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Opinion

Tinubu And Afenifere’s Curse: Dialogue With Yinka Odumakin’s Ghost

By Felix Oboagwina

Felix, what is happening? Will you guys continue to sleep and allow this man to ride roughshod over Afenifere once again?

Wetin we go do now, Yinkus? Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a Yoruba project. Therefore, all Yoruba people should queue behind him, including Afenifere. As the foremost Yoruba socio-political group, shouldn’t Afenifere be leading the charge to have a Yoruba presidency come 2023?

Who says? This man tried using us to bring Afenifere down. If not for the spirit of Obafemi Awolowo that made us see the light, Jimi Agbaje and me, and the Babas’ exceptional magnanimity, tell me the Afenifere that Tinubu would be going to today to curry blessings for his ambition.

It means the man too has seen the light and repented, just like you and JK. If the Elders could forgive you Yinka and elevate you from Admin Secretary to Spokesman of Afenifere, then Tinubu deserves a second chance. After all, it is your Yoruba people who say that if we fail to forget yesterday’s quarrel, we will not have people to play and confer with tomorrow. Also, Omo eni kin se di bebere ka fi l’eke si t’omo elomiran.

You this “kobokobo” Edo boy, who has been teaching you Yoruba proverbs?

Ewe mi ti pe l’ara ose, now! I have lived long enough in Rome to begin to mouth some Latin. Don’t forget I was born here, schooled here, married here, live here, have all my children here. Moreover, Edo and Yoruba are one. Oba of Benin is a son of Oduduwa. Therefore, I am a son of Oodua tokantokan, undiluted. (Chuckle)

Story! You are the one talking of “omo eni kin se di bebere.” Have you forgotten the case of Mulikat Adeola Akande, House of Representatives Member from Orire 1&2, Oyo State? President Goodluck Jonathan and PDP ceded to her the Number 4 position, Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2011. Jonathan did it to keep the Speakership in the hands of the Yoruba South-West and give them a sense of belonging. Have you forgotten that Tinubu marshalled all his cronies in the House to vote against her and instead rooted for an Aminu Tambuwal from Sokoto State? The little boy insults the mystic Iroko tree and flees, the spirits would take their pound of flesh somehow, someday. For Tinubu, payback time has come.

The one that confuses people is why Afenifere cannot speak on one voice about Tinubu. Chief Ayo Adebanjo distances the group from, Chief Reuben Fasoranti welcomes him.

Pitching Pa Adebanjo against Pa Fasoranti is Jagaban deploying the same divide-and-rule tactics he has used against Afenifere since 1999! Only the gullible will fall for it. This same way he split the leadership of Abraham Adesanya. That was the same way he pitched the three other AD (Alliance for Democracy) governors against the Afenifere leaders, except for Ondo State’s Governor Adebayo Adefarati, who stuck with the old men because of his direct loyalty to Awolowo, Awoism and the Awo legacy. The rift that Tinubu caused in Afenifere hastened the death of Pa Adesanya.

Slow down, Yinka, don’t jump to conclusions. At 86, Senator Adesanya was already old and good to go!

Who says? The man died heartbroken. The man died regretting. The man died cursing. He used to tell me, “Yinka, do you see how Tinubu has scattered on my head the house that Awolowo built? Do you see how this legacy institution is being destroyed in my own time? What will I tell my predecessors, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Adekunle Ajasin, when we meet in the afterlife? Will I tell them that the ileke omo Oduduwa (cord of Oduduwa) that they kept in trust in my hands broke and scattered under my care, in my own time?”

Or do you forget what you said Chief Olaniwun Ajayi told you at the Afenifere secretariat at Jibowu, Yaba, when you were DPA Lagos Director of Publicity, the curses the old man extracted from the Bible and heaped on Tinubu. Felix, have you suddenly gone senile?

Yinka, how can I forget such a weighty matter?

Tinubu split Afenifere and engineered from it a renegade Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) in 2008. Tinubu singlehandedly destroyed AD. He cared little that AD was the June 12 and NADECO vehicle that M.K.O. Abiola’s supporters virtually arm-twisted General Abubakar Abdulsalami to register, even after his earlier resolve to run a two-party transition in 1999. Bola Tinubu dismembered AD, the party that brought him into power, the emblematic phoenix that rose from the ashes of Awo’s First Republic Action Group and Second Republic UPN. On AD’s carcass, Tinubu as Lagos Governor founded the Action Congress, AC, that later transmuted into the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, which formed a strong pillar in what became today’s All Progressives Congress, APC.

Hold it there, Yinka, the man has won the APC ticket. Old sins have passed away. Even you forgave former President Olusegun Obasanjo although you abused the hell out of him, didn’t you, despite starting out as his hater? You even wrote a book against him, “Monitoring the Monitor” or “Observing the Observer” or so.

Olodo! Dullard! My book was Watch The Watcher (2014). What are we saying; and what are you saying? Obasanjo never identified with Afenifere. In fact, Afenifere worked against him and his PDP in 1999. Yes, we fell out with Obasanjo over all that he did against Tinubu, seizing local government funds when Tinubu created more local government areas in Lagos, and our belief that he rigged the 1999 and 2003 elections and unapologetically positioned himself as a stooge of the North. Even then, the man later saw the light, and I went to work with him –not “for him,” mind you, but “with him.” We aligned to create a third force to rescue Nigeria from the plundering vultures that PDP and APC had become in government.

With Tinubu going to seek Fasoranti’s blessing last Sunday, it shows he too has seen the light.

No. Tinubu went to Fasoranti with the same sense of Emilokan entitlement, which he deployed to secure the APC ticket. He believes that with money, nothing shall be impossible.

Was that why Pa Adebanjo accused Tinubu of bribing his way into the old man’s home in Akure? On ground at Fasoranti’s place were men of eminence: Former Finance Minister Olu Falae, former Minister and Senator Dayo Adeyeye, former Ogun’s Governor Gbenga Daniel, former Osun Governor Bisi Akande, Senator Iyiola Omisore. Could all such people have been bribed?

I have not said so. Just know this and know peace: The person whose price Jagaban cannot pay does not exist.

That was how he got you too, abi, if we are to extrapolate your statement?

Na you know! The issue here is why this man will now want to court Afenifere, a group he spent his entire post-2003 political career denigrating and eroding. The height of it was when the daughter of this same Pa Fasoranti was killed. Eyewitnesses and those familiar with that Ondo-Ore axis, where bandits had shot her dead, identified the killers as Fulani herdsmen. Tinubu paid a condolence visit to the grieving old man; and when journalists asked him what should be done about the insecurity being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen in Yoruba land, Tinubu petulantly said: “Where are the cows?” Insult upon injury! I was there. I heard him.

Did you notice that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was not part of that charade of a visit? This is despite the fact that Tinubu is his party’s flag-bearer. Moreover, Aketi is the home Governor and this visit happened right in the state capital, a shouting distance to the Government House.

His Excellency might have been busy that day and otherwise engaged.

Who wants to use his head to carry a curse, Felix?

Curse, keh! What curse? Yinka, have you come again? When will you stop making all these your weighty insinuations?

Oh, you don’t know there is an Afenifere curse? Of course, there is. Ladoke Akintola betrayed Afenifere, did he not pay heavily for his treachery, slaughtered like a chicken during the 1966 coup? Even the one they used to call Baba Kekere, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, the best civilian Governor Lagos has ever had. Jakande was Awolowo’s alter ego and heir apparent. When this falcon broke away from Afenifere his falconer and gummed himself to General Sani Abacha against June 12 and NADECO, did that error not finish Jakande politically? Even General Oladipo Diya, who was championing an alternative Yoruba leadership when Afenifere refused to abandon Abiola’s cause and follow him to lick Abacha’s anus, did Diya end well? Did he not escape the hangman’s noose only by the whiskers? Even Abacha, how did he end up after he spent his tenure hunting and killing Afenifere followers and leaders? How about Navy Captain Anthony Onyearugbulem, the Military Administrator of Ondo State, who brutishly, irreverently and indecently invaded Afenifere Leader, Pa Adekunle Ajasin’s home in Owo, and vilified the old man, like a headmaster would pour scum on a primary school pupil? Did Onyearugbulem end well? Even his Wikipedia profile said the man “died suddenly in a hotel room in Kaduna in somewhat mysterious circumstances.” He abused an old man and he did not grow old too, 47.

If you didn’t know, know it today, Felix: The fear of Afenifere’s curse is the beginning of wisdom.

I am just curious, did Abiola’s fate have to do with the curse? He antagonised Awolowo too in the NPN days. The way his mandate was taken away from him remains an inexplicable anti-climax. Did it have to do with the curse?

Spirit I may have become, Mr. Oboagwina, that doesn’t imbue me with omniscience. I don’t have answers to all of life’s mysteries.

If the fear of the curse made Tinubu run to reconcile with Afenifere, why is heaven not rejoicing over this repentant sinner? Why has the whole Afenifere turned upside down over Pa Fasoranti giving him not only audience, but also his blessing on October 30? After all, isn’t it you Yoruba people who say that if you cane a child with the right hand, you should use your other hand to embrace him?

Did Tinubu go seeking Afenifere’s blessing; or he went to get Pa Fasoranti’s blessing? They are two different things, Felix. Afenifere is an institution, a legacy institution. Since its creation in 1951, it has remained the spirit of the Yoruba people, their compass even. It may not pack the same power today as it did under Awolowo or Ajasin, but its mysticism remains. It radiates in its collegiate leadership. That leadership college, March last year, agreed with Fasoranti that, being 95 years old, he should retire and Adebanjo should take up the leadership. When Adebanjo pronounced that, for the sake of equity, belongingness and social-justice, power should rotate to the Igbo nationality this time around, the voice was indeed the voice of Adebanjo; but the authority came from beyond him. That pronouncement emanated from the pantheon of Afenifere leaders, living and dead.

Therefore, what you are telling me is that Peter Obi is only an accidental beneficiary.

Spot on! Power should go to Igbo people this time around. In 1999, to redress the injustice we Yoruba suffered over June 12 and Abiola’s death, the entire country left the field free to the monopoly of two Yoruba contestants, Obasanjo and Olu Falae. The country owes the Igbo no less in 2023. It will bring a close to the Civil War and redress the enduring injustice that has reignited calls for the resurrection of Biafra.

Shouldn’t Afenifere maintain neutrality, simply allow a level playing field, without tilting one way or the other, and let all contestants struggle for power? Bola Tinubu will tell you that power, political power, is never served a la carte.

Yes, that is his favourite cliché. Ptcheew! (Hiss) As if, his victory over Funsho Williams in the AD primaries of 1999 came by his own power and his own might. That story we leave for another day. The question you should be asking is, whether Tinubu himself has created a level playing field for political contestants under his wings. Confront him with that. He chooses. He enthrones. He dethrones. He dictates. He only and only he is the Alpha and Omega of who becomes what in Lagos, without tolerating inputs from anyone else. So why should he kick when Afenifere borrows his modus operandi? Here is the guillotiner becoming jumpy at the sight of a sword.

Yinka, he is Yoruba’s son, more than any Peter Obi. Omo wa ni e je ko se o!

Yoruba o bi omokomo o! Should I break that down for you? Yoruba have no hooligan for a son.

My own is why is this man making so many mistakes? Christians have already backed away from his Muslim-Muslim ticket; they have raised hell and high water over his choice of Kashim Shettima as Running Mate, when he had zillions of eminent Northern Christians to choose from. Yet Buhari rejected him in 2011 and 2015 for this same reason that the ticket would be Muslim-Muslim. Add to that the fact that he is bungling his public speaking engagements with inexplicable verbal accidents at every adlib attempt. It looks like this man’s handlers have lost vigilance, programming him for failure.

Yinka, I see you have risen up –preparatory to taking your leave. Have you considered one point?

What is that?

From the time of Awolowo versus Tafawa Balewa in the First Republic, to Awolowo versus Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic, to Obasanjo versus Olu Falae in the Fourth Republic in 1999, to Obasanjo versus Muhammadu Buhari in 2003, to Umar Yar’Adua versus Buhari in 2007, to Goodluck Jonathan versus Buhari in 2011, to Goodluck Jonathan versus Buhari in 2015, to Buhari versus Atiku Abubakar in 2019, don’t you see a disturbing trend?

Which is?

Not once has Afenifere backed a winning horse. Afenifere has never been in mainstream politics.

Felix, I told you before: I might be a ghost, but I do not have answers to all mysteries.

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