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Re: Open Letter to Jagaban

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I’ve read the “Open Letter to Jagaban” by Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, which has drawn me out - unusually but temporarily - to write this rejoinder, against my policy of self-isolation from commenting on political issues. And in writing this, I am making not only a response to the said open letter, but to the pervasive insinuations and innuendos concerning the person and political manoeuvres of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Mind you, this piece is not a conversation (whatsoever) about the administration of President Mohammed Buhari (PMB).

First, I must say while Chief Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK) is entirely entitled to his opinions – and a right which he has fully exercised – I dare say the content of the letter is inconsistent, self-contradictory and irreconcilable in many respects. Never mind the uncouth language and repulsive allegories he employed.

Like many people, FFK would want us to believe that, by chance or design, Asiwaju Tinubu single-handedly appointed, installed and ‘crowned’ us the President in 2015 and 2019. In saying this, let me start by declaring that I am not oblivious of the strategic alliance that enormously transformed the fortune of PMB from an aspirant on three previous occasions to the eventual occupant of Aso Rock in 2015. Yes, this feat might not have been accomplished without the necessary political permutations and marriage (of circumstance) between the then AC and CPC, which birthed today’s APC. And to undermine the political calculations and historical contributions of Asiwaju in accomplishing this success might forever remain an unpardonable error.

But my first challenge is with the declaration by FFK that Asiwaju Tinubu “refused to acknowledge or accept the fact that the Presidency of Nigeria can only be given by God and He gives it to whom He deems fit by prophecy and divine decree.” Yes, agreed. But if we follow this line of belief, shall we then conclude that the presidency of Nigeria was already divined to PMB, IRRESPECTIVE of the contributions of Asiwaju Tinubu? Or conversely, shall we say PMB would have still been elected whether Asiwaju Tinubu contributed or not? Then, if we are to live by this gospel according to FFK, why castigate Asiwaju Tinubu for the election of PMB when “the presidency can only be given by God and He {gave} it to whom He deem{ed}fit”? Why burden Asiwaju with the blame when it was God that gave PMB the presidency by “prophecy or decree”? Or did God obtain Asiwaju’s consent before carrying out the act? If FFK has issues with the PMB administration, why not direct his “Open Letter” to God who “gave” the Presidency to PMB, deriving from his own analogy? Oh ok, eni a le mu la nle di mo. You can’t reach God, but Asiwaju Tinubu is within reach to be blamed. What misdirected aggression! What confused, self-contradictory and illogical conclusions? I think FFK’s letter is obviously misaddressed and should be returned to sender. Promptly.

Again, without demeaning the gigantic contributions of Asiwaju Tinubu, let’s consider the following facts: in the 2015 general elections, PMB won by 15.4 million votes (56% of the total votes cast in the 36 States and FCT!) to President Goodluck Jonathan’s 12.8 million votes. In the 2019 elections, PMB won by 15.1 million votes to Alhaji Atiku’s 11.2 Million. I have tried to emphasize the words “votes” because these are aggregates of human beings, Nigerians who participated actively at the elections. And I dare say Asiwaju Tinubu was entitled to cast just one vote out of these millions. Then who are the people who cast the remaining millions of votes? In the desperate bid to scapegoat Asiwaju Tinubu, we derogate the contributions of the millions of Nigerians who participated in the process leading to our present state.

And if I remember correctly, former President Goodluck Jonathan complained bitterly about the interference of President Obama in the 2015 elections. Goodluck pointedly accused Obama of contributing to his failed re-election bid via the latter’s infamous video address sent to Nigeria. Before the elections, John Kerry (then US Secretary of State), Kofi Annan (former UN scribe) and many other world leaders all played no little roles in ensuring that the results of the elections were accepted. Immediately after the election, and even before Goodluck could make up his mind whether to concede defeat or not (and while Elder Godsday Orubebe was still shouting, “WE WILL NOT TAKE IT” at the result collation center), General Abdulsalam Abubakar-led National Peace Committee was already talking to Goodluck to make the call.

Now, the question is, should the 15 million Nigerians who voted for PMB not also partake in FFK’s fiery wrath since he believed, that because of this choice, “Nigerians are being subjected to persecution, physically attacked, enslaved, humiliated, lynched, scorned, maimed, killed, disgraced, evicted and declared persona non grata both at home and in distant foreign lands whilst our foreign Embassies are being demolished by miscreants and local criminals even in supposedly friendly countries”?

Should the different dramatis personae, (before, during and after the two elections) not share in this  insultory sermon from the mount by FFK also for having “propped up and supported a ruthless, heartless, corrupt, bloodthirsty and cruel regime and tyrant and a President that is clearly beside himself and whose mental and physical faculties reside in another realm and in another world”, if these words deserve any substance? Shouldn’t ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, General Abubakar and all the other world leaders share a kilogram each out of all the abundance of curses and insult he heaped on just one individual?     

I think FFK’s conclusions in his letter are amorphous and disjunctive. Yeah, Asiwaju supported PMB. But what if Asiwaju directed his followers to vote for a particular candidate and they refused? What if PMB failed to win despite the votes of Asiwaju’s supporters? What if? What if?

In our hasty, frenzied bid to always blame our misfortune on someone else, most people characterise Asiwaju Tinubu in the mould cast by FFK: “You sold your body, spirit and soul to the enemy and betrayed your people….” “…you dismissed our concerns, vilified us, treated us with contempt, demonized us and sought to destroy us”. “…you betrayed and sold EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in Nigeria just to feed and satisfy your psychotic obsession and compulsive ambition”.  “…you flew too high and too close to the sun with your wax wings, puffed up and fuelled by your hubris and pride”. Yet, this seemingly righteous indignation is nothing but an apparition, a reverse reflection of our hypocritical selves. Most people, given ten per cent of those opportunity will pursue same self-centeredness with all vigor. Hardly will you find a Nigerian that will be given such a hoe that will not unabashedly heap the mounds underneath himself or herself first. Yet, we are quick to judge others if they harbour same intentions. Anyway, I’ve come to realise that political ambition is like fart that draws condemnation when declared in the open, but vigorously pursued by all for personal relief in secret.


I think we should cut Asiwaju some slack. The man has paid his dues. And we should not begrudge him if he seeks to reap where he sowed. Many of us easily forget the political journey of this man and this misleads us in our hatred- (and possibly) jealousy-fueled estimation of him. We should not forget the sacrifices this man has made. He won election into the Senate 1993 but never enjoyed the fruit of his labour because of the annulment of the June 12 elections. He joined NADECO to fight for the return of democracy to Nigeria in the days of Abacha, hounded out of the country while many of us slept in spousal comfort. He returned to contest as Governor of Lagos State in 1998 at a time of great uncertainty and fear, and won. Many of us chose to forget that these were elective offices fiercely contested by the political heavyweights of those period, combatively – the Dapo Sarumis of this world, the Wahab Dosunmus, the Funsho Williams, the Adesewe Ogunlewes, and the Bode Georges; yet this man prevailed.

He was elected as Governor under Alliance for Democracy (AD) along with the governors of Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Ondo. Five of them. But by the beginning of his second term in 2003, the Tsunami of that time had swept the four other States into the ruling PDP. He was the only man standing. And he resisted all pressure and intimidation all through. Only if we pause for a moment to think back to the possible implications if Asiwaju Tinubu had also abandoned AD at that time to join PDP. Probably multi-party democracy would have died in Nigeria 17 years ago. And I wonder what all these politicians dumping their political parties by the minute would have done today.

Single-handedly, this man built/transformed the Action Congress from a one-State party to a political sycamore, the beautiful bride with multiple suitors in 2011 and 2015. And if he made his decisions to pitch tent with PMB in 2015, is that not a recognition of the fact that he had the clout, the political influence to direct millions of people to vote according to his choice? Many of those who castigate him cannot successfully lead a mere choir group in their local church. Many of them cannot even influence their own kids to vote them.

While many people slept, Asiwaju laboured day and night to build his political machine from scratch and turned it into what it is today. And then many of us have just suddenly woken up from our complaisant slumber to assume the self-appointed role of traffic wardens, directing him where to park his political wagon. We forget so easily that this man did not just begin politics yesterday; he started pre-school, nay kindergarten, with Chief Abraham Adesanya. And if today he decides to move his train in the direction of his choice, should we not respect that decision? Should we not believe he knows what he wants?  And if perhaps you are not satisfied with his choice, what stops you from emerging a Moses to your own people and leading them on a journey of your preference? Ha! Nigerians parents want their sons to become presidents but don’t want them to become politicians in the process!!

It seems naïve to me to crucify Asiwaju Tinubu for supporting PMB to the presidency, and then accuse him of doing this out of self-interest. This is utterly hypocritical. The accusers today would have done exactly the same thing. Or worse. I’ve since learnt from Bangambiki Habyarimana’s Book of Wisdom that “nobody does anything for the good of others; but as he pursues his own interests, he is brought to work unwittingly for the benefit of the many.” And “If I have to choose between you and me - I like me better.” says Charlaine Harris. Many people practice this, yet pretend to the contrary.

All over the world, alliances, alignments, re-alignments, adjustments and re-adjustments control the affairs of political parties, and these are all virtually driven by self-interest – either individual or collective. Can we totally divorce self-interest from political alliances? According to Boris Johnson, “the beauty and riddle in studying the motives of any politician is in trying to decide what is idealism and what is self-interest, and often we are left to conclude that the answer is a mixture of the two.” In 2005, this same Boris Johnson declared unequivocally that he was “backing David Cameron's campaign out of pure, cynical self-interest.” Cameron went on to win the Conservative Party leadership and later became Prime Minister. Today, the same Boris Johnson is British Prime Minister. And someone says to me that I don’t understand the direction of his self-interest fifteen years ago. That I should not mind my own business!

Why do I even bother myself with history from such distant land. Chief Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunbo Fani-Kayode, Q.C., SAN, CON, the father of our own FFK was a major player and active participant in the affairs of Action Group during the First Republic. In fact, he was re-elected into the Federal House of Assembly on the platform of Awolowo’s Action Group in 1954 and was the Federal Secretary of that party. But in 1959, Chief Fani-Kayode RESIGNED FROM ACTION GROUP AND JOINED NCNC, an opposition party! He later became leader of NCNC and also Deputy Premier on NNDP’s platform. Those were parties adverse to Yoruba’s interest at that time. What could have gingered Chief Fani-Kayode’s into dumping the Action Group which he helped found with Awolowo for an opposition party where he was then rewarded with a higher position? Holy interest? Interest of the people? Prove me wrong that he wasn’t propelled by self-interest. And a generation later, his son is cursing and insulting Asiwaju for far nobler ideals! What chicanery is this? What subterfuge! What hypocrisy! Hmmmm, let him who knows how to write remember him who knows how to read.

Many of us would rather Asiwaju confronted PMB and slug it out. But we forget to inform the man that he presently is a “bloody civilian”. With just a snap of the fingers, the powers that be will chew and swallow him, and wash it down with a nice bottle of cognac. And nothing will happen. The goaders of today will then run under the skirts of their wives and begin to shout from there, purporting to fight for him. Thank God Asiwaju appears to be shrewd, and will never dance to that tune of “maa jo lo mo nwehin e” (dance on while I watch your back). Chief MKO Abiola who with childlike innocence and trust danced to such tunes at Abacha’s 1994 concert is today six feet below, while the composers and drummers of those days are still enjoying themselves, alive.

Many people conjure troubles where there is none, or exaggerate the ones that have already been sorted. Politics is nothing but a game of interest – multiple, conflicting and duelling interest. And as far as contending interests are concerned, Benjamin Disraeli would tell you that “there is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour”. According to Ernest Benn, “politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy”. IF there is presently trouble in APC, allow the man Asiwaju act his role as a politician. I remain persuaded that he is astute enough to sort himself out.

And by the way, how could you hate Asiwaju because he aspires to become Nigeria’s president in 2023, (if this is true)? It is his right to nurture such aspirations, just as much as anyone else can aspire to any political office. “We are conscious beings always experimenting with the mystery of becoming our ultimate manifestation,” so explained Kilroy J. Oldster in the Dead Toad Scrolls. Let the man seek experiment with his ultimate manifestations. Allow his interest to guide him. Of course, if the man doesn’t fight for his own interest, whose should he fight for? Mine? Let’s leave it to Nigerians to decide his fate, and not condemn him for the same desire everyone of us secretly nurtures. After all, politics is the art of the possible, as Otto Von Bismarck would have said.

Funny a people. Many of us refuse to acknowledge Asiwaju as the leader of his region yet are quick to despise him for leading his people into the victorious alliance of the ruling party. What doublespeak!

Even IF (assuming but not conceding that) he made errors in his political calculations, does that signal his “retirement” as FFK would have us believe? Does that give us the moral right to begin to compose his Nunc Dimitis? Do the people not say the downfall of a man is not the end of his life? If we were to render a dirge to every misstep and mis-calculations by our politicians, wouldn’t we have run out of songs by now?  Who among us has the audacity to cast the first stone? Let him come out who has never ever made an error of judgment or misdirected himself in his private, spiritual or corporate life, even in spite of warnings and concerns by well-wishers. Abeg, free that man joor!

Incidentally, I must end this piece where FFK began, by quoting from the same Asiwaju Tinubu: “Even the obstacles on my way, I predict them before those that will bring them will start to think about them. I plan for betrayal, I plan for backstabbing, I also plan for reunion and forgiveness long before they happen. I expect nothing, I expect anything, I expect everything”.

Me, I believe the man joor.

After all, as my Warri brothers would say, the may wey take goat set trap, no be him know wetin e dey find?

Manuel Akinshola