I READ Sunday Dare’s article first before I read that of Femi Aribisala, in which the former’s piece was a response to the latter’s vituperations on what he hoped would be the impending political demise of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. I stumbled upon the response of the Special Adviser on Media to Tinubu on Premium Times during one of my earmarked times for browsing Nigeria-oriented internet news portals.

Femi Aribisala titled his piece “The Beginning of the End of the Bola Tinubu Dynasty.” For the surfers of Nigeria’s internet news portals, Aribisala is probably a known quantity who writes prolifically mostly on theological issues, being a theologian.

I used to apply the brakes during my surfing adventures to see if Aribisala had any interesting ‘wares’ on display when I get to his ‘station.’ Sometimes his interpretation of some aspects of the scripture could be thought-provoking, while most times you had no choice than to conclude he is a nutcase, which I had since concluded. His sometimes acidic, if not nauseating takes on issues of national importance are not different.

Aribisala’s piece on Asiwaju Tinubu not only stretched the ridiculous to the unimaginable, but he has managed to damage his reputation by presenting opinions, innuendoes and conjectures as facts. He missed the mark so badly. While freedom of expression including his unmitigated hatred of Asiwaju is among his inalienable rights, the same freedom of expression does not permit Aribisala to shout fire in a crowded movie theatre. This is why he needs to be called to order by right thinking and discerning minds.

It is important to situate the politics of Aribisala vis-à-vis his hatred of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on one hand and the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the other in order to understand the intended destination of his relentless vitriol on his subject of hate. Femi Aribisala, Ph.D. is unabashedly a President Goodluck Jonathan apologist. Making sure that the president secures another four years in 2015 is probably the most important endeavour of his life at this time.

In his many articles, he has described the Jonathan administration as “making giant strides” in all the indices of growth and development. He is yet to see anything about President Jonathan and his administration that he didn’t like, including those glaringly ridiculous things from the president that had been roundly condemned by the international community as highly reprehensible and outrightly despicable.

Therefore, one need not be a prophet or highly academically endowed to see through the vituperations of Aribisala. His strategy is very simple: relentlessly haul as many bricks, mortars and anything he can conjure up on Asiwaju in order to poison unsuspecting minds. So, while he describes President Jonathan administration in glowing terms, he must cast aspersions on Tinubu, the president’s most formidable nemesis in the southwest, if not the entire country. Asiwaju is like that Rock of Gibraltar that they’re yet to figure out how to shatter into pieces so that the country can continue to be plundered unhindered. He’s their enemy Number One and the main issue in the country’s neo-progressive politics that gives them sleepless nights.   While it is within his right to hate whomsoever he chooses, Aribisala definitely does not have the right, let alone the privilege to package falsehoods as facts without being challenged by discerning and objective minds. It’s particularly disappointing, if not mind-boggling that someone with the academic pedigree like Aribisala would ascribe quoted statements without giving his readers whence his source. But then the gown does not make the monk, so goes the saying. Academic certification does not always equal intelligence. It’s important here to treat Aribisala’spostulations in accordance with their subtitles to the objective minds in order to see which of them passes the stress test.

De-mystification of Tinubu: Aribisala’s assertion that Asiwaju’s influence in the southwest was checkmated by Mimiko because of the latter’s victory “in the 2012 governorship election in Ondo…[in which] the ACN candidate did not even come second…indicated that the Yorubas were getting fed up with Tinubu…” His reminder that Chief Reuben Fasoranti, in his congratulatory message to governor Mimiko in which he stated that “this victory, amongst other things, is victory over god-fatherism, a rejection of political imposition and slavery from outside the state” shows how disingenuous and pathetically clueless Aribisala can be in his rabid attempt to call the dog a bad name in order to hang it.  The fact of the matter is that Mimiko’s so-called victory was made possible by President Jonathan who created the enabling environment for systemic rigging to take place with his heavy deployment of the military and the police into the state for the purpose of the election. The ACN candidate was deliberately pushed into the third position through rigging to make it difficult for the party to challenge the election in court. Even if one is to concede to the argument that the then ACN was rejected at the poll because of what Aribisala and Chief Fasoranti believed was a “victory over god-fatherism…[and] political imposition and slavery from outside the state,” the people of Ondo State now wish they had voted for the candidate of that “godfather from outside the state.”

In case Aribisala does not know, Governor Mimiko is now the most hated governor in the state’s history by the people. I know this for a fact because I am from the state. The “electoral cooperation” entered into with Mimiko by Chief Fasoranti and his faction of Afenifere group could not have been for the betterment of the generality of the people of Ondo State but for the selfish, personal aggrandizement of the few individuals in the group. Otherwise they would have spoken out against the one-man government that Mimiko has been running since the beginning of his second term. But they could not because Chief Fasoranti and his Afenifere group are not leaders but elders whose socio-political antecedents are antithetical to other people of leadership attributes.

Ekiti Waterloo: It’s the height of irresponsibility for Aribisala to have even insinuated, let alone believe that APC’s loss in the Ekiti governorship election was because of Tinubu. His display of crass hatred with his ascription that “the people of Ekiti decided to send a loud and clear message to Tinubu[and that] they no longer want to have anything to do with him and with his party” was the most ignorant conjecture I have heard in recent time.

Aribisala must have just arrived from Mars not to have noticed those reasons adduced by credible opinion leaders and political experts as to why the Ekiti election turned out the way it did. In case he just came down from the outer space or chose to wallow in selective amnesia, what really influenced the outcome of the recently concluded Ekiti election can be condensed into two major divisions, which can be compartmentalized into macro and micro political components. The chief culprit in the former component was another unprecedented militarization by Aribisala’s ‘paymaster’ in Abuja of a democratic election, which made it patently an un-free and unfair election,ab initio, among other flagrant abuse of federal executive powers. This is a new form of election rigging by stealth that all lovers of democracy must rise up to condemn.

The micro component has to do with a people who seem to have been pathetically psychologically ‘wired’ for instant gratification in any-and-everything that affects their existence. To this groundswell of people, which probably predominate everywhere in the country, a future life of abundance and quality of life—which Governor Fayemi represents—is like having a cake in the sky. Who wants to wait for the future when they could very well be dead with the many life-threatening uncertainties that daily surrounds them, no thanks to Aribisala’s principal, President Jonathan who has been universally adjudged to be seriously inept. Tinubu was the farthest from the minds of the voters in that election. Aside from being in agreement with what has so far been written about the Ekiti election, I was a witness as an accredited member of the press during and even days after that election. That “Tinubu cost Fayemi the election” was the most diabolical hit below the belt I have heard in recent memory.

“Useless” Yoruba Obas

Aribisala’s other erroneous assertion that “Yorubas in general are now fed up with Bola Tinubu arrogance…[because of his] overbearing influence in Ekiti politics was one of the major issues of the campaign” is ludicrous in the least. That this “message was superbly championed by Fayose who presented himself as a man of the people, determined to stop the hemorrhage whereby Ekiti money was routinely shipped to Lagos to further Tinubu’s political ambitions” was even more asinine.

This statement should not even have been dignified with an answer. But Pray, where would Fayemi have found the money for all the infrastructures that dots the Ekiti landscape if the state’s money “was routinely shipped to Lagos….? If Fayose is truly the “man of the people,” would he have embarked on a poultry farm project, the largest financial scam in the history of the state in his first outing? This same line was used in the 2012 Mimiko governorship election against Tinubu, but the people of Ondo state now knows who is shipping the state’s money to God knows where.

Aribisala’s“useless” Yoruba Obas allegation is simply part of his psychological warfare on the minds of the unsuspecting. The goal here is to inflict as much damage as possible on how Tinubu is perceived in his southwest geo-political base. The truth remains that the Yorubas know who among their Obas are truly championing their collective interests and not their primordial economic interests. The truth is that the traditional rulers that can speak truth to power without thinking of the consequences are truly few and far between inYorubaland, as opposed to what obtained in the past. Aribisala should think back to the ‘phantom coup’ days of Abacha.

Lessons from Obasanjo

For Aribisala to have positioned both Obasanjo and Tinubu on the same trajectory towards the socio-economic and political renaissance of the Yoruba race is patently disingenuous and an attempt to blatantly turn history on its head. While Obasanjo pursued, and continues to pursue his personal ambitions at the expense of the collective interests of the Yoruba race, whatever ambitionsTinubu has are intricately intertwined with the collective aspirations of the Yorubas within their culture of progressive politics.

While Obasanjo would engage in alliance that would only advance his personal interests and would quickly collapse the same alliance when it no longer suit his personal purpose, Tinubu would build, and continues to build political alliance across the country that not only advances the long-term interests ofYorubas as a group but also the course of democracy in general, with little or no consideration for his personal interests. Examples of this abounds.

The socio-economic and political conditions of the Southwest are better imagined if history had not thrown up Asiwaju in the southwest to regain its place of pride in the Nigerian nation. The difference in performance is stark with Obasanjo as the captain in the political game in which the likes of Alao-Akala, Oyinlola and Fayose are players as opposed to Asiwaju being the captain in a game in which the likes of Fashola, Aregbesola, Fayemi, and Ajimobi are players.  It’s the height of political naiveté for Aribisala to think that the northerners or any lingo-cultural groups for that matter are less important, and therefore should be ignored in bringing the Nigerian project into fruition.

Failure of Success

Probably the only statement of fact in Aribisala’s piece was his admission that “the PDP rigged the 2003 elections masterfully and wrested back power from every ACN-controlled South-West state except Lagos.” Aribisala admitted further that even in Lagos where PDP did not win, the electoral umpire had proclaimed “a fictitious PDP victory on its website, before it was belatedly withdrawn with ignominy.” He also said that “the brilliant South-West answer to this PDP treachery was Bola Tinubu.” What Aribisala said in effect is that if Tinubu, with his dedicated neo-progressive political lieutenants had not stood up to the PDP behemoth then, only God knows what a wasteland the southwest would have become by now.

Tinubu really has nothing to learn from Obasanjo as suggested by Aribisala because the personal and political philosophies of the two political gladiators are mutually antagonistic. And if Tinubumust, it is how not to build a country and its machineries of power around a single personality as exemplified by Obasanjo. It is building bridges across the country’s nooks and crannies in order to free her from the very few holding her in the jugular for the benefit of the masses of people of Nigeria which has always been the preoccupation of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

Femi Odere is a media practitioner


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