Controversies have continued to trail the choice of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, as the Special Guest of Honour in the forthcoming annual Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, South West Nigeria.
While an ordinary Ijebu indigene awaits the presence of the number three man in Nigeria as a matter of honour, politicians in the state, especially members of the All progressives Congress, (APC), who are loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari, and the State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun have considered this as an aberration.
Some of the APC’s stalwarts in the state, who spoke on the telephone expressed their displeasure over the development, stating that such invitation tends to legitimise Saraki’s “defiant attitudes” against the party.
They argued that Saraki ‘s presence in the state could trigger violent reactions from many of President Buhari’s loyalists who are of Ijebu extraction, and who considered Saraki’s action and inaction as an affront on the presidency.
According to an APC bigwig in the state, who pleaded anonymity, the choice of Saraki as Special Guest at the Ojude-Oba festival had become a source of worry to many APC members of Ijebu origin and Ogun State generally.
He said “it is unthinkable that Saraki, a certified traitor would be honoured at a festival every one of us hold in high esteem, what an affront.”
“The planning committee of this festival ought to have done a proper assessment of the polity and mood of the nation before committing this monumental blunder.
“Sincerely, this is absurd, many of us would not be able to withstand such situation, his presence at the event would adversely affects the importance of that occasion “, the source said.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the event, Dr Fassy Yusuf, who doubles as Baagbimo of Ijebu has appealed to sons and daughters of the ancient town, and the entire people of Ogun State to look beyond politics in the choice of Saraki as the Special Guest at the Ojude Oba festival.
In a press statement, the University lecturer explained that the conclusion on the choice of the Senate President preceded present political development in the nation, saying that Saraki had been earlier invited for the same role in 2017 edition of the festival but could not make it, hence his choice this time around.
“May I thank you all for the interest being shown as it concerns Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki , who has been invited as the Special Guest of Honour at the 2018 edition of Ojude Oba Festival.
“Let it be said with all humility, I am not a registered member of any political party in our dear country. It is my choice. However, I am an analyst- a socio-political, communication and public affairs observer cum analyst, and a servant of Ijebu nation. I do my best to serve.
“The choice of Saraki should not attract any political nor religious connotation, after all in the past, Ojude Oba played host to political gladiators not in the same party with those at the helm of affairs in Ogun State during those editions.
“In the last seven years, we saw our amiable Governor and my brother, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, CON, FCA., playing host to PDP stalwarts (David Mark, Tambuwal, Dickson, etc.) at Ojude Oba Days. Ditto, my brother and former Governor Daniel, fas. Nigerian politics is all about alignment and realignment of forces cum interests- no permanent friends, no permanent foes.
“We must be circumspect about the way we approach and analyse issues. Objectivity, rationality, truth, equity, justice and fairness must be our watch words.
“We must imbibe those virtues Ojude Oba espouse: tolerance, accommodation, civility and mutual respect.
“The decision to invite Saraki was taken early in 2017. However, he could not make it in 2017. And, the same invitation was extended to him before the present political imbroglio/impasse.
“The decision to invite him is devoid of politics as Ojude has nothing to do with political permutation or consideration. Doing so or going the direction of politics would mean insulting the sensibility of Ijebu who belong to the various 50 or so political parties in Nigeria.
“The palace is in touch with authorities in our dear State and at Federal level and wishes to reiterate the fact that mutual coexistence, mutual trust, plurality of religious choices, harmony, liberty and freedom are essential ingredients of democracy. Ojude Oba is a gift to Nigeria on harmony, understanding, tolerance and accommodation. Politics should not divide us as a people. Let us eschew bitterness and rancour like the plague”, he concluded.