So, my senior colleague in the pen-wielding profession and Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, hearkened to my call in the last Revolution Notes for Nigerians to join in the battle to liberate ourselves from retrogressive forces that had so far held the country down and blighted our destiny for this long, or so it seemed.
Ojudu’s response to the call to arms, granting the wisdom of French Emperor, Napoleaon Bonaparte, who despite being one of the greatest war generals of all time, acknowledged the pen as far superior and to be feared than a thousand bayonets, should have ripped through and bore a lethal crack in the enemy’s chink of armour, by virtue of not only his exalted position and the fact of his having been a ‘Distinguished’ Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also his reputation as being among the brave and patriotic journalists who with their fiery pens valiantly fought to bring down the vicious, corrupt and bloodthirsty, despotic regime of General Sanni Abacha for democracy to thrive.
But Ojudu took a wrong aim with his musket. He fired at Sunday Adeyemo (aka Igboho Oosa), but rather than hit the erstwhile inveterate local potentate now turned folk hero, the bullet did a ‘vroom’ and turned to fatally injure the ‘master scribbler’, ostensibly fuelling fable that the Oyo man lived a charmed life.
Igboho himself had jumped the gun or should one say, actually fired the first volley of shots that provoked the lingering national fray when he led a communal revolt that sacked along with his family a leader of the Fulani community, Serkin Saliu Abubakar, accused of abetting destruction of farms, killings as well as kidnapping of the indigenes among other heists by criminal elements among his kinsmen in Ibarapa area of Oyo State.
Although this resort to self-help has been criticized as lawless, unconstitutional and capable of stirring reprisals, ethnic conflict that could severe the fragile national unity, it has forced official attention on the long ignored issue and turned Igboho into a hero across Yorubaland and indeed other regions that have suffered similar ordeal. The people saw it as inevitable solution to the security menace government and security agencies had apparently been complicit to, unwilling or unable to deal with.
AN ARTICLE OF TROUBLE
The presidential aide lunged into the campaign posturing to warn of the fact that the country might just have reached the cliff edge, tip over and plunge into an abyss that had just opened with that dangerous development, a Hobbes’ jungle!
He penned a reaction in which he portrayed Igboho as a cheap, dirty and disloyal, political thug, recalling how he and All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu induced him with money to swap allegiance from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to help the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) win of the 2009 Ekiti governorship rerun election of which John Kayode Fayemi, currently doing a second run in the office, was the beneficiary.
In fierce backlash, Nigerians pilloried the President’s man, accusing him of attempting to denigrate Igboho’s ‘laudable’ and effective solution to a problem the government Ojudu served had no answer. The whiplash came in torrents with curses and abuses filling the air, media space and dominating discussions among citizens at pubs, on the streets, in the homes, everywhere!
He was not only dubbed a bastard for alleged bid to sabotage the people’s arguably justified pushback against alleged infiltration and terrorist acts in the geo-political zone by a criminally-minded section of the Fulani, but much of the claims on which he propped the narrative were discredited as false and spurious.
It was ironical that Ojudu’s missive came coincidentally as a video showing a first class Oba from his home state in Ekiti, the Olukere of Ikere performing rituals wherein he prayed for Igboho’s protection and cursed his detractors who might wish him arrested or incarcerated, went viral.
The traditional ruler’s action indicated, as the warlord himself boasted, that his Yoruba kinsmen were behind and praying for his success in his heroic campaign in their mosques, churches and shrines hourly as they saw him as a liberator of sort.
But, it was even more intriguing how Nigerians saw Ojudu through the lens of the incident. They dissected and gave a verdict on his character and politics which, far from the opinion he might have or think people must have of him, was rather so sad and unflattering! His posturing as Tinubu’s “Mr Fix-it” and self-indicting disclosures on their clandestine roles in the 2009 Ekiti poll which suggested a long suspected meddling in the electoral process by the Jagaban camp, ostensibly on the pretext of being a democratic do-gooder) not merely portrayed Ojudu as a mercenary and invidious vermin worse than Igboho whom he tried to tar with the brush of infamy and perfidy!
The ill-advised article tended to betray our elite’s hypocrisy, capacity for treachery, the vanity of their supposed education and sophistication as well as poverty of value and character.
It remains to be seen if Ojudu can ever again enjoy the confidence of anyone including those he is suspected to have tried to satisfy?
As a journalist, I feel pained because he has undermined not only his, but the credibility of all genuine and patriotic efforts of colleagues who risked their lives to fight for national democracy and freedom from the military jackboots, thereby giving cynics and others with own parochial motives the ammunition to accuse the press of partisanship and its managers of being pawns and puppets doing the bidding of some political barons.
A commentator mocked Ojudu on how meaty and fat his neck had grown from the spindly, ostrich-like tissue he spotted in his days as a reporter, mischievously insinuating that his journalistic activism then were mere pretentions, self -serving calculated at gaining political (pecuniary) reward.
THE VALUE OF HUMILITY
Incidentally, Ojudu would not be the first newsman to go into politics and serve in government. There had been among many illustrious ones including the late Pa Anthony Enahoro, late Olabisi Onabanjo (Aiyekoto) and Chief Olusegun Osoba, all icons of the trade who despite their unpretentious affiliation or open sympathy for nationalist or political causes, gave good accounts of themselves in adroitly navigating and avoiding the mines without compromising their professional integrity, values and statesmanship while they sojourned in journalism and government.
Against the backlash of public angst, Ojudu was reported to have backtracked, and pulled down the offending post, claiming it was an extract from his memoirs. I don’t like to be presumptuous on people’s claims and motives. But the presidential adviser should please give us a better yarn and not insult people’s intelligence and sensibilities. The lame excuse flies in the face of the egregious content and timing of the writing. It reflects even more poorly on Ojudu’s courage to own up to his conviction.
I recommend Chief Osoba’s autobiography, BATTLELINES: ADVENTURES IN POLITICS AND JOURNALISM for lessons in candour, forthrightness, dispassion, modesty, maturity, objectivity and cultivation of the nobility and grace to be charitable even to opponents, in rendering account of one’s life story enmeshed in conflicts and controversy with others, who may be less possessed of such virtues!
Then there was his perceived penchant for self-aggrandizement. At every turn in his controversial piece, Ojudu tended to confirm the view of being too conceited and condescending of others with the way he huffed and arrogated to himself credits for any and every accomplishment he cited in the saga, while firing broadsides at his perceived foes and targets of his vitriol. Many of his critics who claimed to have followed his speeches and writings in the past, remarked that it was just typical of the senator.
One would want to ask, for instance, if Ojudu’s derisive reference to the Ekiti governor, being in the dark about all the trouble he and Asiwaju took on his behalf including purportedly buying off Igboho and being patronizing with security and electoral officials, despite being the one on the ballot in the 2009 governorship contest were really necessary, or, as has been observed, simply to rubbish Fayemi as politically naive, clueless or an ingrate, especially for purportedly falling out with Tinubu, of whom Ojudu liked to tell anyone who cared to listen, he was the favourite of Ekiti progressive politicians?
Ojudu left one with no choice other than conclude that he suffered an ego complex and still sulks over his smarting defeat by Fayemi to whom he lost the APC governorship ticket in 2016 or even probably jealous of the rising political profile and leaps of the latter. Ojudu had through his outbursts, attitude and actions before and after the party primary, shown such bile and lack of sportsmanship that had shocked even his fringe admirers, because they were at variance with his preachments about democratic ideals and values.
LOVE CONQUERS ALL
By pursuing personal feuds or seeking to advance parochial interests as he appeared to have done last week, the presidential aide still lived in a fading era. He swims against a new tide that, I warned last week, is here to enforce positive transformational change in everything that is wrong in and with man and also about him.
The individuals, peoples, systems and nations must adapt to the purifying waves in order to be uplifted or disintegrate and perish if they choose to continue in the old ways as buoyant Divine energy rays now pour into creation to strengthen reforming spiritual currents to either straighten all that is wrong and crooked or disintegrate and destroy them for a new world order where peace, harmony, beauty and progress reign for the benefit and enjoyment of all to arise.
This requires of us to apply the Golden Rule: “Love thy neighbor as yourself” in all we think, say or do from now on. It means ceasing to see others as enemies, and considering issues not just from our narrow or prejudiced viewpoint or interests but always only from the broader perspectives of how fair and just they are and how they will benefit all.
For us as Nigerians, it implies jointly tackling our common challenges, identifying and fighting the common enemy and not ourselves. The weapon for achieving this, but which we have so far lacked the courage to adopt and use, of course, is Truth, coupled with honesty, sincerity, love and obedience to the Divine injunction not to seek to harm one another in any way in pursuit of our personal desires.
There is no escape from retribution any longer for those who would have it otherwise as hubris and karma await them at their doorsteps to serve them harvests heaps of what they sowed and brought about. Marching events will bring this home to us all soon. Let’s awake.
Fabowale is the Editor of Newspeak Magazine