The more extreme manifestation of this degeneration is in the folly of commentators like Dr. Jide Oluwajuyitan of The Nation newspaper who tragically doubles as a university lecturer. In criminal betrayal and violation of the intellectual avocation, this man went to the extent of manufacturing a quote and put it in my mouth to criticise me! I have since referred the case to the university authorities for possible sanction.” – Akin Osuntokun.
The above attack on my person by Akin Osuntokun in his “The Columnist as a Partisan” in ThisDay newspaper of September 12, confirms that a nation that celebrates people like Osuntokun and his group is doomed. He had called to question my right to criticize his father, describing my piece as malicious. I had assured him even while he shouted hysterically on the phone that the quotation which was a documented fact of our history was taken from one of his writings but wrongly credited to him rather than malice. I followed up with a text message explaining that his late father, who was also my father as an Ekiti man, was an important figure of our history whose activities deserved critical analysis in order to see where the rain started beating us.
But who is Akintola Osuntokun and what is the source of his offensive haughtiness? The answers lie in his definition of himself. Speaking to a reporter not too long ago, he had admitted “There has never been anything I critically need that I don’t get. People have been very good to me – especially, powerful people like (former) Presidents Obasanjo and Babangida”. Obviously Akin doesn’t need to work hard to earn anything, including integrity. For this reason he finds it relatively easy to impugn the integrity of those who spent a life time building up their own.
But why wait for that long if a brilliant man, who arrogantly told a reporter, “I thought I was too brilliant to fail my A/Level”, can acquire integrity from commendations from powerful men like Babangida and Obasanjo – leaders who themselves are in need of commendation? And why should Akin, who we all know from his submissions, cannot win an electoral contest within the larger Osuntokun family, talk less of a local government in Okemesi where he also admitted the people burnt the Osuntokun houses as a result of his father’s controversial role in the 1965 Western Region’s rigged election, wait for that long when he could effortlessly acquire the title of Aare Bashorun of Okemesi Ekiti, and the Aremo Agboyegun of Igede Ekiti during Ayo Fayose’s first term as Ekiti governor?
We must not also forget he is a proud recipient of one of the nation’s honours, the Member of the Federal Republic (MFR). With such honours so cheaply bestowed, Akin can afford to be contemptuous of even those who have contributed to his dazzling rise from personal assistant to Tunji Oseni to presidential adviser.
For instance if Akin has now shifted his allegiance to President Goodluck Jonathan insisting his 2015 re-election is unassailable even when Obasanjo, whose commendation he carries around like a trophy, has raised question of morality about the ambition of a president he claimed gave an undertaking to run for only a term, I should take solace if he pretends not to remember I was partly instrumental to his securing a place at The Guardian. Tunji Oseni, one of my mentors who ran my article as Sunday Times editor in the mid-70s, in an effort to rehabilitate his personal assistant, had sent Akin to me for a place at The Guardian. I had advised Akin that a note from Alhaji Jose, our ‘father’ at the Times would carry more weight with Lade Bonuola than my direct intervention. And that was exactly what Akin Osuntokun did to get a place at The Guardian.
Leveraging on that opportunity, he had moved on to become a General Manager, Corporate Affairs with Dangote Group, Obasanjo/Atiku Campaign Organisation’s Director of Publicity, Political Adviser to President Obasanjo and later Managing Director of NAN. Although as at the time Akin was entering The Guardian to acquire the brief experience that he traded for positions, I have made enough contributions on the pages of The Guardian under the guidance of inimitable Olatunji Dare, to form the substance of “Nigeria Under the Generals” a compilation of articles which my graduate students of Comparative Federalism as well as Politics of Colonial and Post-colonial states have found very handy. I had similarly completed my own modest contribution to intellectual knowledge: “Nigeria: The Crisis of Nationhood and The Newspaper Press 1900-2000”.
But all these pale in significance compared to the monumental achievements of my superiors like Dr Stanley Macebuh, Dr Olatunji Dare, Sonala Olumhense Lade Bonuola and also Sully Abu, Femi Kusa Ama Ogan, Ted Iwere, among many others who are more deserving of national honour because of their commitment to our nation. If however Osuntokun’s national honour was a reward for his sterling performance as a presidential adviser, Nigerians can then understand why Obasanjo squandered all the goodwill he took to the presidency, destroying at the end, everything he built with his own hands.
But as Akin is more interested in attacking my person in addition to his threat to sack me from the university where I served selfless as associate lecturer for over 20 years without collecting salary and a university I served without blemish until my retirement in May this year. The only thing Akin Osuntokun has not done is address the issues I raised which late Obafemi Awolowo also raised in his “My March through Prison”.
And what were the issues? “Chief Oduola Osuntokun,” quoting Akin, his son “was one of late Chief Awolowo’s golden boys because Awolowo liked him very much”. Awo took him from class room and made him a minister. But Oduola protested when he was moved from Finance to Lands and Labour, blaming Chief Tony Enahoro for what he considered a demotion Following the crisis in AG, he joined Akintola’s UPP that offered him the position of Minister of Economic Planning which he claimed was superior to Lands and Labour. He subsequently became a prosecution witness against his mentor.
Awo in his “My March through Prison” said on the basis of Osuntokun’s private discussion with Okoro, another delegate to the AG Jos convention, he believed Osuntokun gave false testimony because Akintola had the support of the Prime Minister and also because he needed to justify his new position of minister for economic planning. My thesis therefore was that since Pa Oduola was cleared of corruption charges, his betrayal of his mentor must have been driven by greed for power. As for Akin his son whose struggle in life by his own confession, is to be like his father, I had argued that as someone of good breeding, his support for those alleged to be deficit in honour and integrity must have equally been driven by greed for power.
And talking of integrity; let me assure Akin that as a director at The Nation for a brief period, the only demand I ever made on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was at a public function during which I tucked a hurriedly hand-written two page note into his hand. In the note, I had pleaded he should reconcile with his ‘fathers’ since it is not in our character in Yoruba land to disrobe our fathers publicly even when they are wrong. I have never sought and I have never got any favour from Asiwaju Tinubu. But Akin is no doubt aware of those, who as stalwarts of PDP, abuse Asiwaju Tinubu and his APC publicly, but privately enjoy the favour of his footing their bills when they lodge in Eko Holiday Inn and Towers.
It was recently reported that Akin is secretary general of a new group christened G.37 committed to crusading against political prostitution, moral decadence, and crass materialism. Leading the new crusade is Orji Uzor Kalu, supported by Senator Gbemi Saraki. Others include Femi Fani-Kayode, Bode George, Musiliu Obanikoro and Nuhu Ribadu who recently decamped to PDP, a party he once described as a sinking ship. Behold the new messiahs. Behold those who lay claim to infallibility. We miss Saro Wiwa, the humour merchant who has a way to make us laugh when we should be crying.