdulFatai Abdulsalam and others. These are integrated and identifiable with the struggles of the indigenous people.
When their names are mentioned, the indigenous people easily recognise the activities of groups such as the Committee for Democracy and Rights of the People, Climate and Environmental Development Initiatives, CEDI, C3G, Coalition of Groups for Good Governance, the Caring Heart Foundation, many of these with as many as 50 affliate smaller groups operating in partnership with groups to jointly review and take actions on issues bordering on the collective interests of the Osun people.
None of those emergency civi rights activists and masquerading as coalition of groups for the emancipation of Osun comes near the credentials of those who, recent history has recorded, as having rendered selfless services for the promotion of an egalitarian society in Osun. Men and women of goodwill must ignore the antics of these few elements who only abuse media priviledges to disseminate lies on behalf of politicians who have no longer have any legal means to challenge the Aregbesola mandate but have now resorted to violence, falsehood and misrepresentations to slow the government down.
*Amitolu Shittu, Executive Director, Committee for the Defence and Rights of the People, lives in Osun