*By Tunde Olusunle*
For all his staggering attributes as a very formidable scholar, a distinctly rigorous inquisitor, a sound and profound political scientist, an inimitable reporter, an engaging writer, a perspicacious editor, he savours his reticence and unobtrusive carriage. In a world where dunderheads, impostors and wannabes hug the klieg lights, posturing as modern day standard-bearers, stars and men of letters, coveting conferments and adulation, he cherishes his quiet. He prefers to immerse himself in his study, lapping up multidisciplinary knowledge, further enriching his subsisting, even overflowing intellectual capital. His elected choices to remain “backstage” in a manner of speaking, receives authentication from his minimal photographic prominence, even on the internet. And we are talking about a colossus in his own right.
Reporting for work on my first day at the good old Daily Times of Nigeria Plc in August 1990, the singular acquaintance I had was Gbenga Ayeni. Ayeni, now a professor of mass communications at the East Connecticut State University, (ECSU) in the United States, and I were classmates, brothers and best of friends at the University of Ilorin. He was already on the staff of the Daily Times about two years before me and was excited I was joining him at what then was Nigeria’s largest media organisation. While I was going to serve in *Sunday Times* in the Agidingbi, Ikeja address of the establishment, Ayeni operated from the Kakawa, Lagos Island headquarters of the organisation.
He had been redeployed to the Lagos desk of the London-based *West Africa* magazine, which was owned by the Daily Times conglomerate. Paxton Olu-Idowu was bureau chief of the Nigerian office of the publication and Ayeni worked with him. While I would yet link up with him, I was a momentary loner in Agidingbi. I would subsequently meet the likes of Maurice Ogar, Wole Olatimehin, (now a clergyman) and Edwin Baiye, (now in the US), who were all schoolmates at Unilorin. Tunde Rahman, and Hakeem Bello, media advisers to Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola, respectively, joined us later. This, however, could not substitute for reunion with Ayeni who was both my course mate and roommate in school, and with whom I played quite some school pranks for years together.
My initial loneliness was not going to persist for long, however. I’m told I’m an extrovert, that I make friends and integrate myself into newfound spaces seamlessly. I didn’t need a chaperon as I walked that long *TPD* corridor, flanked on both sides by a million doors, all leading to the offices and desks of different departments. I spontaneously met new colleagues and began my acclimatisation. There were iconic names one had encountered as an avid reader of Daily Times publications, which numbered over a dozen at some point. And here I was, meeting them live and direct, in flesh and blood! Segun Ayobolu’s was one of those salient, select bylines which had become recurring fixtures, engraved on the minds eye for his very insightful political analyses and resourceful intellectual investments in Daily Times publications.
Ayobolu’s desk was on the immediate left once you opened the door of the voluptuous hall called the newsroom. Writers and reporters were scribbling, typists were busy on their *Olympia* typewriters. The audio of television sets could be heard in the background. The slight creak from the hinges of the door I opened, stirred Ayobolu and he looked in my direction. He nodded approvingly and I returned the gesture. I let go of the swing door and walked up to him. I introduced myself as the newest *Johnny Just Come,* (JJC), as we shook hands and introduced ourselves. “You worked with “The Guardian,” I believe,” he asked me. “I’ve read you on the arts and literature review pages.”
I smiled and told him I was but a contributor who desired to be heard in the assembly of A-list professionals. While teaching in a rural secondary school in the erstwhile *Oyi* local government area of the pre-August 1991 Kwara State and working on my masters in English, I told Ayobolu, I had unfettered access to some of Nigeria’s unsung literary figures who could stand neck-to-neck with their colleagues elsewhere. They didn’t receive the breadth and constancy of attention which scholars in the Lagos-Ibadan-Ife tripod of institutions, enjoyed. David Cook, (British); Zulu Sofola; Olu Obafemi; Oludare Olajubu; Akanji Nasiru, were some of those eggheads. While doing my masters work, I interviewed them and sent the manuscripts to *The Guardian,* I said to Ayobolu.
We hit it as colleagues and friends from that moment. I would subsequently make more acquaintances thereafter. One could see Ayobolu’s most dutiful application to his work, his untiring commitment, the enviable fervour he deployed. Information technology was not as advanced as we have today, so the entire newspaper production system was almost totally manual. Political activities were gaining pseudo-traction under the administration of former President Ibrahim Babangida, and the newspaper sustained a daily section in the tabloid, and the political desk trusted to generate front-page or backpage reports.
Ayobolu attended the daily “editorial meeting” chaired by the superintending editor who included Onyema Ugochukwu, Femi Sonaike, Dapo Aderinola at various times, in our generation. He then rallied his team including Emeka Nwosu, Basil Obi, Tunde Rahman among others, to generate content for the political pages. He routinely functioned as sub-editor, wielding that famous metal ruler to allocate space to various essays, reports and photographs. The library was adjacent the newsroom where relevant photographs and illustrations. Ayobolu slept in the office on a number of occasions, trying to get the job done. We were basically quasi-bachelors and could take some risks. But such was Ayobolu’s immersion in his vocation.
Ayobolu’s intellectual versatility, his voracious appetite for knowledge, his scholastic expansiveness, his free-range mind of the prototype academic, find expression in his journalistic oeuvre. He gobbles poetry, works of prose, literary criticism, biographies, speeches, with the appetite of one facing an examination everyday. His insights into wisdom’s broad-spectrum, ooze from his journalistic output. To make assurance doubly sure, Ayobolu has reviewed four of my published books and written the *Foreword* to my upcoming aggregation of essays and articles. As in other instances, Ayobolu leaves you in no doubt about his depth, infinite vistas and abundance of capacity. Very few, ranking professors anywhere in the world, will do a better job of the laurel-deserving dilation of my works, than Ayobolu has done in all instances.
Joe Ibekwe one of our colleagues at the *Times* who now wields a doctorate, it was who reminded us on the *Daily Times Alumni Platform,* yesterday, that the date, Tuesday January 17, 2023 was the birthday of this beloved brother, exemplary colleague and inimitable professional, Segun Ayobolu. Across the road in our good old Agidingbi *Daily Times* office was *White House,* a restaurant and bar so christendom by we the regulars, after the colour of the building. Typically, whenever our “travel claims,” “continues honorarium” or “out-of-state” travel allowances were paid, or whenever some generous emolument was extended to us for genuine professional help, *White House* was the instantaneous converge. As desks in the newsroom emptied to an unspoken signal for assembly one of those days, Femi Ajayi, who was the science editor, remarked cheekily to the hearing of some of us: “Those guys have made a kill. They are going to their rendezvous!”
Milestones such as Ayobolu’s yesterday, would have engendered spontaneous congregation at *White House,* our famous watering hole. Gboyega Okegbenro, Emeka Nwosu, Lawal Ogienagbon, Musa Ebomhiana, Adamson Momoh, Bayo Oladipo, Yemisi Fadairo, (Basil Obi, Femi Olatunde, Imokhuede Ogunleye, Edna Aguocha, the last four sadly no longer with us). We were quite a bunch. Friends from elsewhere joined us on a day yesterday, including Ohi Alegbe, Reuben Abati, Gabriel Omohinmi, (Ademola Babajide, Eddie Ayo-Ojo, also gone to be with the Lord). The waiter at *White House* would be deployed in an endless relay, serving an assortment of drinks, going and coming, coming and going, regularly quizzed about the tepid temperature of lagers and similar liquids. The kitchen, would eternally simmer with the aroma of pepper soup, peppered meat and allied delicacies. The chant of *O yes ooooo* will seize the space. Title editors will be glad we all had turned in our copies before plunging into such revelry, which could well spillover to *point and kill* joints in Ogba, Alausa and similar places!
Segun Ayobolu was born January 17, 1964. His father, Elder Bamidele Samuel Ayobolu was one of the earliest sets of graduates from the Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria, in the 1950s. Baba also obtained a diploma in administration at the London School of Economics, (LSE). The very bright and brilliant Segun Ayobolu therefore got off to a pacy educational start, obtaining his bachelors’ and masters’ degrees in political science at the University of Ibadan in quick succession, between the ages of 21 and 24. His lecturers conceived of retaining him for his doctorate, so he could pursue a career in the academia. The young and restless Ayobolu, however, voted for the media as a career which could find fulfilment even as a budding scholar. The mammoth “invasion” of newsrooms by academics and technocrats heightened by the inauguration of *The Guardian* in 1983, was a compelling inspiration for many of us.
Ayobolu was at various times: reporter, features writer, political editor and Editorial Board Chairman in *Daily Times.* He edited the *Sunday Times,* sister publication of the *Daily Times,* and has functioned as publicist in different departments of the nation’s governance structure. He served as Chief Press Secretary to several public office holders, notably: the Senate President in the defunct Third Republic, (1992 to 1993); Federal Minister of Education, (1993 to 1995), and the Governor of Lagos State, between 1999 and 2007, at the outset of the subsisting Fourth Republic. He was also Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the Lagos State Governor, between 2007 and 2009. A columnist and Senior Member of the Editorial Board of *The Nation* newspaper, he is also an “Editor-at-large” of the newspaper. Ayobolu has in his pouch, enormous perspectives about different strands of our sociopolitics which he must avail Nigerians.
Ayobolu has been published in several journals and books, and has presented papers at several conferences and programmes. He has been involved with publications like: *Tinubu: In The Mirror Of The Press: What the Papers Say: A Collection Of Press Reports On Senator Ahmed Tinubu’s Activities As Executive Governor Of Lagos State.* He has also produced *Biographical Sketches Of Members Of Tinubu’s Millennium Cabinet: May 1999 to May 2003* and *Dele Alake: The Writer As Strategist.* He co-edited the book: *Asiwaju: Leadership In Troubled Times,* (published in 2012), with Tunji Bello and Sam Omatseye. He is married to Justice (Mrs) Ayo Ayobolu, and blessed with children and grandchildren.
*Sege Baba,* this is hoping we shall celebrate your conclusive completion of your doctorate on your diamond birthday. Congratulations!
*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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