BY ABUSATAR HAMED
The ancient city of Osogbo, capital of the State of Osun, Nigeria was on Thursday June 28, 2018 standstill as Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Najeem Folasayo Salaam, the Speaker, State of Osun House of Assembly officially declared his intention to vie for the governorship position in the state.
Fondly called Iwaloye, Dr Najeem Salaam certainly scared his opponents with the tumultuous welcome from supporters who trooped out to show unflinching support for him.
The city of Osogbo which had been receiving his supporters from the previous day literally shut down as other socio-political activities there were silenced.
The teeming crowd that comprised, both the old and youths were full of joy, singing and dancing to demonstrate their happiness and support for the Speaker’s ambition.
Decked in Danshiki and Abeti-Aja cap, sewn with Ankara clothes and laced with Italian-made shoes to match, Dr. Salaam who rode in an open-jeep SUV car waving broom, the APC slogan in admiration of the people with unlimited joy.
Highpoint of the event is the gathering of unsolicited leagues of supporters who had mobilised themselves and assembled at Omobolanle area to welcome him from Ejigbo into Osogbo.
As a man of the people, Iwaloye rode in with pomp and circumstance, the solidarity trek staged took them through the major roads of the city: Osogbo Ring Road, Lameko, Stadium, Ayetoro, Igbona, Ajegunle,Old Garage, Olaiya, and APC Secretariat where the formal declaration took place.
In his speech on the occasion, Dr. Najeem Folasayo Salaam thanked Almighty Allah for the reality and sanctification of the event.
Iwaloye also expressed his gratitude to the entire people of the state for their unalloyed support for his aspiration “as the worthy successor to the quintessential manager of men and resources, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who has been in the political leadership of our great State of Virtues for eight years running.”
“My prayer is that God in His infinite mercies will see Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola through this historic political journey without hitches.
“It will also not be fair enough for me not to specially acknowledge the brotherly support of my co-lawmakers in the state House of Assembly whose encouragement is part of my inspiration in my aspiration to step into the political shoes of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola after he might have successfully completed his two tenures on November 27, this year.”
Dr. Salaam told the gathering that, “I have been enjoying rare total support from my co-legislators since the inception of my leadership of the House till date.
“All along, it has been a success story as it is on record that I will be one of the longest-serving Speakers of a state legislative house at the end of my tenure that I will be assuming the Executive leadership of our dear state, by the grace of God.
“It is also worthy of note to inform us that governance is not a tea party; it should be entrusted to whoever has paid his dues in the political journey of life.
“For the mere fact that I started my political carrier as a councillor in Ejigbo Local Government Council Area of the State of Osun to my present status as number three citizen in this state is a pointer to the fact that I have eminently acquired more than enough needed political experience to serve you, my people, as the state Governor; and this is part of the reasons I have come to notify my party, All Peoples Congress (APC), and by extension, the entire people of the State of Osun.
He lashed at the people calling him “ATM” by saying, “To some people who have given me an appellation of “ATM”, I need to educate all and sundry that I have pledged with God that I will use whatever Allah has blessed me with, to improve the less-privileged in the society and subsequently make this world better than the way I met it.
“If not for the grace of God, I never knew I could achieve the political height I now found myself as I lost my parents at a very tender age. I know where the shoe pinches; I had tasted neglect and poverty in their raw forms. On this premise, there is nothing anyone can say that will make me forsake the needy within the confine of my resources.”
On equity and social justice, he said, ”I want to, at this juncture, restate my support for sourcing our candidate from Osun West Senatorial Zone of the State in the interest of fairness, equity, justice and overall success of our Party during the general governorship election”.
Rt. Hon. Najeem Salaam reasoned that the power of money in politics is limited and advice the party to look beyond deep pocket in picking the candidate.
“Sense of humility, act of generosity, popularity among the party members and accessibility to the people should be some of the attributes needed to consider who will be the flag bearer of our Party. Experience has copiously shown that money alone cannot win election in any clime. For instance, in 2014, during the Governorship election in our State, our Party could not march the then ruling Party in Naira and Kobo, yet, the people collected their money and voted for us,” he posited.
Responding to rumour about his withdrawal from the race, the Speaker said, “Let the birds in the town be in the known and inform their counterparts in the bush that Rt. Hon. Najeem Folasayo Salam popularly known as Iwaloye is still in the Governorship race of my dear State of Osun.
“Any contrary information regarding this is balderdash will not add up. Some of them were even saying that Najeem has been bought over with Millions of Naira! This is ridiculous and I am not purchasable. I did not collect a dime from anybody.’’
He also gave the details of Lagos parley that saw him, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Prince Gboyega Famodun and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu discussed about Osun beyond 2018.
Dr. Salaam promised to sustain the good work of Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola by ensuring a community driven development, saying, “It is the ultimate needs of each community that will be provided as would be agreed by us and communities at designated meetings for such.’’
He also used opportunity of the event to unveiled he’s agenda for the state which he called “Security Agenda”, saying, ‘‘In addition, we shall engage in series of security revolutions as there will be security of lives and properties of the citizenry.
‘‘We shall give priority to the security of education, security of food, health, at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We are the biggest masquerade that features last in the market square. I thank you all for hosting us and listening,’’ he concluded.
Dr. Najeem Folasayo Salaam seems to be the anointed candidate of Osun State APC 2018 Gubernatorial candidate as the Osun State APC Chairman, Prince Adegboyega Famodun endorsed Salaam with a statement credited to the chairman at the event, saying, “Ibi ti a fe gbin Igi si , Obi ti wu ni ibe“, while Governor Rauf Aregbesola on his twitter handle had on the earlier hour of Dr. Salaam’s governorship declaration day revealed that Rt. Hon. Salaam is the best, when he tweeted, “ Osun deserves the best, not the rest “
Observers of the scene however described the governor’s short and meaningful sentence as a statement of the fact on the ground, vis-a-vis the unflinching support the Speaker enjoys from the good people of the State of Osun over candidature of Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Najeem Folasayo Salaam as the next Executive Governor of the State of Osun.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Salaam visited the palace of the Ogiyan of Ejigbo for royal blessings where he was described as “a complete humble man, an Omoluabi of repute”.
Also at the palace, Royal Fathers from different communities who were present rein prayers on him.
The official declaration paraded a row call of who-is-who in Osun politics which include Deputy Speaker, Hon. Akintunde, Majority Leader, Senator Mudasir Husein, State of Osun Council Chairmen, Dr Folawiyo Kareem Olajoku, Hon. Abiodun Awolola among a host of others.
The Ogiyan of Ejigbo was represented by high power delegates, among who are a Crown-Prince, Oba of Inisa, Olu of Idigba, Oba Ileogbo and other high ranking traditional rulers.