ATTACK ON AWOLOWO FAMILY: COUNT ME OUT -TINUBU
After a week of media bashing, former Governor of Lagos State and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has written the spouse of the late sage, Chief Mrs.HID Awolowo, saying he had no hand in the media attack on the Awo family.
A statement signed by Tinubu's Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Olakunle Abimbola, said: 'I wish to assure Mama that I cannot disparage the Awo family without disparaging the legacy that all of us proudly embrace and are trying to sustain,' Tinubu wrote in his letter, dated June 9, 2011.
Tinubu was writing on the controversy that has trailed the piece entitled, 'Awo Family without Awo', written by Sam Omatseye, Chairman, Editorial Board of The Nation, on June 6 viewed by many to be critical of the Awolowo family. Many have also claimed the article was a 'sponsored' attack on the Awolowos.
But Tinubu, in the letter, said he found such linkage strange, since every newspaper has its own editorial policy, independent of any person's relationship with the paper.
'Anybody with knowledge of how newspapers work knows every newspaper has its editorial policy, most times independent of even the publisher.
'So, how can I possibly be behind the opinion of a columnist, simply because he writes for a newspaper, which I am associated with?' the former governor explained.
He said even, Papa Awolowo, publisher of the Tribune while alive, always told people that he read articles in the Tribune, like other readers, since the paper had its editorial policy.
'The sage, Chief Awolowo himself used to say that he read articles in the Tribune like any other reader, despite that he was the publisher. The same principle applies here,' he explained.
Tinubu said though Tribune had been demonizing his person, it would be wrong of him to assume that Mama Awolowo, as publisher of the Tribune, was behind the attack. He said the same principle held in the Omatseye piece because the columnist was known to hold strong views which he expresses every Monday.
He said: 'It is common knowledge that Tribune, almost every day, demonizes my person. But should I because of that claim that Mama, as Chairman of the newspaper, was behind the demonization? Of course, I feel disheartened by it all; but I have never felt Mama was responsible for stories Tribune published'.
Tinubu reiterated his respect and affection for Mama Awolowo and her offspring, adding that that was not about to change.
'I have absolutely no need to cause Mama any heartache in her old age. All I want for her is to be happy. I assure her of my love and reverence; and affection for her family.'
Mr. Omatseye had, Monday June 6, 2011 written a piece in his column entitled: Awo Family without Awo, where he lamented the absence of members of the Awolowo family at the inauguration ceremonies of newly-elected governors of Ogun and Oyo states.
The article, which was regarded as offensive and castigating to the Awo family, has generated reactions from Awolowo's spouse, core Awoists and cross-section of Nigerians who accused Omatseye of playing the script of Tinubu as the publisher of The Nation newspaper.
Notable Nigerians like revered retired Anglican Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, has also reacted against the offending article while Tribune has since commenced media war against Tinubu culminating in the publication of the former governor's controversial foreign account numbers at the weekend.
But yesterday, the former governors washed his hands off the Omatseye's article, saying he had no cause to disrespect HID or disparage the Awolowo family.