By Femi Odere

Dele Momodu’s response to the All Prohressives Congress, APC, Tinubu/Shettima manifesto and action plan released a few days ago, which he called himself interrogating, even if the interrogation was tepid and disjointed, by virtue of his position as the Director, Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign for 2023, makes an interesting, if not amusing reading.

Judging by the apparent instability of his thought pattern, Momodu displayed a lack of rigour and annoying repetitions in the piece that one cannot but conclude the hastiness with which the Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign arranged the article, thereby rendering it mostly worthless.

Perhaps, the only reason one can adduce to Momodu’s hastiness and disjointedness of his thoughts in the piece is that he must not only act as a dissembling agent against the Tinubu/Shettima manifesto, but must be seen to be pressing himself into service in his new role, no matter if much, if not all of what he said was virtually vacuous, pedestrian and pointless, as we shall see presently.

But before one sets out to address the bony kernel of Momodu’s pointless peregrination for whatever it is worth, it is important to draw readers’ attention to the several leadership qualities of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that Momodu himself had espoused in some of his previous literary outings.

Precisely on October 26, 2019, when only God and Asiwaju probably knew that he would throw his signature cap into the 2023 presidential election ring, Momodu said this much about today’s APC presidential candidate. Hear him, “If you ask me, I will tell you, unequivocally, and repeatedly, that Tinubu is eminently qualified to contest. If you ask me if he is a saint, I will say no. None of us is. Not even Buhari. Not you, not me. Nations are not governed by saints, but by performers. That is one of the recurring theses that I regularly propagate in my musings and reflections. I have no illusions that Tinubu will definitely perform as President of Nigeria, if he ever contests and wins. He has a knack for identifying brilliant minds and fertile brains, and the ability to nurture them to greatness. He has demonstrated this repeatedly and almost endlessly. Examples abound without doubt.”

From the foregoing, if Momodu has now made a 360 degree turn with the way he pilloried and vilified Tinubu in this piece, it goes without saying that what he’s doing is a desperate attempt to impress his principal, who’s himself intellectually vacuous, that he’s up to the task and capable in his new responsibility, when it’s now obvious he’s not. One can also deduce that it is this desperation that’s making Momodu to be frantically looking for all kinds of mud to throw at the APC presidential candidate, who he had severally praised to high heavens at one time or another in the hope that some of it would stick.

Momodu’s article about the APC Tinubu/Shettima manifesto further qualifies as bony and worthless, because not once did he present any corroborating evidence to back up any of his accusations.

To be sure, Momodu puts the wrong foot forward, ab initio, thereby rendering the entire article vacuous, jejune and therefore of no effect when he took umbrage on the “Renewed Hope 2023” title of the manifesto with his invidious claim that the entire manifesto reeks of Basorun MKO Abiola’s “Hope ’93,” without any iota of evidence to back up his claim. What a disingenious way to call the dog a bad name in order to hang it?

As if Momodu’s underhand attempt to drive a wedge – when there’s actually none – between Asiwaju Tinubu and those members of his ethnic stock who’re still on the sidelines watching the run of play, by invoking Chief Abiola’s memory, which actually was the insidious intention in the piece, was not bad and nauseating enough, Momodu’s glib suggestion that Asiwaju should “run on his own steam instead of copying the memory of a man whose life trajectory was uncommon and whose hope for Nigeria was noble…with industry and brilliance,” was nothing but crass and misplaced comparison.

Pray, on whose steam did Asiwaju run for eight straight years as the governor of Lagos State, where he fundamentally changed the state’s course of governance to the amazement of not only the Nigerian people, but also the governments of the West African sub-region that Lagos became, up till this day, a case study? Was it on Momodu’s steam that Asiwaju ran in those eight years? Or was it that of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his principal? For Momodu to have insinuated, and so it seems, that nothing is “uncommon” about the life of a man who sacrificed his political ambitions on several occasions while simultaneously pushing others into high political pedestals, makes one to wonder if he knows the true meaning of the word.

What is more, one must also wonder if Momodu has the presence of mind to understand that the several ‘firsts’ scored by Asiwaju in and out of power was indicative of his “industry and brilliance,” which he himself acknowledged as far back as 2019.

A Director of Strategic Communications cannot be any more delirious than that.

Perhaps it is apposite to ask at this juncture, now that some snippets of what Asiwaju Tinubu are known for have been identified here, what is Momodu, or seeking to be, known for in the country’s political history?

It’s curious what someone who was unequivocal about the many leadership qualities of Asiwaju is doing with a man whose boss for eight years wrote such a damning, disgraceful, humiliating, if not criminal exposé of him in his book. What former President Olusegun Obasanjo said about Momodu’s principal, which he neither disputed, refuted nor sought redress in the courts, would have earned him a life ban holding public office, including several prosecutions that possibly could have landed him in jail for a long time by now in saner climes. What’s Momodu’s attraction to a man, who, with a sleight of hand and deceit and dishonesty his trademark, hijacked the party’s presidential ticket and saw nothing wrong as a Northerner, and a Fulani to boot, with plausible possibility in taking over from President Muhammadu Buhari, who’s from the same geographic and ethnic stocks with him? Someone’s moral depravity cannot come in more technicolor than that.

If Momodu sees “the 80-page” APC manifesto as something that “comes as a little more than an insult to the sensibility and needs of Nigerians,” then there’s every reason to believe that he might as well have either read the entire document upside down, or he lacks the intellectual prowess to understand the painstaking roadmaps that are articulated in the manifesto. Either way, it’s a bad augury for an Atiku Presidency, but God forbid, with Momodu in tow in the power corridor.

Perhaps what Momodu understands as “clear leadership with vision and courage” is a principal with “clear leadership” that he told a gathering of people from a section of the country not to vote for a Yoruba or Igbo candidate, but a Northerner like himself, while he portrays himself as a “unifier.” Maybe Momodu’s definition of “vision” is someone having wives from all the geopolitical zones, while his lesson in “courage” is when his principal deleted his social media posts in which he had earlier condemned the killing of Ms. Deborah Emmanuel, a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, over comments considered to be an insult to Prophet Mohammed, when some street urchins said they would be waiting for him in Sokoto during campaigns.

Momodu’s claim that Tinubu does not know the way, which flies in the face of the legions of Nigerians, who rose through him, most having reached the pinnacle of their professional callings in virtually all the sectors of the Nigerian economy, should not even be dignified with a response.

Momodu’s assertion about the country’s inflation and unemployment rates, to which he ascribed fake and dubious 21 and 33 percentage points respectively, is a further testament to his desperation to keep looking for whatever would stick, however asinine. His claim that “the Naira is one of the worst-performing currencies against the dollar in the world” is not only outlandish, but another attempt to score cheap political points among the gullible.

How Momodu arrived at the conclusion that both the “suicide rate in the country has risen terribly” and the “divorce rate too” because of “APC and its leaders,” without empirical evidence to back up these claims can only earn him the highest epaulette in strategic beer parlour communications. One must wonder if Momodu is still on planet earth not to have noticed the global economic downturns, and meltdowns in some cases that are caused by many socioeconomic variables from which Nigeria is not immune.

One is also baffled that Momodu could not see his demand for details purportedly on behalf of Nigerians from “every presidential candidate” as to the “how” of the country’s problems would be redressed as an indictment of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his principal, who has never been coherent about his plans for Nigeria, except for saying that he would sell the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to his friends, and for cheap, just as he did when he was in charge of the privatisation programme of the country’s assets as the Vice President.

Whereas Asiwaju Tinubu, from Day One of going public with his presidential bid, has been articulating what exactly he would do, also detailed in the manifesto, if given the opportunity to preside over the affairs of this country.

One of the two discernible times Momodu made any semblance of sense in his tortuous featherweight dissection, for want of an appropriate word, of the APC manifesto was when he quipped that “no other election in recent Nigerian history can be more important than the 2023 elections,” and that “the time for progress has come.”

He’s right. He’s very right!

And it is precisely because of this reason that Momodu should be availed of what Tinubu would do if he’s voted into power in 2023, as contained in the manifesto he seemed to have read upside down. If Asiwaju says he “knows the way,” contrary to what Momodu believes, how else can this message be better passed across to those Nigerians not living in Lagos when he was governor? And if they are, they are probably too young, or perhaps not yet born then when he said in his “Forward” to the manifesto that; “When I was governor of Lagos, my team and I developed institutions and policies that changed the face of the state. It became a safe place for its residents and an engine of prosperity for all those willing to work in pursuit of their economic dreams.” Can Momodu controvert this fact?

The APC presidential candidate also reminded Nigerians in the manifesto how he was able to secure lives and properties in the state. Hear him, “When I entered office as governor of Lagos, the state was crime-ridden. Safety was uncertain. The population was fearful. With bold, no-nonsense crime prevention reform and creative institution building, we won back our state. It became a safe and secure place to live and to do business. I shall bring the same determined, problem-solving spirit to solving insecurity at the national level.” Can Dele Momodu tell the world that this claim was also a lie?

What about what he said about education in the manifesto that “We will institute a pilot student loan regime like the program established by the Lagos and Kaduna State governments. This will expand access to education to all Nigerians, regardless of their backgrounds. At the same time, this will give institutions the ability to charge more cost reflective tuition fees. Because of the current employment rates and other conditions, the loan program will have a maximum limit any student may borrow and must have flexible repayment provisions.” How could Momodu have missed this novel idea that has proven to have worked in the aforementioned two states, which would now be replicated across the country, if he actually read the party’s manifesto?

The other thing that made sense in Momodu’s article was his appeal to voters to “vote wisely.” Yes, they should vote wisely, so that the country does not return to the locust years of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of which Momodu’s principal was the Devourer-in-Chief.

His needless counsel that Asiwaju should “refrain from his predilection to reduce serious conversations to vague proverbs and metaphors” exemplifies Momodu’s inability to understand the use of proverbs, metaphors, and even allegories in critical discourses in order to reduce lengthy, winding explanations into the barest minimum for easy conceptualization by all and sundry. But then “only the deep can call to the deep,” as the saying goes.

One must conclude here that the joke is on Momodu in his intentional and deliberate allusion to the Jagaban Borgu as “Chief Bola Tinubu,” just to deny the self-evident characterization of the APC presidential candidate as the “Asiwaju” of all that are noble, enduring and sustainable in our country’s socio-economic and political trajectory. While Momodu’s new and unedifying coinage was nothing but “Bad Belle,” taken to a ridiculous level, Asiwaju’s place in the country’s history, and to a greater extent in Africa, as a leader who leads from the front, is already secured, with or without Dele Momodu’s acceptance or acknowledgement.

•Odere, the spokesperson of Tinubu/Southwest Media Veterans Support Group, can be reached at femiodere@gmail.com

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