By Felix Oboagwina
APRIL last year, I wrote an article, titled, “Didn’t Tinubu Just Goof On MC Oluomo?” The piece did a post-mortem on the crisis rocking the Lagos State chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). Long story short, Musiliu Akinsanya, alias “MC Oluomo,” was issued a query by the union’s national leadership, he refused to answer it and he was handed a suspension. Out of the blue, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu declared NURTW banned. In its place, they created the Lagos Parks and Garages Management Committee and appointed MC Oluomo to head it as Chairman. Those who know, know that Sanwo-Olu merely served as the hand of Esau carrying out the dictates of the godfather puppeteer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. MC Oluomo is Tinubu’s strongman.
Lately, MC Oluomo’s pre-governorship-election message to the Igbo stock in Lagos became a social media virus. In it, the Tinubu-assisted tough-guy warns all Iya Chukwudis (all Igbo), “Vote APC or stay at home!” Simply put, should the South-Easterners fail to support APC, these attack dogs want to scare Igbo with a promise of Rwandan-style point-and-kill. It is a desperate message from a desperado whose desperate paymasters have read the handwriting on the wall from February 25, where they fell from their Olympian heights and lost Lagos to Peter Obi’s Elu-Pee. However, people like me saw the February 25 fall coming long ago.
In my April 2022 piece, I observed and warned: “As the Nigerian proverb says, ‘It is the foolish fly that gets buried with the corpse.’ Tinubu, in bailing out his embattled unionist godson may have succeeded in damaging his own ambition.” Could I have been more right?
Anywhere in Nigeria, where commercial transportation takes place, NURTW “full ground berekete.” So does its parent body, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). These are nationwide networks. Injury to one of them means injury to all. NURTW and NLC could be making Tinubu pay for robbing them of Lagos.
Apart from the MC Oluomo blunder, several others factors triggered the shock APC and Tinubu received in their traditional hold of Lagos and gave the lead instead to the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, on February 25. That February loss made them zero in on Obi’s Igbo kinsmen in Lagos. They think they have an Igbo problem they could solve through scare tactics. Perish the thought! It has nothing to do with Igbo people.
LAGOS-BORN WANT LAGOS
There is the “Omo Eko factor.” Aboriginal Lagosians from the Awori stock and the Saro Islanders, descendants of the freed slaves who returned to Lagos and Freetown in the dying days of the slave trade, these too want a shot at the throne too. Rallying around the likes of Chief Olabode George and General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, they have formed “Omo Eko Pataki,” dedicated to planting a trueborn, full-blooded Lagosian in Eko Roundhouse.
The dream the aboriginal Lagosians and Island Lagosians dream about ruling Lagos should make sense. They point out that unlike the likes of Rauf Aregbesola (Osun State), who, after a spell of meritorious service in Lagos, still headed back home to vie for state governorship positions, indigenous Lagosians have nowhere to go. Only godfather Tinubu knows why he shunned their yearnings since 1999. He paid dearly for it on February 25. It has nothing to do with Igbo people.
THE #EndSARS FACTOR
The 2020 anti-SARS protests against police brutality threw up leaders like Aisha Yesufu at the national level. In Lagos, from its angry embers rose the likes of the comedian Mr. Macaroni, the musician Eedris Abdulkareem and FALZ, the “Bahd Guy” musician son of quintessential Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN. The #EndSARS protests eventually became a symbol of youth resistance to constituted authority.
It is an understatement to say that Tinubu and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu soiled their hands in the ugly episode, which started out as a peaceful protest. The Lekki Tollgate has today become a symbol of that epic struggle, Nigeria’s own version of China’s Tiananmen Square, a place of sorrows, tears and blood. Lekki Tollgate, a private concern run by LCCI, has its ownership traced to Tinubu. His son Deji owns the advert firm that runs advertisements atop and around the structure. On the D-Day, three things happened at Lekki Tollgate.
· CCTV cameras were removed.
· Lights were switched off.
· A killing squad of soldiers shot into the crowd of hyper-peaceful, flag-waving protestors.
Blood flowed. Corpses of Nigerian youth piled up. The Army whisked away the slain, denying them the decency of a burial. Who sent in the marines? Sanwo-Olu denies but the military insists he did. Those youngsters have been waiting to get their pound of flesh. These 2023 elections provide that chance. They have waited for this moment since October 20, 2020.
Fate only provided Peter Obi as the accidental rallying point. Is it by omission or design that Aisha Yesufu, a veritable symbol of the #EndSARS protests, is highly visible in the Obi’s LP campaigns?
This is payback time. For that desecration of the flower of their youth at Lekki, Benin, Ogbomosho, young Nigerians want their pound of flesh. And they are determined, mobilised and organised enough to get it. It has nothing to do with the Igbo.
Apart from TVC and The Nation newspapers that he owns, which media can Tinubu identify as friends and allies today? The likes of Arise TV and AIT have gone overboard to denigrate him, after they wooed him without success. So does AIT. They spend generous airtime to mock and disparage Tinubu and his party. Little wonder. Before and since June 2022 that he won the APC ticket, Tinubu shunned the several debates they organised for presidential contestants. What cockiness! This anti-media posturing, unfortunately encouraged by his publicists, has proved a damager.
Who remembers that pre-February 25 even Sanwo-Olu did not much campaigning in Lagos? Instead of running his own political business, he was minding Tinubu’s business –gallivanting all over Nigeria with his godfather. The electoral results of February has sent the poor guy running from mall to shops to churches to computer villages, doing photo ops like a jack-of-all-trades! It has little to do with the Igbo.
By the way, Sanwo-Olu blames their poor show on his godfather’s Muslim-Muslim ticket. And who says that formation would escape unscathed in a multi-religious country? Tinubu performed woefully in the Christian-dominated South-East, South-South, as it did in several Christian featuring states of the North? Ditto Lagos. It has nothing to do with the Igbo.
GODFATHER’S LIMITED TENURE
The governorship is a tenured office. You do your maximum term of eight years and quit the scene. Tinubu became Lagos Governor in 1999. He left office in 2007. Thereafter, he has remained the ultimate godfather of Lagos politics. From Babatunde Fashola, to Akinwunmi Ambode, to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, all Lagos governors have come under the control of this ultimate puppeteer. All local government and Legislature operatives are handpicked by him. The question is: Will Tinubu’s godfather tenure in Lagos last till death do them part? Or will die the natural death of Olusola Saraki in Kwara State, Orji Uzoh Kalu in Abia, Adams Oshiomhole of Edo, Jim Nwobodo in Enugu and James Ibori in Delta, all of whom have had their godfather influence extinguished? The law of diminishing return is a nature thing. It has nothing to do with the Igbo.
THE LOSS OF AFENIFERE
Egbe Afenifere singlehandedly made Tinubu in 1999. His romance with them has long lost its fire –forget the other day’s PR trip to Pa Reuben Fasoranti in Ondo. Today, that foremost Yoruba socio-political group backs Obi 100 percent. Without Afenifere’s pillar of support, it cannot be smooth sailing for the former Lagos Governor.
OBI AND THE IGBO FACTOR
Yes, Peter Obi is a boy, an Igbo boy. Therefore, the former Anambra State Governor will naturally command the support of his kith and kin. However, social media buffs have pointed out that if you drop Obi from LP and replace him with any other Igbo politician, like Orji Uzoh Kalu or Rochas Okorocha, they would abandon LP like hot potato. Obidents swing only in one direction, the Peter Obi direction.
Why Obi? Obi packs qualities that those other politicians lack. Like them, he served in public office, but his integrity rings loudly and deafeningly. Here is a man who has refused to allocate to himself post-service pecks and pecuniary, where his mates corner lifelong cars, cash and castles from the state coffers! He exudes capacity, competence and character. Those qualities make sweet music in Nigerians’ ears.
It has nothing to do with the Igbo people. Obi’s magic goes beyond Igbo backing. His votes in Lagos came majorly from non-Igbo voters. Go and verify.
Agreed that the garrulousness, bragging and verbosity of a minuscule few of Igbo loudmouths would not help matters, but not all Igbo proclaim Lagos as a NO-MAN’S-LAND that they want to TAKE OVER. Yoruba “indigenes” will fight anyone proclaiming that assumption.
However, one thing I know (since serving as director twice in the Jimi Agbaje governorship campaigns of 2015 and 2019) is that the Tinubu political family dusts up this propaganda-blackmail every election cycle. Fela calls it “their regular trademark.” This Igbo-want-to-take-over-Lagos is a xenophobic slang they apply during every election. They spread the misinformation that the opposition wants to red-carpet and royalise the “Igbo strangers” in Lagos. They used it against Jimi Agbaje. They tried it with Jandor. Now they are bringing that piece of trash against Rhodes-Vivour, whose principal happens to be Igbo. They disguise the blackmail as a clarion call for Yoruba unity, irredentism and nationalism. By these satanic verses, they paint Tinubu’s clique as protectors of Yoruba interest and resisters of Igbo expansionism. Those who know Lagos politics know that the MC Oluomo-Tinubu group are lying. Unfortunately, however, the formula seems to work. Always.
(OBOAGWINA IS AN AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST, AND MAY BE REACHED VIA: firstname.lastname@example.org)