While the two big masquerades, Tinubu and Osinbajo, prepare to dance in the marketplace, their supporters have been invoking several epithets, parallels, epigrams and symbols as prologues to explain the two masquerades’ impending dancing steps. The epilogue has been coming in the form of a narrative put in the public sphere that Osinbajo, foremost professor of law and attorney general was moulded by Bola Tinubu while he was governor of Lagos state. Indeed, the strategy of interfacing Tinubu with the public by his supporters has been an audacious carving of the ex-Lagos governor in the mould of the Yoruba god, Orunmila, the orisa of wisdom, knowledge, and divination.
One of a series of devious stratagem used in the service of this bid is drawing a parallel between Awolowo and Akintola’s feud of the First Republic as an explainer of the interface between Tinubu and Osinbajo. This came to the fore with brute force immediately after Osinbajo’s declaration for the 2023 presidency. Upon examination, however, it will be found to be very hollow, shallow and lacking in any rigour of a historical understanding. Let me explain.
After being systematically rigged out of the 1959 federal election, Awolowo decided not to go back to his premiership of the western region. This is unlike eastern region premier, Nnamdi Azikiwe, who accepted Prime Minister Balewa’s overture to form a government with him, thereafter becoming Nigeria’s only ceremonial president. Azikiwe left his turf in the hands of Michael Okpara, a very grits-full medical doctor with a very strong mind of his own. while Ahmadu Bello of the northern region sent a junior politician, Balewa, to the centre to become Nigeria’s prime minister.
It is no longer news that though Akintola was his deputy in the Action Group, Awolowo favoured either Anthony Enahoro or Chief FRA Williams as his successor. He however had to succumb to party elders like Dr Akanni Doherty and Akinola Maja who articulated the need to pick Akintola who had then become the deputy leader of the AG after the death of Chief Bode Thomas. In his own words, however, Awolowo maintained that those who dissuaded him from picking Chief Williams as successor were Chief S. O. Gbadamosi and Dr Akanni Doherty.
In late 1961, the Action Group constituted a group of young men who prepared memoranda for a cogent ideology for the AG. The party’s federal executive council meeting thus agreed on the adoption of democratic socialism as its ideology and, among others, that, “nobody, especially government or party functionaries must have more than one plot of government land; fringe benefits and perks for ministers and parliamentary secretaries were slashed; and thirdly, the party pronounced that the party was supreme and that anybody who held office did so at the pleasure of the party and that anyone who held any governmental position must see that his policies were either laid down by the party or were in line with party policies”. This did not go down well with the premier, Akintola, who mocked the ideology of democratic socialism openly. More fundamentally, while Akintola believed that the west should bond with the north to gain power at the centre, Awolowo believed that the west must go eastwards in seeking allies.
In the last eight years of Tinubu and Osinbajo people’s sufferings under Buhari, both of them never demonstrated any fidelity to them or the boldness to wear their Yorubaness on their lapels. They never demonstrated that their people’s plight was worthy of any amplification and resolution. When kidnappers killed and ransomed their people of the south-west without let, the duo of Tinubu and Osinbajo bonded with Alabama in his taciturn cold-bloodedness. They even literally abetted him in his nepotistic embrace of his Fulani people and discard of others. While Tinubu told the world that, to become the Nigerian president has been his lifelong ambition, Osinbajo has not demonstrated that he is possessed of any unique love for his Yoruba people, nor that Yoruba people should queue behind him as a matter of mutual kinsman fidelity.
Yes, while in their respective political offices, they have both favoured their political and religious clienteles – apologies again to Professor Farooq Kperogi – I am not aware that any one of them bent over backwards to articulate the plight of the Yoruba in a different pitch, in a federal Nigeria under Buhari.
With the above in mind, it then means that those haranguing supporters of both Tinubu and Osinbajo on account of their disparate views, citing the so-called Aole curse of disunity among Yoruba, are merely walking on a barren historical route. While it is a feel-good feeling to have one’s kinsman as president of Nigeria, the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency exemplifies that Yoruba wise-saying that one’s benefactor is not necessarily your kinsman – “ajumobi o kan than…” It is arguable if Yoruba’s southwest was not the least considered for the development of Nigeria’s six zones under Obasanjo.
So, while the two masquerades – Tinubu and Osinbajo – prepare to have their day at the marketplace to dance, Yoruba should clap their hands for any one of them that catches their fancy, feel free to get scintillated by their multi-coloured Egungun masquerade regalia. They may mop up as many frills and personal excitements as they can from the eclectic dance steps of the masquerades, get entranced by their beautiful costumes and be awed by the whiplash that each of them lashes on each other. To now Yorubanize the presidential bids of these masquerades and approximate their travails and baggage as the Yoruba races are absurd and inappropriate, something in the mould of a journey doomed to fail.
M.A Political Science,