A former Nigerian Super Eagles captain and seasoned sports administrator, Segun Odegabmi, who contested in the Ogun State governorship race on the platform of Zenith Labour Party platform, share his insights and lessons with The Interview:
How would you describe your experience in the just concluded Ogun State governorship election?
Incredibly revealing and the best school of life! Politics led me into a new world I never knew existed – about goings on at the real grassroots. It also gave me better insights into the state of affairs in Ogun State, Yoruba-land and indeed, Nigeria.
Would you say the election was free, fair and credible?
The system can never be free and fair for as long as the human involvement in the process remains to the extent that it presently does. Those who vote (the poorest of the poor) are too hungry to be concerned about merit in the choice of candidates, or credibility of the process.
All they want are the crumbs from the table of the rich to become complicit in the practices that have made Nigerian elections probably the costliest and most corrupt in the world.
At the end of the day, Nigerian politics is all about money. It will be hard to change the system without a major physical and mental revolution of some sort
What are your takeaways from the election? Based on your personal experience do you agree with the popular belief that Nigerian politics is dirty?
Nigerian politics is a big racket. They can also qualify in several aspects as one massive scam. The poorest help to install the worst stock to rule over the whole of society.
At the end of the day, Nigerian politics is all about money. It will be hard to change the system without a major physical and mental revolution of some sort. Is it dirty? We should look for a word worse that ‘dirty’ to capture what goes on.
You did not make it into the first three top spots; does this reflect the level of your popularity in Ogun State politics? If no, what would you attribute your electoral loss to?
As an individual I was more known and popular for something other than politics than all the other candidates put together.
Unfortunately, elections are not based on popularity even though to an extent it could help. No, my ‘failure’ to win the elections is really because I didn’t follow the established practices that produce winners.
I chose not to do so in order that the anticipated result might be different. To do otherwise would be to return to the same failed ways that have brought the state to the pitiable levels it has fallen.
My eight months in politics was a rapid course in Nigerian politics for me. I went through the entire process from nomination of candidate to actually contest, unlike a whole army that started the process with me and could not even get beyond the primaries.
My experience was unique. It puts me in great stead for the next stage of my odyssey in politics. In that regard I won the contest I set for myself!
Don’t forget that I am an Olympian. In our world, to win is not to come first, but to do and give your very best!
What were your best and worst moments during the campaign?
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire journey, from start to finish, because my expectations were limited and realistic, my motivation was very noble, my morals and values were intact throughout.
My message was simple and clear and resonated with the people even though they were too hungry to do anything about what they believed is the right way.
I visited more communities, social and professional groups, and interacted with more people at the grassroots than any other candidate and I did not compromise my morals and values.
I did not borrow a kobo from any source to conduct my campaigns. The result of all these lofty achievements is that I did not win! That’s fine by me, also.
Were there things you would have done differently?
Not that I know of. I did everything I wanted to do deliberately and to the best of my ability without compromising who I am.
The result, from my training as a sportsman, matters only to the extent of accepting any result having giving it my best shot. Don’t forget that I am an Olympian. In our world, to win is not to come first, but to do and give your very best!
My eight months in politics was a rapid course in Nigerian politics for me. I went through the entire process from nomination of candidate to actually contest, unlike a whole army that started the process with me and could not even get beyond the primaries
What’s your next political move?
You have to wait, watch and see. I have graduated from the Raid Results College of Politics. My knowledge cannot now go to waste. My eight months in politics were an essential passage through the crucible of fire. I am now refined and ready to go.
What are your expectations of the government of the governor-elect, Dapo Abiodun?
I don’t know him well enough to predict what he might do, or how he will run the government he will lead. But, knowing he is a product of the same old political system of doing things, it will be very naive of me to imagine that much will be different from what we have always had in the past.
He will, of course, do his best, but at the cost of what it took for him to get into office, and to meet the demands of his political patrons. Ogun State will return to its normal state, and go through another four years of ordinary governance.
Are you prepared to publish a detailed account of how you financed your campaign to promote transparency and accountability in election funding?
I shall do much more than that. I am writing my book already that shall contain the details of my journey, including the funding aspect. That should be an interesting read because it was a fascinating adventure for me too.