Journalist, politician and commentator Tunde Oladunjoye examines the fielding of Senator Mudashiru Hussein by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for the July 8 senatorial by-election in Osun West District.
The above heading is suggestive of a ceremonial prize or instituted award. However, this article is not too far from it, as it is on reward for a humble political actor and party loyalist, Senator Hussein Oyetunde Mudashiru.
It was Sean Summons, who wrote that “there is something wrong with your character if opportunity controls your loyalty”. Perhaps this has always been in the subconsciousness of Senator Hussein, a former Senator of the then Action Congress Nigeria (ACN), who emerged as the senatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) at the just-concluded primaries of the party last Wednesday,where he was elected unopposed.
Hussein is not a political starter, he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives for Oshodi-Isolo, Lagos, in 1999 representing the alliance for Democracy (AD), and was also reelected in 2003. He is also not new in public commentary, albeit political comments.
For example, in February 2004, Hussein said the House of Reps might invite President Olusegun Obasanjo to explain where he got N360million that was said to have been spent on demolishing all the toll gates in the country.
Again in November 2004, Hussein, an apostle of politics without bitterness, stated that the rising numbers of military politicians in the nation’s polity would bring virile and stable democracy. In June 2005, Hussein called for the discovery of those behind the murder of one of the major financiers of the Oranmiyan group, Alhaji Hassan Olajokun, as essential to ensure Nigeria’s nascent democracy would survive.
Not only that, in the past, the lanky senator had explained that agitation for increase in resource control would be eliminated by the “Mineral Resources Commission Bill”, which would allow regions to take care of their resources. And of course, he was one of the most vociferous opponents of the rumoured third term bid of former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006. According to him, the Nigerian constitution did not provide for a third term for President Olusegun Obasanjo or anybody for that matter.
Politically, like a good player, Hussein has won some and lost some too. Standing for the Action Congress in the 2007 senate elections for Osun West, he was defeated by Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke. Hussein appealed the election decision, presenting evidence that included video clips showing ballot boxes being taken away by thugs and voters being threatened with dangerous weapons, but the tribunal did not consider this sufficient to overturn the result.
In the April 2011 senate elections for Osun West, fate smiled on him as he scored 121,971 votes, with the incumbent Senator Adeleke of the PDP coming second with 77,090 votes. Certainly not a small win over a sitting senator and former state governor. That was Hussein’s journey to the red chambers of the National Assembly.
At the end of that tenure, the loyalty of Hussein was put to utmost test. His political rival and former governor of Osun, the late Isiaka Adeleke, has joined the APC, after three legacy parties, including Hussein’s ACN, teamed up to form the mega party called APC, which later wrestled power from PDP at the federal level.
Everybody had expected Hussein to do a second term as a senator representing Osun West. But, that was not to be. Former governor Adeleke indicated his interest in going back to the senate and it became very intriguing how this will happen.
Before issues could degenerate, the party leadership and asked Hussein to step-down in deference to the former governor. The decision to hold back Hussein had the emphatic support of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Hussein withdrew from the race without rocking the boat. He stayed in the party and worked diligently for the victory of all the candidates of the party, including late Adeleke, at the general elections.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola later appointed Senator Hussein as a commissioner in his cabinet. An appointment that Hussein humbly accepted. Alas, as soon as news filtered out that Hussein had been made commissioner, there were condemnations in some quarters for his acceptance of what most of the commentators described as a “very degrading appointment”.
A member of the APC in Ejigbo Local Government of Osun, was quoted to have said the nomination of Hussein, a senator as a commissioner, and his acceptance, “remained a retrogression of sort, and a reflection of strength of character of the former senator.” He argued that nothing justified the glaring demotion of the former lawmaker other than economic consideration and political booty”.
However, Hussein remained unperturbed as he settled down to his new role as the Commissioner on Cabinet Matters to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
When the unfortunate death of Senator Adeleke occurred recently, the Osun APC was gravely bereaved. That notwithstanding, the constitutional provision of replacing the late Adeleke in the senate chambers has to be met. Otunba Ademola Adeleke, a younger brother to the late Adeleke, who had earlier shown interest in the Osun West Senate seat, withdrew his intention and resigned from APC on the eve of the scheduled primaries, to avoid what was generally believed to the a foreseeable, imminent and inescapable wide loss by the younger Adeleke to the old war horse, Hussein. Though “allegations of subversion of process, was the alibi given by the younger Adeleke for jumping ship.
On the same day that Adeleke decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he was welcomed into the party with the Osun West senatorial ticket, in a move which many political observers said was indicative of the fact that the PDP is not really on ground in Osun.
Ademola Adeleke picked the ticket to contest for the vacant seat on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, when two other contestants for the ticket, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi and Mr. Olayiwola Falabi stepped down for him.
Otunba Adeleke had earlier been screened and given clearance by the All Progressives Congress screening and election committee to contest the APC primaries. It was unprecedented in the annals politics in Nigeria for an aspirant from another party to decamped from his party and joined a rival party and on the same day become its senatorial candidate.
However, APC insiders in Osun said, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola decided to throw his full weight behind Senator Hussein for his loyalty to the party. “When they asked him to step down for late Isiaka Adeleke, he complied. He did not leave the party. He openly cooperated and worked for the emergence of late Adeleke senior. Some other people would have left the party and said that they wanted to test there popularity. But Hussein did not do that. He obeyed the party. So, Ogbeni (Aregbesola) felt he should not be denied twice”, an APC chieftain revealed.
At the APC primary, which held last Wednesday in Osogbo, Hussein was elected unopposed scoring 2,412 votes of the total valid votes of 2,412 votes castes.
Political calculations on the chances of the party at eventually winning the general elections was also taken into consideration, as Senator Hussein is seen as a more popular, more experienced, more loyal party member and trusted to deliver the votes at the general elections.
The whistle seems to have been blown for the senatorial race as another former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bade Falade, on the same day, also picked the ticket of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, for the by-election slated for July 8.
Husseini’s chances are very bright in the general elections. If he eventually returns to his former seat at the National Assembly, as he is favoured to; that will a prize for his loyalty!
– The Nation