By Tunde Odesola
Like an arrow shot from the bowel of hell, a silver-color car zoomed past, vroom!!! A merchant of death was behind the wheel. Like a lion on the heels of its prey, about 10 police vehicles followed in close hunt. It was the American law in pursuit of justice. There was no accidental discharge. No hysteria. No shrieking roadside hawkers.
The interconnectivity between life and death is as fleeting as the blink of an eye. Life is the mysterious metaphor that carries honey in its right hand; bile in its left. Last week, these realities unfurled swiftly before my very eyes. May we not encounter maggot in salt.
I was on an official trip with a female black American colleague, Kaila, in the driver’s seat. American roads are safe and pleasurable. No potholes, no checkpoints, no robbery fears. All you need to drive anywhere in America are just your driver’s license and your car insurance. Nothing more. In my fatherland, Nigeria, the list of vehicle ‘partikolas’ required from drivers is determined by the ingenious gluttony exhibited by principalities at checkpoints.
Kaila and I were at a traffic light in Athens, en route to Huntsville, both in Alabama, when she suddenly froze, looked into the driver’s sideview mirror and frowned. I was about to ask if anything was the matter when the fleeing silver-colour car blasted past her side. It didn’t pause at the traffic light. But the hounding police vehicles paused for a second. The chase was macabre. Life stared death in the eye. May we not travel on the day the road roars for blood.
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“He’s stupid. He can’t get away. Maybe he’s got substance on him. They’ll spike him,” Kaila said, as she excitedly followed the trail of the hunters and the hunted when the traffic light turned green. She was almost jumping in her seat. “He’s gonna take the interstate highway! Let’s take the interstate highway! I wanna see the end of this,” Kaila said.
Police. Spike. Intercity highway. I looked at Kaila but my thoughts
went to Nigeria. “It’s ok, you take the intercity highway,” I said. The intercity highway lies along our route. American intracity and intercity roads are an intricate web of superb connectivity that always leave you with optional routes unlike the sorrowful road to paralysis called the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. “Why would the fleeing driver take the highway?” I asked. “Because there ain’t traffic lights on the highway,” came the response.
So, we got off the intra-city road onto the intercity highway, looking to see who would triumph between the law and the lawless. After a short drive, we saw a firefighter truck ahead of us. “Hey, here we go! We’re on the trail!” Kaila said in her deep voice. “How did you know,” I asked. “The firefighter truck!” she said, pointing.
Ha! Bros, when you’re JJC, you’re JJC! Baba Igbajo is a JJC in America, I chuckled to myself.
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In about a minute or two, we saw far ahead, at the right side of the highway, a stationary line including an ambulance and about a dozen police cars – all blazing blue lights. The firefighter truck pulled behind the long line of police cars. The cops have spiked the fleeing car. We could see the screeching imprints of the tyres on the road after the tyres were deflated (spiked) and the car skidded into the roadside prairie. The airbags in the car had deployed. I saw a policewoman steadying a lady emerging from the front passenger seat to her feet. There was no traffic snarl as motorists slowly plied the other lanes on the highway. Everything looked so routine. Life went on.
The suspects were neither threatened nor beaten. They were not paraded before the press. There was no need for press cameras as all police officers wear body cameras while their vehicles also brim with cameras. The Head of the American Police is largely unknown to the public but his efficiency is seen in the security of American lives and property. He’s unlike Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police who daily struggles to show himself to the President as working, ordering that virtually every arrest made by the police be credited to his needless unit called IGP Intelligent Response Team. In a responsible society, every unit of the police must be efficient.
While on the trail, I heard Kaila on the phone urging her mom to be careful if she was plying the highway route. After we got past the scene, she informed me the driver struggled with the cops. “How did you know,” I ask. “It’s in the news,” she answered. “Who told you?,” I inquired. “My mom,” she said.
Ha! American police! My mind pranked me with the type of statement that would’ve been issued by the Nigerian police in this type of situation: “The Commissioner of Police, Egunje State, has warned criminals to flee the state. The tough-talking commissioner stated this after the smashing of an organised family syndicate that specialised in orchestrated intercity banditry and cross-country terrorism…”
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The rot in the Nigerian system didn’t start with the incumbent IGP, Mohammed Adamu, neither did it start with the second nor the third coming of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Buhari noticed the rot in his first coming in 1983 when he identified corruption as the bane of the country’s development.
Erudite journalist, Dele Giwa, also did. In an article, “Blast from the past: Nobody cares,” published in Newswatch on January 27, 1986, Giwa analysed the unending messiahnic excuses proffered by Nigeria’s leaders for assuming power. Particularly, Giwa examined the respective incursionary roles of Buhari and General Ibrahim Babangida into Nigeria’s power matrix, and he returned with a verdict: Nigerians ‘have been shocked to the state of unshockability’. Giwa wrote, “Nigerian is perhaps the only country in the world where corruption has lost the power to shock.”
Giwa was right. The unholy sums of money stashed in secret accounts abroad by the late thief, Sani Abacha, don’t shock Nigerians, neither did the missing $12bn oil windfall under Babangida. Since Olusegun Obasanjo emerged president in the Fourth Republic, politicians have become richer than the Nigerian state. The anti-corruption ship of Buhari long capsized at the roguish epitaph of Abacha, his benefactor, whose family, Buhari has left to continue to collect millions of naira monthly as emoluments accruable to past Nigerian leaders and their families. If Buhari was sincere with his anti-corruption noise, he would’ve renamed the public institutions bearing Abacha’s stinking name.
When Nigerians voted for Buhari in 2015 as civilian president, they didn’t forget how he, as military Head-of-State, anointed Shehu Shagari’s head with oil via a house arrest but crowned Alex Ekwueme and other southern political leaders with thorns, throwing them behind bars in 1984. Nigerians thought Buhari was born again.
Long before 2015 when Buhari assumed power as president, the power of digital media had opened the eyes of more Nigerians to decent living in a globalised world. More Nigerians have come to know that it’s possible, in an honourable country, to buy a 2020 model of a car of your choice – like the fleeing American, and pay in instalments even when you’re on the lowest rung of the societal ladder. More Nigerians are now aware that in a desirable country, you don’t need to belong to any party or know any ‘oga’ at the top to own a house even if you rank among the least earning workers.
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Nigerians want security. They want jobs, good roads, good schools, hospitals, housing and electricity, not the loud failure Buhari is flaunting with arrogant silence. Nigerians wish their children could get COVID-19 palliatives like American kids who get food supplies twice daily at home despite not attending school. Nigerians wish Buhari had not been left behind at the train station since 1985.
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, writer, and a columnist with the Punch newspaper
OPINION: Ekweremadu On The Cross
Babatunde Raji Fashola, God bless him. When you watch American presidents, past and present, and hear how inspirational words drip with honey from their mouths, you wonder why inspiration is almost non-existent among Nigerian leaders just as black is non-existent among rainbow’s seven colours.
In an article, “Fashola’s eureka moment at Lekki toll gate,” I criticised Fashola, the incumbent Minister of Works and Housing, when he miraculously discovered a hid-in camcorder, James Bond-like, at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, days after the ever inept regime of retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari ordered assassins to kill protesting innocent youths on October 20, 2020.
When in November 2020 Fashola told Nigerians to direct their demand for infrastructural development to state and local governments, and not Buhari, because both governments are closer to the masses, I responded with an article entitled, “Fashola dresses Buhari in borrowed robes.” I also wrote “Fashola and the angels” when Fashola said in November 2019 that Nigerian roads were not as bad as Nigerians portrayed them.
Since 1999 till date, however, no Nigerian politician, living or dead, has uttered a statement as profound as what Fashola said when cornered at the nation’s capitol in Abuja by congressmen who were desperate to set him against his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, while fielding questions in 2015 during a ministerial nomination screening.
Asked to comment on his taut relationship with Tinubu at the time, Fashola responded, “May our loyalties never be tested.” He continued, “In the course of my work, there was a family that had a parent who had a kidney malfunction, and (the) diagnosis was that the patient needed a transplant, and needed to go overseas. We had a procedure in government where we help indigent people who apply to get a board review and get overseas treatment.
“When we had paid and they were to go, the question was who was going to be the donor? It turned out that the only matching kidneys were those of her two daughters, and none of them was willing to give a kidney for their mother, but that was their supreme test of loyalty.
“So, I alway pray that my loyalty will not be tested because you do not know, you may have to take a bullet for somebody or even your own child.”
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OPINION: Tinubu’s Karma And Osinbajo’s Ingratitude (2)
Life is, indeed, a rollercoaster of twists and turns. From an enviable life lived on horses, hailed with trumpets and entertained by cymbals, the tide of life suddenly changed for serving senator and immediate past Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who found himself on the back of a furious tiger in faraway UK last week. In Igbo language, ‘Ike’ means power. Surely, the embattled senator needs all the power to save himself and wife, Beatrice, from ending in the belly of the tiger.
A test came the way of the Enugu-West legislator and his wife when their daughter, Sonia, was diagnosed with renal malfunction last year, triggering a search for a donor.
Last December, what a relieved father and a happy mother thought was an answer to their prayer appeared in the person of Ukpo Nwamini David, a homeless young lad, who lived on the streets of Lagos, and a UK visa was procured for the prospective kidney donor, en route to Royal Free Hospital in the UK, where the transplantation was scheduled.
The tale ostensibly developed a twist after David landed in London and the medical test performed on him to know if his kidney matches Sonia’s came out negative, thus an onward journey back to Nigeria loomed. When the doctor inquired about his age, David said 15, despite his passport saying he’s 21. This prompted the invitation of the police whom David told he was brought into the UK for organ harvest.
But does the Nigerian David look as young as his teenage Israelite namesake who killed Goliath? I’ll say no.
Ekweremadu means: “Human beings are unreliable.” What a name! Some claims by the two parties – the young boy and the Ekweremadus – appear unreliable for now, hence the police have remanded Beatrice and Ike in prison pending investigation outcome.
The 60-year-old lawmaker was arrested alongside his wife at the Heathrow Airport on their way to Istanbul, where they were purportedly going to continue their search for another kidney. A cash of $20,000 was allegedly found on Ekweremadu, who has denied the allegations of organ harvesting and exploitation, just like his wife. Both husband and wife were represented by separate British lawyers.
Investigation by yours truly shows that the cost of setting up a kidney dialysis centre in Nigeria is a mere N25m, an amount which isn’t up to the sum being spent by the Ekweremadus to perform kidney transplantation on Sonia.
A Nigeria-based consultant physician and nephrologist, Babajide Gbadegesin, described Nigeria’s healthcare system as primitive, stressing that the system had yet to reach the underdeveloped stage, not to talk of reaching the developing or developed state. He noted that subsequent Nigerian governments had engaged in medical tourism instead of developing the sector.
Gbadegesin said, “Our healthcare system is so primitive that it has remained at the neophyte stage. Sadly, there’s a global upsurge in diabetes and this has led to a consequent upsurge in the incidence of diabetes-related kidney failures in Nigeria.
“Dialysis and renal transplantation are well known medical treatments for patients with renal failure.The three major types of renal replacement therapy are haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and renal transplantation, which is the gold standard.
“To set up a dialysis centre with just one machine will cost about N25m. This will include the cost of the machine which is between N12m and N15m, land, building, a water treatment unit, good water storage system, catheters, and other consumables.”
Explaining that transplantation was the most preferred option of the three kidney treatments, Gbadegesin said it offered patients good quality of life and is not as time and money consuming as haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis in the long run.
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“Dialysis costs up to N40,000 per session, and you do this thrice a week. That is N120,000 weekly. Some centres take N50,000 or N60,000 per session,” said the physician, warning that there was a strong link between the use of bleaching creams, toning injections, toning pills, consumption of herbal concoctions, herbal aphrodisiacs and renal malfunction.
Shedding light on the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 by which the Ekweremadus are being tried, Gbadegesin said, “The UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 frowns on inducement of any form. You can only be in the UK to donate organs to a family member whom you’re genetically related to or to someone you have close personal relationship with. This means that only your siblings, husband, wife, partners, friends can donate organs. And it must be established that there’s no inducement.
“There’s nothing like buying a kidney in the open market in developed countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany etc. When a citizen or legal resident needs a kidney transplantation, it’s the government – through the National Health Insurance Scheme – that’ll get a kidney from the national bank for the patient – if the patient demands it or can’t personally get a donor. Many people in those countries donate their organs to the national organ bank at death.”
When coronavirus commenced mass killing of the rich and poor between 2019 and 2021, a sensible leadership would have embarked on overhauling Nigeria’s health sector. Instead, the Buhari leadership embarked on pervasive corruption and N100m presidential nomination forms.
To go home free, the Ekweremadus must answer these questions without canting: Did they inform the parent(s) or guardian(s) of David before flying him to London? How did David come to agree to donate his kidney without the promise of a reward? What’s the source of the money in David’s account? If the Ekweremadus answered these questions successfully, they would have proved that David was just a Good Samaritan that strayed into Nigeria. If not, the maximum penalty for contravening MSA 2015 is life imprisonment.
May our loyalties never be tested.
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, columnist with The PUNCH newspaper and a guest writer at Info Daily.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
OPINION: Nigeria’s Democracy On Life Support
In chapter one of their 2018 book, “How Democracies Die”, Steven Levistsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors of Political Science, Harvard University, USA, gave an anecdote of how elected leaders can subvert democracy and increase personal power. The book, which is described as “comparative politics”, narrates how people, all over the world, give out their liberties to tyrants, who disguise themselves as democrats and helpers. The tale, which opens the chapter titled, “Fateful Alliances”, is adapted from an Aesop’s Fable tagged: “The Horse, the Stag and the Hunter”. It goes thus: “A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.” The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back.” “Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present”. This is exactly what Nigerians did in 2015, when they sold the PDP monkey because it had an uncanny penchant for squatting too much and used the proceeds to buy the APC dog, which has turned out to be the greatest squatter of all animals. 2023 is around the corner and we are asking the APC to get its cancers off our already bedraggled body. The response from the ‘ruining’ party is what the Hunter told the Stag.
When a diviner tells his client what the oracle reveals about his (client’s) future and the predictions come to pass almost immediately, he beats his chest and says : “a iti ko Ifa nile, Ifa nse” (we have not even packed the divination objects and the prophecies are being fulfilled). A week ago on this page, in a piece titled, “The No-Choice Before Nigerians”, an analysis of the two leading presidential candidates for the 2023 general election, I wrote inter alia: “In the long run, whoever becomes the president between the two candidates will be the one who can outspend the other; and not the one who is more competent, patriotic or loves the masses”. Exactly five days after the piece was published (June 14, 2022), Ekiti State had its governorship election. In the history of political perfidy in Nigeria, never has the nation witnessed the brazen display of vote buying that characterised the June 18, 2022 Ekiti guber election. At the end of the charade, the ruling APC candidate in the election was declared winner with 187, 057 votes, beating the new party, SDP, to a distant second position with 82,211 votes and the self-destroyed PDP to an embarrassing third position with 67,457 votes. What played out in Ekiti is not a case of the most popular candidate or party winning the election but a case of the “richest” candidate or party succeeding in buying the voters. The beauty of it all is that no one among the three leading political parties or their candidates and supporters can swear that they did not offer money for votes while the election lasted.
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What happened in Ekiti is a new dimension in our democratic journey as a nation. The event is therefore not only sad for Ekiti people, who hitherto, were regarded as men and women of honour, but for Nigerians in general. Morning, they say, shows the night. Another round of guber election will happen in Osun State in a few weeks’ time. Nobody needs a seer to reveal what should be expected. And without looking at the crystal ball, one can easily predict, off hand, that the 2023 general election will be worse than anything we have hitherto seen. This trend is more troubling given the fact that the bad behaviour is assuming a monstrous dimension under the APC, a party which Nigerians invested their goodwill on in 2015 with the hope that it would bring about decency and hope as opposed to the political roguery the PDP foisted on the nation while in power. The reality confronting all of us now is that the APC-led government of General Muhammadu Buhari has suffocated the very sick baby we asked it to nurse back to health. How unfortunate! But the APC leadership is not to be blamed, totally, for the very mess we find ourselves in today.
No, APC did not start the idea of vote buying. As a matter of fact, vote buying is not a native of Nigeria. In yet another seminar book, the American author and lawyer, Mark Joseph Green, in “Losing Our Democracy: How Bush, the Far Right and Big Business Are Betraying Americans” (2006), on page 21 writes: “The evidence that money shouts in politics is mountainous: 94 percent of the time, the bigger-spending congregational candidate wins and 98 percent of House incumbents win. The average price of a House seat rose ten-fold from $87,000 in 1976 to $840,000 in 2000. Spending in the last New York and Pennsylvania gubernatorial elections, for example, tripled within one election cycle. It cost Ken Livingstone 80 cents a vote to win the London mayoralty in 2001, compared with Michael Bloomberg’s $100 a vote in New York City that year”. Green, in this analysis sub-titled: “The Evil of Access: Money and Members”, compared what Democratic and the Republican parties do with voters’ conscience on election days. He posits that “money primarily weeds out good candidates”, and that “as more and more multimillionaires run and win…the pressure to hustle special-interest money becomes even more intense”. In all the postulations by Green and the two earlier quoted authors, the American democratic values diminished a great deal when characters like George Bush and Donald Trump were allowed to access power. Levistsky and Ziblatt, after analysing how coups d’état have accounted for nearly three out of every four democratic breakdowns, submit that “Democracies may die at the hands not of generals but of elected leaders- presidents or prime ministers- who subvert the very process that brought them to power. Some of these leaders dismantle democracies quickly as Hitler did in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire in Germany…”.
Could all the three authors have had Buhari’s APC and its corrosive democratic tendencies in mind when they wrote the books above? Which of the vices the PDP was accused of perpetrating before it was shipped out of power has the APC not taken to a more brazen level today? When the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua won the 2007 election, he admitted publicly that the election was marred by many irregularities and immediately began the process of reforming the nation’s electoral process to forestall a repeat of such irregularities. At his passing, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who took over from him, dusted the books and reformed the electoral process such that in 2015, he lost the presidential election to the incumbent General Buhari. Hardly had the opposition APC took over power, it introduced a new lexicon to our political lexicography by declaring, glaringly won elections inconclusive in Kogi, Osun, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau, and Sokoto states at different times. The shameless attitude is such that anywhere where the APC appears to be losing grounds, the election will be declared inconclusive such that at the isolated elections held to “conclude” the polls, its candidates must win. That perfidy has now been perfected and modified to outright purchase of voters and their ballots. Whatever the PDP thought to be its “winning strategy” has now been taken to the next level by the seemingly redeeming APC and the people are worse for it.
For the first time in my life, I felt ashamed to be an Ekiti man after the last Saturday election. I have since made countless calls to relations, friends and some community leaders to find out what happened and how the honour we used to treasure in Ekiti took sudden flight on Saturday. Of all the responses, the one that keeps ringing in my ears is the folksong by an elderly fellow. In response to my question on how our people did not consider the future of their children before collecting money to vote, the elderly fellow sang: “E si umole bi ebi, ebi yoo paniyan ku o” (meaning: there is no deity like hunger, hunger kills a person). In summary, when people are hungry, they do despicable things. If indeed Ekiti people are that hungry such that they would collect as low as N10,000, and in some cases, N3,000 and even N500 to sell their votes to the various political parties, did they ask what brought about the hunger? If a government is accused of impoverishing the masses and the same government puts forward a candidate and backs him up with cash and the people go ahead to sell their votes, who is to blame? That should make an average rational mind to be worried. If Ekiti people with their claims to education, integrity and honour could be so cheap on election day, what happens to the Almajiri population of Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Adamawa and other northern states? What does the Ekiti election portend for the 2023 general elections? What lessons are the candidates for next year’s elections taking home from what happened in Ekiti? If a gubernatorial vote sold for N10, 000 in downtown Ekiti in 2022, how much is the presidential vote going to cost in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Kano, Ilorin, Ibadan, Owerri, Aba and Umuahia in 2023? And you may wish to ask: where is this humongous war chest coming from?
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The above scenario has far reaching implications for our democracy. Men of honour without money will stay away from our ballots! What happened in Ekiti on Saturday and what will surely happen in Osun State in the next few weeks will ensure that at the end of the day, our democracy will be on oxygen till the 2023 general election when it will suffer an irredeemable cardiac arrest which will eventually hand its cadaver to future generations for scientific studies on how not to run a democracy. Democracy dies when talented people and those with natural administrative ingenuity stop contesting elections because they don’t have the financial wherewithal to compete with moneybags who own mountains of ill-gotten wealth to buy votes. The ‘ruining’ elites are sustaining the poverty conundrum against the citizenry so that they will not be self-sufficient enough to resist the pittances offered them on election days in exchange for what could have been a viable future for them and their innocent offspring who would have nothing to inherit other than their progenitors’ poverty. What the current plague of locusts who call themselves our political leaders have told the masses through massive vote buying is that it is not wrong for their cats to eat pregnant rats. Nothing kills democracy more than that!
Suyi Ayodele is the a senior journalist, South-South/South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the same newspaper.
OPINION: Tinubu’s Karma And Osinbajo’s Ingratitude (2)
Until a combination of punches breaks the jaw and smashes the face into a massive mess, the fleet-footed boxer shuffles on confidence and charisma.
Like the hyped June 27, 1988 heavyweight superfight in which Iron Mike Tyson demolished Michael Spinks in just 91 seconds, the hyped June 7, 2022 All Progressives Congress presidential primary in Abuja, similarly ended in a humiliating defeat for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Before I proceed any further, I must apologise to my readers for not concluding this two-part article last Monday due to unforeseen circumstances. Gladly, the one-week hiatus has provided me with the opportunity to view the APC delegate primary election through a multidimensional prism of insight, foresight and hindsight.
Armed with the benefit of hindsight, saddened by the failed outcome of the presidential primary, and faced with a gloomy political future, I’m almost certain the vice president would today wish for three things: to turn back the hands of time, remain unblemished and not to have contested against Tinubu.
Uncle Yemi lulé
At the end of hostilities, Osinbajo, despite an eloquent political speech and the trademark Awo cap on his silvern head, scored a scanty 235 votes against the staggering 1, 271 votes polled by his former boss and godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whose symbolic cap, since 1999, bears broken chains signifying freedom whereas governance in Lagos, nay Nigeria remains perpetually shackled with unbroken chains.
Shockingly, the erudite vice president also fell face-down yakata at the feet of a former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, who got 316 votes just as Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, got 152 votes, trailing Osinbajo with 83 votes.
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Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, says Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Verily, the APC presidential primary has come and gone, but long-lasting scars, suspicion and regrets persist.
Shortly after the vice president contested and crashed at the primary, Dolapo, his wife, tried to assuage the pain of defeat in an Instagram post to her husband, calling him, “Oluyemi, Oluleke, Omoluabi, Omo oko, Oninu re, Oniwa pele, Oniwa tutu, Ologbon, Olododo, Alaanu,” and added, “I’m proud of you.” I’m very proud of ‘Deputy Olule’, too.
The law professor wasn’t only roundly beaten, the senior pastor stands the risk of his name going down in the book of political oblivion for committing the commonest ‘sin’ in Nigerian politics – challenging a godfather, and being politically naive not to throw in the towel when a dirge was being sung for the failed ‘palace coup’.
And every man is the architect of his own fortune. During my undergraduate days in the late 1980s, I returned home from school one day and quickly headed to a friend’s house nearby. Lanre Akintunde is the name of my friend. He’s currently a lawyer based in Lagos.
Back in the day, the Akintundes’ three-bedroomed flat along the Old Ota Road, Orile Agege, Lagos State, was a rendezvous for boys in the hood to engage in mischievous things when Lanre’s hard-working parent, the late Alhaja Wosilat, a single mother, was away to work.
On that particular day at the Akintundes’ ever bubbly house, I met some friends who were yet to gain admission into tertiary schools. They began to talk in low tones as soon as I walked in, indicative that they were keeping a secret. I left the house soon afterwards and never inquired to know the secret. But I had a hunch the whispers were about the ongoing school certificate examination.
A few weeks later, the bubble burst and the dam broke. So, they came to my house to tell me what Messiah did. One of them, Laja, (not real name) narrated their ordeal: “A white-garment church prophet in Oko Oba area of Agege has swindled us, Tunde. The prophet, popularly called Messiah, promised us resounding success in our WAEC. He said we didn’t need to read, that we were going to see a hand, which would be invisible to others, writing correct answers on the chalkboard. He gave us white handkerchiefs to wipe our faces during the exams. He also gave us spiritual pens.
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“He said if we didn’t see the invisible hand writing on the chalkboard because of our sins, angels would go and fetch our answer scripts from WAEC and write correct answers for us.”
The narrator, who is a multimillionaire today, scored ‘F9 parallel’ in the exam. ‘F9 parallel’ was a jocular term for undiluted failure when the student couldn’t record an ordinary pass, let alone a credit. Incidentally, however, all the victims of Messiah are today successful family men.
The fate that befell my friends was similar to the fate that befell the vice president, who waited in vain for Buhari to favourably deal his mighty hand in battle, and make the sun stand still at the Eagle Square, but night fell and darkness engulfed Osinbajo, his popcorn and ice cream while victory song broke out in Tinubu’s camp.
While serious students burnt the midnight oil, my friends didn’t. While Tinubu held his destiny in his hands and strategised, Osinbajo, the purported anointed candidate of Buhari, expected the President to announce him as consensus candidate. Even God helps those who help themselves.
For Osinbajo, the unending human traffic to his office would soon dwindle, calls to his ever-busy lines would reduce, and the charm that power imbues would fade off gradually like the moon disappearing behind the clouds on its way back to the East at dawn. Sadly, Osinbajo’s name, not his backers’, would be mentioned whenever a lesson in godfather-godson tussle is taught in Nigeria. It is what it is.
As the value of Osinbajo’s stocks depreciates in the dusk of Buhari’s administration, those of Tinubu would appreciate as the APC prepares for the 2023 general election. The lionet will take backstage for the lion to roar on centrestage.
Profiting from the power of insight and foresight, I wouldn’t contest the APC presidential ticket with Tinubu, if I were Osinbajo, for the simple reasons that he brought me from classroom to stateroom, from relative obscurity to stardom, from middle class to upper class.
During the build-up to the primary, Tinubu was called greedy, very well; but I’m yet to see any Nigerian politician whose bank deposit, after their tenure, remained the same it was when they assumed public office. There’s a Tinubu in every Nigerian politician. A certain Baptist politician who allegedly had less than N20,000 in his account before assuming power, retired into a life of opulence.
Osinbajo supporters vehemently pinned corruption on Tinubu, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If someone’s been eating from Tinubu’s largesse in the past 23 years, and never complained about his excesses, you must be unhinged to suddenly wake up and accuse him of corruption because the biggest cake in the land is up for grabs, and you have a stake in it.
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I believe Tinubu never helped those he ever helped for altruistic reasons, but for his own selfish political reasons. That’s not good. However, it’s also sickening for latter-day turncoats of Tinubu empire, who cheered while Jagaban dispensed positions and favours their way, to now cry foul when the Landlord of Lagos decides to spread his prebendal favours elsewhere.
Since the owner of bullion vans, Tinubu, who lives in Bourdillon, laid the issue of who nominated Osinbajo as vice president to rest, nobody has come forward to contradict him. I had wondered how anyone in their right senses would say Osinbajo was picked as vice president without the knowledge of Tinubu.
I also heard the argument that Osinbajo added value to Tinubu, and I agree. But Osinbajo wasn’t the best graduating law student in his undergraduate set, neither was he the professor with the highest ResearchGate score or citation in UNILAG before Tinubu handpicked him in 1999. When Tinubu nominated him above Yemi Cardoso and Wale Edun as vice president, it was for self-preservation, and not to come and topple the applecart.
Birds of a feather, they say, flock together.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
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