By Festus Adedayo
There was tension inside the main bowl of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on that day, December 11, 2014. President Goodluck Jonathan, having been rendered one of the most worthless clothes a people could wear on their festive day by the demolition propaganda machine of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it was obvious that whoever scored a bullseye inside the Balogun Stadium was the next president of Nigeria. On parade were General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, ex-Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso; ex-Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher of Leadership newspapers.
All the candidates attempted to wield the power and majesty of cash to hoodwink the electorate. Money in politics had been an African pestilence. About eight months before then, specifically on April 22, 2013, Yoweri Museveni had tethered cash by the grove of the hearts of the Ugandan electorate. After addressing a crowd of supporters in the Ugandan South-East region of Busogo, the source of River Nile, Museveni announced that he was donating $100,000 to a local youth group. Not long after, a security operative on his entourage appeared, dragging a huge sack of cash with great difficulty. Before then, the Ugandan Journalists Association had received a gift of $58,000 from this ‘benevolent’ contender for the office of the Ugandan president. The church was not left out of the saturnalia. Renovation of the Namirembe Cathedral also gulped $20,000 from Museveni, who was carried shoulders high and eventually won the election. Nobody asked for the source of the irreverent benevolence.
At the Balogun Stadium, the APC, with Museveni-minded personalities like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had unilaterally changed the legal tender of the campaign slush fund. It was no longer to be in naira, which had then been struck with epilepsy, necessitating its flip-flop falls. The dollar, the personalities advised, was the language of graft with which to purchase the conscience of the electorate. It was said that while Atiku Abubakar was ready to Museveni the delegates with an amount as huge as $15,000 per person, Kwakwanso offered $5,000 and the Buhari group was able to muzzle a mere $1,000. Seeing how the ghost of Museveni was walking majestically round the Balogun Stadium, the Buhari group was said to have raised the slush fund to $3,000.
Then it was time for the candidates to address the delegates. Whoever coached the hyper-taciturn military General on what to say to win the hearts of the electorate that day was deserving of a Nobel award. With the risks strung to such boldness that he later exhibited, what the General said was akin to biting the bullet. “Dollars, I don’t have,” General Buhari said in his obstinate best. “Even if I have, I won’t give. What I am offering is my integrity.”
At a time when the general impression was that Jonathan woke up every morning from the sewage, went thereafter to have breakfast with his colleague swine, Buhari instantly won the hearts of patriots who canvassed the purity of the electoral process as remedy to the rot in the land. And so, in spite of his party’s lean Musevenism, Buhari drubbed his co-contestants with 3,430 votes; followed by Kwankwaso, who had 974; Atiku, 954; Okorocha, 674; and Nda-Isaiah, 10.
Fast-forward to April, 2022. Buhari, apparently fascinated by the life and habitation of pigs, would seem to have shoved Jonathan off the sewer and supplanted him. Sitting regally and without a single care in the world, it was in the same Buhari’s presence that Abdullahi Adamu, the All Progressives Congress’ national chairman, announced that APC had fixed the sum of N100 million as cost for formalising aspirations for the 2023 presidential election. While the nomination form was N70 million, according to Adamu, the expression of interest form costs N30 million. Candidates for the governorship ticket would have to part with N50 million.
“If a presidential aspirant cannot mobilise at least 10,000 supporters to raise such amount; that person is not a serious contestant. We are talking about the president of Nigeria, not the emir of your town. Now when the emir of your town dies, the person seeking to replace him will spend more than N100 million for just one emirate,” Adamu said. He propounded very many abstruse, illogical and dumb arguments in support of this flimflam.
Apparently told that this was gaining traction for its imbecility, Adamu went further down into his crucible of ill-logic and picked a handful of disgusting pellets. “There is nothing to compare between seeking to be Nigeria’s president and corruption using the cost of the form. If you cannot participate, there is no compulsion, if you don’t have N100 million, you have no business with becoming president,” he said. And Buhari stared emptily into void, like one communicating with unseen spirits.
Granted that Senator Adamu, an ultra-conservative and a man still being tried for allegedly embezzling the sum of N15 billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), may have his vision blurred from seeing the amoral purport of this humongous sum being asked for as cost of formalising a candidate’s aspiration, why didn’t Buhari raise a voice of dissent? If money had been the god of decision in 2014, would he have become the Nigerian president? At that same time, Jonathan had the key to the national till and shouldn’t have had any problem swaying everyone to his side with cash. Nigerians, however, believed – unfortunately – that the so-called integrity which Buhari espoused was the way to go. Why then would a man who believed integrity was more valuable than money eight years ago, stand by money and deify it ahead of integrity today?
More fundamentally, the import of the crazy hike in the APC nomination fees is unjustifiable and incongruous. As Adamu took the Ekiti governorship candidate to the president this last Friday, April 29, he ought to have been asked if he saw the mockery in the fact that that same candidate paid the sum of N25 million in February as his nomination fee. Then, just two months after, his counterparts in other states are now being asked to pay N50 million, which is an increase of 100 per cent. What exactly is Adamu saying? That his party, in just two months, had devalued Nigeria by 100 per cent? What message was Adamu sending out to Nigerians by fixing the presidential aspiration fees to N100 million? That only the most corrupt could vie for the Nigerian presidency? That the Nigerian naira is so worthless under the APC-led government that only such hefty sum was good enough?
Even the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which the APC has made a pastime of demonising is demanding N40 million from its presidential aspirants. This raises the stake for those who have stolen enough from the national till to compete in a race that both Buhari and Adamu have rigged from the beginning. It is obvious that this race of N100 million is one whose end both Buhari and Adamu have choreographed its expected end. No one can dispute the implication of the N100 million fee as a paradise that the APC has specifically created for maggots wriggling inside Nigeria’s stolen wealth. That Buhari is the masterminder – apologies to General Oladipo Diya – of this uncanny somersault of a political party and a leadership that Nigerians reposed trust in, is the most tragic aspect of this sordid and grisly drama.
A few days earlier, Buhari had literally gone to have dinner with Museveni. On the way, he had a hearty embrace with maggots, assuring them of his filial relationship with them. Posturing that the decision was made by the National Council of State, the president granted state pardon to former Governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame of Plateau and Taraba States respectively. They were serving terms for corruption. One hundred and fifty seven other prisoners were padded to the list. Nyame, 66, was convicted and serving a 12-year jail term in the Kuje prison for misappropriating funds, while Dariye, 64, was jailed for stealing N2 billion of public funds. In defence of this, the presidency claimed that the two jailed governors were suffering from life-threatening ailments!
As Buhari enters the twilight of his administration, the nauseating hypocrisy and Janus-faced fakery that mark the unreal essence he projected to Nigerians before becoming president, jut out on a daily basis. Nigerians have, in the past seven years, contended with the nausea that comes with a General who has been shamelessly helpless in fighting insecurity. While the whiffs of corruption associated with this regime that ooze out have been mind-boggling, Buhari had never unraveled this hopelessly as he has done in the grant of pardon to corrupt politicians. So also is the corruptive aura that now revolves round his party’s national leadership through this ascendance of money politics, as well as how the president has unconscionably abetted the shame. By not voicing his opposition to the N100 million form request and the fact that the announcement was made in his presence, Buhari’s silence approximated giving a vicarious imprimatur to the corrupting action of the Adamu-led party executive.
By and large, Buhari’s hidden reason for insisting on Adamu as the chairman of the APC is getting clearer by the day. After collecting N100 million from each of the presidential aspirants, on Friday Adamu announced that APC was yet to determine where it would zone its presidential ticket. While talking to State House correspondents in Abuja, he said, “I am today privileged to be the chairman of the party. The party is greater than me. The party has not made a decision and I cannot preempt what the party decision will be.”
The ultimate Satanic broth being cooked by the duo of Buhari and Adamu will soon be ready for consumption and the whole world will see it. As my people say, the one shouting in distress, “e wa wo!” – come and see – is always the first to witness the calamity. Something however keeps telling me that this brew will be a total and final deconstruction of the pretentious glory that Buhari craves from his presidency.
However, it is still not too late for the president and his party to reinvent themselves. To do this, they must go back to the promise made by Buhari about integrity in the beginning. Then he told us that he represented a change from the sleaze of the Jonathan years. Today, Nigerians easily substitute Buhari’s name for perversion and who is being referred to is not obscure to anyone. For a U-turn from this barren path, Buhari must ask Adamu to refund the balance of fees paid by aspirants between last purchase of forms and now. This is the minimum route of redemption to tread.
How to memorialise the Alaafin
Gradually, the curtains are being drawn on the era of the late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, who recently left us in a thunderbolt manner. The eighth day inter-religious prayers were held yesterday. The next questions that will be asked from today are, how do we make this king live forever in our hearts and who will be the next Alaafin?
Since over a week of his departure, the world has witnessed a rainbow of reactions to his ascension to the hereafter. While his iconic cultural representation has been lauded as standing out among Yoruba monarchs, the Alaafin personified the essence of the Yoruba and embodied a nexus of the nuggets that the people claimed are found in their tradition.
Alaafin was unpretentiously Yoruba. He lived and died it. In his restlessness, struggles and fight for a place for the Yoruba in the firmament of the Nigerian state, you could locate what he stood for.
It was gratifying that the governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, has promised to organise a burial befitting of his huge intervention in the affairs of the Yoruba people, in Alaafin’s memory. No one needs to tell us that Oba Adeyemi drew attention to Oyo State on the global map. As good as this is, nothing would gladden the heart of the Alaafin in the bosom of his ancestors where he holds court right now more than preserving him. In this regard, there seems to me to be two things that are needed to be done.
One is that Yoruba people must adequately let the world know that Alaafin’s time on earth was not in vain. How do we do this? It is in memorialising him. The most admirable way of doing this is to commit all Alaafin stood for into the memories of generations to come. We must consciously allow the unborn to come here and know that in the midst of a dearth of cultural fervour in this generation, one man stood out as representative of that dying essence.
By now, I expected Alaafin’s personal belongings and his paraphernalia of office to have been curated and kept jealously, preparatory to shipping them into a museum. Kabiyesi was a man of intellect who wrote so prodigiously and profoundly on issues of our contemporary society. All his writings, thoughts, clothes, shoes, even cars and other ensemble should be carefully curated and taken to a museum-cum-library to be built in the Oyo palace. Tourists from across the world who must have been hearing of this cultural and intellectual god in human skin would come visiting Oyo to interface with him and have a feel of his essence while on earth.
Again, the Oyomesi must do the Yoruba this good: They must deploy the finest of their toothcombs in the search for a Alaafin Adeyemi-kind. This needle, even if hidden in the haystack of princes who would be nominated by the ruling house for the Alaafin stool, must be located. An affliction that has of recent hit Yorubaland is the infestation of Obaship with character-deficient candidates by political office holders. These kings have become afflictions, rather than promoters of the mores, values and cultural essences of their people. With impunity, they slap tradition and culture in the face and dare the people to complain. Thank God, Governor Makinde has no godfather anywhere who would dash him a moral dwarf as the next Alaafin. He should please track the process of the succession rigorously and ensure that even if we cannot wholly replicate the exited Oba Adeyemi in his successor, we will not have his converse on the stool. The Oyo monarchy is too precious to Yorubaland for it to be occupied by execrable characters, piggy-princes without pedigree, the likes of who are being installed in palaces in the last few years. All eyes are on Oyo.