LAST week, I published Governor Kayode Fayemi’s rejoinder to my piece “Eventually, Fayemi wins the argument” of 9 June. The rejoinder was signed off by one of his media aides, Segun Dipe. Having fulfilled my promise to publish Governor Fayemi, I hereby also fulfil the promise to publish a response to their rejoinder.
Segun Dipe headed Punch’s Business Desk for a spell. The likes of Orezina Agbodo (of blessed memory), Demola Akinbola, Weneso Orogun, John Uwe, Kunle Somorin, Oladele Adekunle, Akintunde Imolehin (Property PUNCH) and so on were those who took Financial PUNCH to dizzying heights in those days. True professionals hallow their News Editors and Editors; only reporters without manners drag theirs on the floor for filthy lucre. I do not have glass chin. I take as much hard punches as I give; hence, I had no problem publishing them last week in this same column they said does not command respect or attention but which they, all the same, could spend precious time and resources responding to! Apt is the Yoruba saying that esin ota eni o ki n ga l’oju eni. Incidentally, I do not see them as enemies, but I firmly believe they blatantly rigged the July 14, 2018 Ekiti governorship election. To date, I see Fayemi as a brother and friend; except he sees me otherwise.
Fayemi’s Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, was exceptionally professional for the period I interacted with Fayemi in their first term. I was not surprised he dodged putting his name to their scurrilous rejoinder, whereas, it is a fool who dances on a turf where even angels fear to tread. But Oyebode could have approached me directly. I have a lot of respect for him. Fayemi, I chose to keep a distance from, until the election case was settled. That was the least respect I believe I owed Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka, a gentleman to the core who, I must confess, I now treat as a precious friend. After the Supreme Court judgment, Eleka congratulated Fayemi and put the election behind him – and that was not without my input. Two days before that judgment, Ayodele Fayose congratulated Fayemi for his appointment as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, describing the appointment as well-deserved. I cannot cry more than the bereaved! If, as a media consultant, they say it is wrong for me to “consult” for Fayose who asked for my advice, why was it not wrong when I acted similarly for Fayemi? The “Man of the Year” award which Fayemi collected during his first tenure from Champion newspapers, I facilitated it. It was okay. I visited Ekiti several times on Fayemi’s invitation; it was okay. I was invited to follow his electioneering campaign and offer advice. It was okay. I prayed for Fayemi. I offered him pieces of advice as governor and as minister. It was okay. But doing similarly for Fayose is a crime in their warped reckoning! It is like once you have played for Barca, you dare not cross over to Real Madrid or from Real to Atletico! I am not, and was never, on Fayose’s payroll. Fayose sought after me. I initially rebuffed him. As it pleased Fayose, he appreciated my services, just like Fayemi did.
Fayemi has his good points; Fayose, too. Both have their drawbacks. I cannot endorse or accept any of them warts and all. The role played by Fayemi and others of the exile in the struggle for the enthronement of democracy, especially as it pertains to Radio Kudirat, cannot be forgotten in a hurry. I dare to say, however, that while Fayose is an open book, Fayemi is crossword puzzle. Fayose became the lone voice in the wilderness, standing up against the excesses and atrocities of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. Whatever you say about Fayose, you will never take that away from him. Fayose defended his Ekiti people against mindless and murderous Fulani herders; his anti-open grazing law and ferocious speeches curbed them. Since he left office, Ekiti has become the killing fields of Fulani herdsmen. Fayemi, at best, has been ambivalent on a burning issue that demands firm and prompt action. “The hottest places in Hell,” says Dante, “are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” We are in such a time in Nigeria today! I told Fayemi hard truths. I told him he would lose in 2014 and why – and it happened. That was before “federal might.” What did Fayemi’s ministerial appointment fetch Ekiti or the South-West? How can I then root for him to become president? It appears to me Fayose will better defend South-West interests than Fayemi. But I also told Fayose hard truths: On his controversy with Olukere over the cutting of a tree at Ikere; his demolition exercises; the shock sacking of his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi; his tough speech at the Ewi’s palace, to mention but a few. He would rage at first but, eventually, would have a re-think and do the needful.
Interestingly, I met Fayose fortuitously. He called me to complain that even after the 2014 election; I was still in his throat promoting Fayemi. Honestly, I had thought Fayemi a saint and Fayose the devil incarnate. But after having the opportunity of seeing Fayose at close quarters, I saw that he, too, had a good side. Put this side-by-side the very sad episode of the unravelling of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its leaders, which gets worse each passing day! Today, millions of Nigerians who once rooted for APC and its leaders, this writer inclusive, are disappointed; their impunity, vaulting arrogance, sheer hypocrisy and crass incompetence rankle.
As close as I was to Fayose, I took no contract or land. He made me his “eyes and ears” over the payment of compensation at Ikere dualisation project. He told me of Ikere’s electoral importance to him. I performed the task and saved the state tens of millions of naira that could have been pocketed by unscrupulous workers. I did not receive a dime as bribe from anyone and took no payment from Fayose either. Ditto the Ilawe dual carriageway project whose compensation payment Fayose also drafted me to supervise.
He told me: “Falana is my enemy and he is from Ilawe.” He probably did not know that the same Falana (Comrade FF, as I fondly call him) was, and still is, my Comrade, friend, brother and benefactor!
On how I left PUNCH, they tried to be clever by half, pretending they disapproved, but their innuendoes, sarcasm, and scantily-concealed jabs gave them away! Thank you, any way, for your crocodile tears! But I will not be dragged, at this most inauspicious of times, to open old wounds or pile the misery; reasons being that all true and genuine PUNCHERS are mourning in solidarity with our Chairman Emeritus, Chief Ajibola Ogunsola, who just lost his 48-year-old daughter. Whatever any one may say, the story of PUNCH’s meteoric rise to stardom will be incomplete without a copious mention of Chief Ogunsola’s preponderantly good contributions. May the good Lord comfort him and his family in these trying times!
Suffice it to say, however, that men and women of conscience too numerous to mention were actually aghast at the way I exited PUNCH. PUNCH director, Mr. Lolu Foresythe (now of blessed memory), was lost for word. Tears welled in the eyes of Mrs. Angela Emuwa, then a director but now PUNCH chairman. Gani Fawehinmi was livid. His hand shook as he read the letter and his voice quaked. Let me not say more! It is, therefore, wicked, malicious and unacceptable that my illustrious career at the PUNCH would be whimsically distorted simply to mock me.
Kabir Dangogo, my God-sent who was then Principal Manager/Head, Corporate Affairs, Union Bank PLC, who called and gave me the contract to edit and print the bank’s newsletters, and Wada Maida, then MD of NAN, told me: “Bola, we don’t treat ourselves the way you Yoruba treat yourselves.”
The professionally sound, astute and erudite editor of this title [Sunday Tribune], Sina Oladeinde, informed me last Wednesday, as I finished the first draft of this piece, that Segun Dipe had called him to express remorse. I wasted no time in appreciating Sina and whole-heartedly accepting Dipe’s apologies. Later on Friday, Dipe himself called and we spoke at length. Like in times past, I extended my hands of fellowship to Governor Fayemi. I have, therefore, seriously watered down this response. But that the ears that heard alo (the going) may also hear the abo (the return) is why I still had to pen this response to their rejoinder.
COZA, Senator Abbo: Osun State is next!
Of truth is the Yoruba adage that says 20-year-old pounded yam can still steam really hot as if freshly prepared. Ask ‘Pastor’ Biodun Fatoyinbo of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly. The “pounded yam” he allegedly “ate” 20 years ago is steamy hot in his mouth right now! Rapists, paedophiles, child- and women-abusers should not be given an inch but must be smoked out of their “close places” as the Bible calls it.
So also must those who abuse their positions and privileges like the errant PDP Senator Elisha Abbo. I watched his apology; it was the right thing to do. Still, he must be brought to book; his remorse and penitence may count but for no reason must he escape punishment for his dastardly act. He should also be made to pay compensation to his victims.
I hereby appeal to social media, civil society groups, organisations and individuals who combined to bring COZA and Abbo on their kneels to move to Osogbo, Osun State, and focus attention on the case of the alleged defilement a four-year-old girl by the driver (Oyelakin Oluwatomisin) of a politically-connected private school (Charleston Group of Schools, Kelebe, Osogbo) whose powerful owners are said to be Mr and Mrs Adeyemi.
Osun State government appears to be dragging its foot on the matter. I personally took the matter up with the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. Charles Akinola; I have also repeatedly written about it as well as called the attention of civil society organisations. The powerful people involved in this case are even said to include a first-class traditional ruler in the state and they have all been piling undue pressure on the family of the victim. On one occasion, Akinola made me speak to “someone” I suspected could be Governor Gboyega Oyetola himself, who denied that the state was on the side of the vile rapist and paedophile. He promised to get justice for the victim. But the case has suffered diligent prosecution. The magistrate almost threw it out. The accused was released from Ilesha prison and now not only walks about a free man, but also, with his gang terrorising, intimidating and mocking the family of the victim.
The case comes up again tomorrow (Monday, 8 July). At the last hearing, which was two months ago, they said the case file would have left the DPP’s office for onward transmission to the High Court. I have enough “locus standi” in this case, as the lawyers would say; apart from being public-spirited, the victim’s mother is my niece and the entire family is gutted.
While I congratulate Governor Gboyega Oyetola on his mint-fresh victory at the Supreme Court, he should please see to it that justice is done in this matter.
LAST WORD: Congratulations, Oluwadare Aragbaye, on your well-deserved appointment as Head of Service of Ondo State. Not only was Dare my junior at Owo High School, he is also unassuming, humble, courteous, respectful, and dutiful. His elder brother, “Brother” Bola Aragbaye (who translated lately), was instrumental to my starting my journalism career at the Sketch newspapers, Ibadan. Dare, may your tenure be fruitful! Aketi s’okan yi!