It is pristine debate whether leaders are born or made. Those who take the first position argue that a leader is destined by the gods to be so and no matter his or her circumstances, that leader must emerge. They strengthened their argument with the notion that a leader is actually sent by the gods to deliver his or her people.
A typical example was Moses in the Bible whom God sent to deliver the Hebrews but which circumstances conspired against to frustrate but which still emerged and overcame tremendous challenges and opposition before him to fulfil his mission. Of course, history is strewn with personages whose emergence on the terrestrial level could only have been divinely ordained.
The converse would be argued that leaders are made through hardwork vision and discipline. It has been canvassed that every human being has the potential to be a leader, the difference being the circumstances of birth and the individual’s discipline in the pursuit of purpose. Both positions are right. Leadership is a divine appointment nurtured to fruition.
This is perhaps well illustrated in the life of Engineer Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, the governorship candidate of Action Congress (AC) in Osun State in the April 14 election. When he launched Oranmiyan, the political association that managed his governorship campaign in 2005, it was like a Moses has come to his own.
Engineer Aregbesola was born exactly 50 years ago to Ijesa parents in Ikare in Ondo State where he also had his primary and secondary education. His leadership potentials began to emerge at The Polytechnic Ibadan as a student of Mechanical Engineering when he was elected Speaker of the Students’ Parliament in the 1977/78 session. Between 1978-1980, he was also the president of the Black Nationalist Movement.
This was the period he cut his ideological teeth in the political economic school. Undoubtedly, this school exposed him to the role of an individual in political emancipation and mass mobilisation for group locomotion.
Secondly, it equipped him with the tools for en effective praxis. It is a daunting task that could weary the faint hearted. Perhaps this is where the divine enabling leadership theory becomes relevant in his case.
Articulating his conception of power to an audience which included this writer during his election campaign, he argued that political power in society must be acquired for certain noble purposes. He states further that the full potentials of power can only be attained when it is used to develop the human condition.
For him, power becomes corrupted if it is not used for the purpose of human emancipation and stands the risk of throwing society into chaos. He believes that the elite and the custodians of political power stand the grave risk of neglecting the human component of society by converting power for personal use, since the underprivileged and victims of personalised power are veritable sources of threats that will turn round to haunt their oppressors.
This is deep. It sets him apart as a philosopher aspiring to be king, thereby approximating Plato’s recommendation for the ideal society. Our society is in trouble largely because we are ruled by brutes who exercise power devoid of philosophy, making their conception of power close to that of the caveman.
Aregbesola’s adoption of the Oranmiyan concept is apposite here. Oranmiyan was a philosopher king, an intrepid warrior, a man of valour and a true leader. These are the traits Aregbesola has been exhibiting since his foray into public leadership.
As a pro-democracy activist in the heady days of the military, he held his own at Alimoso area of Lagos where he functioned as an authentic political leader. Till this moment, he is still regarded as their leader. Likes will always attract as he took up a directorate in the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation. He was one of the pillars of the election of governor Tinubu in 1999 as his Alimoso division delivered one of the largest votes that took the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) candidate to the Government House in Alausa.
Governor Tinubu must have seen the leadership potentials in him by giving him the headship of the Works Ministry. It will be recalled that the military bequeathed a massive public works and infrastructure liability to the incoming civilian administration. This makes the ministry a pivotal agency of governance. It is conceded that the entire administration takes glory for all the achievements; nevertheless credit should be given to the headship of the supervising ministry that midwifed a particular project.
Those that are familiar with Lagos would find it difficult to believe that places like the Lagos Central Business District, Oregun’s Kudirat Abiola Way, Ikorodu’s Ipakodo bye-pass, Alimoso’s Ikotun-Igando Road, Itire-Lawanson-Yaba Road, Awolowo Road, South West Ikoyi and Adeola Odeku Road in Victoria Island have been reconstructed in a most befitting way. These roads will for a long time remain a glorious epitaph to visionary leadership of Asiwaju and his executioner, Aregbesola.
This commissioner rehabilitated 841 roads (as at the last count) through the Public Works Operation Tax Payers Money in Action and over 600 roads through the Works Ministry Operation Patch it Well.
It is also interesting to note that his ministry pioneered the Independent Power Project that produced and added 270 megawatts to the national grip long before other states’ eyes opened to the idea. There is no doubting that he was an integral part of the Tinubu’s success story in Lagos.
Just like the legendary Oranmiyan, his governorship aspiration in Osun State, his place of origin, was meant to be a replication of his success story in Lagos. This is in contrast with the outgoing governor and his opponent in the election whose tenure as the military administrator in the same Lagos State was adjudged to be a dismal failure, perhaps the worst in the history of the state.
Aregbesola’s emergence in the politics of Osun State was to the people a fresh taste of wine after crossing the desert. They’ve had their fill and want more. To them, he is the symbol of true leadership and progressive governance that has eluded them in the past four years. They gave him their maximum support. They trooped out on April 14 to vote for him. They braced murderous army of occupation and conscienceless brigandage to assert their liberty and reclaim their mandate. Their resolve to follow him till the end is unflinching, solid like the rock of Gibraltar.
INEC has spoken. The people have also spoken. Fifty is for gold, ride on and claim the victory due to you at the tribunal. Dele Giwa is inimitable – the triumph of evil over good can only be temporary.