By Prof. Sola Adeyeye
Now that Professor Yemi Osinbajo has declared his interest in the Presidency, it is time to answer the simpletons drawing wrong parallels in history by comparing PYO’s putative intent (now turned declaration) to the sad parting of ways between Awolowo and Akintola. Such comparison is rooted in abject ignorance and malignant mischief. We must clear these scurrilous insinuations from catawaulers whose sole intent is to dispense vicious calumny.
The confusionists conjuring these poor parallelisms go as far as invoking the name of Judas Isacariot to demonise those who have acted outside their own scripts. Clearly, such comparison is rooted in the unholy trinity of bad faith, ignorance and mischief. In particular, to evoke Awolowo’s name to suffocate political space is a damnable perversion of history.
What are the salient and undeniable facts of history? Are the events from 1960 to 1963 congruent with those of today?
Did Akintola and Awolowo ever compete for the same elective post? When Awolowo wanted to be Premier of Western Region, did Akintola compete against him? Later, when Awolowo wanted to become Prime Minister, did Akintola seek the same office? In any case, did Awolowo ever stipulate that only he could aspire to any elective office on the ticket of the Action Group?
Did the Action Group crisis arise because of choking the political space via an undemocratic insistence that only Awolowo could compete for a particular elective office?
A fundamental difference between the Parliamentary System of Nigeria’s First Republic versus the subsequent Executive Presidential System is that no one was directly elected into the office of Premier. Whichever party won the majority in Parliament nominated the leader of Government.
As such, Akintola did not win a regional mandate to be Premier. He was elected unopposed to represent Ogbomoso Southeast Constituency in the Western House of Assembly. Only the Action Group could produce the Premier of Western Region. The Action Group nominated Akintola to the position of Premier which had been vacated when Awolowo chose to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives.
In a parliamentary system, all that is required to remove a Premier was for him to either lose a vote of confidence in Parliament or to lose a vote of confidence of the party that nominated him. Akintola lost the vote of confidence of the Action Group. Akintola refused to resign The case was taken to court all way to the Privy Council where it was ruled that Akintola lost.
ADEGBENRO should immediately have become Premier of Western Nigeria. It was a simple matter of Constitutional Procedure. Instead, the Federal Parliament, in cahoots with Akintola, made a retroactive law that nullified the supremacy of the ruling of the Privy Council!
For God’s sake, how has the untoward subversion of the Constitution to attain political power in 1962 now become synonymous with the declaration of interest to contest an elective office?
When did it become a norm in the politics of Nigeria, particularly the Yorubas, that aspiration to any elective office is a cardinal sin?
No matter how fierce the intra-party contestation might be, seeking nomination for the ticket of a party candidacy is a sibling rivalry. Such a rivalry is not strange to Yorubas; in most Yoruba communities, ascendancy to the throne of the ọba often involves rivalry among family members.
Although it is the party in power, the APC does not look as formidable as it did in 2015 when it tapped into widespread disaffection against the PDP to defeat the incumbent President. All members of the APC must accept the fact that their party is facing resentment such as the PDP faced in 2015. For this reason, APC aspirants must not inflict mortal wounds on each other before entering the contest against the candidates of other parties.
As Vice President to Buhari, Osinbajo cannot totally separate himself from whatever are the perceived shortcomings of Buhari’s Presidency. By the same token, Tinubu as National Leader of the APC, cannot totally absolve himself from the perceived failures of the APC Government. Whatever is good for the goose must be good for the gander! May God grant Osinbajo and Tinubu the exceptionalism to handle the nomination process with grace. Specifically, the APC must be spared the silly innuendos and slanderous snide remarks currently exuded by overzealous supporters of various aspirants.
Zealous support for any aspirant must not be stretched to the point of creating slanderous parallels. Tinubu is not Awolowo. Osinbajo is not Akintola. In both cases, the differences are extremely glaring. Conjuring such parallelisms serves neither the aspirants nor the APC.