By Remi Oyeyemi
One of the challenges of Public Relations is to sell a product to the end buyers. The end buyer in this case is always the general public. The general public as malleable as it seems is always a very discerning buyer. It is often very possible to mislead the public some of the times to buy a product, especially for the first time, but eventually it would end there. This is because, the moment the public knows the quality of the product you are selling after the first encounter, it forms its opinion which could be positive or negative. The formulation of such opinion would henceforth determine the public perception and response as well as the fortunes of such a product.
Bola Tinubu, a proprietary politician has had a lot of good fortunes. His proprietary efforts have yielded quite bountifully with several “employees” (if you like, you can call them “followers”) across the Southwest and Nigeria. His “employees” are very fiercely loyal and seem to have no choice but to be loyal because their fortunes are tied to his success or failure. The proprietary nature of Bola Tinubu’s politics seemed to have necessitated the need for opportunism and mercantilism. It was the only way to appropriate the necessary resources to keep the troops happy. It would provide means to engage the “employees” and maintain their loyalty. It helped to solidify the fiefdom under the façade of freedom and deodorize the domain as democratic. As a result of this, ideological exactitude becomes fundamentally incongruous to its professed progressivism in its operational modalities on the political landscape.
For a Corporate outfit, profit is the ultimate goal. For the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) LLC, the goal and objective is not different. Thus, in selling him to the people of Yoruba land nay Nigeria, the product must be branded. Taking advantage of the opportunity that Tinubu had in opposing President Olusegun Obasanjo in the heady days of 2003, which he did successfully to a great extent after winning the second term as the Executive Governor of Lagos State, it was easy to brand ABAT LLC as “progressivism.” Given the weird times of that era, the devil himself, if he opposed Obasanjo could have claimed to be a “progressive,” and Nigerians would have given the devil another look for that reason.
Tinubu’s survival of the 2003 Obasanjo onslaught in Yoruba land turned him into instant “hero” and “celebrity” as a smart politician. A coterie of praise singers developed around him isolating him as the greatest thing to happen to Yoruba land and “progressive” politics. Basking in the euphoria, Tinubu planned ahead and put in place a strategy to “conquer” the rest of Yoruba land as a template for his ultimate and a very legitimate ambition to be Vice President of Nigeria. But his tactic was proprietary rather than coalescence. To him, other forces on the political terrain provided no value and as such, could be discountenanced. So, he built his own machine, developed his own followers and created his own fiefdom. But no one, I repeat, no one could and should grudge him for that. The only challenge is, are we getting exactly what his handlers are informing us is in the package? Are we getting true “progressivism” or mercantilist politics? Will Tinubu’s proprietary approach serve him well on the long run? Was Thomas Jefferson right when he noted that anytime “a man has cast a longing eyes on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct?”
Having branded ABAT LLC as “progressivism”, the onus of selling the product to Nigerians now lies with his media handlers. They are to be assisted and helped out by the direct and indirect “employees” of ABAT LLC in ensuring that the public in the political landscape buy this toga of “progressivism” hook, line and sinker. Asiwaju Tinubu himself recognized the need for this sale and reckoned that having control of several media houses, print and electronics, would be necessary. Thus apart from employing numerous cyber soldiers and loyalists on social media, he has put together one of the most powerful radio and television networks in Africa. He adopted generosity as a virtue and surrounded himself with a lot of grateful, appreciative, thinking but unquestioning, blindly loyal “yes men.” This is apart from buying out popular print media outlets and establishing new ones such as The Nation, now regarded as an official ABAT LLC propaganda sheet by objective observers.
Initially, the sale was easy. There was a vacuum and ABAT LLC seized the opportunity. The sale of ABAT LLC was not a difficult task given the prevailing circumstances at that point in time. The hatred of Obasanjo, the confusion and the disarray of the old Afenifere guard, the defeat of Alliance for Democracy governors, the anger against the PDP as a political party for its excesses all provided a protagonist atmosphere and the needed elixir for uncritical acceptance of ABAT LLC. The ordinary people in Yoruba land as well as the elite rallied round it. They were all glad to have what they thought was a credible and viable alternative to Baba Iyabo’s vindictive, visionless and ruthless politics.
After initial successes the Yoruba public began to have some critical review of ABAT LLC and its actions. Its idiosyncrasies got more attention. The chain of events was set in motion when Babatunde Fashola was initially imposed on the Lagos voters as their next governor. There were some protests which were later shelved in the interest of the fledgling ABAT LLC. It was felt that the alternative would not be pretty. Luckily, Fashola himself performed creditably and took the wind out of the criticism of his being imposed. The same imposition was repeated across Southwest at gubernatorial, senatorial and Federal House of Representatives’ levels. Despite a great deal of dislike of and dissatisfaction over this tendentious autocratic imperial approach by ABAT LLC, the primary desire to chase out the PDP in the Southwest at that time, elicited cooperation and submerged protests. Four years later, the Lagos office of ABAT LLC was shocked when the Chief Executive of ABAT LLC imposed his wife as a senatorial candidate, his son-in-law as a candidate for Federal House of Representatives and later on, handpicked his daughter as the Iya Loja without consultation whatsoever. There was a lot of anger on each occasion. But in a proprietary political environment, no one cares what a political “employee” thinks. The departmental offices in Osun and Ekiti noticed.
When Professor Wole Soyinka once posited that “Under a dictatorship, a nation ceases to exist” and insisted that in such a Nation, “All that remains is a fiefdom, a planet of slaves regimented by aliens….” he probably had the present day Southwest in mind.
The only difference is that the aliens are not from “outer space” as Professor Soyinka said in that statement, they are just from elsewhere in Yoruba land. The Southwest people began to wonder whether the Yoruba psyche has “ceased to exist” under the flagrant “dictatorship” of ABAT LLC, asking themselves if their land has become that of “regimented slaves?” Whether the people of Yoruba land would allow their Nation to be turned into a fiefdom of one person and his cohorts, while with their off-springs, they remain as “regimented slaves” in the hands of ABAT LLC remains to be seen. But for the sincere defenders, the confused sycophants and anaesthetized “employees” of ABAT LLC, it is becoming difficult to justify the actions of their proprietor as that of a “progressive.” His initial stance against the re-election of Babatunde Fashola was another revelation. Observers reasoned that if the objective is the progress of Lagos State why would anyone be opposed to the re-election bid of such a brilliant performer?
Judicial process aided the success of ABAT LLC in Osun and Ekiti departments. The first litmus test was a new department to be created in Ondo. The Chairman and Chief Executive of ABAT LLC also insisted on the imposition of the suave, nice, reputable gentleman in Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu, as the departmental head. The imposition was done against all counseling. The arrogance and condescension was palpable. What would the voters do? Would they vote against the “progressivism” of ABAT LLC? But Olusegun Mimiko, a prudent retail politician reputed for his grassroots connection convinced the people of Ondo of the danger of being part of ABAT LLC conglomerate. He asked the Ondo people if they wanted to be slaves in their land and service an outsider? The people of Ondo got the message and defeated another good man in Rotimi Akeredolu because of the contamination and poison that ABAT LLC is perceived to be.
For the sycophants across the Southwest and the internet, it became increasingly difficult to sell the highhandedness of ABAT LLC as “progressivism.” The mercantile nature projected by ABAT LLC defined it in the notion of the people and skeptical elites in the Southwest as “carpetbaggers” interested in carting away the resources of client states to Lagos. It became apparent that what was happening is what Ambrose Bierce in his 1911 The Devil’s Dictionary described as “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles” and “The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” There began silent murmuring and complaints. The sensitivity of the client states began to get higher especially after the defeat of ABAT LLC in Ondo state. The ricochet effect of the ABAT LLC’s Ondo nightmare contributed to the surprise in Ekiti where the people are fiercely independent.
When ABAT LLC began its strenuous efforts to extend its tentacles across Nigeria, Satellite “employees” or “followers” were recruited and heavily funded. In its recruitment, fraudsters, people of dubious characters, a lot of undesirable politicians were wrapped up into the fold. The efforts to continue to identify ABAT LLC as a “progressive” outfit became more poisoned. Just like Winston Churchill once suggested, some of them began to “change their party for the sake of their principles” (if at all, they had any), while others “change their principles for the sake of their party.” Questions began to be asked as to what is going on. Critical minds saw the absence of principle and aridity of ideology as well as aggressive pursuit of odious economic gains and political power at all costs. Alliance with other political persuasions outside the Southwest has not been defined by any shred of “progressivism” except calculations for power that carries question marks.
As ABAT LLC continued to expand and consolidate, it became more confident. The inefficiency of the President Goodluck Jonathan helped buoyed it as an alternative which further enriched ABAT LLC’s confidence. ABAT LLC began to moot the idea of Muslim/Muslim ticket in an environment of incessant and heartless killing of Christians by fundamentalist Muslims. Hitherto in the Southwest, observers have noted that all the management team members of ABAT LLC are Muslims. The same thing was also observed in its interim National Executive Council. In fact one of the members of the management team responsible for Osun department was at a point accused of trying to Islamize that department. He vociferously denied it. But the people of that department are still very suspicious of him especially after he allegedly approved the wearing of hijab in a Christian School.
The sycophantic image makers of ABBAT LLC are still trying their best to camouflage all these antics as “progressivism” and fool the people of the Southwest that ABAT LLC is still the best alternative in the circumstances. What made the task tougher for them lately included the carousal of the destroyers of the Nigerian State in Ibrahim Babangida and Abubakar Abdulsalaam. Later the man who suffocated the people of Lagos and gave them hell was approached by the Chairman and Chief Executive of ABAT LLC for “solution” to the problems of Nigeria! Haba! How crass can a politician be in the pursuit of power? The defenders on one hand and the sycophants on the other, despite this have to present ABAT LLC as a symbol of “progressivism.” With the prolonged crisis of tuition fees in Lagos and the closure of Colleges of Education and Polytechnics in Osun over diverted pension funds and the lackadaisical approach of the management team of ABAT LLC to resolving this, observers are being forced to question the “progressive” claim of the mercantilist outfit.
Right now, despite the Ekiti shocker, the confidence of ABAT LLC leaders and their sycophants still remains at a very high level. They feel so invincible, so magical and invulnerable. They believe they have the Yoruba people where they (ABAT LLC) want them. They believe that the Yoruba people have no choice but to vote for their detestable desperate mercantilist agenda regardless of what they do or say. They feel so untouchable to the point they believe they can drag the entire history, culture and tradition of over 1200 years in the mud. Our Obas were publicly insulted and abused collectively. They were collectively disrespected and denigrated. Bola Tinubu, the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer of ABAT LLC called all Yoruba Obas “useless.” He was not just dragging our History, tradition and culture as represented by our Obas in the mud, he brought out his pitchfork to mangle them mercilessly without let or hindrance. He displayed an unequalled arrogance beyond obnoxiousness. It was a proof of someone who climbed the tree beyond the leaves. And when that happens, we all know what follows. Despite this, the defenders and the sycophants of ABAT LLC still expect our people to continue to vote for their mercantilist outfit. They still want us to believe this is “progressivism.”
One of the apologists of ABAT LLC suggested that the mercantilist outfit is “a reformist national opposition party” and insists that it’s “objective is good and right.” He stubbornly posits that ABAT LLC seeks “democratic good governance for the people.” His preachments are lofty and desirable except that they cannot be reconciled with the amorphous principles and amoebic ideological posturing of ABAT LLC and its management. Every Nigerian knows Obasanjo is not a progressive. Everyone knows that IBB put Nigeria on this destruction path. The entire world knows that M.K.O. Abiloa died under the auspices of Abudulsalaam. Yet, these are the people that the team of sycophants at ABAT LLC wants the people of the Southwest nay Nigeria to believe as representing “progressive politics” and supportive of a “reformist national opposition party.” But increasingly, the people are seeing through it. The mercantile nature of the ABAT LLC is more evident now than ever. Its opportunistic character is becoming more than obvious. Its aridity of ideology is getting more pronounced. The vacuity of its principle is becoming more manifest. And its hypocrisy, as disturbing as it is nauseating.
As we approach 2015, Nigerians have a decision to make. Is the disenchantment with President Jonathan enough for us to reward those who destroyed Nigeria? Is the inability of President Jonathan to give good governance to Nigeria because he is being frustrated right, left and center by those who promised to make Nigeria ungovernable for him enough to bring in a worse alternative in Mohammadu Buhari and its partners in ABAT LLC? Are Nigerians ready to install an Islamic fundamentalist at the Federal level despite the carnage we are witnessing on daily basis? If they do this while they are outside the government, what would they do to the rest of us when they have the levers of power at the center? If ABAT conglomerate euphemized as the APC insists on imposing its alleged Muslim/Muslim ticket on Nigerians in its usual parody of democracy as evident in its tendentious dictatorship, then it would be within the rights of the Yoruba voting public, nay Nigerians, as advised by Victor Hugo, to revolt against it with their votes.
There was bombing in Apapa, Lagos. The ABAT LLC leadership tried to cover it up. There has been another bomb in Ile-Ife, the Orisun of Yoruba land, the leadership of ABAT LLC have not found it necessary to condemn it. It leaves us to ask, whose interest are they protecting? Of what use are we the Yoruba people to the CEO and the management of the ABAT LLC? Are we just good enough as negotiating chips in the struggle for power at the center? Is the interest of the Yoruba Nation of any importance and good enough to be protected by the ABAT LLC? Is the Alliance of the ABAT LLC leadership with the Hausa Fulani in the interest of the Yoruba Nation? Is it good enough to just think of the next election and not the interest of the next generation and the ultimate survival of our Yoruba Nation? The answers to these questions lie with the Yoruba people as we approach 2015 Elections.
Now there is anxiety in the midst of the ABAT LLC apparatchiks, agony among its defenders, anguish among its sycophants and apprehension among its “employees” that some are out to bring down the mercantilist outfit. But the mercantilist outfit has within itself the seeds of its own destruction. It does not need any unbeliever to act as agent provocateur. The fact that people, who are the repository of power have become more critical of the product they are being sold is what should be a source of concern to the stakeholders of ABAT LLC. Can ABAT LLC still be a symbol of “progressivism” as is being hawked? Will the people still buy it after finding out what is in the package? How can the people reconcile the obvious mercantilist exudation of ABAT LLC with the claims of progressive politics? Herein embedded are the agonies of the defenders of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his mercantilist agenda.
And in the event people refuse to buy the ABAT LLC’s mercantilist package, what happens next? One has no idea except that the TRUTH is out there for all to see and behold. It is just one’s hope that our people will speak with their votes once again across Yoruba land. But time, the great vindicator, would tell, as the judgment of History beckons.
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