My Participations: Beyond Adebanjo and Tinubu family squabbles

The reading culture seems to be disappearing among Nigerians especially our youths. No thanks to our different institutions of socialization, the family, schools, the church and the media that have not helped matters. Our students hide under social media to avoid reading even newspapers. Our prosperity prophets knowing that our youths hardly read any portion of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation exploit their ignorance by promising prosperity without hard work. With the media, our youths suffer double jeopardy.

First, the media, owned by those who wish to impose their world view on the rest of society or those who wish to protect their disproportionate share of the nation’s resources they cornered, is not a free market place of ideas. But the success of the media lies in giving a false narrative that its ultimate goal is the pursuit of public interest as against private profit. I suspect that is what Alhaji Jose, the doyen of Nigeria journalism describes as ‘walking the tight rope’.

On the other hand, since it takes a discerning mind to make sense out of information and misinformation the media dish out daily even in societies with a reading culture, many of our contemporary media managers who realize that an un-reading public will swallow their prejudices and those of the tendencies they represent, understand taking pains to ‘walk the tight rope” is an unprofitable enterprise.

This perhaps explains why a significant portion of the electronic media decided to swindle their audience with their coverage of the presentation of Bisi Akande’s 559-page book – My Participation a few weeks back.

It was obvious from the coverage that the objective was to exploit the intra-party squabbles among leading Yoruba politicians in order to further destabilise the Yoruba nation instead of highlighting serious self-inflicted problems threatening the survival of the nation as identified by Chief Akande in the book.

To some of the electronic outfits, a sentence in Akande’s 559 page book – ‘Tinubu told me later that after he presented Adebanjo’s C of O to him, Adebanjo was always pestering Tinubu until he helped build a house on the plot’ – defines the book. To further exploit the schism between the warring father and son who have for years engaged in public duel, they assembled experts to talk about the implications of Pa Akande’s claim about helping his father to build a house. Pa Ayo Adebanjo was granted an elaborate interview to deny and denounce his son while he was challenged not only to defend his claim with evidence but also explain to Nigerians the source of his money. Their decision to weep louder than the bereaved betrayed their real intention.

Because they knew Nigerians, especially the youth, have not read Akanke’s latest contribution to the literature on crisis of leadership in Nigeria, or plan to read any other books that could help in proper articulation of Nigerian problems, they focused on that one sentence ignoring far more important issues such as the ‘national question’, sovereign national conference long advocated by the Yoruba, exploitation of the desperation of Yoruba for a workable structure by Obasanjo, their own son and President Jonathan’s decision to do the same on the eve of an election in which he was facing an imminent defeat because of the emergence of APC, and Obasanjo’s letter that had accused him of ‘corruption and comprehensive incompetence’ . They bungled an opportunity to interrogate Akanke’s claim that Jonathan summoned a national conference of his own image on the eve of an election as a survival strategy. They similarly did not bother to interrogate why Jonathan failed to implement some of the conference recommendations that could be handled administratively.

The book also read hypocrisy into Obasanjo’s transition after a lifelong preaching the values of dictatorship and one party state to sudden advocate of restructuring. According to him, he, Obasanjo was ‘an important member of Gowon’s military junta who divided Nigeria by decree into 12 states without rhythm or reason, second in command when Murtala Muhammed split Nigeria by decree without principles into 19 states, had influence with Babangida who spilt the country to 30 states by decree’ before he and his PDP ruled Nigeria for 16 years.

Akande on page 472 of the book accused Obasanjo of being behind the nation’s current misfortune since it was his regime (1975-1979) that amended Decrees 13 of 1970 and 9 of 1971 which began the unfortunate transfer of states’ residual functions to the central government. This was a precursor to Decree 21 of 1998 which transferred to the federal government, the power to collect all taxes and subsequent increase in the exclusive legislative list from 45 in the 1960 constitution to 68 in the 1999 Abdulsalami Abubakar’s ‘military’ constitution.

If we are looking for the source of political irresponsibility and official corruption at the federal government level, duplication and multiplication of government departments and bureau to find jobs for the boys’ in the same manner unviable states and LGAs were created, Akande says we don’t need to look any further.

And quoting Obafemi Awolowo, Akande says “Obasanjo and his military adventurers are the reason that have made the work of government to become unduly complex, inextricably tangled, extremely unwieldy and wasteful and productive of disharmony and discontent among our people”. Akanke’s conclusion is that “Nigeria is now in chaos created by leaders with military orientation to promote corruption with appropriate cover-ups.”

Akande in the book reserves the last words for our current military new breed politicians who continue to promote and sustain the current military fraud, called Nigeria instead of working towards returning to ‘our political and economic viability of our founding fathers’.

The media especially the electronics media continue to play the ostrich like those who are currently benefitting from the nation’s tragedy by giving the wrong impression that Akande’s My Participations is about Adebanjo and Tinubu’s family squabbles.

On the contrary, it is a good book on the crisis of Nigerian leadership that should be recommended because of its heuristic value to all Nigerians who want to know where the rain started to beat us and the real actors behind the nation’s current travails.

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