The press conference by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu debunking the rumours that he had endorsed specific aspirants across different local government areas for the forthcoming Lagos council polls is a welcome development. Ordinarily, the APC leader’s public disavowal should be sufficient assurance to party faithful already disenchanted by the rumours of imposition.
But, it seems not. This is because some self-serving political leaders are unrelenting in their shenanigans. They still peddle Asiwaju Tinubu’s name as the approving authority for their undemocratic actions. Far too long, these party hawks have subdued popular and majority choices. To them, it is either their narrow interests are satiated, or nothing. The usual refrain on their lips is “oga sope” (the Leader (Tinubu) said so).
And, since the uninitiated cannot by himself speak to, or hear the deity -except through a diviner-he holds as truth the latter’s proclamation of what is spoken. This scenario explains the controversies rearing their heads in Surulere Local Government Area. Though, we saw on the television and have read Tinubu’s press release, the undemocratic tendencies in Surulere still claim he had endorsed certain aspirants and excluded others from the poll. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of House of Representatives, is the one spearheading the imposition in Surulere LG.
Gbajabiamila is rooting for his protégé Sulaiman Yussuf, who like he has been in political office in the last 18 years. Yussuf had served as a councillor, supervisor, and vice chairman. Despite Yussuf’s long spell in the administration of Surulere LG, Gbajabiamila, again in 2017, installed him as the council vice chairman.
Yussuf holds this position until July when the administration’s lifespan terminates. Yussuf is not the only one to benefit from Gbajabiamila’s imposition. Also are the nine incumbent councillors who he singlehanded installed in 2017 too. Already, he has asked that other councillorship aspirants step down for the councillors. To Gbajabiamila, politics is a conquest and nothing is spared in gathering its spoils.
The speaker is a political fixer who brooks no opposition in indulging his own inordinate appetites. This explains why he installed singlehanded all nine incumbent councillors, secretary to the local government, and all supervisors in the outgoing council administration. Definitely,Speaker Gbajabiamila delights in playing god over the political destinies of others in Surulere.
It is amazing that someone of Gbajabiamila’s the political standing is opposed to competitive primaries. The reality shares into shreds APC “Change” mantra. But could the speaker be afraid of? It is more baffling that Gbajabiamila has been representing Surulere Federal Constituency I for five-term running and, by 2023, would have spent 20 years doing so. The only way to explain the speaker’s opposition to the primaries is he is either unpopular or his candidates are.
Equally, the allegation of APC state chairman Tunde Balogun being a ready tool in Gbajabiamila’s hands in circumventing democratic processes is disheartening. It will then mean both the state and local party executives are deep in immoral tryst with the speaker. A typical LGA party meeting in Surulere is a usual arena for the handpicked executives and supporters of Gbajabiamila to sing his praises. And, after doing so, depart to reconvene the singing session another day.
No doubt, it is Gbajabiamila’s enlightened self-interest to see the LGA executives serve his narrow interest. It appears that Speaker Gbajabiamila believes his political interest is protected as long as party members in Surulere are divided. He equally appears to be at ease with the manifest incapability of the incumbent party executives to demonstrate rational behaviors including unifying members behind the party’s shared goals.
Enough is enough! Speaker Gbajabiamila must allow popular choices emerge through a transparent democratic process in Surulere LG. He has a duty to do so. The irreducible minimums required of him, particularly given his position as head of a parliament, are to promote true party democracy, equality, equity, and social justice. Conversely, imposition neither defines nor justify such democratic values.
Except Gbajabimila is sold on imploding the party, we will like him to take heed of his political godfather’s words: ‘Asiwaju Bola Tinubu …has no preferred candidates for the upcoming local government primaries. He has no intention to endorse any of the people contesting chairmanship or councillorship positions …for the APC, the integrity of the primary process is of the highest priority’.
Olatunji, an APC member, writes from Surulere.