One of the tragedies of the Bourbon ruling class of France after Waterloo of June 18, 1815, was that they came back to power, having learnt and forgotten nothing. They came back to power in France and continued to repeat the same mistakes that gave birth to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte and other characteristics of the era. This appears to be true of some personalities in Yoruba history, who saw themselves as the messiahs of their era, but ended up disillusioned. They never got what they wanted because they were propelled by ego, blind hatred and illusions of what they wanted to achieve. This is the same with Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who has erroneously been dressed in the robe of a political giant, when ordinarily he is a political opportunist, masquerading and praying to be addressed as Asiwaju Yorubaland.
He has got the first baptism of fire at the Senate where Senator Bukola Saraki emerged as Senate President. Tinubu wanted to have the Vice Presidency and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Buhari presidency. What an illusion! The political amalgam that became the All Progressives Congress, APC, which Tinubu, no doubt was the midwife, would soon be the Achilles heel for his political harakiri. The 3rd Republic Senator and former Lagos State governor will soon regret to have made the mistake of his life with the formation of APC. This was the mistake made by Afonja of Ilorin, who, as the Aare Onakanfanfo of Yorubaland, developed a morbid hatred for the reigning Alaafin of Oyo, his boss and emperor of the old Oyo Empire. Tinubu’s hatred for President Goodluck Jonathan was unparralled.
Afonja invited the Fulani jihadist, Alimi, whom he joined up with and destroyed the old Oyo Empire. He thought he would free himself from the influence and power of the Alaafin. The duo on getting back to Ilorin, after the destruction of old Oyo township and empire, Alimi taught Afonja the lesson of his life. Ilorin became an Emirate with Afonja killed. The Muslim Fulanis took over Ilorin land, where till date 95 per cent of the Yoruba population is ruled by less than 5 pwer cent Fulanis.
Governor Mohammed Lawal, the ANPP Governor of Kwara State (1999- 2003) an Afonja descendent who thought he could force the Fulani’s to retreat and re-write the 200-years old history of the emirate was shoved aside by the Olooye himself, Senator Abubakar Olusola Saraki, a Yorubanised Fulani. Lawal’s elevation of the Baloguns of Ilorin to Obaship status, (including his father), was reversed by Governor Bukola Saraki.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo repeated the same mistake of Afonja during the Nigerian Civil war (1967-1970). When the then Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon came to power on August 1st, 1966, one of the first things he did was to release Awolowo from prison. Realizing that he could not consolidate his grip on power without the backing of the Yoruba, Gowon promptly constituted a Federal Executive Council dominated by some of Awos-prewar allies like Joseph Tarka, Aminu Kano and Chief Anthony Enahoro etc. Gowon made Awolowo the Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council and Federal Commissioner for Finance, a position that was equivalent of the position of Prime Minister of Nigeria, which Awolowo had been dreaming of all his life.
Having used Awolowo to vanquish the people of former Eastern Nigeria (Biafrans) Awolowo thought that becoming the Prime Minister of Nigeria could be his by mere asking for it from those he served during the war (the Northern establishment) as soon as the war ended. Lo, that was never to be as he clearly saw the handwriting on the wall.
Early in 1971, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, to the consternation of his people, resigned from Gowon’s cabinet. Awolowo’s attempt to be President of Nigeria in 1979 and 1983 through his UPN failed. Neither Chief Philip Umeadi nor Alhaji Mohammed Kura (his running mates) could get him the Igbo or Northern votes in the two elections. Four years after 1983 (1987) Awolowo died, a frustrated man even though he was described as the best President Nigeria never had.
The late MKO Abiola, made the same mistake of Afonja and Awolowo during the 2nd Republic. Abiola in 1980 floated the Concord Group of Newspapers to fight the Tribune group owned by Obafemi Awolowo, in the Western states of Nigeria. He financed and bankrolled the National Party of Nigeria in Ogun State and other Odua states. Concord Press Nigeria Limited Group of newspapers fought and exposed Awolowo’s 1000 plots of land deal in Maroko. Having or thinking he had served the Northern establishment enough, in 1982, Umaru Dikko told Abiola to his face that Nigeria (Northern) presidency was not for the highest bidder. In anger, Abiola resigned from the NPN and said good-bye to Nigerian politics.
In 1993, Abiola, now the darling of Yorubas and Nigeria though he was ripe for Nigerian presidency was denied the victory of June 12, which is now a recurring point in the country’s history. His friend, Ibrahim Babangida and the Northern establishment denied him the Presidency, even when Abiola was a Muslim like them. Again, Abiola in November 18, 1993, was the first to go to Dodan Barracks to congratulate Sani Abacha for sacking his brother, Ernest Shonekan. Abiola even nominated Ministers, with such Progressives as Lateef Jakande, Baba Gana Kingibe, Ebenezer Babatope, etc into Sani Abacha’s first cabinet. Abiola had the false belief that Abacha would hand over to him after one year. After a year, June 1994, Abiola made his famous Epetedo Declaration, which led his detention by Abacha until July 8, 1998, when Abiola mysteriously died after drinking tea in the presence of Americans.
The foxy General Sani Abacha when he seized power in 1993, elevated or demoted General Oladipo Diya as Chief of General Staff from position of Chief of Defence Staff to consolidate his grip on power. Very soon, Diya, acting his master’s script, used the Federal might to batter the NADECO, Afenifere, Odua Movement and other real Progressives of the Yoruba struggle. Tinubu even went on exile.
Soon after, Diya bankrolled the activities of the Imeri Group as Dr. Bode Olajumoke’s home in Imeri, at the periphery of Ondo state soon became the political Mecca and centre of Yoruba politics. Diya even facilitated the Yoruba man’s position in the emerging UNCP, which was begging Abacha among five leprous fingers of the same hand (apology to Bola Ige) to be their presidential candidate. Seeing that he would have no place in Abacha’s transmutation in a civilian presidency, Diya wanted to be clever through coup plotting. He almost paid with his head, thanks to expiration of General Sanni Abacha on June 8, 1998 in controversial circumstance.
With the failure of ACN, CPC and ANPP to wrest power from Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, Ahmed Bola Tinubu threw in everything and convinced all the others to dissolve and form the APC, which was meant to have General Muhammadu Buhari achieve his ambition to be Nigerian Head of State once again.
Sooner than later, Tinubu would realize that the real owners of APC from the North would emerge. They will as Alimi did to Afonja in 1830 Ilorin. At the first post-election convention of the APC, this year, Tinubu would no longer be the National Leader of APC, while such paperweights as Odigie- Oyegun and Lai Mohammed will be swept aside. History, it is said, repeats itself. What can Tinubu manipulate with four APC controlled states in the southwest, while 16 Northern APC states, Imo and Edo states are not under his control.