Can't the President read it from the script? By Festus Adedayo
Pastor and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, is fighting one of the major battles of his political life at the moment. Thankfully, he seems to have vanquished his traducers. The war is won! Or so it seems. Last week, the Elect of God went on trial in the court of public opinion. Just like Our Lord Jesus Christ in the court of Pontius Pilate. According to the charges of the prosecution, Osinbajo had allegedly laundered the sum of N90 billion, Nigerian money, using the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as conduit. My Lord, the trial judge, had hardly begun the suit by the time the charges died a natural death. Osinbajo was acquitted of all of them. He was carried shoulders-high even as the legal juggernaut and dedicated Man of God sniggered at his traducers.
The charge sheet was prepared by Timi Frank, ex-All Progressives Congress (APC) for the prosecution. Excuse me while I intrude: Does that Timi have a God? The VP, a lawyer of no small stature, had unleashed a legal masterstroke that has gained a notorious renown among Nigerian politicians, which media communication scholar, Farouk Kperogi, helped crystallize, also during the week; what is called Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Politicians are one of God's creations whom He ostensibly created while He was at His witty best. Having studied the tenuous geography and wonky operational procedures of media practice in Nigeria, indeed the world over, and discovering that though they scream those valiant headlines about elite infractions, media practitioners are one of the world's most lily-livered creations, politicians fled into the embrace of SLAPP.
In Nigeria, economic Kwashiokor and operational cowardice worsen the pacifism of the media. Where in hell does a media organization yet struggling to pay reporters' salaries have the legal fees to pursue interminable libel suits filed by politicians? How can a medium satisfy the insatiable appetite for cash of those puffy-hearted lawyers whose esophagus is as wide as their gowns? So, 'SLAPP the bastard!' is politicians' ingenuous response to those stupid headlines alleging frauds, especially against Pastors in Power. Thus, getting the Vanguard newspaper to beat a retreat like a weather-stricken chicken became a fait accompli.
But for the fact that they alleged that Osinbajo was a Pastor who shouldn't drink beer, inviting him to get soaked in liquor should be in order at this crucial moment. When your enemies had assembled by the other side of the river, hoping to have your water-soaked remains cupped out like smelly excrement dislodged from a toddler's apparel, quaffing some bottles of liquor as celebration of victory should be an icing on the cake. Not to worry anyway, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is celebrating Osinbajo's acquittal very beautifully like one drunk on alcohol. Two days ago, CAN acquitted its hero in this war – Osinbajo – of any infractions. Praise the Lord, somebody!
It was the same way that an ally of Nnamdi Azikiwe and former Chairman of the Ibadan University College, Okechekwu Ikejiani, celebrated a libel suit he won against the Tribune in 1952. The newspaper had culled an ostensibly libelous Letter to the Editor earlier published in the Daily Service of October 13, 1951. Tribune published it on October 15, 1951, with the title, Fraudulent Saints of Africa. In the letter, the writer, one Aina Adetokun, writing from Ekotedo, Ibadan, had castigated Ikejiani thus: “In fairness to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, bearing (sic) one or two occasions in which he collected public money without rendering any accounts, he has been trying to make an honest living. He is on the whole earning his keep. One of the things that vitiate Dr. Azikiwe's leadership is the type of noisy and dishonest colleagues who proclaim him 'god of Africa'. And who are these disciples? One Dr. Okechukwu Ikejiani, former Chairman of the Ibadan University College, returned to Nigeria about three years ago with a lot of fanfare. He claimed to have obtained a doctorate degree in medicine. It was later proved that the degree was a fake. Consequently the quack expert was kicked out of the University.”
Irked by this report and a subsequent “half-hearted” rebuttal by the newspaper, Ikejiani sued the Tribune at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Ibadan Judicial Division, under Mr. Justice Miles Abbott and judgment was delivered on September 12, 1952 with cost to Ikejiani for “the sum of 750 pounds in damages and 10 pounds for costs, plus 30 pounds for disbursements.” However, till his death, Ikejiani didn't win this case in the court of public reality.
But, Osinbajo has won and trodden where angels failed to tread. Someone should let me know: I suspect that the VP's great grandparents were warriors. He has not only won the war, no one wants to mention the name 'Osinbajo' again. How can anyone commit the harakiri of sparring with a SAN? The way he, last week, worded the threat of libel to the media, you can only liken the reactions therefrom to what pacifists in Yorubaland call eni ori yo, o di'le! (time to beat a retreat!)
The public perception of Nigerian rulers, except a negligibly few among them, even from the First Republic, is that Nigeria is 'blessed' with those who possess unusually rapacious throats. Studies have shown that filching of the patrimony since independence was in the neighbourhood of 60 per cent of amounts voted to better the lot of the country. Governments upon governments steal sizeable chunks of budgetary allocations which they either wire offshore or invest through fronts in shadowy ventures. During elections, cash cows through which humongous election budgets are funded are isolated. Such fat state cows have been identified to be NNPC, tax agency, customs and allied agencies. This is why a government would be a fool not to put its Man Friday at the helms of those agencies. Not to worry, however, Tunde Fowler and Osinbajo do their Praise Worship sessions in same church on Sundays and are immune from such criminal tendencies. Alleluyah, somebody! It was these same Children of God, earthly children of a man who takes his breakfast daily with God – Daddy G.O. – that Timi Frank impudently and audaciously accused of conniving to steal Nigeria's money to fund the 2023 election. Timi is a Godless man, I swear!
Public perception of the Nigerian elite is even worse. Whether political, academic, religious, business or whatever elite, the belief is, they don't have blood flowing in their veins. The last to kiss the dust was the religious elite. They taught the man on the street to invest his last kobo in heaven where locusts, cankerworms and caterpillars destoyeth not but have perfected the art of purchasing the latest jets that motes and caterpillars cannot destroy. They build universities with our offerings and tithes but our children are literally decreed from access to their schools. However, Pastor Osinbajo is one we can trust. He speaks polished English and can sell snow to an Eskimo. More importantly, he has very scanty fat and bodily silos, so which storage will he keep N90 billion of Nigerian money?
Now that Osinbajo has won the war, he has to take the battle to the doorsteps of those “fifth columnists” he mentioned in Ekiti State upper week. If you ask me, even with my spiritual blindness, I think Abba Kiyari, Boss Mustapha and some un-born again persons in the presidency are targets of that VP's spiritual arrow. I must however warn that the war stratagem to vanquish them and their illicit columns should be similar to Azikiwe's West African Pilot's editorial of September 8, 1948 where Zik of Africa had impugned Sir Adeyemo Alakija and his Egbe Omo Oduduwa, as a “cabal” he felt was formed to battle his ascendancy to the Nigerian presidency thus, “Henceforth, the cry must be one of battle against Egbe Omo Oduduwa, its leaders at home and abroad, uphill and down dale in the streets of Nigeria and in the residences of its advocates… There is no going back, until the Fascist Organization of Sir Adeyemo has been dismembered.” Immortal Zik was however pushed down dale by this same Egbe and the fascism he fought to disclaim. I reckon however that Zik's fate was such because he didn't have the luck to attend The Redeemed Christian Church of God. Or be close to Daddy G. O.
Glory be to God in the Highest, VP Osinbajo has won the war. The volume of beneficiaries of Trader Moni and school feeding revolution must have been responsible for this victory and the imperishable words of Our Lord that whosoever diggeth a pit shall fall in it. Perhaps the next spurious allegation that that irreverent Timi would spew would be against Trader Moni? Walahi, Timi is possessed of the devil and is being used to perpetuate the heathens in the presidency beyond 2023. A Child of God must be in the Villa in 2023 to confront the demons that Reuben Abati said ravage the Villa. Praise the Lord, somebody!
In all this, can't President Muhammadu Buhari be a whistleblower of what actually transpired in the N90 billion debacle? If all of us are not aware of the sainthood of the Man of God, the President at least sure knows. If he can't tell us directly, he can at least read it from the script as he did last week at the United Nations; can't he?
El-Rufai, “Prince Dr” and their failed stunts
Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, must be very disconsolate at the moment. His governmental stunt of attracting applauses for enrolling his son in a Kaduna public primary school last week was shredded by a very irascible and irreverent social media crowd which so made little the stature of the stunt that you would wish you could add a cubit to el-Rufai's social media height. You would think a hyena had shredded it. They began by asking why, if it wasn't a plan to score unearned cheap political point, el-Rufai had to mobilize a full complement of Kaduna media to a movie which even an Ayo Fayose, years back as governor, directed without awaking Ekiti Government House dogs taking their siesta. El-Rufai's arch-enemy, Shehu Sani, was to later reveal that, preparatory to the stunt, el-Rufai had spent almost N200 billion to renovate this self-same school, making it more worthy of enrolling one's ward than any private school in Kaduna State. One of the pictures of his son sitting on a chair with other pupils captured one of the kid's pensive disquiet at this stunt. It would make you conclude that it fell face flat even before the magician began pulling the magic stick.
In Ogun State, the Prince Dr. Governor also pulled his own stunt. Ogun, according to the governor, at a one-day stakeholders' forum held in Abeokuta last week, said his government had concluded plans to establish two more universities in the two geo-political zones of the state.
“We have been able to settle the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY) issue. It is a win – win for everybody. If the people of Ogun Central still want a University, they will have it and if the people of Ogun West say they want a university, university they will have. But we are going to take it one step at a time and also consider the financial position of the State,” he said.
As we speak, I am not aware of any state in Nigeria that has the number of higher institutions in Ogun's kitty. It has two state-owned universities, OOU and TASUED and one polytechnic, with each of the state universities having a college each in each of the old four divisions of the three senatorial zones; four mono-technics in the four divisions of the three senatorial zones of the state; three federal institutions; 13 private universities; a state polytechnic, a degree-awarding federal college of education and a federal polytechnic. Upon coming into government, the governor lamented what he called paucity of funds to work with and there have been media reports that virtually all the institutions are presently gasping for breath as their funding is meager. Why then does the “Prince Dr.” want to add to the educational woes in Ogun by building two more universities rather than properly funding existing ones?
I reckon that the missing link is the absence of the spirit of the university at Oke Mosan. It is the kind of feeling that jumps on you when a man introduces self to you as “Pastor,” “Imam,” “Dr.,” “Prince.” “Professor” or any of those allied nonsenses. You are immediately alert that a fraud is afoot. In most instances, there is no doctor, nor is there a monarchy for any Princedom. It is what you see when you face Kaduna, formerly the Liberal State, the State that prides itself as Centre of Learning under the grips of el-Rufai son's learning in a “public” school.
For Ladoja, Akala and Peter Ajayi, ancestral spirit
Osi Olubadan and former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, celebrated his 75th last week. You may disagree with his politics or find faults with his modes of operations but Ladoja has been the issue in the politics of Oyo, at least from 1999 till today. Students of Oyo politics will neglect to find answers to why a large chunk of party faithful flock his Ondo Road, Bodija, Ibadan home for answers to knotty political questions, at their peril. This is wishing him a very happy birthday. Even though his own birthday is far belated, let me wish Ladoja's former deputy, Adebayo Alao-Akala a happy birthday as well. He celebrated his' in June this year. Alao-Akala also possesses some measure of humanity that politics cannot do without. From a distance, I observe these politicians and I must confess that most times, writings that crucify their politics in totality have not been too fair to them.
Two days ago, one of our ancestors in the pen fraternity, Peter Ajayi, was a decade old in the sepulcher. Brilliant journalist and one of the post-war era wielders of the might of the pen, Ajayi was one of the troika that Immortal Obafemi Awolowo nicknamed The Musketeers. The others are Felix Adenaike and Segun Osoba. You needed to read his autobiography, Not His Master's Voice to recognize Ajayi's brand of avant-garde journalism. It is painful that I got close to Ajayi at the twilight of his existence. I made up for that miss by being at his bedside a couple of days before his exchange of mortality for immortality, in the company of another friend of his – who is also late – Uncle Charles – Charles Ariyibi. Though shawled by indescribable pains, Uncle Charles jokingly asked Ajayi to get up from his sick bed and take a bottle of beer, to which he replied him feebly, “you're not serious.” Two days or so later, he passed on.
While celebrating Ladoja and Alao-Akala and their politics, I celebrate the memories of journalism ancestors like Ajayi, whose spirits we, their offspring, invoke when at journalism crossroads – what they, the ancestors themselves, call the ikorita meta ti n daamu alejo. Please, accept my libations.