Tosin Fatoyinbo’s Awo is Born Again (A Rejoinder) by David Adeniyi
Please let me state it categorically here that I’m not a card carrying member of any political party. I write this piece for one main reason: to set the records straight because posterity will judge all of us in the future.
There is no doubt that a leader like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was able to make positive changes in the country. As the first Yoruba leader in the modern era, the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, is a tough act to follow. With Papa Awo’s legendary vision and administrative acumen, he transformed the Western Region, first as premier and later as leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the first and second republics.
The man who did not only fight for the Yoruba regional emancipation but also for the unity of Nigeria as a nation; Baba Awo was a great democrat, a nationalist and a patriotic leader.
Going by Mr. Tosin Fatoyinbo’s piece titled ‘Awo is born again’ dated Thursday 13th June, 2013, I think it is a high level of hypocrisy to heap the failure of Nigerian nation on the person of the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The writer misconstrued in his article that “Chief Obafemi Awolowo was lifted to the pedestal of immortal; he was practically worshipped and revered as the father of the modern Yoruba people”. Tosin went further to say that he was spoon fed with the idea that Chief Obafemi Awolowo could never do wrong. That’s a warped idea. How could Baba Awo be regarded as immortal? Is he God? Baba was human and was also prone to mistakes like you and I. For Mr. Tosin Fatoyinbo to assert that Chief Awolowo behaved like someone who could never do wrong was very unfortunate and immoral.
It will be improper and unfair to tag the late sage as a selfish and egocentric Yoruba leader.
Seeing Baba Awo as a “generalissimo” or “supreme leader”, as perceived by Tosin in his article in itself is undemocratic.
This totally negates the ideals and principles that Chief Awolowo stood for when he was alive. It is not only Yoruba people that talk about Yoruba Nation. Today, we have Ijaw Nation, Igbo Nation (Ndigbo), Hausa Nation and so on. If I must remind Tosin, perhaps he needs to go and find out the definition of a nation. He will see how pretentious Nigeria is to assume it is a nation when it is, at best, a country; ‘a mere geographical expression’ as Papa Awo had put it. I am of the belief that Baba had more interest in the unity of Nigeria than in her disintegration. That was why he (Awo) refused to form alliance with Ojukwu in seceding from Nigeria, one of the reasons a country called Nigeria still exists today. Papa Awolowo believed we should still remain as one entity despite our ethnic and cultural differences. He believed in unity in diversity!
That Awo was “the best president Nigeria never had,” a fitting epitaph coined by the Oxford-trained historian and Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, at the demise of the sage in 1987, holds true to this day. It is very evident as the country continues to grapple with basic developmental challenges 52 years after independence.
If Baba Awo had supported the splitting of Nigeria as Ojukwu had wanted him to do, by now Nigeria would have become a history. Rather Baba showed great character and patriotism. To me, it is very absurd for the writer to say that Papa Awo did the unthinkable.
Truth be told, one of the mistakes I observed made by the leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the West, Sir Ahmadu Bello in the North and Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe in the East was that each of them gave the socio-economic developments of their respective regions a higher priority than that of Nigeria as a whole. This was also extensively discussed in the book “The Accidental Public Servant” recently written by the former FCT minister, Mallam Nasir El-rufai where he gave an account of his stewardship while in government. These leaders are human beings. None of them was a spirit and they are liable to make errors. Only God is perfect and blameless.
Mr. Tosin also insinuated that “the APC is a child of an unholy marriage…” He also says “Chief Bola Tinubu is not really concerned about Nigeria as much as he is bothered about his constant and living obsession of dislodging the PDP at the national level. If he is concerned about Nigeria, he will not team up with a man who has over the years shown by his utterances that he’s more northern than he’s Nigerian. He would not close his eyes to the allegation hanging on Ali Modu Sheriff’s head.”
My response to this is simple. Even when Tosin agreed that the ruling PDP has failed Nigerians for 14 years, he lacked the common knowledge to realise that we need a drastic CHANGE in the government. And presently no single opposition party-be it CPC, ACN, ANPP or any other one can oust the ruling PDP at the national level. Except the opposition parties coalesce and form a formidable force to be able to do serious battle with the PDP in 2015. It will just be another exercise in futility.
Several attempts have been made in the previous elections and failed like a pack of cards. If the opposition parties must be taken serious by the PDP, they must team up to give the ruling party a run for its money. Given the human and material resources at the disposal of the PDP, only Tinubu’s party, ACN as Tosin Fatoyinbo wants us to believe cannot face the PDP in any national election in a country like ours and win. Only with the emergence of the yet-to-be-registered party, All Progressives Congress (APC), the PDP’s leadership has become jittery and rattled. The APC has been able to keep the PDP on its toes. This is good for our democracy. PDP has realised now that it is no longer business as usual.
Admittedly, it’s unfortunate that General Buhari goofed in a statement recently credited to him about the state of emergence being declared by the FG in three troubled northern states where Boko Haram sects had been holding people incommunicado. But that does not make Buhari one of the sponsors of the sects. No substantial evidence has been brought up to prove him guilty and it will be wrong to throw a baby with the bathing water!
The writer’s claim that Chief Bola Tinubu is towing the path of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo by romancing with the likes of General Buhari and Ali Modu Sheriff in the APC and that Tinubu is bound to fail is nothing but wild conjecture. It’s completely unrelated to the present reality.
It is sad that, as a nation, we have not stopped playing politics of ethnic advocacy, sentiment and nepotism.
“It always seems impossible until it is done”~Nelson Mandela.
I think Tinubu at 61 years of age has grown beyond a boy one could hoist on one’s shoulders to the farm, as a Yoruba saying goes.
Even when regional unity evidently fell apart in 2003; when the South West found itself in a political dilemma brought about by the re-election bid of then President Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP, never had such discordant political tune heard in the region and the divided house stood no chance against the tsunami onslaught of the FG-propelled PDP. Only Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of Lagos State survived and by the whiskers too!
Without Tinubu, the Yoruba states would still be in the wilderness that Obasanjo plunged the region for 12 years! Without Jagaban, there wouldn’t have been a question of rescuing other Yoruba states from the clutches of the PDP. Tinubu stuck his neck out to champion those lofty ideals, even at the risk to his own life and possessions. Don’t get me wrong, as a human being he’s no saint either.
No doubt Tinubu has earned his place in the leadership of the Yoruba people and not just the Yoruba but of all Nigerians desirous of equity, justice, freedom, democracy and true federalism. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has proved that political leader is not hereditary but has to be earned.
Even if Bola Tinubu retires from active politics today, Nigerian history on opposition politics will not be complete without his name. Yes!
A i binu ori k’afi fila de ibadi! (To spite the head you don’t put cap on the bum)
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