Dr. Tunji Abayomi’s epistles to Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the All Progressives Party (APC) in exercising his right to endorse Olusegun Abraham may have come and gone. But it’s noteworthy that not a few of the everyday people (considering their reactions to Abayomi’s letter on the social media), observers of politics and its pundits found the missives in bad taste, if not misguided. Abayomi’s letters (most especially the first one) did not only attempt to redefine and refashion political endorsement, that age-old, time-tested and internationally acceptable political tool that the national leader rightly exercised to support the aspiration of Olusegun Abraham for reasons best known to him, since there’s no disputing the fact that he knows virtually all the major aspirants in many ways than one in their contestation for the APC ticket. It was not the first time that Asiwaju had exercised his right to endorse. And his endorsement of Olusegun Abraham will neither be the last. In 2015, Asiwaju endorsed the aspiration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in the wake of the presidential primary that had been adjudged to be the most free, fair and transparent primary election in Nigeria in recent memory.
With Abayomi’s missives, one can also infer that the stage is already set to substitute an endorsement for imposition by the fifth columnists within the party after the August 27th primary regardless of its authenticity and credibility. Asiwaju’s legitimate right to endorse someone (which in this case falls on Olusegun Abraham in this particular gubernatorial race in Ondo state) will be negatively played up to the maximum in the public space by some of the losers and moles within the party. They will cast aspersions on Abraham even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the primary election was free, fair, transparent and thus credible. What is more, it should also be expected that the state’s “chief mischief maker” Dr. Olusegun Mimiko will not only play up this nefarious “imposition” trump card in all the airwaves under his control, but will also recruit foot-soldiers to engage in scare-mongering that Tinubu “the bogeyman” is once again coming to invade Ondo State with several bullion vans from Bourdillon Road with Abraham as his partner in crime before the electorate. But one hopes that the people of Ondo State has now known who has carted away their collective patrimony not to allow the lies the second time.
Abayomi, as a lawyer who knows his onion, should be reminded that recognition is fundamentally vested by the nation’s constitution on the party rather than the individual regardless of the extent of his investments in the party. The court verdict in the death of the governorship candidate Abubakar Audu in Kogi State should have given political actors with this mind set reason for caution until this is finally adjudicated by the Supreme Court of the land. It is therefore reasonable to infer presently that delegates are ‘employees’ and their votes the ‘property’ of the party regardless of the financial inducements by the contestants that may have influenced their votes. Thus the leadership reserves the prerogative to endorse any of its members without distractions and acrimony so long as a level playing field is provided all contestants under the free, fair and transparent mechanisms.
The other unfortunate component of Dr. Abayomi’s letters is this insidious political machinations in which those that had always disdained Asiwaju for whatever reason had capitalised on Abayomi’s misguided salvo—which may have also been pre-meditatively orchestrated—to whittle down Asiwaju’s political influence and rising stock in the Southwest geo-political region, and by extension the nation. It therefore may not be inconceivable to opine that Dr. Abayomi is the main scribe of the literary wing of the anti-Asiwaju movement within the fold of the progressive party in the Southwest while Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu is the arrowhead of its verbal attacks. Any discerning mind may have no choice than to come to this conclusion considering the spate of attacks on Asiwaju on the airwaves in Ondo State—almost immediately the first letter appeared in the public space—in which the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who should know that words have meanings and that they carry consequences—deployed the most egregious expletives on the national leader (although he said Asiwaju had ceased to be his National Leader in one of the radio interviews) of his own party. Having displayed such unfortunate outbursts just because one man decided to endorse an aspirant, which has now being wickedly changed into “imposition” not by the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but by major political actors within the party, one should be extremely worried about the prospects of Akeredolu becoming the APC flag-bearer in the state’s governorship election slated for November 26. Akeredolu had displayed such a bizarre behaviour in the aftermath of a harmless endorsement that one cannot help but wonder if this Senior Lawyer is perpetually and angry man, if not emotionally unstable. Someone seeking a public office must be able to manage his/her anger. Being senselessly cantankerous is never one of the attributes of courage. The portents are not good.
—Odere is a media practitioner