By Tony Ademiluyi
Life in the state of nature which exists without a government was aptly described by Thomas Hobbes as nasty, brutish, and short. This is the raison d’etre behind why hitherto independently-minded individuals voluntarily surrender their rights before a government to which they would be accountable and which has the power to effect sanctions against them if any steps out of line.
Pa Adebanjo needs no introduction except to a large cross-section of the Gen Z’s or indomie generation as their critics derisively refer them to.
He was a nationalist who as a then-young lawyer was involved in the independence of Nigeria’s negotiations at Lancaster House in London. He was one of those allies that the Late sage and then Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo sturdily relied on for the smooth organization of the Action Group political party while he faced the onerous task of governance and democracy dividends delivery to all especially an effective penetration of the grassroots.
For some strange reason, Adebanjo never held any political position perhaps based on choice but that didn’t diminish his looming stature at some point in the land of Oodua.
Therefore, I was alarmed when in an interview he granted to Arise News on July 3, 2023 he said that he didn’t recognize the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I found this rather alarming as I wondered whether some form of senility had set in which I immediately dismissed as his faculties at 94 is as sharp as ever and the entire 23 minutes interview didn’t give him out as one who did not know what he was saying.
His argument for his highly disturbing position was that the election that brought in President Tinubu was flawed and until the tribunal as well as courts decided otherwise, he would not recognize his government.
Coming from not only an elder statesman but a lawyer as well, it is rather tragic as it is an open incitement to anarchy and violence.
This is not the first time that a sitting president will be taken to the tribunal and court in Nigeria. Shehu Shagari was taken to court by Awolowo where the judgement was decided in favour of the once reluctant northern presidential candidate whose highest political ambition in 1978 was to go to the Senate. The controversial twelve-two-third argument as canvassed by Shagari’s Counsel, Chief Richard Akinjide SAN who later became his Attorney-General and Minister for Justice carried the day. In 1999, after a sixteen-year hiatus no thanks to the locust years of military rule, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became the President following the footsteps of the legendary Madiba Nelson Mandela who became the President of the Rainbow country after 27 years behind bars. In Obasanjo fondly known as Baba Iyabo, he spent three harrowing years in the gulag of General Sani Abacha. His opponent Chief Olu Falae took him to court and lost.
The nation is still reeling from the fact that the Labour Party Standard Bearer, Peter Obi deleted the tweet where he addressed Tinubu as President. Given the high level of tension in the South East where Obi hails from, it may be a surreptitious nod to continue with the controversial as well as deadly sit-at-home order by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) who ordered it in solidarity with their incarcerated founder, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. The South East – once a haven of peace is now a theatre of blood bath, sorrow, anguish, and tears. How has the mighty fallen? I was a frequent visitor to Owerri – the state capital of Imo when I did my NYSC and didn’t mind the thrill of travelling all the way there from Warri where I diligently served this nation. The hotels, extremely beautiful damsels, serene environment, and clean environment held a strong attraction for me and I still have fond memories of the ancient town. All that is gone as the town is presently akin to a war zone.
Pa Adebanjo at 94 having been so blessed by the Almighty God to have 24 years of extra time and counting should know better than make inciting statements especially when they ridicule the office of the highest elected office of the land.
Agreed, the most important office in the clime is that of the citizen but the office of the President should also be respected by the citizens as well as respect is reciprocal and there cannot be a vacuum in governance as it is a continuum.
Imagine the chaos if a separatist group arises because of this unguarded statement and refuses to publicly acknowledge the current leadership of President Tinubu!
The international community has already recognized him and he has been invited to some highwire summits and events. Why then is Pa Adebanjo stoking the fire and sowing seeds of discord in the highly troubled land when he will most likely soon leave us on this side of the planet where we will be forced to deal with his avoidable mess?
Pa Adebano as not only a good student but a walking custodian of history knows how well those who knowingly engage in acts of treasonable felony end up themselves on the wrong side of history with a harsh verdict from posterity which subtly erases all their good ideas as the former pales into utter significance.
The elder statesman never fails to regale his apparently bored audience that he was instrumental to Tinubu becoming the Governor of Lagos State. While I am not disputing that as Asiwaju initially wanted to return to the Senate and couldn’t have marched the political machinery of the Late Engineer Funsho Williams who was on the ground when he was in political exile, Adebanjo’s aid came in handy, the present reality is that Jagaban is the political overlord of not only his beloved South West but until the tribunal and courts say-otherwise of the entire Nigeria. He has to learn to deal with and live with the fact that Asiwaju – a student of the 48 laws of power by Robert Greene has long outwitted him in the cloak-and-dagger game of Machiavellian politics.
Historians and political pundits recall with shivers the fate of Dr. Joseph Danquah – Africa’s first doctorate degree holder in law who personally paid the passage for Dr. Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah to return to the then Gold Coast to take up the position of the Secretary-General of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) on the recommendation of his former comrade-in-arms in the United States, Ebenezer Ako Adjei. That year was 1947 and by the following year, Nkrumah had fallen out with the rest of the bigwigs in the UGCC after the big six as they were called were incarcerated after a riot broke out by the ex-servicemen who were economically disenfranchised after World War 11. By 1949, the relationship between Nkrumah and the rest of the UGCC founding fathers which included Justice Edward Akufo-Addo, the father of the present Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo had irretrievably broken down which led to the formation of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) on June 12 that year.
Nkrumah’s political organizational wizardry like Asiwaju’s came to play in the 1951 elections when he was jailed with common criminals at Fort James from where his ally Komla Agbedi Gbedemah organized his election and ensured he only not won his Accra municipal seat but made sure that the CPP swept 34 out of 38 seats as the UGCC failed to organize despite the leading candidates of the CPP being behind bars.
Danquah was famous for making inciting statements against the Nkrumah administration and with two assassination attempts on Nkrumah, he became a bit paranoid and got the parliament to give him sweeping powers to detain opposition politicians with the passage of the preventive detention act. Danquah was later to die in detention in 1964.
History repeats itself because man in his usual and predictable frailty learns the stories but never its salient lessons.
To Pa Adebanjo, a word is enough for the wise.
Tony Ademiluyi is the CEO of Buzz Times Media and can be reached at email@example.com and +2348167677075.