South-West’s Fatal Leap
By Festus Adedayo
As it became clear that former Vice President of Nigeria and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the just-concluded election, Atiku Abubakar, was kissing the electoral canvass, Reno Omokri, the combative spokesman to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, made a submission on the voting trend of the election, his thumbs gleefully held high for the South West of Nigeria. As I will submit presently, Omokri’s commendatory dissection of voters’ performance in the election was premature and a very peremptory reading of the calamitous political footpath the South West region trod in the said election.
Omokri had said: “Yorubas proved again that they are the most sophisticated voters in Nigeria. … Notice how Yoruba voters gave their votes to PDP even though APC has a Yoruba VP. I doff my hat to the Yoruba nation…The voting pattern of the Yoruba in this election shows that merit is more important to them than ethnicity. Other regions have to learn from them. In terms of political maturity and tolerance, they are light years ahead of other regions,” he had said.
As usual, Omokri had unflattering strictures for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and ultimately, President Muhammadu Buhari. The election results showed that the PDP won in Oyo, erstwhile capital of the Western region, in Ondo, home of Awolowo’s successor to Yoruba leadership, Adekunle Ajasin, with APC managing a win by the whiskers in Lagos, Osun and winning only convincingly in Ekiti and Ogun State, the latter where Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the APC establishment had been up in arms against the man who swung the votes for the party, Ibikunle Amosun. In fact, the total number of winning votes that the region gave the APC was scarcely higher than the votes Ebonyi State gave the party.
Before venturing into the voting trend and its calamitous implications, it is very apposite here to begin with the attitude of voters in the said election. Of course, the people have not woken from their bewilderment at the huge number of electors credited to the northern part of Nigeria. It began right from the first national election in Nigeria, down to the 1959 elections. In the latter election, immortal Obafemi Awolowo, had introduced some glitz into campaign through penetrating the nooks and crannies of the North with an helicopter. By doing that, he literally forced Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, to wake up from his political lethargy and campaign round the whole of the region. He arrived one day with the whole of his face covered in soot and spitting out dust-sauced phlegm, vowing he would never forgive Awo for subjecting him to such stress. Right from then, the northern voting trend had always been in issue. This particular election was no exception. Kano and Katsina, for instance, had electors totaling about 3.5 million, while in the whole of Lagos, about a million turned out to vote. It was the same sorry tale in virtually all the South West states.
If you went round many of the South West states during the election, the apathy, the I-don’t-care attitude that permeated the region was legendary. Apart from a benumbing, far between statistics of those who exercised their franchise, many of the youth, women and particularly the elite in the region, saw the day as a day of rest from the hustle and bustle of their various engagements. They sat back at home, watching the latest movies. On many streets, youth of voting age converted the tarred roads into football pitches and struggled to clone Ronaldo with the whole of their grits. Those who confronted them on why they declined to exercise their franchise were shell-shocked. What is our business with the election? Most of them thundered off-handedly. Conversely however, reports said that most of the electors in the north trooped out to vote as early as 6am.
This is why the so-called South West elders and political parties in the region deserve huge sjambok on their buttocks. Apparently convinced that they would rig the elections, the leaders spent less time to educate the huge population in the region on the crucifix which abstaining from the polling booths symptomized. And they are at home with the vain braggadocio and self-adulation of being “the most sophisticated electors” in Nigeria. Absolute nonsense. The north is the sophisticated elector. Watch your neighbourhood; the malamselling petty groceries, your shoe shiner and the ones selling cucumber and water melon disappeared from view a few days before the election. They all travelled home to exercise their franchise. South West’s own voting majority sat at home, watching the latest African Magic offering on television. Yet they expected magic at the polls. And they cry blue murder that the North posted an unbelievably huge population of voters.
The maisuya by the roadside has a transistor radio by his side, listening to VOA Hausa, Radio France and the BBC. He is well informed about what is happening, not only in Nigeria but all over the world – delivered in his native Hausa. His sophistication is strengthened by a thirst to participate in the electoral exercise. And yet the West as a zone revels itself in the vacuous inanity of sophistication. Yoruba’s pseudo leaders were at peace with themselves, gallivanting in an old glory which the Awolowos bequeathed to the race. Their own bequeathals are the legacy of bullion vans parked by the frontage of their home and the self-peacocking boast that a state doesn’t have their kind of personal ill-gotten wealth. Yet, parodying Americans, we see the bucks but we can’t see the shop.
I may be wrong but whoever has closeness with those parading themselves as South West leaders should warn them that there is, as the Yoruba say, danger in Longe’s farmland. Not only is the danger present in the dwindling epitome of their political relevance, it is also present in the withering place of the Yoruba people in the general construct. If there is anything that was glaring in that election, it is that the highly shouted relevance of Asiwaju and his alleged invincible electoral machine were totally absent from it like Baal, the god of the Siddonians.
A new set of Turks seems to be commanding the heights of their people’s destiny. Kayode Fayemi shellacked PDP renegades in Ekiti without Tinubu’s interference. Perhaps the most outstanding was Ogun’s Amosun. Harangued on all fronts by the Acheullian impudence and arrogance of Adams Oshiomhole and Tinubu’s underground destructive machinery, Amosun not only posted an impressive win for himself, he single-handedly got Buhari victory in his state. Tinubu’s crew in Ogun – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (who lost in his Lagos polling booth), Segun Osoba and even Dapo Abiodun who till now hasn’t told the world where his degree certificate is marooned, all couldn’t withstand Ibikunle’s apparent massive electoral machinery and sagacity. He talks less but wangles his political machine past his traducers with a comprehensive finish.
What the presidential election result means for the West is that it cannot claim acquaintance with, nor wholeheartedly dance to the victory song of the presidential election.
Perhaps the words attributed to Buhari on Friday where he was said to have asked his ministers where they would have been if he had lost the election, should have been directed at Tinubu and his band of impostors in the West. The so-called West’s son, Osinbajo, it is apparent, would be enjoying a presidency which his people contributed little or nothing to.
Asiwaju’s usual gallivant to the Villa would be decidedly curtailed by this apparent lackluster performance. Any arrant northerner can easily tell him to shut his traps if he waves an entitlement. If the region is given Minister of Toilet Matters, it has passable locus to complain and Buhari has the latitude to pick virtually all his team from Daura, Kano or even succumb to the temptation of going overboard to appoint as his minister one of those governors from Niger Republic present at his campaign.
Asiwaju is the architect of this destructive political dissonance in the West today and should be held culpable for its dwindling lot. He sowed the seed of this discord right there in Ondo State in the 2016 gubernatorial election. Glaringly, he subverted all known norms of party politics by financing Olusola Oke under the banner of the Alliance for Democracy to vie for the election, basing this political faux pas on his tiff with Rotimi Akeredolu. He was abetted by the alagabagebe (hypocrisy) exponent, Rauf Aregbesola, who himself is the greatest alagabagebe today in Yoruba politics. The Osun alagabagebe donated one of his aides as Oke’s deputy.
Asiwaju tried same in Ekiti and failed. With this, those who saw through this agabagebepolitics got lionized. They thus conversely attempted to give him a dose of his medicine in Osun.
Now the Fulani and the North in general will show Asiwaju that he doesn’t know the colour of politics. By not seeking the resolution of West’s crisis from its teething stage, his rump has been exposed to the whole world. The disgraceful loss of the APC in the West and the neither-cold-nor-hot voting trends for the two big political parties at the presidential election will constitute the West’s nemesis. South East went through a single filing, which is great.
Collaterally, the West will suffer from this. It cannot lay claim to the same juices of government appointments it held on to between 2015 and now.
Lagos’ votes may well be symptomatic of the autumn of the Asiwaju’s political influence and political relevance. For Asiwaju’s APC to have purportedly defeated the PDP in Lagos with about 132,810 votes is a cry similar to that of the day of Armageddon. That is with alleged burning and stealing of ballot boxes in Igbo people-dominated places where the PDP was allegedly leading. The PDP claims that, rather than that result posted by INEC, the behemoths at the electoral commission actually connived with the vultures in APC to have 100,000 added to APC’s figures and 100,000 deducted from its.
If I were Asiwaju, Fayemi and Amosun will be two persons I will seek out of the heap this moment. Amosun has shown that in spite of the gang-ups of the Ananias and Saphirras of this world in the APC, he is a master-tactician and a political colossus, single-handedly winning the most unexpected quantum of votes for Buhari in the region. No wonder Buhari is clinging to him.
Conversely, Asiwaju’s poster boys in the South West, Senator Abiola Ajimobi in Oyo State and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, former governor of Osun State, lost their respective senatorial districts to the PDP. For the Jagaban, good home training forbids one from predicting a political nunc dimittis. Or is it?
TIME TO WAVE THE O TO GE CARD IN ALAO-AKALA’S FACE
Former governor of Oyo State and O yato exponent, Adebayo Alao-Akala, has been in the news in the last few days. He had been in the news earlier when opinion polls indicated that he would again vie for the governorship of the state, after his ouster in 2011. Many people were amazed that the Ogbomoso-born politician was putting his head in the heat again. However, the newest bits of news about him are saddening and very disturbing.
It is no longer news that his party and others in the state, except the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) had appreciable showing in last week’s presidential and National Assembly elections in Oyo State. And wise counsel dictated to these parties that if they didn’t come together to fight the incubus of the ruling party, the genie they had always complained of in Oyo politics would continue to role its infamous boulders like the famous Sisyphus.
Prior to the election, the APC machine in the state had literally castrated Alao-Akala. His son, Lamiju, chair of an Ogbomoso local council, was unceremoniously removed while the duo battled to swim off the tide of the APC governmental tyranny. All of a sudden, Bordillon and the presidency were said to have networked Alao-Akala. Indeed, an air plane was said to have been waiting at the Ibadan Alakia airport to ferry the huge-statured former governor to their sacristy. Right there, a price tag was said to have been waved in the face of an Alao-Akala whom, watchers said had been very low on cash since vacating power. Claims ranged between N6 billion and N1 billion. And like a shameless prostitute, Alao-Akala announced to the world: he would be going back to lap his old vomit. Not only that, he is vacating his bid for the governorship and would fully work for his nemesis and the little folk whom he had earlier maligned in unprintable and acidic words.
Right now, I am seeking an inroad into the mentality of the Nigerian politician.
Alao-Akala has gone many steps backwards down the despicable aisle, the lowly placed dungeon I last left him. Shouldn’t there be a modicum of honour among thieves, sorry among politicians? In his shameless rationalization of his place of harlotry, Alao-Akala sought to play tribal politics that is ostensibly senseless. Adewolu Ladoja, at their meeting of reconciliation, so said Alao-Akala, had said as an introductory, that only an Ibadan man would be governor of Oyo State. That was his main reason for differing from the conciliators, he said. Common sense should dictate that that was the main reason Alao-Akala should have continued with his solo governorship run but certainly not coalescing with this bandwagon of infamy where he finds himself. If Alao-Akala needed rationalization for his shameless position, he should spend of his Bourdillon booty to hire those who would concoct a more sensible rationalization for him.
Ultimately, the joke is on the great people of Ogbomoso, kith and kin of the valiant Samuel Ladoke Akintola, late Premier of the Western Region.
Alao-Akala’s logic is defeatist and assumes that these great people are locked up in his caserne. If the former Oyo governor harvests Ogbomoso as he had always done, the logic would be perfect that Ogbomoso is Alao-Akala’s herd of cows. Which I know these great people are not. It is high time Ogbomoso people showed the former police chief that same decimation mantra employed to upstage the Saraki dynasty in Kwara State called O to ge (enough is enough). For years, the people of Ogbomoso had recompensed Alao-Akala’s good kinship of taking care of their interests in and out of power. Now that his esophagus and personal interest of his son, Olaamiju’s return to his council position are the determinant factors of his leadership, it may be apposite to conclude that the ex-Sheriff has outlived his usefulness. On March 9, the people of Ogbomoso must say loudly with the cadence of their electoral voice.
Bourdillon, which threw up Alao-Akala’s most recent cry-baby, is under intense pressure to shore up electoral supports for it and to beef up its sagging estimation in national politics.
The Lion himself has been calling old and new frontiers of power in Oyo State, asking them to switch their support for his candidate. Unfortunately however, the narrative of regurgitation of arrogance and the continuation of ajele (surrogate administration) in Oyo by some renowned conquistadors in Lagos are the dominant theses in political discourses in the Pacesetter State today. And the awareness of their being bound in shackles all this while, as well as the need to retain their money in their state, rather than being funneled to the State of Aquatic Splendour, are not only so strong on the streets today in Oyo State, they are frittering many away from Bourdillon’s potential surrogate candidate.
Festus Adedayo is a Columnist with the Nigerian Tribune newspapers