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Pius Adesanmi, Goodluck Jonathan and Bola Tinubu Triangle By Ribisasi Ojetunde

We all agree that the PDP has messed up big time, but how does the APC plan to approach and do things differently?

“The man dies in him, who keeps silent in the face of tyranny.”
-        Wole Soyinka
“….those of us who heedlessly accept the commands of authority cannot yet claim to be civilized men.”
― Harold J. Laski

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One has just finished reading the piece by Professor Pius Adesanmi entitled "What Does Goodluck Jonathan want for the Southwest?"  Reading through the contents of that article, One could not resist writing this amplifier of an article. What he discussed in the article are things that have been discussed in hushed tones in the Southwest, especially about Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and which a lot of politicians are afraid to talk about openly. But one thing is certain, the truth could not be chained. It would always find a way to be free and get to the people. “Bi iro ba lo ni ogun odun, otito yio ba.”

One had read somewhere in the last couple of weeks that the Yoruba would not follow any leader to Golgotha if such leader was pursuing inordinate ambition at the expense of the good of all. One’s hope is that the leaders of All Progressives Congress (APC) and especially Asiwaju  Bola Tinubu would take such advice very seriously, show a lot of care and thoughtfulness about the kind of leadership they are providing not just for Nigerians, but most importantly for the people of the Southwest. “Pasa o fura, pasa ja s’ina, aja o fura, aja jin, onile tio fura, ole ni yio koo lo.”

Thus, while one was reading Professor Adesanmi’s piece referenced above, one could not but feel satiated and respond with this amplifier. This amplifier is very necessary because like our fathers in Yoruba land often contend, “Korokoro laa ran Ifa aditi.”  It is very important that the APC leaders get together and bring forth to bear on their decisions, lessons of History and the anthropological idiosyncrasies of the Yoruba people. Failure to do so would sound the death knell of that political party in Yorubaland. This is very important because “Omo ti obi ba feran ni obi nbaa wi.”

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President Goodluck Jonathan is a man that had a lot of sympathy from the cross section of Nigerians. Majority had rooted for him all through and through especially from the South and the Middlebelt. Majority had hoped that with him in the saddle, some of the historical wrongs inflicted on the South and the Middlebelt of Nigeria would be corrected. Majority had hoped that he would bring forth a New Day in Nigeria – rule of law, sense of belonging to all, equity, and serious governance thus setting Nigeria on the path to greatness - but a lot of people have been proved wrong.

One remembers how every fair-minded Nigerian rooted for him during the illness of President Musa Yar’Adua, insisting that if Nigeria belonged to all of us, he had to be sworn in as President. Throughout the episode, he was calm, cool and collected. He showed control under stressful condition. His election that followed excited a lot of Nigerians. But the goodwill, hopes and aspirations embedded in those times have become forlorn. There is war, increased insecurity, poverty and want in the land. President Jonathan has proved to be a more dexterous dealer in power than those who facilitated his ascension to the Presidency. As pointed out by Professor Adesanmi, the way and manner Henry Seriake Dickson was installed as the Governor of Bayelsa State was blatantly disrespectful of process. It was imperial, ruthless, mean spirited and contemptuous of decency, popular will and democracy.

In Rivers State, the case is a little worse. It was and still is all out war. One Joseph Mbu, reportedly a Police Commissioner(?) was empowered to flout the law and encourage brigandage in support of the loyalists of the presidency. There was no restraint whatsoever and the interest as well as the desire of the people of the State did not matter. What was most important was the determination of the Presidency to oust Rotimi Amaechi and install through the back door, an alleged cousin of the First Lady.

Given this trajectory, it is being suspected that President Jonathan was planning to apply this curious and heinous methodology to install his favoured candidates in Ekiti and Osun States in the coming gubernatorial elections taking place in June and August of this year respectively. Though our fathers would contend that “Aja ti yio sonu kii gbo fere olode,”  one is however hoping that President Jonathan would not tread this path. One hopes that he would allow a free and fair election. One hopes that he would allow the citizens of these two states to elect whom they want. One hopes that he would not set off another crisis to accelerate the demise of Nigeria. “Eni a wi fun, Oba je o gbo.”

As to the attitude of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, One is confounded that he seemed not to have full understanding of the political sagacity of the Yoruba people. One is astounded that with all the professors surrounding him, he does not understand the basic anthropological peculiarities of his Yoruba people. One is dumbfounded that he does not understand that there is a thin line between love and hate, heroism and villainy as well as adoration and detestation. This is because “Eyin ti aja fi nba omo re s’ere ni o fi nge omo re je.”  He seemed incapable of realizing that in Yoruba land, the followers have always and would continue to determine the fate of their leader(s), depending the way such leader is perceived and assessed. “Enu ti Aye fi npe Adegun naa ni Aye fi npe Adeogun.”  One doesn’t have the full knowledge of those advising him, but obviously, he is not getting the right advice.

As Professor Adesanmi queried in the article, how much price will the Yoruba people have to pay for their liberation championed by Asiwaju Tinubu from the stranglehold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) engineered by Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo- Onyejekwe? How much price? Must the Yoruba Nation be sold to the highest bidder just for the sake of showing gratitude? Must the 1,500 years of History be thrown to the curb for the sake of showing gratitude? Must the freewill of our people underscored in the philosophy of “Omode gbon, agba gbon ni a fi da Ile-Ife”  be jettisoned in the bid to be grateful to someone? Must a distinguished culture with instituted mechanisms to hold absolute kings accountable be discarded in the name of being grateful to someone? How much price must the Yoruba Nation pay or continue to pay in the name of gratitude to Asiwaju Tinubu and his disciples? After all, “Ti a ba fi agbo fun eegun, ao fi okun re s’ile.”

Professor Adesanmi who isolated a “pernicious social engineering at work presently in the region” expressed his shock that a “supposedly educated people”  would argue for the “surrender of their civic citizenship, the surrender of their independent peoplehood, the surrender of their very essence as sentient human beings, to the judgment, will, and desire of a single individual…” Even in the days of Oduduwa, who was a conquering warrior, politics was not played like that. In the days of his modern replica, Obafemi Awolowo, politics was not played like that. To these two great avatars, Asiwaju Tinubu does not even come close. So what is going on in the Southwest?

There is no way anyone could take away the brilliance of Tinubu in the way and manner he disposed the PDP across the Southwest. It was a good deed that History would record against his name. But having done that, his recent antics seemed like those efforts were not made in the larger interest of the people of Yoruba land? It appeared that those battles were fought to establish a personal socio-political and economic fiefdom? “Bi ale yio ti ri, owuro ni a o ti mo.” The way and manner he has gone about making his wife a Senator alienated a lot of Lagosians. He did it with flagrant disregard for democratic principles and without consideration of and for his followers. But as is often the custom in Yoruba land, we believe that “Eni t’o ba se ni idi pepe, o ye k’o je ni idi pepe.”  In addition to that, deference to a leader is not always out of place. But since Tinubu got away with that without any consequence, he became emboldened and imposed more of his extended family members on the party and people in Lagos state. He has been doing that across the Southwest and it is generating a lot of discontent. “Enikan kii je awa de,” is the way the aphorism goes.

He imposed Babatunde Fashola on Lagos. He imposed a lot of other candidates without recourse to democratic process. As we all kmow, “Igi kan ko lee da tgbo se”, hence this attitude almost created unbridled crisis during the months leading to Fashola’s re-election for second term. It was this same attitude that cost the APC or ACN victory in Ondo State. It was this same attitude that caused the face-off between Tinubu and Senator Ali Sherif. It is this same attitude that is creating tremor in the Southwest APC. The Opeyemi Bamidele saga referred to by Professor Adesanmi is very pertinent here. It is this same attitude that is threatening to destroy the APC’s coalition across the country. “A f’emi, a f’emi ni oba akoko so t’o fi te. Beeni a f’Olorun, a f’eniyan; a f’eniyan, a f’Olorun Oba.”

Among other things, Asiwaju Tinubu seemed very insensitive to the religious sentiments of the country right now. Femi Fani-Kayode, Remi Oyeyemi and quite a few others have written about this. He and his fellow leaders in APC seemed to bank on President Jonathan’s unpopularity to sweep them to power regardless of how careless they are in managing the sentiments, hopes, and aspirations of Nigerians they seek to govern. It is not enough to count on the inanities of the PDP as a guarantee of your victory at the polls. If this is what they are banking upon, they might be greatly mistaken come 2015, if Nigeria ever gets there.

Also, the courting of those who destroyed Nigeria by the leadership of the APC is an embarrassment, to say the least. What message is that supposed to send to Nigerians hoping that the APC represents a turn around? Our fathers advised, “Bi omode ba subu, a wo iwaju, bi agbalagba ba subu, a wo eyin.”  What is the use of an Ibrahim Babangida the self-acclaimed “evil genius?” Of what use is this toxic man whose antics and machinations have driven this country to this precipice? Of what electoral and moral value is Abubakar Abdulsalaam to the future and transformation of Nigeria? What is the motive behind the courting of an Olusegun Obasanjo-Onyejekwe? Was this not the same man that destroyed the political sanity in the Southwest which Asiwaju Tinubu had to fight against and for which he (Tinubu) is extracting limitless gratitude from the Yoruba Nation? Haba! “Ire d’odi, Esuo padi da, o nle Aja.”

Or is this a case of power at all costs? Is this a manifestation of lack of scruples, etiquette and principle? Is this not a sign that Nigeria is going to get more of the same? Is there not a baseline for the leadership of the APC to give us a semblance of integrity and dignity in the change we are seeking? We all agree that the PDP has messed up big time, but how does the APC plan to approach and do things differently? Yes, we are not looking for angels as leaders, but this does not mean that we have to contend with the lowest denominator in our quest for change. “Oun t’o ye ni, l’o ye ni, okun orun ko ye adiye.”

The fact that Asiwaju Tinubu is allegedly angling to be the Vice President on a ticket led by any Hausa-Fulani candidate also portends a lot of dangers. The ambition, in itself, is very legitimate. But given the history of Nigeria, such arrangement foreshadows a significant nightmare for the country in general and the Yoruba Nation in particular. There has to be other ways to realize his ambition other than through this arrangement.  A Hausa-Fulani presidency for Nigeria right now would be very calamitous. The signs are very ominous. The times are troubling. This kind of time calls for selfless leadership. It calls for a leadership that does not extract a price from the followership for its services. It calls for a leadership that is not cocooned in its own comfort but one that is openly gladiatorial on the pedestal defined by the interest of its followership. These times call for a leadership that is more concerned about the future and the next generation and not the type that is addicted to the immediate gratification of its economic compulsion or the sustenance of an inevitably doomed fiefdom. “Ile ti a ba fi ito mo, iri ni yio wo.”

For every genre of leadership, there is always a synchronized coterie of sycophants. Their livelihood often depends on how much they could sweet talk the leader and able to convince him that they are loyal to him. They posit themselves in a manner to make the leader see them as the keepers of his (leader’s) interest. They often shield him from the realities subsisting in the real world. Such sycophants are often very tenaciously delusional. They incorrigibly revel in the contagious appurtenances of power. They are incredibly tireless and persevering. At the end, they are always very effective in successfully destroying such leader or leadership.

It takes great talent, vision, determination and selflessness for any leader to be able to overcome this kind of destructive cosset of sycophancy. This is the greatest challenge that Asiwaju Tinubu has to contend with in his career in the coming months. His failure to successfully contend with this would turn him into a solomonic tragedy. He needs to beware of those peddling “the perversion of ….. humanity, the perversion of civics,” as Professor Adesanmi called it. Asiwaju Tinubu has to know that “the sub-human slaves reasoning along these lines in the southwest do not realize that no human being deserves the custody” of the rights of others to express their “free, democratic will and choices.”

If AsiwajuTinubu has not studied history, he has a lot of professors around him who could avail him of alternative methodology. This is where “Aroba”  appropriates greater meaning and importance than “Itan”  in Yoruba parlance. Even, Obafemi Awolowo held the ability of the people to freely express their desire via democratic choices as sacrosanct. He always contested his Remo constituency seat during every election and had to campaign vigorously to hold on to that seat. Anyone familiar with the local Remo conventional and traditional politics in that era would recognize how powerful Obafemi Awolowo was. He could have had his way and muzzled others to do his will. He had the clout and the means to accomplish that. But he never did and always submitted himself (and insisted on fellow leaders doing the same) to elections to legitimize their leadership amongst the people.

This was why it was easy for Awo’s words to be taken seriously across and beyond Yoruba land. This was why people had absolute and unflinching faith in him. This was why he was effective as a leader. This is why Awo lasted beyond his physical life and is still streaming across time as an idea. A leader could exercise influence among his people, but no leader has the right to circumscribe the free democratic will of his people. I recommend a book by Insa Nolte to Asiwaju Tinubu and his handlers. It is titled “OBAFEMI AWOLOWO AND THE MAKING OF REMO: The Local Politics of a Nigerian Nationalist.”

It seems that Asiwaju Tinubu has no capability to get to the next level in his leadership quest? It appears that he is being pulled back by his inability to moderate his ambition? Or is it possible that other pecuniary interests are deemed more important than the future of his people or Nigeria for that matter? Time, the great vindicator, would tell. But what one is confident of is that the Yoruba people would not give up the interest and the well being of their Nation for the ambition of anyone. Regardless of the excuses, sensible or senseless, no person or group of persons would continue to extract from the Yoruba Nation limitless price that puts at risk their freedom and fortunes as well as their survival.

Our gratitude should not graduate to gratuitous political glaucoma. Our gratitude should not also elicit from Asiwaju Tinubu and his crowd, a preposterous condescension and blatant circumscription of democratic freewill in Yoruba land. Though, despite its shortcomings, APC is still much more preferred to the PDP across the landscape, but there has to be internal democracy. People must have freedom of choice and must have the right to vote out any unwanted leader. No person, group of persons or any political clique has the right to extract or continue to extract undue gratifications from the Yoruba Nation for whatever he believes he or his group is owed by imposing unwanted and unpopular candidates on the party members and the electorate. And to the apostles and disciples of this heinous political philosophy, I recommend to them the instructive words of Professor Adesanmi as follows:

“The moment you surrender these fundamental freedoms to anybody because of the misguided belief that you owe them, you are no longer human. You are a sub-human slave. You owe nothing to he who liberated you from the PDP. He owes you everything, starting with gratitude to you, the people of the southwest, for granting him the privilege, the opportunity, and the honour of serving you at that particular moment in your history. To those of you who are currently surrendering your humanity to the ongoing perversion in the name of gratitude, I say: go and relearn how to be human.”
No one could have put it better. And a word, as they say, must suffice for the wise.

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