Friday, June 10, 2016 7:27 am
By Yemi Olowolabi
There is an intriguing story making the rounds on social media at the moment. It’s a beguiling graffiti on the political landscape of Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria. It was exclusively published by The Capital, the uniquely urbane online magazine that beautifies society reporting with arresting composition and refreshing diction. Since its debut, The Capital has sustained a robust narrative style that holds readers spellbound with entertaining scoops that sometimes unsettle the high society. With its recent story entitled SEN.REMI TINUBU DISGRACES ONDO GOVERNORSHIP ASPIRANT, SEGUN ABRAHAM PUBLICLY OVER HIS AMBITION which appeared in The Capital on June 5,2016, the online journal has jolted the state like thunderstorms.
According to the story, wife of former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Oluremi Tinubu told Segun Abraham, who is one of the leading contenders for the APC governorship ticket in Ondo State, to forget his ambition because the ticket has been reserved for Senator Ajayi Boroffice. Specifically, Mrs Tinubu allegedly declared that” Senator Boroffice is the next Governor of Ondo State …” And therefore advised Abraham” to stop wasting his time and money” Hmmm. Without any doubt, this account is scary, if it actually occurred. And if it was a stuff of fiction from the reporter’s fertile imagination, why has there not been refutations by those fingered in this face off that smells like fallacy?
In every rumour, there are some elements of truth. It is a fact that Mrs Tinubu and Abraham had some discussions about the next Governorship election in Ondo State at the 50th birthday of Sunday Dare, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s Chief of Staff in Lagos. It is also a known fact that Mrs Tinubu and professor Borofice are close allies at the National Assembly. What seems contentious here is the credibility of the account scooped by The Capital. But barely one week after this story went viral on the social media, no one has expressed open disgust at this trending theatre of the absurd.
Rather, the story has largely been greeted with ominous silence. Of course, some APC members are murmuring in their closets. No one seems courageous enough to seek clarifications at the risk of being labelled a rebel. Even Abraham, the alleged victim of this political diatribe, has not spoken a word. But I hear guffaws among ignoramus who gloat as beneficiaries of the endorsement bogey. Indeed, experience is the worst teacher among the progressive family in Ondo State. Those who gloated over such perfidious endorsements in the past always gnashed their teeth at the polls. The progressives are on the march again. And the waterloo beckons. Nevertheless, this suicide mission is reversible; only if democracy prevails over endorsement.
The rumoured or reported outburst credited to the distinguished senator and wife of an eminently distinguished leader of APC would have been ignored as one of the several claims of capricious carpet baggers who career between fallacy and fantasy. But since INEC unveiled the time table for Ondo governorship election, the political space has been abuzz with fairy tales of anointing from Lagos. That is a euphemism for the endorsement of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Some governorship aspirants in the state have no manifesto other than dropping Bola Tinubu’s name as the masquerade behind their aspirations.
This hollow ritual of influence peddling puts the party at great risk of self-destruction. Make no mistake about it, I am a fan of Bola Tinubu, a friend of his media family and a follower of his audacious political odysseys. Love or hate him, Tinubu remains the main issue in contemporary Nigerian politics and unarguably the most influential politician in South Western Nigeria. Even his worst critics acknowledge his superb intellect and political sagacity. But Tinubu must pause and ponder over Ondo State’s political principalities which have so far defied the anointing of any form. It is a season of change. The national leader must distance himself from the old order of endorsement of candidates not chosen by Ondo State people. In other words, if the party intends to take the message of change to the Ondo State electorates in the November governorship polls, it must first change its clandestine style of selecting its flag bearers. The ultimate change begins at the shadow election. Otherwise, the waterloo beckons.
True or false, it is laughable for Mrs Tinubu to declare someone as the” the next Governor of Ondo State” . Such statement offends the sensibility of our people. It speaks volumes of arrogance and malfeasance of provocative proportion. This is the problem with the progressives. How can any serious politician who wants to govern Ondo State be holding on to Remi Tinubu’s apron? This is the moment of truth. Asiwaju’s anointing can not break the yoke of electoral failures of the progressives in Ondo State. The people will choose their governor. That is the true essence of change.
Any political party that ignores free and fair primaries in choosing its governorship candidate shoots itself in the foot. That is the temperament in Ondo State. It’s a republican spirit that brooks no blasphemy. In 2003, the Alliance for Democracy, AD, refused to conduct governorship primary. Rather it adopted the iconic teacher and courageous politician, late Governor Adebayo Adefarati as the sole candidate of the party. This resulted in bitter squabbles and insurmountable implosion that gave victory to the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The likes of Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Yele Omogunwa defected to PDP. The same scenario played out in 2012, when Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN was imposed as the governorship candidate of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, some of the disgruntled aspirants including the charismatic physicist, Dr. Olu Agunloye exited the party in protest. Even some who did not defect only stayed to perfect anti-party strategies that handed over the governorship seat to the Labour Party, LP, to spite the leadership of ACN.
Fortunately for the APC in Ondo State, most of the aspirants are outstanding individuals with track records. From the highly cerebral Professor Robert Ajayi Boroffice, a distinguished senator to the celebrated legal icon, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN; from the millionaire businessman, Segun Abraham to the grassroots politician Olusola Oke; from the vociferous bean counter, Senator Donald Omotayo Alasoadura to veteran strategist Niran Sule-Akinsuyi; from the brutally blunt teacher turned politician, Victor Adekanye Olabimtan to the forceful scholar, Bode Ayorinde and indeed a host of other eminent aspirants, the Ondo APC has a rich array of tested leaders with broad shoulders to shepherd the sunshine state from the wilderness. Can anyone possibly ignore the huge potentials and admirable pedigree of Mrs Olajumoke Ajasin-Anifowose whose late father, legendary Michael Adekunle Ajasin set unrivalled records of personal sacrifice in public service?
Anyone seeking external endorsement to govern a proudly republican people of Ondo State is obviously planning to fail. External blessing is a curse especially when dramatised in the manner allegedly pronounced by the amiable wife of a monumental politician. My message to the aspirants is simple: Work hard to earn the votes of delegates and avoid unholy association with poisonous blessings. And to the national leadership: Do not endorse any candidate. Let there be a level playing field for all. That is the only antidote to the haunting spectre of electoral waterloo.
Finally, as the APC prepares for the November polls in Ondo, endorsement has become a liability and a double-face monster. Both givers and takers will lose their deposits.
*Yemi Olowolabi is the Chief Executive Officer of Red Carpet Communications Limited, Lagos.