Nigeria: Edwin Clark and the fear of Tinubu
by Idowu Ajanaku
All in the queer quest for political relevance and more precisely to get his Ijaw-born brother, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, back to Aso Rock come 2015, Chief Edwin Clark has suddenly found his long-lost voice and turned himself into his paymaster’s megaphone. Ordinarily, one would not want to join issues with any Nigerian
who has worthy contributions to make to elevate the level of national discourse. But when an elder citizen such as Clark starts employing tactless tirades, gutter snipe language to disparage and deconstruct great achievers in the political field, we have to remind him that even within the ambit of free expression there is a boundary of decency. Beyond that, right-thinking people do not over step.
Similarly, when otherwise respected individuals resort to arm-twisting tactics, leaving the substance of the much sought after, (yet elusive) good governance to chasing the shadows of self-aggradisement, inadvertently to attempt to rubbish great minds with useful ideas, we have to bring him back to the path of robust reasoning.
The erstwhile Federal Commissioner for Information under the defunct General Yakubu Gowon-led military administration,who has suddenly turned himself into GEJ’s alter ego, continues to trade verbal missiles, with perceived opponents.
Last week it was against Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. This time, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is his main target. Unfortunately for him, he keeps missing the points, all predicated on the national question. For instance,Clark, in a recent letter sent to Tinubu by his legal adviser, Mr.Kayode Ajulo accused the other of denying Yorubas of political identity.
Beginning with base, primordial sentiments, he asked rather rhetorically: “Why is he not in a hurry to clear questions on his real identity? Is it true that he has no faint trace of the famed Tinubu blood in his veins? Is it true that he is ashamed of his real ancestors and family heritage?” Read through that again and one would start to link the claim of medical experts to the likely increase in the level of senility as one grows older. Clark is agood example of that.
Or, how else can we explain the pettiness and hollowness of most of the questions thrown up in his infamous letter? And come to think of it, what is Clark’s business with Tinubu’s heritage? Has any Yoruba family gone to court to put a disclaimer over Tinubu’s claims to his place of origin and the family thereof? “Though he regularly attempts to obliterate his past life, he however grew up with people, they are alive and they know him inside out.”
So, who are those people who know Tinubu ‘inside out’? Why didn’t Clark go to them for answers to his nagging questions instead of writing a vainglorious letter to that effect? What is the relevance of such senseless questions to moving the Nigerian state forward, in terms of infrastructural development, quality healthcare delivery, stable power supply, good access roads, sound education standards and employment opportunities all of which his brother, Jonathan has denied the good people of Nigeria for over three years now.
Instead of being greatly troubled about the widely accepted public opinion that Jonathan has indeed become a colossal failure in government and projects a bad image for the once-respected Ijaw Nation, Clark is more concerned about Tinubu’s educational qualifications.
Said he: “It is only in a country, like Nigeria that somebody with forged academic qualifications will become a governor and pretend to be a leader of a leading sophisticated community.” Clark does not need rocket science to know that being so aggrieved the noble step to take is to go to court with concrete and credible evidence of the so called ‘forged qualifications’.
Let him prove to the world that he has no ulterior motives in his Tinubu-phopbia. Again, rather than acknowledge the God-given talents and well-honed skills of the famed Asiwaju in the management of men and materials Clark is having sleepless nights.
Over what, you may ask? He is worried stiff over Tinubu’s uncommon political sagacity and superlative strategies in Nigeria’s undulating political terrain. In questioning why Tinubu’s daughter has become the IyaOloja and his wife Oluremi is a Senator, Clark has forgotten the Kennedy and George Bush dynasties of the United States as well as the Gandis of India. Put in simple terms, there are some families who God in His graciousness has blessed with rare leadership qualities. And no amount of human envy and mischief making can rob them of their positions in national histories. That should explain to Clark that Tinubu has over the years emerged as one of the ‘galaxy of titans’ that Lagos parades, rather than describing him as Lilliputian.
The Tinubu phenomena should in fact become a course of study in the Department of Strategic Studies in some select Nigerian universities instead of the continued attempts to rubbish such exemplary legacies by lesser minds from the failed PDP.
That is what obtains in more advanced economies. Even here in Nigeria, some researchers have obtained doctorate degrees by understudying what unique qualities defined the FELA Anikulapo Kuti’s Afro beat music genre and phenomena. For instance, only recently, the musical prowess of both Beyonce and her rap-musician husband, Jay-Z became subjects of studies in two American universities.We need to borrow a leaf from such laudable initiative.
Honestly, Clark should start considering this suggestion for his proposed university so that the younger generation would gain a lot from Tinubu’s managerial skills, his business acumen, the people-friendly policies, his crowd-pulling magnetic persona and his constancy of purpose in the pursuit of the enthronement of democratic values across Nigeria’s political space.
May we remind Clark that Tinubu was the solid shoulder which the activists leant on in the dark days of military despotism under the jackboot of late Gen. Sani Abacha. As a Nationalist,Tinubu was the one who moved the motion for the 13 per cent derivation which Clark and the favoured few Niger-Delta politicians enjoy till this day at the expense of their long-suffering people.
It should interest him to find out what magic wand brought him and Muhammad Buhari together to form the All Progressives Congress, APC, that is causing PDP endless political worries. How did he, while still in opposition get a PDP politician, Aminu Tambuwal from the North-West geo-political zone as the Speaker, House of Representatives, at the expense of a Yoruba man or woman?
How did he sweep the carpet from under the South-West PDP? How come that those who once boasted, in a sheer delusion of grandeur, that the PDP “will rule this country for 60 years” are now crises-crossing the country to mend broken fences within the party’s rank-and-file?
Why were they caught napping? How come the gale of defections from past PDP faithful also caught the likes of President Jonathan and former party Chairman, Tukur, napping? These should be the questions to agitate Clark’s mind, not some spurious innuendoes on the person of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Of course, he should ask himself in good conscience how the true man of the people was able to transform the Alliance for Democracy, AD, to a bigger party with the name of Action Congress, AC, through the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, that has finally merged with like minds into Nigeria’s first formidable opposition party, the APC, with a more national outlook? Should anyone consider this ever-expanding political space by one man’s political sagacity a deconstruction of Yoruba political identity or bringing his people to the mainstream?
Truth be told, Tinubu deserves more awards (that have made Clark envious) for his singular political courage, sacrifice of resources for the good of the Yoruba race and taking a regional party to the realms of national consciousness. In comparison, what Awo’s Action Group (AG) which subsequently metamorphosed into the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) concretized at the Western political axis, Tinubu has taken to the next level.
How did he do it? That should be food for thought for his political foes who should come closer to him to learn a lesson or two in political re-engineering. That is, instead of fuelling acrimony out of petty jealousy that would do them more harm than good.
For Clark, those who live in glass houses should be wise enough not to throw stones. He it was who worked under the Gowon-led administration that was overtly corrupt. Indeed, if Clark smart enough as the Commissioner for Information, he would have prevented his master from telling the whole world that Nigeria had more money than it could ever spend back in the seventies, and even go ahead to spend public money via the frivolous Udoji Award to civil servants, without caution, plan or thought for tomorrow.
With the stupendous national wealth during the Gowon days, the rural areas should have been opened up through massive agricultural and industrial revolution. That would have done us more good than concentrating on the urban areas that eventually led to the rural-urban drift causing the upsurge in urban youth unemployment and related whirlwind of crimes and criminality still with us till today. As the nation moves towards another general election, elders of Clark’s stature should be circumspect in words and actions.
He should be a bridge builder across the religious, political and tribal divides instead of fuelling ethnic chauvinism. By that alone he has clearly shown that he does not truly love President Jonathan whose every wrong action he attempts to justify. And whose political nemesis he goes to the rooftop to disparage. Good governance, good governance, and more good governance is what Nigerians have been clamoring for. It is the mantra that he should be drumming into the ears of his Ijaw brother, if he truly loves him.