Dr. Wumi Akintide

I have allowed a decent interval between the two articles to get some feedback from the supporters and the critics of Part 1. The feedback I got from those who like the Part 1 have been profoundly positive. Many of them cannot wait to see the Part 2. I pay attention to what the critics of the Part 1 have said because they force me take a second and third look at the Part 1 to see if their criticisms call for any apology from me because I don’t play God. I also realize that the closest I would ever get to perfection is to admit my mistakes and to go on with my life. I apologize for the length of the Part 2. It is so because I don’t want to do a Part 3.

 I will be suffering from neurosis to pretend that my views on anything are sacrosanct or perfect. I am first and foremost a historian and a storyteller. I do appreciate that storytellers are historians in their own right, but they do not carry the extra burden and critical analysis and interpretation like good historians must do. I am only going to dwell on what the critics have said, because I realize that the good that men do are often interred into their bones while the evils live after them.

There is a particular gentleman named Uche Ndidi who wrote a protest titled “Shame to Wumi Akintide” as his rejoinder to my Part 1. The gentleman accused me of “Igbophobia” despite all my denials. He strongly believed that I deliberately target the Igbos for criticisms in all of my articles.  He was particularly pissed off that I did not criticize the Oba of Lagos when he declared a “Fatwa” on all Igbo “Lagosians” who refuse to vote for his hand-picked candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode. Even though I support Ambode but I know enough not to condone what the Kabiyesi has said and the way he said it. I was in fact embarrassed to see the Kabiyesi talk like that. You will never see Omo ”Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo or the Alaafin of Oyo, “Iku Baba Yeye” lose his cool like that in the public. The Oba’s statement was nearly as offensive to me as the statement created to the Zulu King of South Africa.  

One critic pointed out that John Odigie Oyegun was not one of the AD Governors who lost his seat when Obasanjo and the PDP managed to take all of the Southwest, minus Lagos State, from the AD in 2003. I apologize for that mistake. The other critics were pissed off by my saying anything good about Tinubu. Left to them there is nothing good about Tinubu and they thought I committed a crime to say anything good of Tinubu.

No Nigerian in any position of power can be totally called a Saint. We all have our good and bad part. You should be happy if your good part trounces or supersedes your bad part. So those who are expecting me to totally condemn Tinubu are asking too much.

I promise to devote my Part 2 to why I consider Ahmed Tinubu as a worthy Nigerian leader and champion of the Yoruba cause and why I still see him as the most qualified successor to Obafemi Awolowo. I have read an interview by Ebenezer Babatope one of the old loyalists of Obafemi Awolowo   who later decamped with Lateef Jakande into the PDP after Papa’s death against the better judgment of their Afenifere group. Babatope had nothing good to say about Ahmed Tinubu. He actually predicted in the interview that Tinubu was going to self-destruct and that Tinubu’s claim to be a Yoruba leader was totally misplaced.

I used to have some respect for “Ebinotopsy” as one of the Awolowo’s loyalists, but not anymore. He lost me after he joined the PDP to go eat out of the forbidden fruit of power like Reuben Abati.  Ebinotopsy is no longer the Ebenezer Babatope I used to know.  The guy used to be razor sharp in his political insight. He has joined the bandwagon of the bread and butter politicians who would gladly call the cow “brother” to satisfy their lust for power and the good things of life.

Babatope described Goodluck Jonathan at one point in the interview as a faultless President who had done so much for Nigeria during his 6 years in office. He should tell that to the mountains. He justified the 1.4 million votes concocted for Jonathan in Rivers State as totally defensible forgetting that the total population of Rivers State was equal or only slightly more than votes scored by Jonathan and his Okrika-born first lady who just wanted a figure that would take her husband over the edge regardless of who came out to vote. The same “Ebinotopsy” had no qualms questioning the 1.9 million votes that Buhari had received in Kano forgetting that Kano was shown in the last Census in Nigeria as having a bigger population than Lagos long after Jigawa State had been carved out of the old Kano State.

Babtope is able to talk that foolishness in a country that is forever scared to do a realistic census. I accompanied Obafemi Awolowo to convocation at the University of Ife in 1974 in which Awolowo singlehandedly killed the 1973 Census when he declared that that census was dead on arrival and he went to town to tell the whole world why the census must not stand.

The first thing that Murtala Mohammed did on becoming Head of State in 1975 was to annual the census outright. Nigeria has been using projections ever since to determine population of Nigeria. The projected estimates now range from 140 million to 200 million but I am sure the figure is grossly exaggerated. You can tell that from the number of PVC cards that remain uncollected at INEC in many states until the last day of voting in Nigeria.

 Since the overblown votes recorded in most of the Southeast and South/South in particular and in some of the northern states for the candidates have now been overlooked, don’t be surprised when you hear the Southeast and the South/South and some states in the North asking for more creation of states in their zone or asking for an increased allocation from Federal Revenues based on the votes recorded in their states in the last election.

The only zone that is clearly going to be at a disadvantage is the Southwest where all the votes recorded validate the estimated population in each state. It is only in the Southwest that you have a more balanced distribution of votes scored by the victor and the vanquished meaning that the Southwest is the most politically sophisticated of all the political zones of Nigeria if you ask me. In Anambra state for instance Jonathan received over a million votes and the APC only 14,000 votes. Can you believe that? I thought that could only have happened in Zaire under Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga or under Idi Amin Dada in Uganda. You will never find that kind of disparity in any of the states of the Southwest. You would have thought that Lagos should have recorded a higher turnout of votes than what we actually saw. Jimi Agbaje failed in Lagos but he received enough votes to keep his head high. That is the way it is supposed to be in the ideal Democracy we ought to have in Nigeria.    

When Ebenezer Babatope was still the “Ebinotopsy” we used to know, such a comparative analysis would not have gone unnoticed by him. Today, Ebinotopsy is paying glowing tributes to the hoodlum in Ekiti who had used Federal might to intimidate the voters all because he was a member of the PDP with absolute control over the Nigerian Military, the Nigerian Police and State Security. Ebinotopsy did not see anything wrong with the Ekitigate scandal as captured on tape for the whole world by Captain Sagir Koli.

President Jonathan the man Ebinotopsy has called a faultless President was the first to dismiss the Sagir Koli tape as a fabrication. I feel sorry for Ebenezer Babatope who now seeks to diminish and delegitimize the feat performed by Asiwaju Tinubu by leading the first collaboration of the Yorubas with our Hausa/Fulani compatriots to dethrone a sitting Government. It was a feat that neither Obafemi Awolowo nor S.L.A Akintola was able to accomplish.  

Those who accuse me of bringing the Igbos to any article I write are right in their observation. I do not do it to put the Igbos on the spot; I do it for the Yorubas and the Hausa/Fulani as well. Who in his right senses can discount the Igbos and their contributions from the equation of Nigeria? Only a fool will do that. Hate them or love them the Igbos have remained a force to reckon with in the governance of Nigeria for better or for worse.

They put themselves on the spot because of who they are in Nigeria. Yoruba Lagosians who are complaining about the Igbo domination of Lagos would stop complaining if they understand that it is in the DNA of the Igbos to do what they do anywhere they go because they are ever so hardworking and resilient.

Many of them come to town as “Obioma” or petty traders or artisans. They work hard at it and become the best in the business anywhere they go. Unlike their rival Yorubas, they don’t mind doing some of the dirtiest jobs because they are geniuses on how to stoop to conquer. They are in many ways like the Jews and many of them have acknowledged that observation as something to be proud of. I applaud them for their resourcefulness and hard work as a people.

 Right now in Akure my home town, the capital of Ondo State, the Igbos own all of the major businesses in Akure and most of the commercial investments in Akure. When Governor Mimiko wanted to dualize the Arakale Road and Oba Adesida and Oyemekun Road in Akure, guess who bought all of the old buildings on those commercial centers of Akure? It was the Igbos. Akure people sold their father’s old buildings to them at double the price that any Akure people were willing to pay for them. The Igbos bought those decrepit buildings and re-build them only to rent them back to Akure indigenes at 4 or 6 times the previous rents on the properties.

They are doing the same thing not just in Akure but also in each of the urban centers of the Yoruba Southwest. They are doing the same thing in much of the urban centers of the North including Kano and Kaduna and Maiduguri. They are traders who hardly stay home. Some of them come in as photographers. I used to know one of them named Ofei Day Spring Photographers of Akure.

 The man has lived in Akure for more than 60 years. He has married Akure women and has raised many children who know no other place to call their home. Gentleman Ofei is a good man any way you slice it. He speaks Akure dialect with the eloquence of Pa Fabuda and he has contributed in no small measure to the economic development of Akure in a way I cannot even begin to describe in this write-up. The man now in his mid-70s or close to 80 lives in his own house in Akure and he owns a few properties in the choicest area in town.  He did not leave Akure during the Biafra War and would not have been allowed to leave, if he had wanted to, because we love him so much. Any Akure man reading this can issue a rebuttal if I am lying.

How the Igbos operate in Lagos is precisely the same way they operate in Abuja where they currently own 70 percent of the businesses in that city by their own admission. As a matter of fact, they now want an Igbo man to be appointed the Minister in charge of the Federal territory in recognition of that fact even though they did not vote for Buhari. Who can fault that claim because it is the truth?

 One of the ways to begin to assimilate the Igbos is to do what Ahmed Tinubu Administration had done when he began to re-appoint a few of them into his cabinet as Governor of Lagos State. I used the word “re-appoint” because once upon a time under “Olorunnibe” as Mayor of Lagos, the Yoruba Lagosians found some ways to accommodate the Igbo Lagosians without jeopardizing the Yoruba interest. The Yorubas are the most accommodating Nigerians who welcome visitors to all of our urban centers. The Oba of Lagos was dead right to observe that the Igbos would never extend to the Yorubas in their own zone the same privileges they always want to enjoy in Yoruba or Hausa/Fulani territory. 

 Herbert Macaulay single-handedly picked Nnamdi Azikiwe to succeed him as the leader of the Nigerian Nationalist Movement, which metamorphosed into the NCNC. Most Yoruba Lagosians viewed the Nationalist Movement as a Yoruba Movement at the time even though it had members like Ernest Ikoli and other notable Igbos as members who were very prominent in the protracted struggle against the colonial masters at the time. Nnamdi Azikiwe with his powerful African Pilot Newspaper editorials was a leader and powerful voice in that crusade.

 That was why the Yorubas massively voted for the NCNC in 1954 in the defunct Western Region. The move would have made Nnamdi Azikiwe the first Premier of Western Region because Azikiwe who spoke Yoruba fluently was viewed and accepted as a Yoruba man. The Yorubas, in fact, changed the name “Azikiwe” to “Aisiki Iwe” in Yoruba meaning somebody with a great love and respect for education and academia.

The Igbos have been an integral part of the Yoruba civilization because we are both southerners. Even though the Yorubas have a few cultural affinities with the Hausa/Fulani, our preference has always been for the Igbos because they are Christians and animists like us and we both embrace western education while the North embraced Islamic education. The Hausa/Fulani enjoy Yoruba country music like Apala and Fuji in particular. “Haruna Ishola Baba Gani Agba” and Ayinla Anigilaje Omowura Apala music was so much appreciated and enjoyed in the North. I recall Ayila Anigilaje Omowura doing a special composition for Alhaji Danjuma L’Agege. Malam Danjuma of Kano who lives and owns so many businesses in Lagos was a celebrity among the Yorubas until tomorrow.

The Yorubas share a lot in common with the Hausa/Fulani like our tribal marks. Obasanjo would easily pass for a Bornu man if you look at his fading tribal marks. Even though we share a lot in common with the Hausa/Fulani but the Hausa/Fulani have never enjoyed any political collaboration with the Yorubas for close to 60 years of Nigeria’s independence. S. L.A. Akintola who first saw the need to enter into such collaboration was quickly rejected and derided by the Yorubas. The Igbos were also a factor in the rejection, because they do not want the Yorubas taking some of the benefits that should have gone to the Igbos from the political spoils of Nigeria. Many Igbos don’t want to hear this but it is the bitter truth they have got to hear loud and clear.

I mention this point, as a backdrop to my hypothesis to prove that another Yoruba leader, to see what Akintola saw is Ahmed Tinubu. He was the second Yoruba leader of consequence to question the old assumption on why the Yorubas must never collaborate with the Hausa/Fulani. He did it when he got the ACN to sponsor Ribadu as its presidential candidate in 2003. The move fell apart but Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande never gave up on forming a Mega opposition party with the Hausa/ Fulani with the merger of the CPC, GNPP with the ACN. It was a move that the Igbo-dominated APGA had wanted to join but pulled away from, when it became clear to them that the Yorubas could predictably play a leading role in the merger. They were concerned the Yorubas could use that advantage to marginalize the Igbos, which is possible because the Yorubas are greedy too but arguably not as bad as the Igbos.

 They wanted a merger of the opposition where the Igbos would be the anchormen. That was the problem. They were determined to see the merger fail and they did everything in their power to make it fail but Ahmed Tinubu would not let them. He and General Buhari saw the merger as the only chance the opposition had to beat the octopus PDP with more grass root support in Nigeria.

 Buhari and Tinubu both stuck together come rain or shine and in the end they prevailed. They both capitalized on the Nigerian voters’ fatigue with the PDP. Nigerians in the millions were clamoring for change and they voted for change in the 2015 elections. The principal architect for that change in the Southwest was Ahmed Tinubu and Bisi Akande. I don’t care how “Ebinotopsy” view their conquest out of jealousy. It was something the old Action Group under Awolowo had wanted to do, but could not do. Nigerians and Yorubas must give credit to whom credit is due. Ahmed Bola Tinubu had done what a Napoleon could not do in Nigerian politics. You could call him the Julius Caesar of Yoruba politics at this point.  

I give him the lion share of the credit for that change because it was not easy. There is another reason I eulogize Tinubu as a leader among leaders. His capacity, vision and genius in picking individuals who could best serve his purpose and achieve his goal in politics is phenomenon. I would rate his vision and introspection higher than those of Obafemi Awolowo.

He knew like Obafemi Awolowo that he had to build a strong financial base for him to be the kind of leader he wanted to be. To build that financial empire he had used his position as a Senator and two-term Governor of Lagos State to do a few things that many now condemn as clear evidence of greed on his part because they figured it out like I did that he could not have acquired all those limitless wealth if he was not somehow corrupt and ruthless.

 I conceded that argument in my Part 1. There were legitimate reasons to question the source of his great wealth as the undisputed leader of the APC now. I do not condone some of the things he has done to amass so much wealth, or his nepotism, but I would not because of that rubbish his other accomplishments as a great Yoruba leader.

I have investigated one of those criticisms against him that he is feeding fat on revenues that should have been going to the Lagos State Treasury to provide essential and needed services to the all “Lagosians” rich or poor. He formed a company after leaving office as Governor of Lagos. His company was among a few companies that submitted quotations on how to triple or quadruple the internally generated revenues of Lagos State. His company arguably used his connection and influence to win the contract but his company offered the best quotation because he promised to quadruple the revenues going to Lagos and he bargained to be paid a percentage of whatever he collects as commission, if he is able to deliver on his promise.

 His company surely met its own side of the bargain and Lagos State paid his company the commission due to him in full as stipulated in the contract. Because of what he did, Lagos State was able to pay all its bills as and when due without having to forever depend on federal allocations like the other less viable states of Nigeria like Ekiti or Osun to mention a few. That was how Tinubu made his money. He was once reported to the EFCC for investigation and he was cleared because he did nothing illegal. You could say it was morally wrong but the man did not break the Law.

You could compare what he did with what Obafemi Awolowo did to generate funds for the old Action Group when he floated the Shonibare Estate in Ikeja area. You could also compare that to what the AD Governments did when they awarded the building of the National Bank Headquarters in Lagos to Bouges Nigerian PLC at some inflated price with the understanding that the construction company would plough back some of the inflated fee back to the AD Party.

 Most political parties in Nigeria do that all the time. The PDP raised 21 billion Naira in 4 days for the 2015 elections from major donors and Federal contractors like Julius Berger Strasberg and many other Chinese, British, American and German companies. Those companies handled big contracts for the Federal Government on a quid pro quo basis. It happens all the time. Julius Berger built a Taj Mahal for IBB at Minna and a mansion for Obasanjo in Abeokuta using the same quid pro quo arrangement. Let no one who has never sinned throw the first stone. Why crucify Tinubu for the same offense is my question? Nigerians would be amazed when the dirty linens of the PDP are thrown open after May 29th. Mark my words!

Where Tinubu may run into some problems with President Buhari now I guess is what the General did to the AD party men like Ayo Adebanjo, late Ambrose Ali, Governor Onabanjo, Governor Lateef Jakande. Governor Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Ebenezer Babatope, and my uncle Joshua Oladimeji Tuki to mention a few who were both placed in detention without trial for doing precisely what the PDP had done in this election. Ebenezer Babtope is still holding a big grudge against Buhari because his father died while he was in detention and was not allowed to come home to bury his father. I don’t excuse what Buhari had done.

It goes without saying, however, that General Buhari whom I know very well can not be too favorably disposed to some of the things Ahmed Tinubu have been doing to make himself the Bill Gates of Nigeria. I am sure the APC under General Buhari would have to show more transparency in the way and manner some of his party power brokers make their money. The capitalists among them like Rotimi Amaechi, Sola Saraki and Tinubu in particular could predictably have some problems with Buhari but then Buhari himself would have to make some adjustment as a civilian President without appearing to undercut or retreat from some of his promises to the nation. He also has to constantly watch his back from elements like Ibrahim Babangida who would view the second odyssey of Buhari as a subtle repudiation of his own presidency and legacy. Once beaten twice shy.

 Buhari is more of a social democrat that has to maintain a symbiosis with many in the APC who are pseudo-capitalists. Many of the de-campers from the PDP are unrepentant capitalists who are going to make the differences and the distinction between their old PDP and the APC very blurry at best. That is something that Buhari, Tinubu and the big shots in the APC would need to work on as they go forward.

 Many fear that Tinubu could possibly overplay his hands by asking too much from Buhari who at some point must show he is President and not Tinubu. The potential risk of a clash is there, but the supremacy of the party like it was in the days of the Action Group could help smoothen up the rough edges of the relationship. Buhari must also be fully aware that 2015 is not 1983 August to 1985 when Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha beat the odds to stage their own coup before Buhari and Idiagbon had a chance to retire them.

Who says Tinubu is not a great Yoruba leader? He may not have been proclaimed a leader by Pa Maja Doherty who led the move to make Obafemi the leader of the Yorubas in 1951 from his position as the General Secretary of the old Action Group as confirmed by Ebenezer Babatope in his interview I have alluded to in the early paragraphs of this article. A leader emerges by what he does and by what he is able to accomplish for his people.

Awolowo earned the respect and adulation of the Yorubas by doing just that. I can tell you a few things that Tinubu has done to position himself as the de facto leader of the Yorubas despite his few character flaws.

Say what you like about Ahmed Bola Tinubu, he has one personal quality over and above all of his competitors for the enviable position of a Yoruba leader. He does not carry any of the baggage most of his former senior colleagues in the Action Group carry, but he has his own baggage which is self-inflicted. Nobody plays retail politics better than Tinubu. The only exception is Olusegun Mimiko who knows how to win perceived opponents to his side by massaging their ego and telling them precisely what they wanted to hear.

Mimiko easily won the affection and support of Chief Fashoranti and Oluyemi Falae, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, Iyalaje of Akure Market women, the 90 year old Mrs. Oladunti Ogunsusi and many of the big shots in the Afenifere group by doing just that. Tinubu is also very good at doing that but his persona is less friendly and more arrogant than that of Olusegun Mimiko.

I said Tinubu is a genius at picking those who can best serve his purpose and interest. His choice of Raji Fashola to replace Lawal as his successor in Lagos State was a classic. Fashola went on to be a great pick as he became the best performing Governor in the whole Federation. His choice and support for those who emerge as the ACN Governors in the Southwest states of Ogun, Oyo and Osun and in Edo State was superb. The only error of judgment he made was in Ondo State and Ekiti. Mimiko took his money and support to regain his mandate from Agagu but started immediately to distance himself from Tinubu soon after that. Tinubu’s candidate lost to the “Jagilegbo” Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose who relied heavily on Obasanjo support to win Ekiti by crook or by hook in 2003.

Tinubu managed to retain the support and respect of Chief Bisi Akande the only AD Governor to support his breakaway from the AD to go form the ACN. Individuals like Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Chief Alake, and Ismaila Adewusi from Eruwa in Ibarapa Local Government all had their pupillage under Ahmed Tinubu. Ismaila became a Commissioner for Finance under Tinubu. He brought “Lagosians” from other places that have lived all their lives in Lagos into his cabinet in the spirit of “Live and let live”

He cultivated a few traditional rulers in Yoruba Land apart from the Oba of Lagos to secure his base in Lagos and distinguished natural rulers like the Awujale of Ijebu Ode, the Alaafin of Oyo and the current Emir of Kano. He very wisely took the Asiwaju title of Lagos and then the Jagaban of Borgu as he began his overtures to the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy of Nigeria. He retained his family friendship with late President Umaru Yar Adua to lift the embargo placed on Lagos State by Obasanjo’s PDP.

Even though he was not a great fan of Obasanjo, he knew when to make peace with Obasanjo because he knew Obasanjo was like the leper who might not have the capacity to milk the cow but could easily topple the milk cart and create serious problems for the APC and make it that much harder for the APC to win in 2015. Tinubu is a master strategist as General Buhari would tell you.

His nomination of Osinbajo as the VP nominee when he knew he was not a favorite to clench the nomination was another masterstroke. That is why some enemies of APC are desperately trying now to knock his heads with that of Raji Fashola by flying a kite and saying Tinubu was opposed to Buhari making Fashola the Attorney-General. It was a big lie against Tinubu. The people making it just wanted to throw a wedge between Buhari and Tinubu and between Tinubu and Fashola.

Tinubu was among the first to see the need to appease the “Igbo Lagosians” and to willingly bring some of them like Joe Igbokwe into his cabinet without let or hindrance. Even though he disagreed with his Deputy Governor Lawal, he is a very forgiving man unlike Pa Awo and “Ebora Ota” Olusegun Obasanjo. Tinubu has since reconciled with Mr. Lawal. Tinubu can be generous to a fault. I recall his long friendship with Sunday and Abiodun Adepoju two brothers from Eruwa. Abiodun is a reputable architect in the United States who was Tinubu’s good friend and confidant from his days in Chicago. He trusted them and would go to any length to do any favor for them.

Tinubu has all the qualities that a good leader must have. He could be a bit arrogant and aloof but he knows how to appease an enemy or a rival for any position he seeks. His casual rebuke of some traditional rulers in the Southwest is a statement he could later regret but he has already begun to make atonement for that error of judgment and he now has a chance to reconcile with those aggrieved rulers as the strong man of Yoruba and Nigerian politics who has now made the Yoruba Southwest a force to reckon with in the new APC Government of the Federation.

There is the good and bad part of Ahmed Tinubu. If the Yorubas compare his bad part to his good part, they would find, like I do, that Tinubu shares some of the fine attributes of Obafemi Awolowo minus his intellectual power and legal mind. He is not an empty barrel like some of his critics would have us believe. If he is able to work on some of his character flaws as a capitalist and as an Oliver twist who is always asking for more, the sky would be his limit, and he would do just fine.

I rest my case.  

You may also like

Read Next