Following the rather ‘impromptu’ manner of their hero’s declaration of interest in the presidency shortly after informing President Buhari of his intention, Bola Tinubu’s supporters resorted to the old game of stealing the identities, voices and integrity of well regarded men of honour, purporting them to have endorsed Tinubu’s aspiration.
The ‘Jankara’ ambush started when the social media caught fire with a post indicating that Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), had endorsed Tinubu. The post read: “If Senator Bola Tinubu could make Lagos the 5th richest economy in Africa and the safest state in Nigeria then be sure what he will do as Nigeria President. ©️Akinwumi Adesina ~ 11/01/2022”. (Copyright Adesina?)
Those who know Dr Adesina well, swore that his standards were much higher than the opportunistic strain of contrived patriotism on offer in the political space of Nigeria. Adesina has earned a name as one of the best ministers of Agriculture Nigeria ever had. Now he’s taking the African Development Bank to previously uncharted heights. He numbers among Nigeria’s greatest technocratic exports. Why would such a man literally jump the fence to endorse Tinubu?
A rebuttal came before the Tinubu gang could make any mileage from their fraud. But there was no letup. Shortly after, they targeted another big fish, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. I have, in the last couple of years, written about several groups stealing Wole Soyinka’s name and voice in pursuit of their villainous goals. But this is the first time the camp of a presidential aspirant is stealing Soyinka’s image (integrity, nobility of character, creativity, honour, global intellectual renown etc) to deodorise their candidate.
The clowns could not even write correct English. The least one would expect, in a situation where anyone is trying to attribute anything to Soyinka, is that the grammar would, at least, be correct. How in the world would the real Soyinka be caught saying, “I have never involve myself in politics or campaign for any politician, but in 2023 I will involve in politics and campaign for longtime friend in 1993 Nadeco struggle. Nobel Laurel Professor oluwole soyinka,” (sic)
“Nobel Laurel?” Ho-ho! Playwright RB Sheridan would have pronounced a pox on the idiots who composed this cheap fakery. It is so idiotic it is difficult to beat even in fiction!
The image and quote were shared all over social media in a programmed way to give maximum mileage to the malignant rumour. One would have thought that anyone interested in a political office would rely on his own integrity and track record, not steal the image and voices of his betters.
The inimitable Soyinka, tired of being a regular victim of these crooks, was roused to save his name. In his press statement, Soyinka said: “…One can only hope that the public has learnt to identify fake news and join in the urgent task of exposing and disgracing these despicable touts.
The literary icon made his political stand clear, miffed as he was by the sheer illiteracy of the authors of the fakery: “For the avoidance of doubt, I have not even thought of 2023 much less inserted candidates into coveted positions.”
According to the professor, the message was an old recycled forgery that keeps popping up time and again. “Those who pass it round do themselves and their recipients a disservice. Find something worthwhile to occupy your time. In any case, we have no business with politics in the land of the dead and the most recent information I have on me is that I died some time last year….”
The level of perfidy and distortion of reality that some political desperadoes are ready to unleash on the society is staggering. The calculation of those who concoct these lies is that the eminent people whose names and voices have been stolen would feel ‘too big’ to descend into the gutter with the lie pedlars. What they don’t reckon with was that their victim need not jump into the cesspit with them — he could simply reclaim his name and image, and leave the forgers in their habitual sludge. You can’t rescue a pig from the mud pit. It’s his habitat.
Many Nigerians have also been wondering about Tinubu’s unannounced visit to the president with the sole intention of intimating him with Tinubu’s ambition. Considering the fact that Nigeria’s system of government is more of what I have described over the years as Babacracy instead of democracy, can one then interpret Tinubu’s visit as the visit of one aspiring Baba to an incumbent Baba in the spirit of Babacracy?
Oby Ezekwesili was not amused by some other ‘endorsements’ which seemed to take the electorate for granted. Her comment: “I watched one of those so-called ‘public analysts’ boast that, ‘Bola Tinubu has consulted the President. It is a given that Bola Tinubu will be the next President of Nigeria’”. She laments, “In a Democracy o! It’s not your fault.”
By jumping the gun, so to say, it seems Bola Tinubu is, this time, over-reaching himself like the proverbial gorilla which needed to wait for one more day for the magic potion transmuting him from animal to man to complete its work, but chose to dance in the market, half-man, half-animal. Now, Tinubu has activated his legion of foes ahead of time and the predictable bashing, muck-raking, and demystification has started in earnest.
One Jalingo-based Tanko Yusuf reminded Tinubu on social media that politics is not just a game of who declares first.
“In 1999, Bola Ige was the first to declare. In 2003, it was Abubakar Atiku. In 2007, it was Odili and Ibori. in 2011 it was Ribadu in front and in 2015, President Jonathan started the race before anyone could say Jack Robinson! In 2019, we all cannot forget quickly how Governor Fayose launched his campaign. What do they have in common? They were all losers!
Bola Tinubu is, to be sure, not anyone’s political spring chicken. He is one of the most experienced players in the political field. That is why the resort of his sympathisers to stealing the names and voices of eminent sons of the land is so unfortunate. I know that in a political grouping, there will be all sorts of characters, including low-lifers whose only way of showing relevance is by using extra-legal means from their operational headquarters in the cesspit to support their boss. But it is the duty of every aspirant to draw the line and read the riot act to his followers.
From a professional viewpoint, I think Tinubu ought to issue a statement dissociating himself from any 419 statement of endorsement stealing other people’s names and fraudulently attempting to annex their goodwill.
I have argued in the past that by the very nature of Nigerian politics, people who excite extreme positive or negative passions in people don’t win the trophy at the end of the day. And that applies elsewhere also. Remember a lady called Hilary Clinton? But for the fact that her opponent in the US presidential election was actually sworn in and went on to defecate all over the White House for four lamentable years, half of which tenure was virtually ‘Covidised’, many people would still have sworn that they were dreaming and that the rest of us should wake them up when the nightmare was over.
Tongues have been wagging that Tinubu’s visit to Buhari was to upstage another aspirant suspected of also nursing presidential ambition and seeming to be in the good books of the president and his minders. Whatever be the case, Tinubu has to be careful about his messaging. Yes, Nigerians are looking for a ready-made president, but they are not looking for a man who sees the office as the fulfilment of a personal ambition.
Commenting on Tinubu’s press conference after conferring with Buhari, Tanko Yusuf jeered: “Seating lonely in an empty room, with no political friends or associates, he came cap in hand to ask for permission to run for office from a man that didn’t need to give it, and left a resounding message: ‘this is about me, this is about my personal ambition’…
“It is good Asiwaju himself admitted he was saying the truth and nothing but the truth, when he spoke of his “lifelong personal ambition”. We have no problem with his ambition, we just want a president that wants the job because of us not because of himself!”
Tinubu is a cat with nine lives. My Biology teacher taught me that to land safely, every cat must conserve its angular momentum, rotate its body and slow its rate of rotation in such a way that it lands on its feet.
Every wise cat weighs its odds. Or does it?!
- Wole Olaoye is a public relations consultant and veteran journalist. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @wole_olaoye; Instagram: woleola2021