(Published in print edition on July 27, 2015)
I know what you are going through. And I know it’s very painful and hurting. You had laboured with sweat and blood for the birth, growth and development of the APC. You wanted to run with Buhari, he blocked it. You wanted George Akume to be Senate President, he chose Lawan. Then Bukola Saraki snatched it. In a most humiliating, brutal way. He didn’t even allow you to have bottom pot, other principal offices. Worse still, he’s got no atom of respect for you. He calls you by your first name, Bola. A taboo in Yoruba, where you both hail from. He says you were both contemporary governors, even if only during your second term.
The House of Representatives isn’t different. Your anointed, Femi Gbajabiamila, was denied the Speaker seat. You couldn’t even influence his emergence as leader of the party in the House. Something you easily did when it was only ACN.
For the party you laboured to build. To now serve the interests of others. Others like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Who thinks the only way to achieve his ambition is to denigrate you by tagging you Mr Overbearing. And he is succeeding. Many Northerners now think you are demanding for too much. You produced the Vice President. That, according to them, should satisfy you. But do they know how much of your health and wealth you sacrificed for APC? Who will tell them?
But I blame you. You want to be Sir Obafemi Awolowo. He was the leader of the Yoruba people. That’s fine. You have thus done some things like the ones that stood him out. You were a founding member of NADECO. Like Awo, you have a newspaper. You founded Action Congress, like Action Group founded by Awolowo. You wear his glasses, share his title (Asiwaju) and many more. In emulating him, you are also reproducing his mistakes.
Nigeria is a complex state. To have a firm hold of a region can hardly be combined with being a national leader. Awo did not realise this, unlike Sir. Ahmadu Bello, then Premier of Northern Nigeria. Ahmadu Bello devolved the position of leading the country to his deputy, Sir. Tafawa Balewa. He, instead, preferred to remain close to the grassroots, which he hoped to keep controlling. And he did. Even Balewa remained loyal to him, as the leader of the country.
Awolowo, on the other hand, handed over the regional leadership to Samuel Akintola. He wanted to rule Nigeria and yet courted the worship of the West. In Nigeria, you are either a national leader or a regional god. So he fell out with his stooge. The West went up in flames. It consumed him, the West and the rest of the country, leading to the end of civilian rule.
Awo should have learnt from Ahmadu Bello. He should have also learnt from Nnadi Azikiwe. Who relinquished regional godship. To become Governor-General and later President of the country.
So, dear Asiwaju, it’s not too late to study your mentor’s failings, once more. Leave the scrambling at the centre. You were on course to regional deity. Or you still are. Concentrate on how you can re-annex Ekiti State and annex Ondo. You’ve produced the Vice President. Give up the fight at the legislature. If President Muhammadu Buhari fulfils his promise to give you some ministerial posts for nomination, fine. But don’t fight for it. Don’t oppose former Governor Raji Fashola for a national post. Instead support him. Bring everyone from the West to your fold, as much as you can. This is hard to do. But the options are scanty, I’m afraid. Except you don’t desire to emerge the Awo of the Yoruba.