Paul Joseph Goebbels (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany. He also served as Chancellor for one day, following Hitler’s death. He was known for his zealous and energetic oratory and virulent anti-Semitism. One of his famous quotes is that if you repeat a lie often it becomes the truth and if you tell a lie so big enough people would start to believe it.
That came rushing in my memory as I read Ochereome Nnanna ‘s “Bola Tinubu’s unfinished business”(Vanguard, April 4, 2016) where he repeated the untruth that has been told against the memory of the late Afenifere Leader, Senator Abraham Adesanya in the years after his demise. He wrote and I quote: “One of Tinubu’s rare acts of political vision was his refusal to join the other five AD Governors of the South West under the directive of Afenifere, to support former President Olusegun Obasanjo for a second term in office. Incidentally, all the governors who took Obasanjo’s poisoned bait – Lam Adesina of Oyo, Bisi Akande of Osun, Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti, Adebayo Adefarati of Ondo State and Olusegun Osoba of Ogun State – lost their states to Obasanjo’s PDP, with Tinubu (who had formed his own political party, the Action Congress) the last man standing. Not only did the Afenifere-propelled AD governors lose, the Afenifere itself, which Tinubu had distanced himself from because of their hobnobs with Obasanjo – collapsed as a political force.”
For record purposes, Senator Bola Tinubu contested the 2003 elections under the Alliance for Democracy (AD).The ACN was not formed until 2006 as I headed the mobilisation committee that sold the ACN idea in the South West states.
It is also not right to say that Tinubu severed relationship with Afenifere over “hobnobs with Obasanjo”.The truth of his estrangement with Afenifere was his quarrel with the late Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu, the founding chairman of AD in Lagos State who threw his weight behind the late Engr. Funsho Wlliams at the 1999 governorship primaries in Lagos.
It was the disagreement in Lagos between Tinubu and Dawodu that eventually led to the division in National AD and holding two conventions with the one at Eagles Square producing Alhaji Ahmed Abdukadir as Chairman and the one at Abuja Gardens electing Mallam Mamman Yusuf.
The two factions of AD dug in for years with the late Chief Bola Ige, Deputy Leader of Afenifere who sought a pound of flesh over his loss to Chief Olu Falae at D’Rovans being the arrowhead of the Abdukadir group which had Senator Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Alhaji Lam Adesina and Otunba Niyi Adebayo as point men. Tinubu took over the group’s leadership after Ige’s murder in December 2001. The Yusuf side which had the support of leaders from Afenifere had in its fold Chief Adebayo Adefarati and Chief Segun Osoba.
Senator Abraham Adesanya however remained a common factor to both sides of AD as he was able to insulate the group from taking sides with either faction thereby being able to call them together as occasion warranted.
As 2003 elections drew near, Senator Adesanya tried to reconcile the two groups to have a united front. Several meetings were called with the Abdukadir group in South West on a high horse as it had INEC recognition.
Somehow, the two groups were harmonised in other five states leaving only Lagos where Dawodu-Tinubu conflict remained intractable. The last major meeting held at Ijebu-Igbo resolved that both groups should back Tinubu for second term as governor while the remaining political offices be shared 60% for Tinubu and 40% for Dawodu.
Tinubu flatly refused to accept the proposition. A committee headed by Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Gen. Alani Akinrinade and my humble self as Secretary met both groups at Airport Hotel in Ikeja where Tinubu declared that he was unable to persuade his group to accept the formula.
It was in the midst of all these that the so-called “hobnobs” with Obasanjo was going on. Let me state here and I challenge any living soul to contradict me that the whole deal was cut by ALL the AD governors and Senator Adesanya only tallied along like a general whose troops had gone in a direction.
He is late now and cannot speak for himself but those of us who were eyewitnesses to history owe it to the memory of a self-sacrificing leader to defend his memory against orchestrated calumniation.
Two months before Chief Ige was killed, a reconciliation Committee headed by Chief Cornelius Adebayo with Gen. Alani Akinrinade, Mr. Jimi Agbaje as members and myself as Secretary met him at his Ibadan residence where he told us matter-of-factly that the AD would not have a presidential candidate in the 2003 elections because he was the only one who could face him and it would be a stupid thing to do. He hinted of his impending resignation from Obasanjo administration. “I am coming home to rebuild AD. We will support Obasanjo but PDP would not win an inch of Yorubaland. This time around we will pick our own ministers into Obasanjo cabinet.”
I remember myself discussing the nativity of such position with Mr. Jimi Agbaje as we returned to Lagos wondering how the fox in Obasanjo would allow being taunted as having no home base for the second term!
At a meeting held in Senator Abraham Adesanya Apapa residence in February 2003, the AD governors told Senator Abraham Adesanya that they had been in discussion with Obasanjo over his second term but they told him they didn’t have the final say except he enter into discussions with their Leader.
But before this, two fundamental things had taken place. One, the official AD controlled by the Governors had decided not to field a presidential candidate. Why would they take such a decision if they were not playing the script Chief Ige already hinted us as far back as 2001? Two, Obasanjo had held a meeting with the Governors Forum where the AD Governors shot down the holding of Local Government elections across the country even to the consternation of their PDP colleagues. They already counseled Obasanjo before the meeting that if the elections were held he would not win in the South west and that would give edge to his opponents in terms of delegates to the PDP National Convention.
By the time Senator Adesanya came on the scene, there were three major meetings with Obasanjo. The first was in his Otta Farm where the governors minus Tinubu were present. Chief C.O Adebayo and Senator Femi Okurorounmu were appointed spokespersons. Three issues were tabled before Obasanjo as conditions to support him. He must guarantee free and fair election, organise credible census and restructure the country……..
To be continued.