Ikale, Agagu and the verdict of history
By Tope Temokun (Friday, 02 January 2009)
WHEN in 1993 the scion of the famed Agagu family from Iju-Odo in the old Okitipupa division, which comprised the Ikales, the Ilajes and the Ese Odos (the Ondo Ijaws) packed his portmanteau and exited his obscure official sanctum in the pioneer University of Ibadan, for a foray into the wavy political ocean on the waterboat of Ikale dynasty, he held out neither unusual charisma nor any definable political character.
But he became the deputy governor to a retired diplomat and businessman, Bamidele Olumilua, who later answered “Evangelist” and who, 10 years before then, precisely in 1983, had lost in the contest for the seat of Ondo State Central Senatorial District to Lawrence Agunbiade and headed straight for the tribunal which never read its verdict before the military take-over of December 31, 1983.
From the version the historians made us know, after Akin Omoboriowo’s appeal against the verdict of the Olakunle Orojo-led Governorship Election Tribunal had been finally determined in favour of Adekunle Ajasin in the Supreme Court on October 13, 1983, the former was offered a ministerial appointment by President Shehu Shagari, but graciously declined the offer and selflessly put forward Bode Olowoporoku’s name for the appointment.
That was when politics had philosophical taste, when politicians still engaged in philosophical fore-thoughts and political foresights prevailed before political decisions. Agagu jumped at the juicy ministerial offer by Obasanjo after he had lost to Adefarati in 1999 general elections, which apparently held out a promising financial prospect for a future governorship candidate in an era of money politics. From there he seemingly got more fortified politically and reinforced financially to return home in 2003 to incite the support of the Ikales for his reinvigorated ambition to become the governor of Ondo State.
It was a weirdly wild mammoth crowd that gathered, with pumps and pageantry, to welcome Agagu in Ode-Aye, an Ikale town, in 2003, as he toured Ikale land lengthwise for home support for his governorship ambition. When the crowd dissolved that evening, it had become clear that a governor had been made. The ethnocentric quest of the Ikales to have their son head the government business of Ondo State for the first time enkindled by the non-satisfaction of the people with the Adefarati-led government reinforced this conclusion.
Years passed and as the tale became one of unfulfilled promises and dashed hopes, tongues began to wag in disappointment among the Ikale folks, asking questions with unquenchable anger about the promised university and the promised bitumen exploitation which they thought would turn Ikale and the fate of the natives around, while Agagu’s reign lasted. These were the cardinal clauses in their unwritten contract with their son, Agagu.
While the 1983 unbridled carnage in Ondo State lasted, as the unwary party loyalists got carried away in their political calculations and devised machinations, fate silently ambushed men to claim its gory harvest in hundreds, as brothers had to raise arms against brothers, because they belonged to different sides of the political divides.
As the entire state moved from disaster to catastrophe, the only identifiable cause to which all these were traceable was no more than the same fearful phrase of “second term,” which made ambition to clash with ambition and blood had to flow. Nowhere has it been more proven that men never learn from their past than in politics, for if men learn from their past, history will not repeat itself as it often does. So kokumo, meaning: “He will not die again,” for that was Agagu’s second name, flagged off his campaign train for a “Second Term” in office and in his wild imagination, that was the only way to make good his old promises to his people of Ikale race. Time merely changes, the rottenness that dwells in the minds of our politicians have and may not yield to change.
Mired in such dilemma, a fissure began to grow within the Ikale home supporters of the governor, this soon developed into an unbridgeable wall cleavage, which has proverbially been said that without which lizard would not gain an entrance. But those who declined to follow Agagu’s “Second Term” train had hurdles to cross.
As they chorused that “God gives us relatives, but at least we can chose our own friend,” and frittered away to queue behind Mimiko, Agagu’s perceived political adversary and a non-Ikale. On April 14 the quietude of Ikale land was invaded, as Agagu became set in his irredeemable ways of power aphrodisiac. He lost his native temper in the glitter of power trappings, and the political recalcitrants who would not recant were heavily dealt with, with what the euphoric Agagu’s scanty loyalists christened “Owo Agbara,” meaning: “The hand of power.”
And for those who were so slow to realiise the political signs and wonders of the mythical “Owo Agbara” in the early hours, in the evening of Saturday April 14, 2008, the mere mention of “Owo Agbara” evoked fears and tears from the Ikale natives because of the gory imagery it left behind in its wake.
In 1979, Ajasin as the governor of Ondo State proposed to make Wunmi Adegbonmire a Political Adviser (PA), but the latter insisted he wanted a more “substantial” job; a more definable job he meant. He was therefore appointed as the Chairman of Ondo State Investment Corporation in Akure. That was the era when people went into politics with a clear zeal for contribution.
Those idle PAs and SAs were those who were deployed in droves to Ikake townships on April 14, on behalf of Agagu, escorted by unknown and unknowable soldiers, (apology to the most respected Fela), who shot sporadically into both air and men, to create the scary and rowdy atmosphere ingrediential for their evil mission that day.
So like “Akogbatugbaka,” the proverbial farmer, who made a hundred heaps and scattered all the hundred, in search of a mere snuff box, Agagu worked his way through sheer academic hardwork and focus to the near apogee of the academic ladder known in the academia in the pioneer University of Ibadan as a doctorate degree holder in the geological extraction of the physical sciences, descended into the political scene in 1993, and became a favoured candidate for ministerial offer in 1999, returned home to get the nods of his Ikale people to become a state governor in 2003. Barely six years after, the path he ascended gloriously for an upward of 60 years is now the same path he has descended, and within six years, albeit ingloriously.
Mr. Temokun, a lawyer, writes from Lagos.