By Bola Bolawole
Rumours fly all over the place that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced the investigation of ex-Lagos Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for financial malfeasance. The appointment of the new EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who, as the Lagos zonal coordinator of the EFCC, started some investigation into Tinubu’s alleged financial empire, stoked the fire of the renewed rumour. Tongues have often wagged about Tinubu and his financial empire.
A few examples: In 2015, Tinubu was alleged to have almost single-handedly financed the election of the then APC presidential candidate, retired Major-General Muhammadu Buhari. Before then, he had been said to have bankrolled the processes leading to the formation of the APC, cobbling together the merger of the legacies parties of the ACN, CPC, New PDP and a rump of the APGA led by then Gov. Rochas Okorocha into a formidable opposition party able to unseat the then ruling party, the PDP.
Tinubu is alleged to practically own the whole of Lagos (hyperbole!). His wife is a senator; his daughter is Iyaloja of Lagos; and his son manages the controversial Lekki tollgate! Hotels; newspaper, radio and television houses; this company and that company; landed properties, etc are ascribed unto the Jagaban Borgu. The joke is out there that whenever Tinubu prepares to go to bed, he says “Eko fe sun o” meaning (Lagos is going to sleep!) Tinubu is Lagos and Lagos is Tinubu! The imprimatur of Tinubu is writ large over Lagos.
Had Tinubu not supported Buhari again in 2019, Nigeria might have moved in a different direction. But Tinubu, for reasons best known to him, supported Buhari for a second term in office. Who can forget the sight of bullion vans starched with cash driving into Tinubu’s Bourdillon home during the 2019 election? So, in 2015 as in 2019, Tinubu is held accountable for making possible the Buhari scourge that the people suffer today.
So, it is with glee that some have received the rumour that the EFCC is after Tinubu with renewed vigour. Photographs of alleged Tinubu properties said to have been sealed have made the rounds. Many are wondering, however, why the EFCC has become the exclusive preserve of Northerners. Why has no single Southerner been found worthy to head the EFCC?
Buhari’s nepotism is well known – but we must also blame the past presidents from the South that were not sensitive enough to the geo-political configuration of Nigeria. Olusegun Obasanjo spent eight years in office and Goodluck Jonathan, six: Why did none of them find it imperative to appoint a Southerner as head of the EFCC? But, we digress!
The Yoruba leadership group, Afenifere, appears ambivalent on the question of Tinubu’s inquisition – for that is exactly what it is – by the EFCC acting the script of Nigeria’s Fulani leaders. At first, the Afenifere frowned at any attempt to victimize Tinubu; recently, however, the same Afenifere has said good riddance to bad rubbish.
Which of the two Afenifere positions is right or can both be right at the same time? The Yoruba have many sayings that address this issue. The first one says “Omo eni o se’di bebere…” You cannot ignore your own daughter simply because her buttocks are not voluminous and decorate the buttocks of someone else’s daughter. In order words, appreciate what is yours. “Imu ti a ni l’a n mu r’ode” When you have a function to attend, you do not go borrow someone else’s nose (because it is pointed while yours is flat)!
As my Owo people will say, whatever is the state of your teeth, that is what you will use to do justice to that sumptuous meal set before you. No one borrows to do that. Again, it is the manhood that God has blessed a man with that he uses to satisfy his wife in bed. No one borrows another man’s manhood to do that!
When a child is stubborn or irresponsible, the Yoruba say a man with a terrible child does not drive him into the lion’s den. They also say just as it is impossible to consume unripe plantains raw, so it is difficult for a man to kill his own child simply because of his bad manners.
In other words, the Yoruba are tolerant towards their wayward children. Why? Because they say a bad child has at least a day when he will be useful, like biblical Jephthah, and become the saviour of his people. Therefore, the Yoruba reckons that it is because of the mad man that may come from outside to attack that you keep your own mad man in the house. In other words, “omo ina l’a n ran s’ina” O yes, no sensible nation sends a Prof. Wole Soyinka to confront Fulani herdsmen; you send a Sunday Igboho instead!
Soon, the Yoruba will need to mobilize all its strength – warts and all. And that occasion is nigh. What needs to be done is to fashion out the right attitude towards those who have gone astray. It is not because they have done well or that they are above censure. It is also not that they will be allowed to go scot-free or be left to gallivant about without accounting for their actions; it is simply because, like the scripture says, this time is not appropriate for recriminations. Leaving leprosy and attending to skin rashes is not a sign of wisdom.
The Yoruba are also not new to black legs in the house. Beginning with the pre-Independence era, Yoruba-on-Yoruba violence has been rampant. Some of the most vicious Yoruba enemies were Yoruba themselves. Awo’s deputy, Akintola, turned against him. Many of the prominent politicians of the time, including Remi Fani-Kayode, Adelabu, Akinjide, Akinloye or the kinds of FRA Williams were in opposition to Awo.
A Yoruba judge, Sowemimo, sent Awo to jail. Obasanjo, a Yoruba military Head of State, said the best person may not win the 1979 election. Akinjide was the Mr. Twelve two-Thirds. MKO Abiola started the Concord newspapers with the sole objective of stopping Awo from achieving his goal of ruling Nigeria. In the heat of the June 12 struggle, Obasanjo declared that Abiola is not the messiah that Nigeria needed. The rain started beating the Yoruba a long time ago! And it is yet to abate!
If the Yoruba leaders of today – Tinubu, Osinbajo, the South-west governors, Speaker Gbajabiamila, etc – are not supporting the Yoruba struggle for emancipation from internal colonialism, such disposition has a rich history behind it. Many Yoruba leaders are unable to stand with their people, it appears their mouths are glued and they cannot even talk – except, to some extent, Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state. But they all can see Benue’s Samuel Ortom and the Fulani leaders in and out of government who mince no words and neither care a hoot whose ox is gored when they defend and advance their people’s interests.
All said and done, Tinubu as the foremost Yoruba political leader of the moment is expected to lead the battle against the onslaught on the Yoruba. Unfortunately, he is mute. Worse, each time he has opened his mouth, it has been to excoriate his own Yoruba people in support and defence of their Nemesis. It is hard to forget Tinubu’s “where are the cows” statement made on the occasion of the murder of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa. Reuben Fasoranti.
I heard that another Yoruba leader, Prof. Banji Akintoye, was pressured to seek an audience with Tinubu to discuss the travails of the Yoruba under the present dispensation. A call was put through to Tinubu who asked why they wanted to see him. Told that it was to discuss Yoruba matters, he snapped: If Yoruba matters; don’t bother!
Is that, then, the kind of person the Yoruba should identify with if he runs into trouble waters? “No” because he does not merit or deserve it. A person who sells his people cheap cannot buy them back at a premium. But “yes” because this is not about Tinubu but about principles – and it is also about Yoruba.
Tinubu is being investigated not because of corruption but because of his rumoured presidential ambition. Tell me, who among them is not corrupt? Tinubu is also being victimized because he is Yoruba. They know the Yoruba will swallow their hogwash hook-line-and-sinker. The Yoruba are a people always talking about the rule of law, merit, and due process – all of which are smokescreens to the Fulani.
Awo went to jail. Abiola died in detention. Tell me any other region whose leaders have been so shabbily treated? Enough is enough! I have heard it said that Tinubu betrayed Afenifere; that is one side of the story. The other side is Afenifere’s own shenanigans that threw up Tinubu. So, Afenifere bears precarious liability for what the Yoruba have suffered under Tinubu. The political leadership selection process that went awry under the Afenifere in 1999 is the reason why the Yoruba are rudderless and leaderless today. I stand to be corrected!
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