Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s call on John Odigie-Oyegun to resign as National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly derailing from the path of progressives continues to generate diverse opinions in the polity. The call, rather than being misconstrued by Tinubu’s antagonists should be seen for its altruistic value and content. It is about saving the soul of a ruling party that is still in its embryo.
But, while waiting to see how circumstances eventuate, some questions keep bothering me and if they are answered dispassionately, they may help put the understanding of the issue in proper perspective. Before all else, was Tinubu wrong in endorsing a candidate? Better put, did he, as the National Leader of a foremost party, do something he ought not to have done by allegedly asking all the aspirants to work for his preferred choice (Punch, September 3, 2016)? Also, and, in fairness to the facts, is Tinubu gradually losing out in Nigeria’s political space and what is the way out? As a matter of fact, what has become of the ruling party in so short a space of time and where lies the place of its founding fathers in all of this?
Well, while I may be insufficient at supplying answers to these troubling questions, until proven otherwise, I hold the notion that Odigie-Oyegun was either misunderstood, misrepresented or used by some principalities higher than him. Again, until there is evidence to the contrary, I am also of the firm belief that President Muhammadu Buhari is too decent a leader to be involved in this messy and rather childish tricks that take nobody anywhere.
Having said that, Nigerians will agree with me that, on a good day, the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State is a rare privilege for APC to present itself as a party of choice to the electorate. It is also an opportunity to test the waters a la Nigerians’ acceptance of its policies and programmes, preparatory to 2019. With the situation of things, however, one can only pray it would not mess it up on the altar of some unbelievably self-inflicted wounds. From all indications, Mimiko as the Contestant-in-Chief looks well-prepared for the battle ahead and this ought to have spurred the opposition into going into the race with a formidable team for the overall purpose of enriching our democratic process. With Eyitayo Jegede, from a Senatorial District which, among other considerations, is noted for having the largest chunk of voters, as People’s Democratic Party, PDP’s governorship candidate; and John Ola Mafo, from an axis notorious for political characterizations similar to Alimosho in Lagos State, Oke Ogun in Oyo State and Florida in the United States of America, tentatively as Jegede’s deputy, the battle line is already drawn! While the import of these should not be lost on objective observers, we also need to bear in mind that Goodluck Jonathan, as fate would have it, is no longer in power. Impliedly, November 26, 2016, will most certainly follow a path different from the experience in Ekiti and Osun States in 2014. Little wonder the outgoing governor has been running ‘upandan’ to bung any inadequacy that is within his powers.
Kazi Shams was right when he described “half a truth” as “a whole lie.” From a state of denial to an overflowing scourge of anger, the troubling truth is that we deceive ourselves a lot in this country and this adds more confusion to the course of questions! Much as we would pretend not to know, life itself is full of lessons. It is also full of surprises. But, if care is not taken, one may concentrate more on the ‘surprise’ aspect of life to the detriment of its lessons. Anyway, since memories are real, those who wish to be unnecessarily emotions- and sentiments-driven should pause a bit and ponder the roles of Pharaoh in the life of Joseph (Genesis 45:46); King Xerxes in Mordecai’s (Esther 10:3); Melchizedek in Abraham’s (Hebrews 7); the Widow of Zarephath in Prophet Elijah’s (1 Kings 17: 7-16); and ask Nigeria’s exceptionally good liars and professional pretenders what they would do better should they find themselves in Tinubu’s shoes before casting the first stone.
Again, if history is an oracle we must consult in order to determine the future, then, we need not forget in a hurry that, once upon a recent experience in Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida, in crude and rude connivance with some military top brass, not only endorsed Olusegun Obasanjo, they also ensured that he succeeded Abdusalami Abubakar as Nigeria’s president. Adams Oshiomhole stood by Godwin Obaseki at the just-concluded governorship election in Edo State. Even, Rotimi Akeredolu, the man in the eye of the storm, reportedly had his campaign “bankrolled by Atiku Abubakar and some APC bigwigs” (Vanguard, September 28, 2016). But for the luxury of time and space, one can go on and on! So, who’s fooling who?
To some schools of thought, Tinubu ought to have read the tea leaves correctly, especially, given that the contestants paid to obtain Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms. Well, since the rules of natural justice are so fundamental that they don’t have to be legislated, Odigie-Oyegun’s interview in Punch, August 21, 2016, has, in my considered opinion, settled that!
Yes! Nigeria is in challenging times and conventional prescriptions for her ailments ought to be of interest to us as Nigerians. But, in the midst of the monstrosity of the corruption that has tragically become Nigeria’s defining characteristic, Tinubu comes about as one leader who has given deep meanings to democracy. Like him or hate him: he is a politician who has attained an unprecedented level of political sophistication that can radically influence the perception of governance in this once-so-beautiful-but-now-badly-damaged microcosm. His gift of being able to make the right choices is superb as one could see in his preference for Babatunde Fashola and Rauf Aregbesola as Lagos and Osun State Governors respectively. With the benefit of hindsight, Fashola not only performed, he eventually became the APC poster boy in the last election. And while Aregbesola, on his part, has succeeded in unselfishly redefining governance in my home state, he is also patriotically preparing the ‘Land of Virtue’ for the future and, when its fruits blossom forth, they will be to the gapes of Nigerians.
Another worthy example of Tinubu’s ability to identify talents is his choice of Akinwunmi Ambode as Fashola’s successor. Surely, Ambode’s ongoing silent revolution in modernising Lagos, especially, with the expansion of road networks and redesigning of bus stops to ease traffic congestion, is a step in the right direction. Kudos must also be given to this forward-looking Nigerian for making Buhari’s aspiration possible after three futile attempts. And, do we need to discuss the success of his business ventures? Without being immodest, facts on the ground have already spoken! For the patriotism, he has expressed as well as his enormous contributions to the development of democracy in Nigeria, methinks this sagacious and perspicacious politician deserves encouragement, not disparagement; and solidarity, not brickbats.
From my perspective, politics as a game of interest and numbers goes beyond vote casting and party affiliation. Maybe that’s why some people see politics, especially in Africa, as ‘the shortest road to financial freedom.’ The point I am trying to make here is that though, the system in vogue in Nigeria may at the moment be defective and frustrating, all through history, those who-who came out of it smoking were those who were able to master its ‘by-the-minute’ difficulties, frustrations, and, not unexpectedly, its success stories while those who could not have always had themselves to blame. And that’s the real deal!
Finally, let’s pray that life, times, even travails of Bola Ige would treat our leaders to some salient lessons in the season.
May powers and personalities, assigned to derail Nigeria’s beautiful destiny, wither!
*Abiodun Komolafe, writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (firstname.lastname@example.org)