There was a hurriedly composed, sycophantic song, which ruled the political space in Delta State, some years ago, when Chief James Onanefe Ibori held sway. It was simply known as Odidigborigbo. It was in the days when President Olusegun Obasanjo sought to get his pound of flesh from Governor Ibori, who was deemed to be the arrow head of the supporters of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Abubakar, you will recall, attempted to stampede the General into relinquishing power after his first term. James Ibori, and a group of governors, who aligned with some political heavyweight in the then ruling PDP, had to fight many political battles. In most of them he managed to scrape through to the wonderment of all and loud applause of his supporters who usually burst into the song: Dem dey look am, he de go, Odidigborigbo.
Governor Nyesom Wike, it seems, who was just a local government chairman of Obiokpo Local Government area in Port Harcourt, had a studied eye on the one his supporters also nicknamed the Sheik. So when you see Governor Wike’s exuberance when his supporters sing: as e dey sweet us, e dey pain dem; as e dey pain dem e dey sweet us, he had a mentor of sorts in the euphoric shenanigans of the sycophants around James Ibori.
Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC’s song is a different kettle of fish altogether. The one his supporters call Asiwaju spoke himself into the APC presidential candidacy, with a mantra, Emilokan! But to his consternation and disgust, Emilokan soon became a hit song on the streets. No, not by fans or sycophants around the Asiwaju. It was composed by some members of the Pyrates Confraternity, whose founder, Professor Wole Soyinka, a close ally of Tinubu soon came out to denounce the song in no uncertain terms. In one of their sailing nights, they hit the streets and sang: Emilokan, Emilokan, Baba way no well, e day shout Emilokan; hand day shake, leg day shake, Baba wey no well, e day shout Emilokan… The song captured the fears and worries of Nigerians who saw Tinubu as another potentially sick president who, in fulfilling his life ambition, will sink the nation into a higher level of tribulations, into a deeper economic cesspit.
I recall the song: Odidigborigbo, As e day sweet us, and Emilokan today because the controversies around Bola Tinubu have simply refused to go away. While Nigerians are seeking answers to them, his handlers are going ahead in their attempt to force him on the nation as President, whether Nigerians like it or not. His hatchet men, have adopted tactics which they hope will harangue the media and Nigerians into silence. These include media bullying, name calling, subterfuge and bamboozling. The media team of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, spares no caustic language in harassing those who are asking genuine questions of candidate Bola Tinubu.
In the forefront of this are Dele Alake and Bayo Onanuga who are adopting all tactics in an attempt to silence the press. They chose bullying, harassment and haranguing of anyone who wants the four major candidates, especially Asiwaju Tinubu, to come clean on their past. They particularly want to sweep under the proverbial carpet the many issues that demand urgent answers from their candidate. They want those who demand answers to the many controversies around him to shut their mouths and join the alleluia gang; join them in the unquestioned hailings which obfuscate the danger of having a sick president with a rich tapestry of a questionable past. They are attempting to turn Tinubu into the new Odidigborigbo. They think that whether we like it or not, as we dey look am , Tinubu dey go!
Yet one of the questions: why is candidate Tinubu avoiding live interviews and debates?, that Nigerians are asking is easy to answer. About six weeks ago, I wrote: “when will Tinubu come out to address the many issues around him and his candidature? When will he call a press conference and personally address the issues of his alleged link to a narcotics ring about 29 years ago? When will he frontally put to rest the issues of his name, his parentage, his primary and secondary education? When will he come to show, through his personal tax payments, how he acquired the humongous wealth associated with him? When will he confidently showcase his chairmanship or directorship of companies associated with him? Where and how did he acquire his wealth? What does he do for a living? Last, most people know of him, is that he was a two term governor of Lagos State, a NADECO activist and former staff of an oil company.”
Continuing I noted: “Many “rumours” abound about his alleged wealth and ownership of companies. For example, it is assumed that he owns the Nation newspapers and TV Continental, TVC, a radio station and Alpha Beta among a legion of other issues. But a check at the Corporate Affairs Commission turns a blank when his name is cross checked against ownership/directorship in these establishments. Like so many other issues, Nigerians deserve to know the truth, from the horses mouth.
“Then there is the small issue of his health. True, since he went for his last medical tourism to Europe and the United Kingdom, he has been more spritely and less sluggish. His speech, especially if reading from a prepared text, of not more than two pages, makes more sense now than before. Yes, his hands are still visibly shaky but his legs wobble less now. And if he speaks in the Yoruba language he is able to communicate with less gaffes. But will he be willing, for example, to join the other candidates in undergoing a medical fitness test? And when will he also grant a live, unscripted interview with journalists of his choice, in a television station of his choice, even if it is with TVC which he allegedly owns? By not doing any of the above he is giving the wrong impression about his health, state of mind, etc. He is giving the impression that he has something(s) to hide and wants to rough-ride Nigerians and railroad them into making him another President Buhari who has spent the better part of his presidency hiding the true state of his health.
“He is aspiring to the number one public office in the land. The well over 200 million people he aspires to be president over deserve to have him come out and address these issues and if for nothing else, put their mind at ease that they are doing the right thing by voting for him. They deserve nothing less. The current strategy of stonewalling and refusing to concretely address them may succeed in the short term. But it is foolhardy. These issues cannot be wished away.”
It was, at first, watching him, almost a thing of joy, that when he refused once again to attend an AriseTV Live debate but chose to go abroad to honour the invitation from Chatham House, he tried to douse the apprehension of Nigerians by proffering untenable answers to some of the questions Nigerians are asking. One, he insisted that he is a bonafide Tinubu, a true son and that he is ready for any DNA test. He didn’t mention the name of his father or mother. We know he claimed the late Iyaloja, Mogaji Tinubu as his mother. This is a woman who never had a biological son. He also spoke about the source of his humongous wealth. He says it was an inheritance from his parents that he judiciously invested. Really? Before now, he had claimed a poor parental background.
Alluding to the many questions about his qualifications and schools he attended, he informed that he has got a replacement certificate from the Chicago State University. Nothing was said about his primary and secondary school education or the Dale Institute which, in his earlier political days, he claimed to have attended. The Chatham House event eventually enhanced the worrying questions about his mental and physical health. In trying to be smart, by claiming team-ship when he refused to answer questions but fanned them out to his followers, he exposed himself to more questions; and fears about his capacity.
Nigerians must insist on knowing, if nothing else, the true health status of this man who thinks Nigerians owe him so much he must become their president, whether they like it or not; dead or alive.
● Mideno Bayagbon: