The truth Unity Forum ignores about Bisi Akande
By Olu Aboluwoye
Chief Bisi Akande, by all standards, is a character that cannot be assailed or pulled down by any questionable or perfidious individual or group. The former Osun State Governor exemplifies the concept or Omoluabism in deeds and character. This explains why disciplined, cultured and serious-minded Yoruba leaders/elders would resist attempts by some group of disgruntled politicians to drag the name of the elder statesman in the mud.
For those who have yet to know that Chief Bisi Akande is a leading progressive politician that cannot be insulted or embarrassed by a group of aggrieved and clueless Unity Forum within the All Progressives Congress (APC), this piece is intended to educate them that Chief Bisi Akande has distinguished himself as a credible and honest leader whose unbiased views on contentious issues have restored hope to hopeless and controversial situations.
Chief Bisi Akande, 81, got involved in active partisan politics in 1979 when Chief Ayo Fasanmi introduced him to the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He was thereafter appointed as the Secretary to the old Oyo State Government and subsequently in November 1982, he became the Deputy Governor to Chief Bola Ige on the platform of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). With the unflinching support of Chief Akande, the Bola Ige-led government provided the dividends of good governance for the people of the old Oyo State. In fact, the legacies of the Bola Ige-led government cannot be wiped off in the political history of the Pace Setter State because Chief Akande cooperated and was loyal to his boss. Together, the duo planned and implemented pro-people policies for the socio-economic emancipation of the old Oyo State.
The robust relationship that existed between late Chief Bola Ige and Chief Bisi Akande fascinated political pundits who recommended the adoption of the political tie as a model for would-be governors and their deputies.
Immediately after the death of General Sani Abacha and Chief MKO Abiola coupled with the disengagement of the military from Nigerian political administration, Chief Bisi Akande, as the Chairman of Afenifere, Osun State chapter, teamed up with like-minds to form the Alliance for Democracy (AD), a political party on whose platform he contested and won election to become the governor of Osun State between 1999 and 2003. His tenure as governor was most remarkable and spectacular for the unprecedented infrastructural development in Osun State. He thereafter rose to become a leading light among the Yoruba leadership and a famous Nigerian statesman.
Also, in controversial circumstances in December 2003, Chief Bisi Akande was persuaded by his colleagues (the former governors) to accept to be the National Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy.
As soon as his nomination became supported by the only then serving governor of AD (Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu), certain leaders became irked and furtively sponsored an alternative national chairman who, they claimed, enjoyed the support of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidency, thereby throwing AD into two factions.
The Bisi Akande faction was finally adjudged to be the authentic AD by the Appeal Court of Nigeria. However, in December 2006, Chief Akande resigned and subsequently became the chairman of the newly-formed Action Congress (AC). In 2010, at the Benin City Convention, Chief Akande was unanimously elected, again, as the National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Without sounding immodest, Chief Akande, as the then National Chairman of the defunct ACN, played a vital role in the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He thereafter became the pioneer National Chairman of the APC before he handed over to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as his successor. This, no doubt, created the platform for the new party to win more supporters and subsequently win the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections. So, from all indications, Chief Bisi Akande has become a National Leader whose track records of integrity, honesty and credibility cannot be matched or diminished by the Alhaji Ali Olanusi-led Unity Forum.
In recognition of Chief Bisi Akande’s indomitable courage, fighting spirit and knack for pursuing the truth always, the elder statesman was appointed by the APC leadership to lead the party’s national reconciliation committee. He replaced the Senate President Ahmed Lawan who was announced by the party’s leadership as chairman of a similar panel that was never inaugurated.
According to a statement by APC spokesman Lanre Issa-Onilu, the reconciliation committee was reconstituted following a review of its membership by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Akande-led committee of 12 was given the mandate to reconcile all aggrieved members of the party across the country.
But the disgruntled Ali Olanusi-led Unity Forum decided to be blind to the Chief Akande’s antecedent as an unbiased progressive and ebullient leadership.
The Unity Forum is a faction within the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State. Members of the forum rejected Akande’s leadership of the committee on the grounds of conflict of interest. They accused the pioneer APC National Chairman of having close ties with Ondo State Governor, Mr. Olurotimi Akeredolu (SAN). The forum’s position was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
The forum said the composition of the committee was equally unacceptable because some members were interested parties and could not be judges in their own case.
It is, however, expedient here to educate the Alhaji Ali Olanusi-led Unity Forum on the need to learn how to play politics with maturity and decorum. The outright rejection and flagrant attack on the personality of Chief Bisi Akande to reconcile the factions within the APC by the Unity Forum has confirmed the popular view that the forum is out to only pursue selfish and divisive agenda.
It is equally necessary to remind Alhaji Ali Olanusi-led Unity Forum that the APC won the last two presidential elections because the party was able to put its house in order. So, it will not be wrong to conclude that Alhaji Ali Olanusi’s divisive and selfish agenda, if not checked by the highest organ of the APC, may set apart, the fragile peace the party has achieved.
Like a group within the APC, Sunshine Mandate Group (SMG), which faulted the position of Alhaji Ali Olanusi on the appointment of Chief Bisi Akande as the chairman of the APC National Reconciliation Committee, another group within the party, Sunshine Integrity Movement (SIM), also flayed the Unity Forum for rejecting the former Osun State Governor as the chairman of the reconciliatory committee. For deliberately doubting the integrity of the reconciliation committee even when the peace panel is yet to begin its assignment, it is safe to conclude that the Unity Forum is championing a cause without a direction, drawing a battleline without any opponent, sweating over a non-issue, and arrogating wisdom and knowledge to itself without engaging in meaningful consultation.
So, Sunshine Integrity Movement appeals to the Unity Forum and its leaders to visit any nearest library for a research on Chief Bisi Akande. The disgruntled forum would discover that Chief Akande remains one of Nigeria’s elder statesmen who have vehemently refused to soil their hands, even when tempted.
Whenever the history of the current democratic experience of Nigeria will be written in no distant future, social scientists will not forget to document how Alhaji Ali Olanusi struggled without success to pull down the house (party) Chief Bisi Akande laboured hard to build.