By Afolabi Aribigbola
One issue that is trending, a controversial one for that matter, is that associated with mudslinging among the elite and political leaders in Nigeria and in particular the South Western part came with the release of My Participations a book authored by Chief Bisi Akande, a former Governor of Osun State of Nigeria and a former Acting National
hairman of Action Congress of Nigeria (APC). In the autobiography, Akande is being virulently criticized for his unkind words and uncharitable description of some leaders in the country particularly in the South West where he is held in high esteem. Some of the critics of the book describe it as lame distractions, not a way to ensure a legacy. Others have accused the author of being untruthful or economical with the truth. Also, some see it as an attempt to destroy all leading lights in the South West and does appear to have received for criticisms than commendation.
I have not had the privilege of reading the entire book and therefore my comments and positions will essentially focus on the reactions it has generated from those the author berated in the book. Of course, I have been following with keen interest the reactions and vituperations from a number of Yoruba leaders on the contents, impressions and assertions contained in My Participations.
Some people have contended that the book is full of errors and misrepresentation of facts and that it has been written to derobe as well as paint some Yoruba leaders in bad light except Senator Bola Tinubu. Indeed, that is not the concern of this column. Far from that, our efforts is to point out the consequences of current discordant tunes from the various leaders and their followers. That the current attempts to denigrate and unnecessarily expose Yoruba leaders to opprobrium and cast aspersion on them as mostly good for nothing leaders as if they have not contributed to the development of the society is our concern .
The question that came to my mind on reading the various reactions was that what is the purpose of the book? Will it be qualified to be called an autobiography in a real sense as presently written and presented? This is because generally, autobiographies are written to reveal the background, growth and development of an individual documenting their escapades and unique contributions to humanity. The overriding goal is to educate and encourage upcoming generations to learn and aspire to follow their good examples. The dictionary describes autobiography as a written account of a person’s life in their own words.
hus, from what has transpired so far, can one safely classify My Participations as an autobiography? Of course, that is for another day since I am yet to read the book. I will restrict myself to the barrage of reactions that the book has generated. That may also be for the attention of literary students to dissect and ponder on. However, I would have preferred that the author had restricted himself to his role and contributions to Nigeria’s national development having served as a state Governor and Chairman of a national party in the country.
One significant issue of contention in the autobiography is where Akande claimed that Chief Ayo Adebanjo mounted pressure on Senator Bola Tinubu to build a house for him in Lekki. One is at a loss on the purpose of this kind of disclosure in an autobiography.
eyond the fact that it is embarrassing to the great grandfather, if Senator Bola Tinubu actually built Chief Adebanjo a house, should it be made a public issue? In anycase, Baba Adebanjo has come out forcefully to denounce the assertion stating that the insinuation is a product of the imagination of the author. In addition, the Baba had to produce his 1951 Afenifere membership card to the public to justify certain misrepresentation of facts in the book. This kind of disagreement is unnecessary and a sign of disunity among the leaders of Yoruba land. Equally, more unpleasant is the fact that Prince Oyinlola, former Governor of Lagos and Osun states also came out to accuse Chief Akande of corrupt practices as the Governor of Osun State.
Beyond claims and counter claims that have been raised since the release of the book, more worrisome to some discerning people relate to the kind of legacies the Yoruba leaders are seeking to bestow on coming generations. Are they comfortable to bequeath controversies and discord on their offspring? No society or group of people thrives or prospers in controversy and disunity as being displayed by leaders in the South West. One of the fallouts of the disagreements generated by the book is a pointer to the fact that the Yoruba people are not one and cannot organize themselves.
While I will not concern myself with the credibility of the book or otherwise, I will focus my discus on the negative consequences of the reactions of some members of the leadership of South West. From what has transpired so far about the book, it seems to portray acknowledged and long standing political leaders in the region as inept, corrupt and people that are not good as leaders. This is not only distasteful but unacceptable. Of course all leaders will have their weaknesses and areas of strength.
he display of unprintable words by leaders in the region are not showing good example to the coming generations that are looking up to them. Reading them taking themselves to the cleaners in print and electronic media is again not good for the people of the area. It is not that one is against revealing the deeds and misdeeds of leaders especially where they reflect the truth and uncoloured and not intended to promote primordial and mundane sentiments.
The content of the book is capable of further polarising the region where there seems lack of cohesion since the demise of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who provided a central platform for the development of the area. For instance, the lack of oneness has not helped the governments of the region to capitalize and utilize the benefits of Amotekun, the region security outfit created by governments of the six states of south west to further the growth and development of the area.
hus, like in the other parts of the country, the region is suffering from insecurity and the novel initiatives to create Amotekun by the governments of states in the area is not being faithfully implemented in some states. In actual fact, in one or two states of the South West state there is no Amotekun despite their collective agreement to establish the security outfit in the first instance.
To my mind what the leaders in South West nay Nigeria should be concerned with is not polarity or mistakes of the past though necessary for corrections and improvement. What should be paramount should be united efforts to further the interests of the region and Nigeria in general and her people instead of casting aspersions on themselves as we are witnessing with the release of My Participations. Issues begging for attention and reasoned solutions in the region and country are many and multifarious shaking the foundation of the people of Nigeria.
Unemployment, poverty among the people is unprecedented; there is suffocating lack of infrastructure and basic services, inflation, youth restiveness and other problems. How to fix these problems and prosper the people should be the focus of leaders and not that somebody built or did not build a house for someone somewhere or justifying some past actions and inactions of the past.
On a final note, leaders in prosperous societies are usually preoccupied with fashioning ways and means of improving the welfare and prosperity of their people. The reality is that leaders in Nigeria are less concerned with rescuing the people from debilitating effects of poverty but focus more on politicking to assume political positions. Yoruba leaders should go to the drawing board to reenact the development strives and impetus created, nurtured and fostered during the Obafemi Awolowo era in the Western Region. Anything short of this is unnecessary and unacceptable but a means for perpetual domination of the masses.