By Tunmibi Ezekiel
After the former Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku took to his heels to escape the shenanigans of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the Action Congress because of personality clash which dated to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) days under the leadership of the retired General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Tinubu blossomed. The blossoming had taken off immediately he became the governor of Lagos State in 1999 and he had come into some money. With that he became a big player, undermined the traditional leadership in Southwest represented by the old Afenifere guard and created the Action Congress. The old guard itself had seriously become very vulnerable after they gave Olusegun Obasanjo a benefit of the doubt in the days leading to the national elections in 2003.
It was that election in which only Tinubu’s Lagos State survived Obasanjo’s onslaught that gave him the clout as a political “smart alec.” Then the ACN came to be from the ashes of the AC. The ACN came to be led by Chief Bisi Akande after some serious battles with Chief Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa. In the days leading to the governorship election in Ekiti State in 2007, the National working Committee had met in Abuja and decided that there should be party primaries to determine the ACN candidate for the race. Tinubu had argued vociferously against such insisting that Kayode Fayemi should be unanimously adopted by the National Working Committee.
The NWC of ACN led by Chief Bisi Akande did not agree with Tinubu’s request. They held that the primary would foster democratic ideals and made the party stronger internally and a force to be reckoned with. A vote held put the matter to rest, at least so they thought, that there would be election primary in Ekiti State to determine the governorship flag bearer for the party. After his idea of “consensus candidate” was defeated, Tinubu called some of his boys, armed them with some millions of naira and sent them to Ekiti State with one objective – ensure that the primary did not hold by every means possible.
The night before the day slated for the Ekiti primary, Tinubu reportedly invited Chief Akande to his presence and explained to him (Chief Akande) in confidence that the decision reached by the NWC of the party would not see the light of the day. He assured him that the party primary slated for Ekiti State the following day would not hold. Chief Akande was very curious as to the basis of Tinubu’s confidence that the primary would not hold the following morning. Savouring the moment as he reveled in his perceived invincibility, he proudly disclosed to Chief Akande that his boys were already on the ground to ensure that the primary would not hold and that it only cost him so much in naira value. Tinubu told Chief Akande that he had called to disclose this to him out of respect and did not want Chief Akande to be unduly disturbed when he found out in the morning what had transpired.
Chief Akande reportedly was shocked at what he just heard. He was terribly disappointed and could not believe what he has just heard. He complained about such underhanded tricks and pinpointed the dangers of such behaviors to the health of the political party going forward. The “boys” performed well for Tinubu as they ensured that there was no primary election and Kayode Fayemi ended being imposed on the party and the people of Ekiti. But because the people were determined to get rid of the PDP, they overlooked this anomaly and closed ranks. But already the seeds of discord and feud have been planted.
Meanwhile, Bamidele Opeyemi had won the Senatorial ticket of Ekiti Central. Dele Alake and Babafemi Ojudu have also expressed interest in the same position. All of them were Tinubu “boys” and counting on him for support. Alake had played himself out after he reportedly got into trouble with Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tunji Alapinni on Lagos –Ibadan expressway. Mr. Alapinni, according to reports, had been driving himself without any appurtenances of his status on his way to Ibadan. Alake, already swollen-headed by his association with Tinubu, had his own entourage too as a “prospective Senator” and former Commissioner in Lagos State under Tinubu. His boys, unruly, thuggish and detestable had face-off with Alapinni for driving slow and being in their way. Alapinni was embarrassed and wondered who that could be.
He called the Police Commissioner in Ibadan to ensure that that entourage was stopped by all means. He wanted to know who was the person abusing power and privilege in such a brutish and crude manner. Dele Alake was reportedly stopped in Ibadan and locked up at State Police Headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan. Tinubu reportedly reached Mr. Alapinni on the phone to apologize for Alake’s behavior. He eventually sent his men reportedly, to come and bail Alake and set him free. This incident was effectively kept out of press because of its embarrassing nature and the odium it could bring to bear on all involved. For this reason, Alake was totally ruled out of contention by the Bourdillon godfather for the senatorial ticket of Ekiti central.
Bamidele Opeyemi was prevailed upon by Tinubu to give up the ticket to Babafemi Ojudu. He was helped to understand that he (Opeyemi) has been commissioner for 8 years in Lagos State. He has been Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development. He has also been a Special Adviser and Senior Special Assistant at different times too to Lagos State Governor. Bamidele was pleaded with to allow Ojudu “a taste of the pudding” by giving up the Senatorial ticket and accept to go to the Federal House of Representatives. It was initially contentious, but Bamidele agreed and gave up the ticket to Ojudu. A lot of Bamidele’s supporters felt that he was robbed but there was nothing they could do about it.
As soon as elections were held, Fayemi revealed his true self as an arrogant and condescending person. He began to step on all toes of party leaders in Ekiti without any discrimination. That was not even enough for Fayemi who began to rough-shoulder his benefactor, the godfather of Bourdillon. Tinubu was flabbergasted about what was happening. He could not believe he has installed a “monster” in Fayemi. Ojudu also advised Fayemi to “take it easy” but Fayemi did not think any of them ought to be taken seriously.
Tinubu then invited Bamidele to began to prepapre to take over from Fayemi as the governor of Ekiti State in 2014. Bamidele agreed and he was “heavily funded” by Tinubu for this purpose. He began to work ahead. Fayemi saw the handwriting on the wall and had to basket his ego. He enlisted the help of Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola and the National Chairman of the Party, Chief Bisi Akande to plead to Tinubu on his behalf. Tinubu agreed and tried to “order” Bamidele to sheath the swords. But this time around, Bamidele refused to heed the call because Fayemi had also stepped on his toes too and it has become personal. Meanwhile, Fayemi has also turned his goons on his best friend in Ojudu who was at the receiving end of embarrassing harassment from Fayemi’s security details. The house began to collapse as pack of cards as many party juggernauts in Ekiti state were at loggerheads.
Most analysts believe that things would not have turned out this way if internal democracy had been allowed by Tinubu. But Tinubu has a sense of entitlement as the owner and financier of the party. He believes he is the law within the party and his whims and caprices ought to reign supreme. Increasingly, the negative influence of Asiwaju Tinubu, the so-called “national leader” of the APC is becoming widely manifest. Its nauseating stench is fouling up the political landscape and it has got well meaning Nigerians who are looking towards 2015 as the year of change worried. Yes, very seriously worried. As 2015 fast approaches, there are increasing concerns about the fate of the opposition party that is being pummeled on daily basis by the misdeeds of Tinubu who seems bent on having his way at all costs regardless of its consequences to APC and the yearnings of many Nigerians looking at it as the “viable alternative” in 2015 to the behemoth called the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
From the look of things, the underhanded dictatorial antics and blatant anti- democratic practices of Tinubu, which at times bothers on crookedness and criminality, may be the greatest tool in the hands of President Goodluck Jonathan as we approach 2015. It is evident that Tinubu is bludgeoning the APC to its gradual demise without remorse. Without much saying, it is also clear that Tinubu who is engaged in this particular endeavour, is oblivious to the damage being inflicted, not just on the political party but on the hopes of Nigerians. A legitimate ambition has become morbid and incorrigibly blinding to the point that Tinubu, it appears, would not care if the party goes up in flames as long as he realizes this ambition. Unfortunately, the spineless “yes men” who surround him have no courage to call him to order and advise him to take a step back before the whole thing collapses.
Tunmibi Ezekiel, a political analsyt, wrote from Lagos.
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