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By Tunde Odesola
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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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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