FORMER editor of Daily Independent now of the Sun newspapers on Sunday and great columnist, Mrs. Funke Egbemode is a prophetess of sort. She wrote an article in the first week of 2007 titled: The Year of James Bond.
In the interesting piece, she painted a picture of how election would be conducted, how politicians would be struggling against one another, how grandstanding and shenanigans would reign, how people would die in the process; and how the actors and actresses would survive. 2007: The Year of James Bond.
If not for the common hatred against regurgitation, we would have agreed that the piece fitted perfectly for the outgone or expired 365 days in 2008, because of chain of events that gave the year, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Going by the character of OSUN DEFENDER, certain events of the year would be chronicled into selecting our MAN OF THE YEAR. This is to purposely refreshen the memory of our esteem readers about some breath-taking events that kept the nation and Osun State in particular in the media perpetually.
In 2006, the king of the regional tabloid in the South West axis of Nigeria, OSUN DEFENDER selected Professor Sola Adeyeye, the then member, Federal House of Representatives, representing Ila-Ifedayo and Boluwaduro Federal Constituency in Osun State as our Man of the Year, because of the role he played in exposing the third term agenda of the expired President Olusegun Obasanjo. Though, he was threatened, with fire and brimestone by the power that be and some compromised members of the house; he stood his ground and he co-won against the evil plot.
In 2007, OSUN DEFENDER travelled to Pakistan to select Benazir Bhutto, the woman, who stood to the tyranny of the expired maximum dictator, Pervez Muzaraf and galvanized the people after arriving from a self-imposed exile. She won the hearts of Pakistanis despite the fact that the country is predominantly a Muslim nation; but she fell to a bomb of assassin, suspected to be sponsored by the state. Nevertheless, she won the electoral victory.
The expired year 2008 was very challenging as well and there were some events and personalities that would be chronicled as usual to form the basis for our Man of The Year in 2008.
POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR, ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE, EDO STATE GOVERNOR
In 2008, there was a carry-over of the controversial 2007 election fall-out at the election petitions tribunals virtually in all states of the federation. Some candidates in the opposition fought and won at some tribunals, but eventually lost to a kind of compromise in the system. But there is this man, who fought tooth and nail to regain his mandate and God and the unalloyed support of the people prevailed. Today, he is the governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The man, who succeeded in chasing away the Professor of law, Oserheime Osunbor, who reaped from a rigged election and stolen victory.
RAUF AREGBESOLA, OSUN AC TORCH BEARER
Like him, hate him, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, the erstwhile Lagos State powerful commissioner for Works and Infrastructure is always a newsmaker and the delight of any media, because of his power of mobilization of men and resources in the political turf.
The athletic framed Ijesa-born politician came to Osun State in 2006 to contest for the hot seat of the governor but was never given a chance by members of the ruling party. By the late 2006, his popularity via Oranmiyan movement had gained a serious momentum.
The Action Congress (AC) torchbearer had become a full-fledged factor in the early 2007, as his political sagacity manifested in his mode of galvanization of the people he gave out a seven-point electioneering campaign programme, that turned him into households’ name everywhere.
Aregbesola rode the Lagos and Osun political turfs like a colossus, and when the result was decided against him by a federal umpire in collaboration with the state machinery, he took his battle to the election petitions tribunal.
The political titan was the first to introduce forensic evidence into the electoral battle in the country; he was the first politician to deploy electronic means in uncovering untold rigging and malpractices in the country.
Before the verdict was delivered by the tribunal that sat over his petition in Osogbo, Osun State capital, the political phenomenon called Aregbesola came up with an electromagnetic device that exposed the secret conversations between a respondent lawyer, Mr. Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN) and the chairman of the compromised tribunal, Justice Thomas Damar Naron.
The attention of the whole world was drawn to the scandal exposed by The NEWS magazine and the premeditated verdict of Naron tribunal in favour of the embattled Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola lost a face-value.
Almost two years now, Aregbesola’s popularity is soaring on daily basis, despite the fact that he is still battling on at the Court of Appeal.
GOVERNOR OF THE YEAR
When some governors were lousy answering charges of electoral fraud, financial recklessness and complacence, one state chief executive kept his head above the petty politics, a situation that has fired his zeal and salvo to truly serve the people.
Governor Raji Babatunde Fashola, popularly hailed as ‘Eko oni baje’ has once again set standard in the administration of a state. The way and manner he executed some projects have become a benchmark for some lay-back governors in the country, and the people of Lagos state were witnesses to the five-star performance of the lanky governor.
HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST OF THE YEAR- WAHEED LAWAL
Osun State Chairman, National Conscience Party (NCP), Alhaji Waheed Lawal was a rallying point of the persecuted, the oppressed and the cheated in 2008, as he engaged the government of Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the Judiciary and the police institution in a battle of wit in order to get justice for the denied.
The association he engineered, Osun State Coalition Against Rights Violation (OSCARC) was a champion of the struggle against the extra-judicial killings in Osun state.
11TH WONDER OF THE WORLD —BARRACK OBAMA US PRESIDENT-ELECT
As at the time the bookmaker was looking forward to see a mighty political gladiator to emerge as the powerful president of the world, a black man, with Kenyan father, Barrack Obama, an underdog so to speak in the US politics beat all the giant politicians like Hillary Clinton and John McCain to the game, when he galvanized the black, the white, the Latina and Indiana into powerful forces that fetched him the mandate to run the United States of America (USA).
OSUN STATE REPORTER OF THE YEAR -TUNDE ODESOLA – PUNCH CORRESPONDENT
Despite the fact that Osun State was always in the news, one journalist that set pace for his colleagues in the pen profession is Tunde Odesola, as he turned in so many interesting articles and news that were widely adjudged as objective and timely.
MAN OF THE YEAR 2008- NUHU RIBADU (DISMISSED POLICE OFFICER)
Having performed to the best of his ability as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) czar, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu walked into the web woven for him by his adversaries and the powerful toes he stepped upon, while in power.
Ribadu benefitted a lot from the Obasanjo’s Machiavellian theory of governance, for he served him loyally and diligently by victimizing his (Obasanjo) adversaries. Immediately the maximum civilian ruler left power, the dismissed police officer and a lawyer began his own trouble.
From the rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Ribadu was demoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) by the Police Service Commission (PSC), while he was still on executive course 30 at Kuru.
For sundry allegations made against him, by the power that be, Ribadu after a long battle at the administrative level was dismissed from the police force and he was in the media throughout last year.
By GOKE BUTIKA