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(FRANKTALK) Osun: Re-enacting Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale

By Steve Nwosu

Like has become my tradition in recent times, I’d like to first take out a caveat emptor on Osun State – to, as it were, declare all my interests in the subject matter thus: I have a soft spot for Governor Gboyega Oyetola, the man they fondly call Ileri Oluwa (loosely translated as The Promise of God).

I strongly believe that since the dawn of the current democratic dispensation in 1999 (I don’t want to go as far back as since the creation of the state) Oyetola’s administration has made the most positive impact in the state – in terms of good governance, human capital development and the provision of physical infrastructure.

He may not have been the loudest in terms of publicity, propaganda and general megalomania, though. For he was, still is, calm, patient, slow (if not impossible) to provoke, and, of course, effective.

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I, therefore, had no doubt in my mind that he’d be easily re-elected. I guess that’s why I’m not politically savvy.

Of course, when the results of last year’s governorship election were turned in, I had no way of scientifically confirming whether or not there was over-voting anywhere – whether in Ede or Iragbiji, Ife, Ilesa or Iwo or anywhere else. I wasn’t, and still am not, techy enough to decipher what shenanigans BVAS could be put to. But I had a hunch: the result was not really a referendum on the performance of Gov. Oyetola. It went beyond that. It was a case of APC-1 defeating APC-2. It was a protest vote against the perceived overbearing influence of the Lion of Bourdillon. It was payback from a bruised Rauf Aregbesola. It was a personal stake for the Adeleke clan.

It figures were so dizzying that I had to call for the result from the section of Osogbo town called Alekuwodo, an area I still consider a showpiece of the Oyetola administration’s intervention in infrastructural development and urban renewal. Yes, the transformation of that section of town; the massive road network, the modern erosion control mechanisms put in place, and the concomitant compensation paid out to property owners in the axis were so awe-inspiring that no lover of progress in and around that area would contemplate a vote against Oyetola. Or so I thought! He ‘lost’ there too.

It was, to me, a clear case of politics (read ‘politiking’) trumping development.

Someone would later tell me that the governorship election was only a foretaste of what is to come on February 25. I await the validation, or otherwise, of that claim.

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But I’m not unaware that the Tinubu campaign machine has since doubled its efforts in Osun and may have, in fact, covered a lot more ground there than the PDP which is still stupored in the euphoria of the guber poll victory.

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But while their lawyers are in court spitting into the air and collecting the spit with their faces, I’m more interested in the personality and style of the two dramatis personae – Nurudeen Ademola Ifeanyi Jackson Adeleke (NAIJA), aka Imole and Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola,  aka Ileri Oluwa.

For some reason, reminds me of the story of Arcite and Palamoun, the two main characters in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale (The Canterbury Tales), and their quest to marry the beautiful Emily.

Following the deadlock over who should marry the damsel, it was decided that the two suitors should spare up against each other, with the winner obviously winning the right to marry Emily.

Now, while Arcite, who is undisputably the more celebrated warrior, made sacrifices to Mars, the god of war, to give him victory in the confrontation with Palamoun, a hopelessly romantic Palamoun chose to pray instead to Venus, the goddess of love. For him, what was at stake was the love of his life, not some beastly ego-trip confrontation with another man.

In the end, both men had their wishes granted by the gods. Arcite won the battle. But he later died from his wounds, before he could claim his prize (the bride). Palamoun, on the other hand, was roundly beaten and lost the battle, but he lived to marry the love of his life, Emily.

Now, don’t ask me who I think is Arcite (Arcita, in some versions) and who is Palamoun between Adeleke and Oyetola. What I can tell you is that Osun State is Emily, the beautiful woman.

I also know that while one of the two suitors in the Osun mix appears to be more put-together and has a seemingly watertight case, the other is as clueless as they come. He doesn’t have the foggiest idea of how to go about anything, but he just wants to have the ultimate prize – in this case, the Osogbo Government House. But will the serious business of governing Osun go the way of Geoffery Chaucer’s make-believe?

Well, while we wait to see where the current legal/judiciary gymnastics ultimately swings, let’s continue to enjoy the Osun tale of two opposites: while one dances away at the first drop of a hat, even without any music, the other is so calm that you can hardly tell anything from his mien.