*By Tunde Olusunle*
My brother, namesake and senior colleague, Tunde Ipinmisho it was who called me to convey the distressing information about Ayo Olukotun’s medical situation in the last week of December 2022. Olukotun, a professor of international relations at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, had suffered a massive stroke. He had been taken in at the intensive care unit Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ago-Iwoye. Segun Ayobolu, also my “sibling” and fellow professional, corroborated the information the following day. He bemoaned the levity with which matters of healthcare, wellbeing, human life are treated in our country. For all four of us including Olukotun, the erstwhile *Daily Times of Nigeria* was a common denominator. We all met as professionals in that organisation. By some coincidence, we all came from the Okun-Yoruba extreme of contemporary Kogi State. Our shared professional careers, and maybe the fact of coming from the same sociocultural homeland, were adhesives and binders.
Wednesday January 4, 2023, just about a week after Ipinmisho passed to me the gravity of Olukotun’s situation, the sad news of his demise was in the air. He passed on in the early hours of the day leaving behind, bewildered biologically related nuclear and extended families. This is not forgetting his equally devastated outer concentric rings of critical affiliates and associates. Metaphorically, a whale had exited the waters of Okunland where he hailed from, where scholarship is the most important vocation only after subsistence farming. The media fraternity where he devoted a substantial quotient of his professional career, *parri passu* with the academia, had been robbed of one of their best and most diligent. The Nigerian, and indeed global intellectual community had been gruffly dispossessed of one of their most cerebral, most prized, most rigorous, colleagues and compatriots, albeit a very unobtrusive one at that.
The subsequent outpouring of grief from the highest quarters, is evidence of the veneration and esteem Olukotun was held. From Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President, through Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the attendant lachrymose has been most palpable. Olukotun’s countrymen as well as colleagues in the media and academia, still wield their tear-soaked handkerchiefs in mournful despair. Eyitayo Lambo, distinguished professor and former health minister; Olu Obafemi, Emeritus professor and recipient of the 2018 Nigerian National Order of Merit, (NNOM), and Gabriel Godini Darah, renowned professor of oral literature, are shattered by the news of Olukotun’s exit. Toyin Falola, renowned historian, professor and soul mate of Olukotun; Yemi Akinwumi, also a reputable professor of history and vice chancellor of the Federal University Lokoja, (FUL), are variously stung by the development. Gbenga Ibileye, a professor of English at FUL; Rafiu Olusola Enikanolaye, retired career ambassador and former student of Olukotun; Ngozi Anyaegbunam and Ndubuisi Ugbede, Olukotun’s former colleagues in the primordial Daily Times conglomerate, are most pained.
I had caught glimpses of Olukotun around and about the University of Ilorin, around the late 1980s. I was a postgraduate student at the institution between 1987 and 1989, and I saw him not on a few occasions. We were to meet subsequently at the erstwhile Daily Times of Nigeria Plc, where I worked between 1990 and 1998. Yemi Ogunbiyi, the revered scholar, author and administrator was leading a major revolution and reorganisation in the organisation and opened up space for academics and media professionals alike. While I made the rounds filing my professional dentition from the features desk of *Sunday Times* through *Daily Times* beginning from 1990, Olukotun joined the newspaper behemoth in 1991, as Member of the Editorial Board.
A documented creation of Stanley Macebuh, serial midwife of several newspapers in his time, the concept of the Editorial Board has since been adopted across board in the media. The Editorial Board was something of an exclusive faculty of academics and professionals, indeed some kind of coven or cult of media eggheads. It met on scheduled days of the week to distil and dilate topics of sociopolitical contemporaneity for further espousal. Notable scholars like Chidi Amuta, Darah, Anyaegbunam, Omar Farouk, among others, populated the Daily Times Editorial Board in that era. I was deployed to the Editorial Board in 1993, which brought me closer than ever, to Olukotun. For us his younger colleagues and friends, it was more convenient to call him *Boda Ayo* or *Egbon,* as we do in our parts of Nigeria.
His hair and face were already interspersed with grey strands at the time, which in some cultures is physical evidence of wisdom and knowledge. His doctorate was yet on the way, but he was already playing the part of an authentic intellectual. He was already well published in books and journals at that time by the way, so was thoroughly grounded. The quantum quality he breathed, spoke volumes of his deep immersion in scholarship. Olukotun’s contributions to discourse were typically robust, properly processed and distinctly profound. He emitted rooted knowledge, his grasp of English bore the patent of “native language speaker competence.” He had his way with words.
While undertaking a self-imposed appeal for fiscal support for one of our distressed younger colleagues those days, I remember him asking me: “Tunde, what is your resource profile like? I’m leading a broad-spectrum solicitation for a beleaguered younger colleague.” I was momentarily hit by the high falutin words, but had to process it speedily and spontaneously to advance a response. That was the humanist in Olukotun. That was the manner of elevated contributions and interventions he brought into our Editorial Board encounters. He was ideologically aligned towards the left, his perspectives as a radical scholar, added pith to our engagements. He regularly alluded to Bade Onimode, Claude Ake, Adebayo Olukoshi, Toyin Falola, Omafume Onoge, Onigu Otite, in our typically lively editorial contestations.
Ayo Olukotun would have been 70, May 2, 2023. He was born in Jege, a community in Yagba East local government area, (LGA) of Kogi State. He was the archetypal *eni ti o ti apata dide,* one who emerged from the hard ground of the rock, intent on carving a niche for himself, irrespective of life’s challenges. He was educated at the famous Titcombe College, Egbe, Yagba West LGA, between 1965 and 1969. He served early warning of his imminent disposition to the academia, earning five distinctions in the West African School Certificate Examination, (WASCE), which he wrote in his final year. Titcombe college is reputed to have produced several icons on the nation’s national stage, notably: Tunji Arosanyin, (of blessed memory), easily one of the first attorneys from Okunland and Samuel Afolayan, retired vice admiral and former Chief of Naval Staff, (CNS). Olu Obafemi, Emeritus Professor and Samuel Ibiyemi, (departed), professor of engineering and former Vice Chancellor, (VC), Achievers University, Ondo State, were also groomed in the same institution. The much younger Pius Adesanmi, erstwhile Canada-based professor of literature and African Studies at the Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, who died March 10, 2019, in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, attended the same institution.
Olukotun was something of a “career student” of the Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), from the primordial years of the institution’s nomenclature of “University of Ife,” (Unife). He obtained all his three degrees, bachelors to doctorate from that citadel in 1976; 1982 and 2006, respectively. He was a unionist who was Secretary and President of the Students’ Union respectively, at various times. As a student leader, he was at the fore of presenting to the public, a counter narrative to the rot and decay perpetuated by successive military governments in Nigeria. He cut his teeth as a socially committed intellectual, beginning from his days as a young student.
He lived his life between the classroom and the newsroom, having lectured in half a dozen universities during his lifetime. He was at the Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria, 1977 to 1988, as well as the Lagos State University, (LASU) and the University of Lagos, (Unilag), concurrently between 2002 to 2007. He was appointed professor of p olitical science at Lead University, Ibadan, where he worked between 2007 and 2014, and was visiting professor of international relations at OAU, between 2015 and 2016. He became “Distinguished Governance Professor,” at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, where he occupies the “Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair of Governance.”
As the true journalist and public scholars he subsequently served on the Editorial Boards of: *The Nigerian Compass,* *Nigerian Tribune,* *Daily Independent,* and *Anchor Newspapers* respectively. He was also a columnist in many publications, including *The Punch* where he sustained a much awaited column, beginning from 2013. He received the *Diamond Awards for Media Excellence,* (DAME), for informed commentary in 2013. He authored, edited and co-edited many reference academic books including: *Repressive State and Resurgent Media in Nigeria,* (2004), and *Political Communication in Africa,* (2016, which he co-edited with Sharon Omotoso). He also wrote: *Watchdogs or Captured Media? A Study of the Role of the Media in Nigeria’s Emergent Democracy: 1999- 2016.* With Femi Sonaike, another eminent mass communications scholar, he wrote *Jose: The Ideas Man.* Olukotun had well over half a century academic papers published in international monographs, books and journals.
Obafemi is saddened by the demise of Olukotun who had been his friend from their undergraduate days. He describes Olukotun as “a top flying scholar, and a renowned political scientist, and an engaging public and media intellectual, rolled into one.” For Obafemi, Olukotun’s demise deprives Okunland, the academia, the media world and humanity at large. Lambo describes Olukotun’s departure as “very sad indeed.” He prayed God to “minister peace to his family.” Darah laments Olukotun’s demise as a “monumental loss to African intellectual heritage.” Akinwumi exclaims: “Jesus Christ! When did he die? This is a corporate loss to global scholarship. He was a very sound and objective scholar. He was progressively-minded and ever on the side of the downtrodden masses. He was a diehard Nigerian and a lover of humanity. He will be difficult to replace.”
Anyaegbunam is startled and reminisces about a most poignant conversation she had with him sometime last year. “We discussed career fulfilment and the *japa* trend. We laughed then, but thinking back now… May his kind soul rest in perfect peace.” Ibileye describes Olukotun as “one of the brightest of the Okun nation.” According to him, “he was one of the most deeply insightful and prolific contemporary Nigerian thinkers… I’m pained by the demise of this patriot, thinker, scholar and fine specimen of humanity.” Enikanolaye recalls that Olukotun “taught me world contemporary history as a young “Graduate Assistant” at the School of Basic Studies, (SBS), in ABU, Zaria. His depth of knowledge and analytical capacity was outstanding… He delivered his lectures without written notes, dress in jeans and T-shirts.”
The Wednesday January 4, 2023, departure of Professor Ayo
was not a nice way to welcome the dawn of a new year. But who are we to question the whims of the Almighty? Olukotun is survived by his wife, Stella and two sons, Temitope and Oluwatomisin, both young adults. Members of his extended family include: Bola Ola-Oluwa, an elder and head of the family; Caroline Oriowo; J.S. Olayemi; Kunle Olukotun, (architect and younger brother); Funmi Abasi and Iyadunni Babatimehin.
*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author is a Member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE).*
Artificial intelligence: Next frontiers for technology
By Sonny Aragba-Akpore
Riding on the crest of innovation and evolution, scientists and global tech players have raised the bar for technology as more ways to get things done without the human factor takes centre stage.
Elsewhere in the global communities, artificial intelligence rules were robots power industries, shipping, hotel services home deliveries and financial services.
There are already globalization of this technology as many more organizations zero in on ways to reduce costs of human capital and leaving responsibility to science to manage.
While many tech companies grow the artificial intelligence in their various corners of the world, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) ,the global technology regulator, is rearing to unify the technology in such ways as to create standards for open platform.
In a few months, tech gurus will converge on Geneva, the ITU headquarters in Switzerland to strategize on the way forward for Artificial Intelligence for Good.
“The goal of AI for Good is to identify practical applications of AI to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) and connect AI innovators with public and private-sector decision-makers to help scale up AI solutions globally. ”according to the ITU.
In 2017 ,the landmark AI for Good Global Summit marked the beginning of a global dialogue on the potential of AI to act as a force for good. The action-oriented 2018 and 2019 summits gave rise to numerous AI for Good projects including several standardisation initiatives of the ITU.
Such standards relating to the opportunity in investigating the standardization requirements for high-potential AI use cases will dominate the upcoming AI for Good Global Summit 2023 expected to hold in Geneva that combines 2,500+ participants and online participation from the over 15,000 members of the AI-powered community platform, the AI for Good Neural Network, making it the world’s largest and most inclusive AI solutions and matchmaking event.
AI is about computers or machines carrying out tasks that were traditionally thought to require human function to carry out. It is associated with concepts like automation and big data.
Customer data collection combined with the improvements to computer technology, mean that artificial intelligence can be utilised for a huge range of functions, from basic customer service, to personalization tasks, more advanced problem-solving, and even for sales processes and direct messaging.
Artificial intelligence, refers to the performance of seemingly intelligent behaviours by computers or machines. Artificial intelligence, as a concept, has existed since the 1950s, but it is only in recent times that technology has advanced to the point where it can be considered reliable enough to deploy for important business tasks.
Artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role in hospitality management, primarily because of its ability to carry out traditionally human functions at any time of the day. This potentially means that hotel owners can save significant money, eliminate human error and deliver superior service.
In the aviation sector, air travel passengers are projected to reach four billion in 2024, exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels, according to the International Air Transport Association(IATA).
To deal with such a huge number of passengers, airlines need to innovate and integrate with emerging technologies like AI and machine learning. AI in aviation has the potential to increase urban air mobility, improve airline safety, automate flight scheduling, and enable predictive maintenance of airplanes.
AI can also monitor transport costs and supplier charges, finding the most cost-effective ways to purchase, deliver, and distribute goods to-and-from warehouse operations. It can provide buyers with recommendations, and update routings, ensuring the fastest service for customers.
The financial sector also benefits from AI as “Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in finance encompasses everything from chatbot assistants to fraud detection and task automation.
Most banks (80%) are highly aware of the potential benefits presented by AI, according to Insider Intelligence’s AI in Banking report. “according to analysts.
The analysts say that “the decision for financial institutions (FIs) to adopt AI will be accelerated by technological advancement, increased user acceptance, and shifting regulatory frameworks.
Banks using AI can streamline tedious processes and vastly improve the customer experience by offering 24/7 access to their accounts and financial advice services. “
That is why Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics innovators—and their high-tech creations—will join humanitarian leaders in Geneva, Switzerland, July 6-7,2023, for the latest edition of the global summit advancing AI to drive sustainable development.
The two-day AI for Good Global Summit to be hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will demonstrate how new technologies can support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in areas such as combatting the climate crisis and bolstering humanitarian response.
“It’s in our collective interest that we can shape AI faster than it is shaping us,” said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “This summit, as the UN’s primary platform for AI, will bring to the table leading voices representing a diversity of interests to ensure that AI can be a powerful catalyst for progress in our race to rescue the SDGs.”
The AI for Good Global Summit will feature eight humanoid social robots and over 20 specialized robots, being brought together for the first time under the same roof. The robots will showcase capabilities ranging from fighting fires and delivering aid to providing healthcare and farming sustainably.
The event will also feature talks from thought leaders as well as demos of state-of-the-art AI solutions that could achieve global scale with the support of the international AI for Good community.
Two high-level roundtables – featuring government officials, industry executives, academics, and UN partners – will explore the policies, regulations, and standards needed for AI to advance sustainable development.
The event will also host the final round of the AI for Good Innovation Factory where start-ups from around the world will pitch their AI solutions to advance the SDGs.
AI for Good is being hosted by ITU, the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies, together with 40 partner UN agencies. The summit is co-convened by the government of Switzerland.
ITU’s global membership includes 193 Member States and – uniquely in the UN system – over 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations.
Member States at ITU’s governing Plenipotentiary Conference in 2022 adopted a resolution supporting the tech agency’s work across the UN system to realize the benefits of AI for sustainable development.
The two-day AI for Good Global Summit at The International Conference Centre Geneva is preceded by machine learning workshops on July 5,2023 led by experts from the AI of Good Discovery series
. The ITU event is opened to all.
Will The Igbos Be Peter Obi’s Undoing? By Paul Hassan
At the beginning of this dispensation, Igbo politicians made a spectacle of themselves in the Nigerian senate. Within the span of 4 years, the senate had four senate presidents including Evans Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Pius Anyim.
You could argue that whoever wanted to oust any Igbo Senate President had more than willing hands among the Igbo to take him down. A generous view is to blame the republican nature of the Igbos as the major factor.
They would call up history especially the fact that the Igbos were largely republican and did not create large kingdoms with chiefs ruling over very large territories.
Despite the fact that the colonial authorities created warrant chiefs, majority of Igbos are still under small autonomous communities with no strong authority over Individuals and households. Any person could, arguably, be king. No blue bloods.
This may have been extended to the governmental structures and they scored the first, in Nigeria’s Anambra State, where a sitting governor was actually kidnapped, forced to write a resignation letter.
This was carried out by individuals in cahoots with police and other security agencies. At the moment there is the reign of terror in the south east where marauding gunmen kill at will, successfully incapacitating security agencies and imposing their will and rule. Markets are shut down and there are days citizens are forced to stay indoors.
The 2022 primary elections of the main political parties demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt the lack of love for fellow brother that Igbo politicians have for themselves.
In PDP, apart from Senator Pius Anyim no serious candidate emerged and Anyim did not gather more than a paltry number of votes.
All the other candidates who sought for the nomination of the ruling APC did not even get the votes of their local government delegates.
Governor Okowa, himself an Igbo man, who hosted the meeting of southern governors and read the communique in which all southern governors had vowed to support power shift to the south pitched his tent with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and not with Senator Anyim or fellow Ikwere brother, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
That this may be the historical moment for the Igbo to take their place in Nigeria’s politics and governance is underscored by a little walk back in history.
Zik of Africa, Owelle of Onitsha Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was a front runner in Nigeria with his base in Lagos before, according to Igbo historians, he was hounded out. He made an unsuccessful attempt to become the Prime Minister of Nigeria.
He failed but became the ceremonial President of Nigeria. Then came Aguiyi Ironsi, who became Nigeria’s Military Head of State and was murdered by ambitious northern officers and soldiers.
In the ensuing confusion and Civil War, Chukwuemeka Odumegu Ojukwu did not seek to lead Nigeria but sought to split up the country and carve a small territory where the Igbos would lead. That was not to be.
At the return to civilian rule in 1979, Zik made another attempt to rule but came third place in the presidential elections. Ojukwu also made a feeble attempt to contest presidential elections.
Yes, of course, Governor Rochas Okorocha made repeated attempts to run for the Presidency. He, however, was seen more as a joke candidate and obviously did not receive any serious support of his fellow Igbo politicians.
Now Governor Peter Obi who first came into the national scene in 2019 as Atiku’s running mate, has emerged as a major mainstream Presidential Candidate.
His nomination in 2019 caused a lot of unease among many Igbo politicians who saw him as an outsider reaping where he did not sow.
This time around he wisely left the PDP and has since become a major front runner believed by many to have a chance of winning.
Without any fear of contradiction, since Nnamdi Azikiwe before independence, and Azikiwe in 1979, no Igbo politician has been able to garner the type of national following that Peter obi has. Arguably, Obi today has higher chances of becoming president than Dr Azikiwe had in 1978/79 campaign.
In this election Obi has many factors going for him. He is the youngest of the major candidates and is evidently the one with the least blemish.
Besides the fanatical support among young people, especially new voters, who see him as the hero/saviour they have been waiting for, he is regarded as more competent and is a person of character (In other words, he is honest and can be trusted). The efforts of some Anambra people to rubbish his record have not succeeded.
At least since 1999 no politician of Igbo extraction has the name and face recognition, across the nation that Obi has. Some have argued that no Igbo person has been closer to Nigeria’s presidency than Peter Obi.
No Igbo aspirant to the presidency of Nigeria has gathered as many prominent supporters across the county than Obi: President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the Middle Belt Forum.
Most of the major churches in Nigeria appear more comfortable with him. His challenge in the Muslim north is his ethnicity and religion.
When he entered the race, he was laughed at and analysts who were kind to him then said he would come a poor fourth position. He was dismissed as being a Facebook and Twitter candidate without structure. Today, all polls assess him to be a front runner and with the possibility of coming first or second.
However, Peter Obi’s greatest undoing could be some among his Igbo brethren, who in this season when elections and electioneering are centered mainly on ethnic and religious factors have retreated into their republicanism and are hiding under the strange logic that they would not support him because, according to them, time is not ripe for Igbo Presidency! Strangely they argue that an Igbo person cannot win now.
Strangely enough, though not surprising, former Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo who was installed by Governor Willie Obiano, who himself was imposed on Anambra by Peter Obi has argued several times that Peter Obi would not win and so, Igbo people should not support him!
This at least is a valid interpretation of his comments and explanations. The silliness of the argument is too easy to see: Soludo himself contested against Obiano and lost!
Elections are a contest: a winner will emerge and a loser will also emerge. The factors that do not favour Peter Obi now will not necessarily favour Soludo in the future.
In fact the situation may be worse. If election results were known before the contests take place, then there would have been no need for elections.
In any case, as we draw closer to February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, it is becoming clear that no one can certainly presume to know who will win the elections
Igbos and Future Presidential Elections
It is very unlikely that the competitive advantage Peter Obi has over his main rivals would exist for another Igbo person in the near future.
Presently Peter Obi has become popular on the Streets of the North Central, North East and even parts of the North West. In any case he does not need to get majority votes in those areas to win the Presidential elections.
He needs to get only 25% from 24 states with majority votes to become President. President Goodluck Johnathan in 2011 did not get 25% of the votes of Borno, Yobe, Kano, Niger and Bauchi.
He did excellently well in Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Benue, South East, South South and Lagos and coasted to victory.
Those ambitious Igbos running down Peter Obi now, should Know that there may be no second chance in the near future for an Igbo politician to get the acceptance that Peter Obi has nationally.
They need to be reminded also that should Peter Obi fail in his bid as a result of Delta, Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Abia and Enugu States giving him a lukewarm average victory or even loss to PDP or APC in those states, the day of reckoning would keep a date with them.
Peter Obi’s failure would be used as a valid reason in the future for rejecting prospective Igbo presidential candidates. The argument would be: Igbo people don’t vote Igbos.
They would prefer an Okowa as Vice President, rather than his kinsman become President.
The place of the Igbo in the scheme of things is at this moment in their hands to make or mar.
Hassan, a political scientist, works in Abuja
READINGS OF THE “CITY BOY” ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
*By Tunde Olusunle*
With the manner in which the current electioneering campaign season is unravelling, it may yet be the most interesting, most suspenseful and most revealing, of the nation’s fourth republic. My mind goes back to the popular, dancefloor funk tune, popular in my generation, “Sixty thrills a minute.” It was produced by the New York-based music group which goes by the name *Mystic Merlin,* over four decades ago. The very title of the song suggests that every second of the 60 which make up a minute, throws up novelties. It speaks to the infinite possibilities, realisable within the blink of an eye. This exactly is what the ongoing campaigns are throwing up in parts. You switch on your television set or follow real-time coverage of campaigns on social media, never sure what to expect. The general elections scheduled for later this February and early March, will produce new leaders and representatives for Nigerians, from the bottom, to the top of the representational political pyramid. And every single day of the ongoing exercise throws up brand new scenarios.
Campaign gears such as customised shirts, vests, caps, bowler hats, wristbands, broches, even footwear, have collectively added colour and pizzaz to electioneering across the country. The carnivalesque air, the boisterous ambience, the music, singing, gyrations, characteristic of road shows and campaign grounds, have remained constants across the national landscape. Popular rule, which is in its third decade in Nigeria, is probably here to stay despite its multiple imperfections, afterall. Nigeria will not be going in the direction of Burkina Faso, Guinea or Mali, its neighbours on the west coast of the African continent, anytime soon, going by the convictions and reassurances of the military. Democratic governance in the countries we alluded to above, have been torpedoed by military adventurists in recent years, arresting the evolution of popular rule.
Expectedly, the campaigns have thrown up a kaleidoscope of high dramas and novelties. While these continue to be rib-crackers on one hand, they are, on the other, sober exposes on our seriousness as a people and a country in today’s global community. In the south west of the country, indigenous Yoruba musical instruments like the *gangan,* *omele* and *bata,* regularly echo that famous campaign chant: *Ipade di ojo ibo/Ipade di ojo ibo/B’awa le ju wa lo/B’eyin le ju wa lo/Ipade di ojo ibo.* In English, this means “We shall meet on election day/If you have more followers than we do/Or we have more supporters than you do/The election day will be the decider.”
The Hausa/Fulani, the Igbo, and other sociocultural strands of the Nigerian behemoth, also have campaign chants and choruses, peculiar to their environments. Elsewhere, I have remarked about the enchanting musicality and compelling dance essence of Tiv songs and poetry, including political compositions. They are usually accompanied by *gida,* *kwen,* *gbande,* among other indigenous instruments. Dino Melaye, campaign moderator of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), has been a multitasking raconteur, singer, bandleader and performing artist on the campaign wagon. He never misses any opportunity to take digs at opponents of his party and its presidential flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar. Such has been the entertainment component of the current political season.
Instructively, the presidential
campaign endeavours of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), singularly, seem to have thrown up more preposterous foibles, comic substance and theatrics, than all the other parties put together. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, also known by a variety of aliases, including *Asiwaju,* *Jagaban,* *Olowo Eko,* *City Boy* and *National Leader,* Emeritus governor of Lagos State, is the presidential candidate of the APC. Alone, he has generated much more comic content, may tragicomic substance, than all the other parties put together. He has unwittingly gifted Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry, better known as *Nolloywood,* such an abundance of sumptuous meat which will sustain the sector for seasons to come. Skit makers are savouring the prospects already.
Keen political enthusiasts are indeed keeping tabs on Tinubu’s various gaffes and goofs. The other day, I dabbled into a YouTube documentary of 20, yes twenty most recent and indefensible Tinubu verbal *faux pas* on the campaign train. This is just as a rostrum has been invented for him on campaign dais to help him maintain some physical stability and balance. Please observe the unease of the APC leaders, usually his running mate, Kashim Shettima; the national chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu; the host governor and similar leaders of the party, whenever Tinubu grabs the microphone. There is that discernible edginess that Tinubu might just drop another uncoordinated gibberish, another headless missile. This is even as party leaders almost ever serve as his prompters, whispering into his ears and slipping *aide memoires* to him, to guide his thread of thought.
Tinubu has graduated from his days of “a church rat eating a poisoned holy communion.” He has gravitated from his struggles with the pronunciation of very simple words like “umbrella” and “technological.” In Akwa Ibom State the other day, Nigerians watched with consternation as Tinubu described his PDP opponent as the “former Senate President” who he produced. Tinubu’s words: “They don’t have mandate. What they have is ice cream. It melt quick. They are yeye people. Atiku when we made am Senate President, abba…” Tinubu at the same outing, profiled Udom Emmanuel, governor of the state, as “that boy who used to stay in my boy’s quarters in Lagos.”
Curiously, Tinubu in some of his outings, has turned the revolver to his own chest, literally, by throwing his own party and the platform of his presidential quest, under the rail lines. In Abeokuta, Tinubu took a swipe at the Buhari government, for attempting to sabotage his election, by its currency change policy. He equally tackled the Buhari government for the lingering fuel crisis in the country. He retorted to chanting: *A ma dibo, a ma wole,* which means “we will vote and we will win.” Tinubu continued along the lines of poking his hands into the eyes of his party during his rally in Cross River State, by describing the Buhari-led government as a band of economic neophytes. According to him, the outgoing government so badly mismanaged the economy, that the currency exchange rate spiralled from N200 to the USD in 2015, to nearly N800 to the USD, in 2023.
More and more, it is obvious that Tinubu’s handlers neither like him, nor have any considerations for this country. They cannot harbour any affections for him and allow him continue to subject himself to the kind of repeated embarrassment we have watched with our hearts in our mouths on his do-or-die presidential aspiration. Each time I watch Tinubu’s performance on the campaign stage, remembrances of *Klint da Drunk,* the popular comedian whose real name is Afamefuna Klint Igwemba, come flooding through my heart. Have we noticed the human pillar mounted directly behind in his recent appearances, to prevent him from tripping? That tells us how bad Tinubu’s situation is.
From the bit Nigerians have seen of Tinubu on the campaign routes, he does not represent the potential successor to a Buhari who has roundly and holistically unmade this country, by the way. His carriage and lexicon are too globally unpresidential for Nigerians to take a chance with installing him president. Whatever residual goodwill he would have garnered in places have been willfully frittered by his regular verbal indiscretions like someone under a spell, the type Yoruba people describe as *edi,* which alludes to someone cursed to commit blunders. Imagine Tinubu threatening to send reptiles to invade the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Lodge in Lagos with reptiles, and subsequently appropriating it! This validates the voracious acquisitiveness of a man who has allegedly taken over several choice land assets of his home state across the country, and made them his personal estate. *MC Oluomo,* Tinubu’s famous Lagos-based mentee, will probably do better than his principal, in comportment and rendition.
Tinubu’s presumably multilegged and worrying medical status report, indeed, is further cause for national trepidation. There are suspicions among others, that he may be manifesting progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the brain, beyond what might be expected from a normal ageing process. This situation impairs memory, attention, judgement and language. There are also suggestions that he is afflicted by “delirium tremens,” a delusion, the tendency for hallucination, a wandering of the mind, culminating in repeated blunderings and errors. Tinubu’s promoters know a lot more about his situation but keep egging him on clearly, because of what they stand to benefit from his reportedly infinite war-chest. Their dream is to constitute a cabal around him if he ever wins, so they can run Nigeria from their cellphones and state-owned jets. Shettima as presumed vice president will be busied with reading newspapers and blaring sirens about town. Tinubu’s family if they love him, must step in and rescue him from his sworn agenda for self-destruction, in their collective and enlightened interests.
*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, GCON.*
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