-By Simon Kolawole
How can a peaceful protest end up with killing and maiming, burning and looting in a matter of days? For those of us who have seen plenty “peaceful” protests in our lives, it is not too hard to explain. The moment you hit the streets and fail to read the road signs — so that you will know where and when to turn, reverse or park — you are at the risk of losing control of the steering wheel. You will end up carrying all kinds of passengers — thugs, hoodlums, gangsters, cultists, politicians and all manner of opportunists. In fact, you may unwittingly provide cover for state agents to target the assets and possibly the lives of perceived opponents and rivals. So it goes.
In the best of times, peaceful protests can go awry — much less in these hard times, with oil prices down, government revenue falling, the currency losing value, prices of goods and services rising, and, to add fuel to the fire, COVID-19 taking our breath away. A majority of the people are already bleeding and groaning with the removal of subsidies on petrol and electricity. And with the huge population of unemployed, underemployed and unemployable youth, we knew all along that an uprising was a strong possibility at some point. That a peaceful protest against police brutality, tagged #EndSARS, would spark off this massive carnage was what we probably did not budget for.
With the protests infiltrated by rogues, the anarchy was inevitable. My biggest fear was military involvement. Those who witnessed the massacres by soldiers during the pro-June 12 protests in 1993 and other riots under military regimes would agree with me that it was not a pretty sight. I was praying that troops would not be called in to quell the #EndSARS protests. But I was wrong. On Tuesday evening, soldiers invaded the Lekki ground and started shooting. Initial reports said there was a massacre, although there is yet no identified victim: no names, no addresses, no relatives; just grainy videos with tailored commentaries. Hopefully, we will have a much clearer picture soon.
This is my “executive summary” of the #EndSARS campaign. It started as a genuine protest on social media. It went to the streets. Government saw the danger and accepted the five demands of the protesters. Police disbanded SARS. States set up judicial panels to probe police brutality. Despite getting these concessions, protesters remained adamant. Then came the partisan and sectional dimensions — with #BuhariMustGo and #EndNigeria added to the hashtags. Mayhem started. Looting. Shooting. Lynching. Curfew. Then Lekki happened. And President Muhammadu Buhari, silent for so long, finally addressed the nation, basically declaring: “The fire next time!”
After Buhari’s broadcast, I could see defeat on the faces of the youth. Many started tweeting about relocating to Canada, declaring a total loss of faith in Nigeria. #ItIsFinished began trending. This is sad but I would like to appeal to the Nigerian youth not to give in or give up. The #EndSARS protest did not fail. For one, the protesters got the government to act on their demands — which is a major victory by any definition. SARS has been disbanded. I can bet that whatever police unit replaces SARS will come under stricter scrutiny. Judicial panels have been set up. We expect to see the murderous police officers face justice. Police reform is now an imperative. These are big wins.
Moreover, the youth have shown that they have the ability to organise. These are the same youth we condemn for voting more in Big Brother Naija than in general election. We have often described them as lazy, entitled and obsessed with Instagram, fast cars and bling. By starting a campaign against SARS and taking to the streets to protest police brutality, they brought the country to a halt and attracted international interest. Everybody started paying attention to them. We started celebrating the coming of age of our youth. Older people started scrambling to associate with the cause. Ladies and gentlemen, this is surely a positive development. Let’s not discard it.
What next? According to data from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released before the 2019 general election, the youth — described as those between ages 18 and 35 — made up about 51 percent of the 84 million registered voters. If you expand the age bracket to 50 years (to accommodate other young Nigerians like me), the figure jumps up to 81 percent. That is mind-boggling. What the youth should be thinking now is how to use these humongous figures to bring about new things in Nigeria in 2023 — rather than flee to Canada. They should realise Canada was not built in a day. Its people fought hard to build the country with their sweat and blood.
Just a brief journey into Canada’s history: there were two rebellions against “bad governance” between 1837 and 1838. The rebels were arrested after the uprisings and put on trial. Samuel Lount, one of the organisers of the Upper Canada Rebellion, was publicly hanged. He is regarded as a martyr till today. Over 100 rebels were sentenced to life imprisonment. What the rebel leaders wanted was political reform. They had a common agenda for Canada. Even though they paid the ultimate price, Canada was never the same again. Reform came. Today, Canada is one of the most developed countries in the world. But Canada was not always like this. People paid the price.
What’s my point? The youth must begin to conceive a new political order and the role they can play in birthing it. The #OccupyOjota protests of 2012 helped in building the momentum that uprooted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from power in 2015 and installed the All Progressives Congress (APC). In 2023, the #EndSARS momentum can become a movement that will help uproot both APC and PDP from power and birth a new political culture where government officials will begin to pay less attention to the perks of office and more to their responsibilities to Nigerians. And I mean at all levels — local, state and federal. That would be the best legacy of #EndSARS.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it would be for Nigerian youth to unite in the quest for good governance! They can be more politically active. They can be more involved in choosing councillors, council chairpersons, state lawmakers, governors, federal lawmakers and the president. It does not mean only the youth will occupy these positions. In addition to contesting, the youth can engage with the aspirants and candidates, scrutinise them, advance the agenda of good governance, monitor the performances of those elected or appointed, and mobilise for recall or removal if they fail to deliver. Canada was not built in a day. Nation-building is not a sprint. It is a marathon.
I hope the youth have also learnt their lessons from the #EndSARS fiasco. One, you don’t go to war without visible leadership. You will end up creating anarchy and mob action. We can now see the consequences. Things completely went out of control and there was nobody to call the mobsters to order. Leadership is key in every life endeavour. Two, you don’t go to war without a plan. There should be Plan A, Plan B and even Plan C. I did not see any plan apart from “we no go gree o”. Three, because of lack of leadership and strategy, the protests continued when they should have been called off. Now over 70 people are dead. This is extremely disturbing and disheartening.
Four, you must take your wins and know when to retreat without surrendering. When SARS was disbanded and judicial panels set up, that was the time to retreat. That was the time to say: “We are suspending the protests. If nothing changes, we will return to the streets.” Some people were even demanding that Buhari should sign an “executive order” to show that SARS had been disbanded. It got that ridiculous. Some rejected the panels because there was no “youth” and declared a boycott. I have come to learn that boycott is not an effective strategy. Campaign for youth inclusion in the panels but mobilise to engage with the process and follow through to get justice.
Five, you must stay the message. Nigerians were united in the call to stop police brutality. It was nationwide. Contrary to the propaganda, there were #EndSARS protests in Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Nasarawa, Adamawa and some other northern states. It was not a purely southern thing. Unfortunately, some people sneaked in their #BuhariMustGo and #EndNigeria agenda and things began to fall apart. More so, protesters started losing focus when they moved from the unifying agenda against police brutality and expanded it to an omnibus campaign for restructuring and ending corruption and bad governance. It is impossible to achieve everything at a go.
Finally, the youth must learn from their elders. As the Yoruba would say, no matter how many Gucci shirts a child has, he can never have as many rags as an elder. Some youth actually think the story of Nigeria started in 1999 or 2015. Actually, people have been fighting for a better Nigeria for 100 years. Our forefathers played their roles and left. We are still fighting for a better Nigeria. We cannot all adopt the same style and strategy. Ultimately, we need to engage constructively to change the rigged and warped system. From my little experience, starting a mass action without a strategy, without a fall-back plan, and without giving an inch can only lead to anarchy. Lessons learnt?
OPINION: Osinbajo and the heritage of failure (1), by Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH, on Monday, April 11, 2022)
HUSBAND. Father. Lawyer. Pastor. Professor. SAN. Politician and Vice President – the titles on the hoary head of Buroda Yęmi Osinbajo are heavy. May thou continue to mount up with wings like the Super Eagles.
The deer doesn’t complain, though the antlers on its head are forky and hulking; it carries them, all the same. Though Adépèlé suffers from hyperdontia, he doesn’t complain about his crowded teeth; he grinds food with them, all the same. And the cow – horns, hoofs and headaches – never complains, it moos and milks, all the same. Vice President Osinbajo is not complaining, for the Lord is good, all the time.
Nobody kills the dog for barking. No one kills the ram for butting. Let nobody attack Dolapo’s husband for standing with Jenera Muhammadu Buhari, though innocent blood spurts from bandits’ bullets, and kidnappers’ bank accounts bespeaks of APC incompetence. Let the dead bury their dead is the new song in town though 714 soldiers were killed in 18 months. Praise be the name of the lord because no amount of killings can stop the 2023 elections.
Warming up to continue the bleeding of the national treasury after a change of government in 2023, some APC members, e-rats and apologists are today saying, “Baba Fiyinfoluwa has no constitutional powers to effect any desired change now because he’s only an auxiliary. When he becomes President, he will clean the Augean stable.” Nigerians, please, don’t forget the words of Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe alias 4:30, who says in the New Masquerade sitcom, “Fa, fa, fa, F-O-U-L!”
Yes, the North-favouring 1999 Constitution gives all powers to the President, Jenera Buhari, but it proffers no cure for his intellectual impotence. Therefore, it’s proper for Buroda Yemi to want to stay back in Aso Rock for another eight years in order to break the yoke inflicted on Nigeria by Buhari for eight years. Never mind the fact that ègbón Yemi had spent eight years in Lagos as commissioner for justice and attorney general under his former godfather, the bullion van owner at Bourdillon, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, when Jagaban’s word was law, and crumbs fell off his table. 8 + 8 + 8 = executive service to humanity. It’s not 24. Moreover, a thousand years is like a day in the sight of the lord. Today, Buhari is the ultimate, the law; the train will move when power swings tomorrow.
The grandson-in-law to Chief Obafemi Awolowo is a noble man. It’s not easy to put self forward in the service of an ungrateful nation. It’s not easy living with the endless deaths and destruction ravaging the country. It’s not easy to carry the burden of Nigeria on the head like a cow carries its horns while one’s children school in expensive universities in the UK snow. It’s not easy nodding gently to the ‘ao m’erin j’oba’ tune from the drums of sycophants, leading the elephant to the holey, leglesss throne. E no easy, but let somebody shout halleluyah!
The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, sayeth the Lord God of Host. This is why buroda Leke is biding his time, and waiting upon the lord to lead the way to Aso Rock, the place of plenty and pleasure.
I was looking for an answer for those saying Baba Kanyisola is helpless in the face of Buhari’s ineptitude when I saw a page torn out from the Holy Book. I saw it on the floor in Abuja, trampled upon. Please, don’t ask me who tore it, you know who did. It’s the Mark 6:11 admonition of Jesus Christ, which says, “If anyone will not WELCOME you or LISTEN to you, shake the dust off your feet when you LEAVE that place, as a testimony against them.” So, Baba Damilola has a choice to resign, and keep his name and integrity unblemished, infers the Holy Bible.
In John 11:35, “Jesus wept!’ Even the sit-down comedienne of the clueless Jonathanian era, Patience Jonathan, wept! I can hear her voice, “Prinspal, na only you waka come?…Will you keep kwayet? Chai! Chai! Di blood you people are sharing, dia ris God o, dia ris God ooo, dia ris God ooooo! (weeps)” But Osinbajo shouldn’t shed crocodile tears, he’s the biblical serpent; very wise, he’s the biblical dove; very innocent. May the lord continue to bless thee, Mr VP.
I predict, in the 419 days remaining for President Muhammadu Buhari to vacate Aso Rock, and return to wherever he came from, Buroda Yemi will aspire to lead Nigeria, and continue the legacy of ruins Buhari and the All Progressives Congress have bequeathed to Nigeria.
Worried by the stupidity of planting corn, and expecting to reap yam, Paul, the greatest of the apostles, asks, “So, shall we then continue in sin that grace may abound?” Paul himself answers his poser, “God forbid.” I ask, shall Nigeria, in 2023, re-elect the same politicians who have been wrecking the country since 1999, and pray that grace may abound? God forbid!
Since 1999 till date, instead of pouring new wine in new wineskins, old wine has been recycled in old wineskins. Therefore, nothing has changed except serpents shedding their skins in continuous renewal to strike again and again.
I stand on the Rock of Ages, and urge the ignorant and the myopic bearers of falsehood seeing a new Nigeria in an Osinbajo presidency to turn their eye to the Book of Mark 2:21. It says, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.”
For dialectical purposes, let’s even assume Osinbajo is the saintliest of saints, I urge we consider the words of Prophet Amos, who asks in the Holy Bible, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
Since his shameful fall from power in 1993, disgraced evil genius, Ibrahim Babangida, still pulls political strings. The same goes for Delta ruthless robber, James Onanefe Ibori, and his Edo ex-counterpart, Lucky De Thief Igbinedion, who both remain factors in Niger Delta politics, despite being convicted for looting public treasury.
Where is thy common sense, ye compatriots! Can ye continuously vote for treasury looters who mortgage your future and the future of your unborn generations that grace may abound?
Now, if IBB, Ibori, Igbinedion etc still have hold on power till today, who says Osinbajo can break away from Pantami, the Boko Haram apologist, and owner of a laughable PhD, or do away with Malami, the worst Minister of Justice and Attorney General since creation, and other dyed-in-the-wool Buhari elements?
I have some questions for Pastor Yemi. And I want him to answer them with his church mind. What did you say to Buhari who approved a $1m donation to Afghanistan, a Taliban state that doesn’t respect democracy, women and human rights? Why was this donation, done through the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, not made public? Is the $1m meant to support global terrorism being waged by Afghanistan? Why make such a senseless donation when Nigerian universities are shut due to lack of funding? Why donate money to Afghanistan, whose GDP is far higher than Nigeria’s? No bi juju bi dat?
I have more questions, Mr Man of God. How many similar donations have been made in the past to the OIC, which is the second-largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations? Does this donation not give teeth to the suspicion that the Buhari regime has an Islamisation agenda? Buroda Yemi de SAN, what business does Nigeria, a secular state, have being a member of OIC? If not for the public acknowledgment of the donation by the Secretary-General the OIC, Hissein Taha, Nigeria’s prodigal rulers wouldn’t have mentioned the donation to Nigerians.
* To be concluded
Facebook: @tunde odesola
ASUU Strike: Nigeria Students Need To Embrace Handwork
The lingering strike caused by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government is indeed a nightmare to students’ future, and to the nation’s education sector, by extension.
As the ASUU’s fresh four weeks warning strike is over the Nigerian government’s refusal to implement the Memorandum of Action (MoU) that led to the suspension of its nine-month prolonged strike in 2020. This endless acrimony between the federal government, and incapacitates students’ studies and muddles their academic sessions.
Students across the country from different universities will be going back helter-skelter to their various homes. Those who were engaged in businesses will continue from where they stopped, likewise to hand workers.
Handwork is one of the most reliable means of income in today’s world economy. Students can learn the following handwork: Mobile phones repair, shoemaking and repairs, makeup business, web development, mobile apps development, graphic design and graphic art, laptop repair, professional photography, baking (snacks, making cakes), web design, painting, digital marketing, painting, electronic repairs (Television, radio, etc), hairstyling, iron bending, and panel beating, etc.
Umar Abubakar Muhammad
Why Tinubu must never be Nigeria’s president, by Festus Adedayo
So I was at the Alausa Governor’s Office in Lagos. Accessing the governor was like seeking needle in a haystack. His Press Secretary sent words up that an irritant interloper had come to ferret response to a newsmagazine’s damming expose on the governor. After hours of waiting, a commissioner (names withheld) sauntered in and met me where I sat immovably like Mount Kilimanjaro.
“You can’t write that story,” he began in a steely voice sauced with veiled threats. “Go back to Ibadan. We will talk to your boss.”
That was how the story never saw the light of the day.
The Nigerian Tribune, of which I was its Features Editor during this period, had sent me in pursuit of the facts or fiction surrounding the news magazine report. The principal of that ancient school, Government College Ibadan, at the time had suddenly gone AWOL, incommunicado and inaccessible as the proverbial excrement of the masquerade. Grapevines alleged that Alhaji Lam Adesina, then Governor of Oyo State, had ordered that all data of the school’s attendees between the period of Governor Bola Tinubu’s claim of attendance of GCI be brought to him in the Government House, where they were brought under governmental lock and key. The media that was seeking corroboration or the antonym of the claims, went after the GCI Principal. He had disappeared into thin air. Perhaps, a one-on-one interview with the governor would do?
In 1999, one Dr. Waliu Balogun wrote a petition against Tinubu levelling a number of damning allegations that bordered on fraudulent claims of educational attainments. Among other things, he accused Tinubu of lying in an affidavit attached to his Independent National Electoral Commission form that he lost his degree certificates while he was on exile between 1994 and 1998. The newsmagazine later published those details in a gripping expose which left sour tastes in the mouth.
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One after the other, all Tinubu’s claims, sworn to under oath in the Form CF001 he filled with INEC, were shredded to smithereens by the magazine’s story. St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, Lagos, which he claimed to have attended, the magazine said its investigative reporting found never existed, just as his name was conspicuously missing from the records of the Government College, Ibadan, which he claimed to have attended between 1965 and 1968. Indeed, GCI’s alumni association, the Old Boys of the school, debunked the claim. So also was Tinubu’s claim that he attended Richard Daley College, Chicago, between 1969 and 1971. Punctured also were the governor’s claims of having attended the University of Chicago in the US between 1972 and 1976, as well as obtaining a B.Sc degree in Economics from the university. A request to those institutions for affirmation of Tinubu’s studentship by the magazine was a resounding No. Till date, in spite of his having vanquished the legal principalities spearheaded by Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), with the Supreme Court voiding Fawehinmi on technical grounds, none of Tinubu’s classmates, schoolmates or even teachers has come out in public to counter the facts of the legal behemoth erected against him.
Four years later, in 2003, it was time for Tinubu to fill the Form CF001 again, in pursuit of his second term bid. His enemies who were waiting for him to make those claims again were dazed when they saw what the governor filled. In all the columns, the gentleman simply filled NOT APPLICABLE; Primary School, Not Applicable, Secondary School, Not Applicable and University, Not Applicable. Could that have meant that the man never attended any school?
Tinubu was not alone. Rife as expectations were from the new-found Nigerian republic in 1999, like alligators, renowned for incredible nasal power of smelling a drop of blood even in ten gallons of water, Nigerians smelled crises in the cache of scandals that involved newly elected office holders of the republic. Less than three months after commencement of the Fourth Republic, Nigeria began to manifest noticeable cracks. It took political scientists and students of Marxian dialectics to allay our fears and tell us that those cracks were curative, self-correctional and akin to the Marxist theory of thesis and antithesis which, when they jam, produce a synthesis.
In quick successions of messy, damming scandals, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari, Senate President Evan(s) Enwerem and Bola Tinubu got entangled in seismic, roiling scandals of identity misappropriation, subversion of their oaths of office and perversion of truth. While the latter two were swept away by the typhoon of the crises, Tinubu not only survived the wire mesh, to spite the allegations, he is today one of top three most consequential, powerful Nigerians alive and a presidential office aspirant to boot.
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Salisu Buhari, the affable and young Speaker of the lower parliament had just been unraveled by the media as an age inflator and certificate forger. Hitherto, a Kano-based businessman, Buhari shuttled into politics but two weeks into being in office, the rested news magazine, TheNews, in its February 16, 1999 edition, published details of his age and certificate forgery. The magazine wrote that he was actually born in 1970 and not 1963 as he claimed.
Again, TheNews put a lie to Buhari’s claim of having graduated from the University of Toronto, stating that he not only never attended the school, the mandatory youth service he claimed to have underwent at the Standard Construction in Kano was a ruse. On July 23, 1999, like a rain-soaked squirrel, Buhari was contrite, disgraced and admitted all the allegations. “I apologize to you. I apologize to the nation. I apologize to my family and friends for all the distress I have caused them. I was misled in error by a zeal to serve the nation, I hope the nation will forgive me and give me the opportunity to serve again,” he murmured as he resigned from the House. He was subsequently convicted of certificate forgery, sentenced to two years in prison but later got pardoned by President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Senator President, Evan Enwerem, was to kiss the canvass a little while after. In the race for the senate presidency, he had sidestepped his closest sprinter rival for the office, Chuba Okadigbo by 66 to 43 votes. Shortly after his ascension in 1999, Enwerem was shoved into the sieve, scrutinized on allegation of identity opacity. He was held up on the fire-spitting wire gauze for falsification of his name. A ball-fire of controversy erupted on whether Enwerem’s real name was Evan or Evans. In the melee, on November 18, 1999, his ouster, spearheaded by Okadigbo and his allies, became a fait accompli.
Between his consequential emergence on the political turf of Nigeria in 1999 and now, only an armchair, analytical yokel will underrate or belittle Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s awesome and colonizing genius in Nigerian politics. He became so consequential that some translucent analyses compare him to the sage, Obafemi Awolowo. It will appear that immediately he got away from the drowning tidal waves of that identity theft legal tango and the lacerating fisticuffs of his numerous political adversaries, Tinubu tightened his muscles on the political levers of Lagos, a state which had always been the microcosm of Nigeria since it became the federal capital of independent Nigeria in 1960. He saw how the almighty power of the media, like a mammoth whale, almost succeeded in capsizing his ship of state and political career.
Rising from the ashes of the crises, Tinubu encircled his claw-like fists on the media, meandering himself into its total corpus and essentializing himself in its operations. While English crime thriller writer, René Lodge Brabazon Raymond, popularly known as James Hadley Chase, says that fear opens the wallets of the rich, Tinubu’s street chemistry, which he deploys, says that licit and illicit favours, prebends and perks imprison consciences and arrest captives faster than glue gum traps mice. Unconscionably, Tinubu waves these aces with the magisterial clinicality of a professional executioner, succeeding in the process in harvesting a huge political, media, government, judicial, corporate, etcetera clienteles inside his massive pouch.
The truth is that, since 1960, seldom has Nigeria had a political aficionado who deployed the genius of the streets in the service of politics as Bola Tinubu. Scarcely can anybody have the mis/fortune of encountering him without becoming a captive of his cash influence. Someone once said that even the god of Mammon would be envious of Tinubu’s sagacity in deploying its monetary weapon.
Within the span of his Lagos governorship of eight years, from someone who those who knew him said was passably well-to-do, Tinubu grew a monstrous wealth, such that a 2015 back page opinion piece in the Sun newspaper claimed he owned almost half of Lagos and urged Buhari to clone the Vladimir Putin method with which the Russian president neutralized drug czars who funded his presidential emergence. Within this period, Tinubu also acquired a humongous political influence in Lagos and outside of it that could rank that of Pharaohs and emperors of old. In 2007, an ex-governor, who witnessed the miasma of power flakes encircling him as he arrived the Lagos airport, jealously told me that it was godlike.
Superficial analyses of Tinubu claim that his vice-hold grips on Lagos can be found in his ability to recreate and “build” persons in state and national offices, as well as sustaining a linear pattern of succession. This, such analysts claim, reflects his sagacity. Those who know the modus operandi of this power retention system machine however put a lie to it. To them, deep underneath it is an opaque, yet fastidiously maintained and pervasively sustained mega corruption and perpetuation of self hegemony by a carefully mastered mind coercion that is promoted by a cultic abidance to an oath of allegiance.
Those who see Tinubu’s strength in his fluid recruitment of aides should also be able to answer why he suffers huge casualty of his investment in such persons? Could it be that he uses them as indentured viceroy? Or that the rebellion we see from them is an attempt to set themselves free of his hold? From Babatunde Fashola, Muiz Banire, Akinwumi Ambode to his erstwhile lickspittle, Rauf Aregbesola and many others, there must be a single thread that unifies Tinubu’s foot soldiers’ rebellion against him. Unfortunately for Tinubu, this same set of soldiers, knowing the secrets of the sustenance of their power machine, are today against his emergence as Nigeria’s president and will willingly supply the fire that will incinerate his ambition. In Yorubaland today, apart from Lagos and Osun States, which APC governor can Tinubu claim to be under him?
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If nothing else, the controversy provoked by Chief Bisi Akande’s My Participations unraveled the mythic notion that Tinubu promotes his aides to the top for the love of country. Back and forth arguments, especially on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s nomination in 2015, revealed that not only is the Lagos landlord obsessed with self alone, ascension of others in his loop is secondary and is subordinated to personal interest. The world saw that Tinubu grudgingly acceded to Osinbajo’s candidacy only when his personal interest hit the rocks.
Last week however, Bola Tinubu paid a visit to President Buhari, a few hours after the latter granted an incoherent interview where he claimed that if he named his successor, the fellow could be assassinated. A content analysis of the president’s statement must have revealed to Tinubu that he could never have been the one Buhari was referring to. Tinubu must know that Buhari knows that a plan to murder Death would be easier done than assassinating Nigeria’s Mafia don, the Capo dei capi himself.
The most mis-recommending criterion against a Tinubu presidency is that, in mental depth, the Lagos Landlord is just a whiff higher than Muhammadu Buhari. Remove the Cockney accent he feebly mimics, you will find out that most times, his extempore speeches lack coherence, logic and verve.
Counter arguments have been proffered against the school of thought that says that Tinubu’s ultra-stupendous wealth should not recommend him against vying for the Nigerian presidency. You will recollect that the military apparatchik argued along this line against an MKO Abiola presidency. Abiola, they said, was as wealthy as to grant Nigeria loans. Weak as the argument was, it is strong in Tinubu’s disfavor for its moral and deleterious implications. While the world knew that Abiola’s wealth was procured from international dealings, especially in ITT, Tinubu is said to own a pie in virtually every sector of Nigeria’s economy, ranging from oil, steel, finance (tax), airline, real estate, media, you name it. These are funded in names of shells and proxies. In all these, as the Americans say, we can see the bucks but not the shop. What morality will Nigeria be preaching by having a president of such opaque composition and disposition?
Either real or imagined, it is said that the only thing that is real about Tinubu is his person and that every other ascription on him is a borrowed robe. He has not come in the open to effectively disclaim the allegation that his name is not his name; that the parents he claimed were not his’; that the certificates he claimed to be his are not and that the schools he claimed to have attended didn’t know him. I don’t know a baggage huger than this for a country like Nigeria that is struggling to sell herself to the world to now have its president burdened by this pernicious pedigree.
With the calamity that the Buhari presidency has posed to Nigeria, it will be more calamitous to have a Tinubu as his successor. Governing Nigeria is not all about identifying surrogates who will man critical political offices for future political gains. Nigeria needs a cerebral, healthy, comparatively morally overboard president, a man, borrowing from Oscar Wilde’s description of his gay partner friend, Sir Alfred Douglas in De Profundis, who is not a man for whom the gutter and all that is in it fascinates.
One would have expected Tinubu to heed the counsel of Apala music icon, Ayinla Omowura. Omowura must have had in mind leaders who are heavy-laden, burdened by baggage of their past, when he counseled that, as all shrubs and leaves in the forest should not be the predilection of a herbalist seeking curative herbs; not all palm trees in the forest should excite the palm-wine tapper either. In Yoruba, he expressed this as, “gbogbo ewe ko l’ojawe nja; gbogbo ope ko l’onigba ngun.” Sagacious leaders who carry stupendous moral baggage of the Tinubu hue should know the forests they should venture into.
The forests of presidential contest that the Lagos Landlord is about to venture into is what same Omowura, in his vinyl, referred to as “igbo odaju” – the forest of the heartless, the carapace-hard heart hunters. Anyone who does not have the benefit of a real mother – a real mother’s prayers are like magic, steeped in mystical and metaphysical powers. Anyone, said Omowura, who does not have a real mother who can provide witchcraft protection for them, should not venture into the igbo odaju. Never! Abraham Lincoln, father of American nation, also alluded to this when he said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
Some Yoruba lament what they call the predilection of Yoruba in pulling themselves down. This piece would be their perfect example. It is thinking like this that has condemned Nigeria to stagnation. The truth is, Yoruba are very proud of their pedigree and wear it like a lapel on their sleeves. So how can same Yoruba who have preached moral uprightness to the rest of the world for centuries, now queue behind a man who cannot point his right hand at his father’s homestead? Let the rest of Nigeria be rotten egg. Yoruba will still underscore societal purity. It should gladden us that Yoruba are the ones revealing the maggots in their home so that when they expose others’ maggots, they will occupy a higher moral ground. It is better for Yoruba not to lift a presidential leg forward than lift one that is riddled with a festering and putrid sore. In any case, what Nigeria needs is a president that is a leader who is not crippled by ill health and is adequately schooled in the nuances of 21st century solutions to our self-inflicted, existential challenges.
Since independence in 1960, six ‘major’ Yoruba sons have attempted a shot at Nigeria’s civilian presidency (excluding fringe aspirants of the Babangida political guinea-pig era). They are Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Chiefs Abiola, Bola Ige, Olu Falae and Olusegun Obasanjo. If Tinubu carries through his recent declaration, he will be joining this pantheon. Of this lot, Tinubu would be the only one whose pedigree is shrouded in a miasma of dubiety.
Yoruba will totally support Tinubu in his presidency dream if he agrees to fill in the INEC forms all those claims he made of his roots in 1999. He must fill in the 2023 Form CF001 St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, Lagos, as his primary school; Government College, Ibadan; Richard Daley College, Chicago and the University of Chicago as his alma maters, without Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi swearing on oath that he filled them for him by proxy.
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