“Tinubu used his political muscle to convince gullible Yoruba legislators to vote against a Yoruba woman, Mulikat Akande, in a post that was specifically designed by the PDP as a benefit for Yoruba. He then got the same mumu Yoruba politicians to vote instead for Aminu Tambuwal; a scion of the Sokoto Caliphate with Hausa/Fulani agenda. This is something that could never have happened the other way around. It is inconceivable that a Hausa/Fulani legislator would be persuaded to give something that has been zoned to Hausa/Fulani to a Yoruba man. To put it bluntly, the Huasa/Fulanis are not stupid” – Femi Aribisala.
Hmmm! Who then are stupid? Anyway, the above bitter truth remark extracted from Mr. (Pastor) Femi Aribisala’s Tuesday column in the Vanguard Newspaper, published on November 4,2014, under the rubric: Aminu Tambuwal is a traitor, clearly speaks volumes about the unbecoming political shenanigans and grandstanding of certain Yoruba elements – aptly described in English as quislings – who unfortunately constitute the larger percentage of Yoruba folks ceaselessly moaning and groaning about how the Yoruba nation has not been “fairly” carried along by the PDP-led government of President Goodluck Jonatnan in terms of representation in the allocation of positions or offices in the executive and legislative organs of government.
Yet, these same elements who tend to forget or pretend to forget that they were the architects of the same so-called “marginalization” of the Yoruba nation vis-à-vis the composition of the top hierarchy of the legislative arm of government. Though aside from this clearly self-inflicted marginalization of the Yoruba in the national legislative scheme of things, it will be quite unfortunate and totally misleading for any rational mind to assert that President Jonathan’s government has not been excessively fair to the Yoruba people by any standard of assessment. Anyway this is an issue for another day.
But as was hitherto and widely reported, one of the reasons the then leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), led by Chief Ahmed Bola Tinubu, and the then ACN legislators moved against Mrs. Mulikat Akande who apparently was the Peoples Democratic Party’s choice for the position of the speaker of House of Representatives at the time, was not unconnected with the notion that she was viewed, rightly or wrongly, to be the anointed candidate of the former president Olusegun Obasanjo – whose seemingly provocative political posturing at the time never helped matters at all.
In the circumstance therefore, it seemed convenient for people to key in to the prevailing impression that Chief Ahmed Bola Tinubu and his ilk had reason to view the possible emergence of Honourable (Mrs.) Mulikat Akande as the Speaker of the House of Assembly as an unmistakable continuation of what seems to be an unwanted reign of Obasanjo and his associated phenomena in the south-west politics. To this end, one is thus tempted to think that there could be little wrong on the part of Chief Tinubu and his men to have politically acted expediently with the sole aim of clipping Chief Obasanjo’s developing wings in the south-west politics at the time – a development the eventual emergence of Aminu Tambuwal settled forthwith.
However good and self-fulfilling as the eventual emergence of Aminu Tambuwal may have turned out to be for Tinubu and his cohorts after all, it certainly arouses some degree of incredulity in the minds of observers of Yoruba politics who still find it extremely hard to fathom how the collective interest of a people – meant to be championed and protected by their political leaders – could be so selfishly and foolishly sacrificed by a tiny minority of their political class, all in an attempt to ridicule the little of what appeared to be Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s perceived or imagined clout in the south-west politics.
As it were, it may be easy for anybody to say that there is no big deal or any major loss of benefits in the “harm” the then leadership of ACN and its Federal legislators conspired to cause the Yoruba people of the south-west by trifling with the clearly recognized “right” and privilege of the region to produce the Speaker of House of Representatives as designed by the Peoples Democratic Party. Even to put this thinking aside, there is no gainsaying that the present political leadership in south-west Yoruba has failed the Yoruba nation in the manner it has been handling the intricacies and consequences of Yoruba internal politics. Of course taking a cue from the past political events dating back to the days of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s reign and stint in politics, there could hardly be remembered a time the political leadership of the south-west under his watch abdicated or compromised whatever was meant for or due to the Yoruba people as their own share of national entitlement, and neither was he ever disposed to trade off the regional interest of his people for whatever reason, let alone doing so for personal aggrandizement.
This in part helps to account for why despite Chief MKO Abiola’s seemingly hostile political inclination towards Chief Obafemi Awolowo before and during the second republic politicking, the latter did not still act beyond the reasonable against the former and which in turn explains why Chief Abiola did receive unalloyed support and solidarity from the vast majority of Yoruba in the wake of the struggle for the de-annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election – annulled by General Ibrahim Babagnida’s military regime.
Besides, as we may recall, Chief Awolowo’s affection for protecting the Yoruba group interest, as was earlier witnessed in the 1950s through the very first defection saga in the annals of Nigeria, led him to influence and cause a mass movement of Yoruba members of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC into the Action Group. And no matter how anybody still views this landmark historical development, the fact is that no real political leader worth his salt within his enclave would have done otherwise.
Arguably, it stands to question if Dr Azikiwe – who apparently felt bad about this defection – would have stood to watch Chief Awolowo’s Action Group make such an unprecedented in-road into the politics of the then Eastern region, without plotting and executing a similar counter political offensive. Therefore, if what we regard today as ethnic politics is deemed to have started from Chief Awo’s political disposition arising from issues pertaining to the defection saga of the 1950s, it may well be because of nothing short of his life-time strong belief in the pursuit of Yoruba cause and/or the need to always defend and safeguard their corporate interest within the comity of the Nigerian nations, at any given opportunity.
Surprisingly, it provokes deep curiosity that the present day political leadership of the same Yoruba nation is gleefully negating and undermining the same group interest or entitlement of their people in desperate pursuit of political witch-hunting. In fact, it defies rationality that the hitherto described sophisticated and united Yoruba politicians could today disagree and bicker to the extent of sacrificing, for some selfish and frivolous reasons, their larger group interest to the advantage of other contending regional interest in the country which the emergence of Honourable Aminu Tambuwal as the speaker of House of Representatives confirms.
And looking back at the facts of history, it is most unlikely – if he were to be alive today – that Chief Obafemi Awolowo would have espoused or endorsed this course of action with respect to Yoruba’s preference for Honourable Aminu Tambuwal as the speaker of House of Representatives to their own Honourable Mulikat Akande. Little wonder that the ordinary South-West Yoruba folks and electorate seem to have begun to register their disenchantment with the manner their group interest is being toyed with by the actions and inactions of the South-west leadership of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), now the All Progressive Congress, alongside with its Federal legislators in the House of Representatives. Critically weighed, one could hardly rule out this factor as one of the unspoken reasons why the APC may have lost the last gubernatorial election in Ekiti state to the PDP – notwithstanding the propaganda about the alleged role of the so-called “stomach infrastructure” in determining the outcome of the contest.
But be it as it may, it is high time the south-west Yoruba political class united and stood up to regain what belongs to their people and due to the entire Yoruba nation. Much as it is the original and, perhaps, subsisting decision of the Peoples Democratic Party – arising from its internal affairs – to zone the position of the speaker of House of Representatives to the South-West Yoruba, it need not be belaboured here that the entire south-west Yoruba political class should always strive to consider the corporate interest of the Yoruba nation above and beyond their individual, partisan or in-group interest. Needless to say at this juncture that a time shall definitely come when Chief Tinubu and those “mumu Yoruba politicians” (courtesy of Femi Aribisala) as well as the South-West in general would be denigrated or ridiculed by the Hausa/Fulanis, whose stereotyped born to rule mentality and the belief that they know and play politics more than all other peoples of Nigeria are being currently massaged and reinforced by a section of the Yoruba political class.
Therefore left to the dictates of expediency, it is imperative for Chief Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the entire APC leadership and followership in the South-West to rise up and do the needful by using this providential opportunity offered by Honourable Aminu Tambuwal’s defection to make amends and allow for the emergence of a Speaker of House of Representatives with South-West Yoruba descent. This remains one way Chief Ahmed Bola Tinubu and his APC kinsmen could readily redeem themselves for apparently shortchanging the people of the South-West geo-political zone. A stitch in time saves nine.
The writer is Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal writes from Abuja. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org