How leaders moved to prevent another ‘Operation Wetie’ – Stakeholders
‘Meeting hasn’t achieved primary aim’
Zoning not solution to Nigeria’s problems – Farounbi
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO AND MOYINOLUWA BAMIDELE-LUCAS
The fear of the repeat of the dark days of ‘Operation Wetie’ in the South West was the major driver behind “the forced truce among the presidential aspirants in the region last week”, The Point has learnt.
Sources familiar with the development confided in The Point that “the trend was taking a dangerously similar pattern with that of 1965 and the elders, who were alarmed, if not perplexed at what was building up, decided to step in and try their luck.”
It was further learnt that the leaders of the “family peace meeting” almost gave up three days to the meeting as there seemed to be more fire from hitherto uncharted terrains, especially, intellectuals.
But they were determined to extract an understanding from all of them that the South West would not be made the “theatre of another political upheaval, and yes, they got something at least, even if it was a forced truce.”
Leaders and chieftains of the All Progressives Congress in the region on Friday met with some of the presidential aspirants from the zone in Lagos State.
Veteran journalist and former governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba; former governor of Osun State and interim national chairman of the APC, Bisi Akande, convened the meeting, which was held at the State House, Marina, Lagos.
It had in attendance the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; ex-Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, among other presidential aspirants on the APC platform from the South West.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the newly elected National Secretary of the party, Iyiola Omisore; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; former governor of Osun State and Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and other chieftains of the party were in attendance.
An insider, who would not want to be named, said, “There were two principal reasons for the meeting. The more important, however, is the need to avoid a repeat of the 1965 Operation Wetie in the South West. Many of the supporters peddling toxic exchanges among the front runners were not born then. So, the elders who witnessed it felt it was imperative to put this generation of hot-blooded supporters in check.
“Have you not been worried by the tenor of the exchanges between, in particular, supporters of Asiwaju Tinubu and those of Yemi Osinbajo? The last one month has been tension soaked for the regional leaders. And they cannot continue to fold their arms and watch the situation go into an uncontrollable trajectory. For them, it is never again to Operation Wetie.”
The insider further insisted that it was to also ensure that the region doesn’t miss “the ultimate prize.”
“Many of the supporters peddling toxic exchanges among the front runners were not born then. So, the elders who witnessed it felt it was imperative to put this generation of hot-blooded supporters in check
He said, “The elders want a unified front going into the May-ending presidential primaries. Seven or so presidential aspirants from a region of six states translate into one from each state. And once the party’s chairman is from the North and there are aspirants springing up lately from every nook and cranny of the country is a pointer to the fact that the game is very fluid and unpredictable.
“The truth is that the South West leaders feel a sense of entitlement and you cannot blame them. They contributed more than any other zone in the South to the realization of Buhari’s administration. The fact is Buhari did not succeed in his presidential pursuit until the South West, led by Asiwaju Tinubu, rallied around him. And that was in 2015. Three times before then he had failed.
“But for the same South West in 2019, there was no way he could have realised his second term ambition. The South West led the clamour for him to have the right of first refusal. So, if they feel it is time for the good gesture to be reciprocated, you cannot begrudge them. Now that the body language of the President is increasingly becoming inscrutable, the leaders have decided to let the others know that their education in the South West is not in vain.”
“Those orchestrating crises, those stoking the fire of mistrust and discontent and looking forward to a conflagration will be disappointed by June 1,” the source asserted.
Ever since the news hit the public space as ‘rumour’ that Osinbajo was interested in running for the Number One seat, there has been no love lost between his supporters and those of Tinubu.
The social media has been brimming with toxic, disparaging and libelous claims, some of them very provocative. The Vice President has then been largely at the receiving end though his team and supporters have also fought back gallantly.
Osinbajo has been stamped with the label of a traitor and an ingrate. Those who are sympathetic to Tinubu’s cause freely described the development as the manifestation of insatiable greed. They argued that having tasted the honey, PYO as Osinbajo is popularly called, is unwilling to take off his lips and tongue.
They also took on the cheerleader of the Osinbajo project, Babafemi Ojudu.
He had to explain severally that in a democracy, his choice could not be muscled or tailored to suit the whims and caprices of any individual.
On the day Osinbajo declared, all hell was literally let loose on social media. The Professor of Law was taken to the cleaners by the supporters and sympathizers of Tinubu, just as those of Osinbajo bravely fought back, fire for fire.
Curiously, the two major actors never directly said anything. It was a proxy war by allies, supporters and sympathizers. Once Tinubu was asked how he felt about his “political son” declaring interest in the same office which he had described as his “life-long ambition,” his response was laced with innuendoes.
“I don’t have a political son grown up enough to declare for president,” he told journalists a few hours after Osinbajo made his intention known.
It was a response that suggested a rejection of Osinbajo as a ‘political son’.
Between 1999 and 2007, Tinubu and Osinbajo had enjoyed a cordial political relationship as Osinbajo served as the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in Lagos.
Until recently, it was widely believed in some quarters that Tinubu nominated Osinbajo as President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in 2015. But that has now been contested by not a few people, including the Vice President himself.
Unable to resist the urge to speak out against the tar of a disloyal and ungrateful person, Osinbajo, not long ago, declared that his loyalty and allegiance were to the Oath he took and the people of Nigeria and no one else.
Speaking in Ogun, his home state, he said, “After all I have learnt, if called upon to serve the nation, should I say no? I have decided that I will run for the office. I have sworn an oath to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is an oath to our people, our children and the future of Nigeria. I owe nobody else any allegiance outside the oath.”
In what observers called the intellectual angle to the ‘war’, Sam Omatseye, Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Nation newspaper, in a piece titled, The King’s Meat, attacked the Vice President. It was five days before the Lagos meeting.
Omatseye wrote, “After hiding under the shadows of his votaries, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took off his veil. On the ordinary level, it was the unveiling of his ambition for the number one post. But for others, including this essayist, he did not just unfurl a dream. He cracked the calabash.
“He was, by that singular act, challenging his mentor to a duel. For some of us who did not believe it was true, the announcement was a theatre as a giddy act because it began as a furtive play. His ambition, that is. Then he decided to hit the jugular. He said it in no unshaken terms.
“But he knew Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was running when he declared. He knew Asiwaju was interested when he was a commissioner under him. He knew Asiwaju Tinubu was interested when he nominated him – Osinbajo – for vice president. Never mind the mendacities Osinbajo – the man of God – has allowed to fester that Tinubu did not nominate him. I don’t know if Osinbajo can, as a man of God, go to the pulpit and, in the words of the Psalmist, ‘swear (it) to his own hurt and change not.’”
Omatseye argued that Osinbajo knew Tinubu was going to contest for the presidency. While conceding that the Vice President had a right, he contended that there was also decency.
Omatseye drove the nail deep into the heart of the matter when he said, “The historian and philosopher, Tacitus wrote: ‘Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.’
“It is narratives like this that are yoking him to the Akintola saga in the First Republic. In spite of revisionists, Akintola remains a Yoruba quisling. He was first a hypocrite before he became a traitor. He wanted to play incorruptible by arguing with Awo about party members’ role and activities in government as though he did not know before he became premier. It is that hypocrisy that bound him with enemies outside who pissed inside the house,” Omatseye wrote.
But in a quick response, a supporter of Osibanjo, Kennedy Emetulu, in a piece titled “Osinbajo and the cheap liars” fired back at Omatseye.
He wrote, “Sam Omatseye, is what this informed commentary has been reduced to? You want people to read this poor hitjob of a Bola Tinubu hagiography mounted on cheap lies against Yemi Osinbajo and nod in admiration of your hackwork? Nah, this is poor, very poor. Only a small man and a small mind will seek to diminish another in order to grow.
“You cluck effortlessly that there is right and there is decency, but then promptly, in the same breath, deny the vice president his right in a most indecent piece that shoos away every sense of reason and fairness. You airily say no one has a pact to run for president, but, in the same breath, you’re ‘dragging’ Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for not handing the APC presidential ticket to Tinubu as of right because there is a pact based on his knowledge that Tinubu has been eyeing the position since forever.”
He added, “I mean, how dare you call a man who has exercised utmost discipline and self-control in the face of provocation from you and your principal’s brood of vipers a coward? You think those who support Osinbajo will keep mute when he’s being eaten alive by you and other Tinubu’s worms calling him a traitor, a Judas, an ingrate, a black sheep?”
Such was the level of intolerance that the declaration by the two senior citizens has generated for which the elders charged them to rein in their supporters.
Zoning not solution to Nigeria’s problems – Farounbi
Meanwhile, elder statesman and former Nigerian Ambassador to Philippines, Yemi Farounbi, has said that solutions to Nigeria’s problems are not to be found in where the President comes from.
He argued that none of the politicians who had declared interest to succeed President Buhari had displayed requisite wherewithal to change the narratives in governance.
Reacting to the recent South West meeting of the APC bigwigs, Farounbi contended that such a truce might lack merit and goodness for the Nigerian people since none of the presidential aspirants that had so far declared interest had shown a preparedness to create a new Nigeria.
“Now, those in the South West gathered and are insisting on producing the one that would succeed PMB. But have they considered whether the person they would be presenting would have a grasp of the problems facing the nation? Does he have the integrity and competence needed?
According to him, no presidential aspirant, both in the ruling party and the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party, had been able to proffer solutions to the challenges confronting Nigeria.
Instead, Farounbi noted that the aspirants were only interested in the blessing and support of Buhari.
Farounbi noted that the problem of the country was not where the president hails from but the resolution and readiness of the aspirant to possess leadership qualities and deliver the country from the doldrums.
“We have yet to see anyone showing the preparedness to create a new Nigeria. We have seen many who want to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, which is why they bother more about his endorsement than anything else. It’s the reason why we are being promised a continuation of what he is doing. Even those from opposition PDP are not being able to boldly and intelligently present a clear doable antithesis to correct APC thesis, which has made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world.
“Instead, they were parading the political landscape in pursuit of a consensus that does not have merit as its goal. Ridiculously, they even think eating Amala in a local restaurant is a way to measure preparedness. Even the committee set up by the PDP did not consider vision, competency and character as valuable things for assessing the aspirants. The committee was more interested in the financial chest of the aspirants. They probably have not heard of how Obama raised more funds than his opponent because his vision and plan resonated with the people that they were willing to contribute their widow’s mite.
“There are trailer-loads of problems confronting Nigeria. Some of these problems have always been there. Some have recently grown in dimensions. Some are new additions to our burden. There are about 45 persons aspiring or masquerading as aspirants.
“Now, those in the South West gathered and are insisting to produce the one that would succeed PMB. But have they considered whether the person they would be presenting would have a grasp of the problems facing the nation? Does he have the integrity and competence needed?
“The economy is in dire straits. There is mass poverty, hunger, deprivation, unemployment, hardship and general underdevelopment. We have security problems, particularly Boko Haram, herdsmen and farmers’ crisis, bandits, unknown gunmen and kidnapping ravaging the nation. We have secession agitations and corruption at all levels.
“In Human Resources Management, all these that we have identified would be called the job requirements. What we have done is to define the content of the job Nigerians expect the incoming president to perform. The next stage is to define the employee specifications that will assist us in deciding on the right man for the job.
“In doing this, we will need to understand three major criteria. First, what is the vision of the aspirant? What’s his understanding of the problems whether they are well articulated and his prescribed solutions? What are the goals that he wants to achieve in terms of quality, quantity, time and cost? Beyond just mouthing slogans, where is he taking Nigeria and Nigerians? Second, what’s his competency to deliver on the dreams? We will be examining his intelligence, knowledge, intellect, mental horsepower, resourcefulness, creativity, experience and expertise. We will be looking at his worldview, his understanding and comprehension of contemporary problems.
“Third, we will be looking at his character. We’ll be examining such indices as integrity, dependability reliability, godliness, self-discipline, good neighbourliness, ability to assemble and lead a team. When we are able to objectively do this, we’ll be able to identify the suitable and best candidate. As it is, now the candidates have not presented their visions and goals. All we are hearing are stories of betrayals, who made who, rationale for zoning, and long the ambition for the position has been nursed. We have seen display of physical fitness and ability. We have seen display of generosity or wealth in donation of money or food items.”
“What we are waiting to see is display of mental fitness, mental ability and mental capacity to appreciate and understand our problems. What we have not seen are road maps that show the way forward. Kissinger once said that the leader must have his head in the air full of visionary solutions to problems, and his feet must be on the ground so that he will be aware of the reality of the situation in which the followers are. Until the aspirants begin to expose to us their vision, goals and roadmaps for development and growth, we won’t know whether their understanding and comprehension fall short of our dreams as a country,” he stated.
Observers however think that the elders’ intervention may not amount to much as supporters of politicians hardly apply caution where necessary. They also argue that whoever fails to pick the ticket would be the butt of cruel jokes, for a long time.