By Wole Olujobi
It is the season of blackmail and outright lies in an election year to achieve underserved sympathy among the uneducated and unwary voters, all in an attempt to sway support for the candidates of the peddlers.
It is also the season that some characters assail the nation with all manner of sophistry embedded in lifeless, banal and hackneyed essays couched in deadpan language.
In that enterprise, we have seen both educated elite and common hell-raisers in the election battlefields of wits in the newspapers, television interviews and public campaigns raising pedestrian issues that should not have a place in Nigeria’s contemporary history.
From religion to ethnicity and from gender to educational attainment, some Nigerians have started raising the stakes to include the inappropriateness of people sharing bloodlines to veer into political turf to serve their nation.
Not because they lack capacity to fashion credible policies to run the nation or that constitutional encumbrances exist that shut them out of their legitimate rights to seek political offices in their country, their offence is that they were born into political families that have credible evidence of performance to make a mark in their countries in the world that lays awake everyday in search of visionaries to help shape the society.
In their desperate attempts to canvass their positions, there is no method so vile they have not devised to hype their base instincts.
One thing is constant in this ignoble enterprise: the underdogs in the opposition are always at safe corners enjoying the blues while the superstars suffer assaults propelled by the fears of their virtues arising from their personal qualities or the robust capital of their programme appeal.
Clearly in the February presidential election, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, towers above other contenders in personal quality, programme appeal and records of achievements to sway Nigerians’ support, as candidates of other political parties race across the nation in jitters in campaign stops preparatory to the crunch poll.
Now from a non-existent certificate scandal and other petulant allegations that cannot be sustained by facts, squealers are afoot trying in vain to spew spurious lies against Tinubu to harvest cheap political capital.
One Muri Adekanmbi Olufade of no fixed address, apparently burdened by a convenient collapse of memory, has chosen subterfuge or intellectual dishonesty, or both, to sell his warped thought that people that share the same family roots have committed grave offence that offends the nation’s law and so should not seek political positions.
In his treatise he shared online, Olufade listed all Tinubu’s family members, real or alleged, that are holding one position or the other in Lagos, alleging that Tinubu is seeking presidential power to enrich only members of his family.
He even drew his disapproval to unacceptable limits by listing alleged Tinubu’s family members that hold top positions in the corporate world and Federal establishments as if Tinubu ever held positions in those institutions and establishments to impose family members on them.
He did this to paint Tinubu as a selfish politician who is building wealth nests for only members of his family and so Nigerians should not support Tinubu in his presidential ambition.
Curiously, Olufade never listed his preferred candidate in the presidential poll. All his argument is that Tinubu, who is a tested administrator and visionary, should not be supported by Nigerians. For Olufade, all is fair if Tinubu fails and the nation is entrusted in the hands of indolent and insolent scoundrels.
His position is not different from those in the opposition camps in PDP and Labour Party who have devised disingenuous anti-Tinubu biases to mislead voters ahead of the election.
Olufade, no doubt, is one of the plaques in the nation’s psyche that we should all strife to purge of their ailments and afflictions. Olufade believes that it is a crime for a medical doctor father to produce hundreds of medical doctors among his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Or that it is a crime for a man to determine his vocation whether it is in line with his father’s calling or not.
Forward-looking people do not reason the way these Tinubu’s enemies advance their biases, otherwise human race would have run away from the blackmail of choosing vocations similar to their progenitors.
We have avalanche of instances where notable families in developed world are in politics to make a mark.
For instance, many families in the United States have produced multiple generations of politicians who have had a significant influence on government and public policy in their communities, states and in the country.
Some have been involved because of personal ambitions, some to continue their family’s work, and some out of a sense of duty.
American philanthropist, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, whose family had achieved considerable wealth and influence within two generations of emigrating from Ireland, was fond of the verse from the gospel of Luke in the New Testament, “To whom much is given, much is required,” and her descendants often cited that as an influence, for instance, three brothers: John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy.
Many of these families moved to national prominence from a state or region, for example, the Huntington family of Connecticut, the Long family of Louisiana, the Harrisons and Lees of Virginia, the Roosevelts of New York, the Daleys, and the Stevensons of Illinois, the Muhlenbergs of Pennsylvania, the Tafts of Ohio, the Frelinghuysens of New Jersey, the Lodges of Massachusetts and DuPont family of Delaware.
Other families are or have been politically involved in multiple states. The Bush family includes a U.S. senator from Connecticut, a member of Congress and a governor from Texas (both of whom became president), and a governor of Florida.
Members of the Rockefeller family have been elected to public offices in New York, West Virginia and Arkansas.
Kennedy family members have been elected to public office in Massachusetts, New York, Rhodes Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and California. The Udall family first became prominent in Arizona, but three cousins from the most recent generation simultaneously served in the U.S. Senate from Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon.
Bill Clinton served as governor of Arkansas before being elected the 42nd U.S. President; his wife, Hillary Clinton, was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York before serving as U.S. Secretary of State.
The success stories of the United States are traced to these families in America, and, today, the United States leads the world in virtually all shades of human endeavours.
The question we should ask Olufade is whether Tinubu has made any mark in the history of Lagos to shape the collective destiny of Lagos State residents for good. The answer is yes. Tinubu has grown Lagos to the fifth largest economy in the entire African continent, so much so that the emerging power in West Africa, Ghana, cannot match the economy of four local governments in Lagos State. No one can claim the glory of Lagos master plan that led to this success story outside Tinubu’s visionary leadership.
He developed the state’s masterplan within eight years in office and he has ensured that his disciples control the administration of Lagos State to sustain that legacy.
Conversely, a young man from Anambra notorious for ‘beautiful lies’, deceived his people into accepting his messianic pretensions only to sell the state’s assets to members of his family as revealed in the famed Pandora Files. He is now seeking a wider, national platform to erect his amphitheatre of deceit and some Nigerians place their hopes in that character to continue to fiddle on the nation’s patrimony.
Two of Tinubu’s opponents are consummate nomadic politicians moving from one political nest to the other like thicket rabbits. Though from the same political roots, they are never rooted in any political ideology that puts people at the centre of development.
One of them notorious for cornering national assets through fraudulent national privatisation scheme, late last year, announced in magisterial swagger that he was the Messiah that Nigerians needed to mend their fractured souls. The same Messiah was recently caught on tape perfecting the registration of phoney companies with fake names to legitimise a clearly fraudulent enterprise to rob Nigerians.
His brother, a knight of “buy and sell” economy, is a poor parody of Tinubu, sadly lacking in form and content of Jagaban’s development economy that makes the welfare of the people the centre of development plan in politics. Pandora Files explained a hoax that was presented to his people as a development agenda.
If the blackmail that Tinubu is suffering today is allowed to stand, then we should expect that one day, kidnappers, armed robbers, celebrated crooks and notorious swindlers will seize the government to end the careers of political families in government.
Already, the camps of the desperate politicians in this game of deceit are awash with astounding stories of frauds that confound the most accomplished fence-sitters in national politics.
Let Olufade and his ilk continue to raise issues, no matter how pedestrian, against Tinubu, records are available to give them the right answers.
In the February presidential contest, competence, records of achievements and national acceptability should be deciding factors and not setting family affiliation standards that no forward-looking society embraces in the already established world order.
This is where Tinubu towers above his competitors.
* Olujobi is Deputy Director, Media and Publicity,
Ekiti State APC Presidential Election Committee,