By Jonathan Olajide
Democracy is indubitably the best system of government for its overarching benefits. It fortifies social contract between people and their representatives in government. Social contract proponents such as Celeste Friend posit that electors have consented to surrender some of their liberty and submit to the authority of a majority in exchange for protection of their remaining rights or maintenance of social order. In Nigeria, the relationship between electorate and members of legislature depicts social contract arguments based on the fact that a performing lawmaker can exercise authority on behalf of his constituency for unlimited terms.
Olakunle Taiwo Oluomo, Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly from Ifo I, personifies performing leader who has continued to enjoy uninterrupted consent of Ifo town indigenes and residents at large since his first election in 2011 on the platform of the Action Congress (now All Progressive Congress). For any legislator to be voted three times in a row in Nigeria means there is a beneficial rapport between them and their constituents.
Whereas I ought to sing the praise of Oluomo in this piece, I will rather as a social critic and academic bring to the fore the lessons derivable in his life as a long-term lawmaker. His first stride as Ifo people’s mandate carrier in his first term was a battle to dismantle the iron grip of political principalities who had held my hometown in bondage for years for their selfish reasons. The few political godfathers who have since sunk into oblivion never brought any worthy project by federal or state government to Ifo. Oluomo was a lone ranger but did enjoy students’ support arising from his many years of activism for the betterment of Ifo youth. As he will always say proudly, “I am for the liberation of Ifo”. No one can gainsay the fact that persons with no high-power connection had vied for different elective posts in Ifo in the last two local elections. He loathes political godfatherism; he fought and conquered it. What a way to maintain social contract!
Most prominent is his altruism which is manifest in the procurement of long buses to commute school children pro bono in Ifo. Though the legislator continued the free school bus scheme as a legacy of his late father, Oba Emmanuel Oluomo, the first king in Ifo, he has consistently extended it to cover primary and secondary schools.
Till date the four buses work on weekdays when schools are open, relieving poor parents of transport fares. His Constituency Office at Iyana Coker is a real hive of activities such as public square, youth activism and philanthropy for the vulnerable. Every resident of Ifo can attest to OGHA Speaker’s closeness to his constituents.
A grassroots politician, he travels over 40km to the Assembly Complex in Abeokuta, the capital city, from Ifo in the morning and returns at the close of work to sleep in his ward. Against popular antiquated practice by typical Nigerian politicians, the security details of the Speaker have never blown siren to humiliate motorists on Lagos-Abeokuta highway.
I can say with all sense of responsibility that Oluomo has redefined and paved way for diligence and efficiency in legislation in the House. In less than a year, the African Church adherent has used the iron in his steel to churn out laws and resolutions targeted at engendering holistic transformation of Ogun and her people, improve executive-legislature relationship and redefine oversight functions. OGHA under the Ifo prince has enacted laws for: Ogun Sate Security Network Agency (Amotekun); Ogun State Legislative Funds Management; Magistrate Court Amendment; Ogun State Judiciary Funds Management; Customary Court (Amendment); Ogun State Sports Development Trust Funds; and Ogun State Sports Commission. Major resolutions include: Procurement of fire engines and water tankers for each zonal fire service station; Adoption of 35% women representation, 10% for youth and consideration of people with special needs; Data capturing and regulation of motorcycle riders; Separation of the Office of the Auditor-General for the State from Office of the Auditees; and Approval of Ogun involvement in the Anchor Borrowers Programme by the Central Bank.
Highlighting a number of people-oriented constituency projects which the former deputy speaker has inaugurated for upgraded living standard of his constituents will amount to blowing his trumpet. This piece is not to sing his praise.
But that does not mean one cannot bring to the fore the significant projects of state government which Oluomo has brought to Ifo for the first time since the return of democracy 21 years ago. A major project that comes to mind is the reconstruction of the over 15km road linking Old Bank, Igorita Meje, Olose, Abata and Vespa.
This is the longest road in Ifo; very key to economic activities of residents. In addition, the alumnus of Anglican Grammar School, Okenla, has championed Yellow Roof buildings, a project of Governor Dapo Abiodun, to many primary and secondary schools in Ifo.
Oluomo’s victory in the 2019 poll for a third term was a testimony of the resolute abetment Ifo natives have for him. He defeated his arch-rival Wemimo Owolabi of Allied Peoples Movement (APM) by meager 76 votes. He was unable to record a landslide victory as he did in previous elections, no thanks to the war then Governor Ibikunle Amosun waged against him during electioneering.
The sin of the Ifo legislator was his refusal to remain ever subservient to Amosun who ordered all APC legislators and executive members to defect to APM ahead of 2019 elections. Oluomo told Amosun to defect to APM first and he would follow, but the latter remained in APC. Oluomo was threatened, blackmailed, harassed, accosted and attacked by state-backed thugs, but he never gave in to a selfish godfather. Despite different forms of malpractices during voting, Ifo residents stood by him. He emerged victorious.
Lest I forget, Oluomo’s emergence as OGHA Speaker was a sheer function of the massive backing from his constituents. Currently, he is the only Ogun lawmaker to have been voted three times in a row. That is a record that seems difficult to break. The aphorism– “One good term deserves another”– becomes valid where a representative fulfills his own bargain of social contract with his electors.
He emerged speaker unopposed. He is respected by colleagues and us. The most important thing that has happened to Ifo is his emergence as Speaker of OGHA– Number 3 Citizen in Ogun State. More importantly, Ifo residents have reviewed the social contract with him. We have asked him to guide and conduct himself as speaker jealously. All eyes are on him in Ifo and beyond.
Jonathan Olajide, a native of Ifo, writes from the Department of Mass Communication, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun State.