Southwest’s lingering conflagration and its political undertone, By Rotimi Akinbile

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Finally, the missing link in the puzzle unfolding in Southwest Nigeria has been discovered with the recent  expose by no less a person than Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on political matters.

Ojudu in a widely circulated piece he wrote, narrated how a meeting was arranged between Southwest political leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and leading Southwest political thug, Sunday Igboho in order not to disrupt the Ekiti rerun election in 2009.

The story confirms what many have been saying about the real forces behind Igboho who recently issued a quit notice to Fulani in Yorubaland and has even moved to enforce the order by sacking the Sarkin Fulani and his family from Igangan community in Oyo State.

The boldness Igboho exhibited to issue the threats and the swift manner he moved to enforce his own orders coupled with the fact that he has not been arrested up till now, goes to reinforce the fact that Igboho is not a mere thug but a well equipped tool in the hands of certain politicians.

The question is, who are these powerful politicians that are using Igboho to cause confusion and mayhem in Nigeria. An analysis of the Ojudu narration exposes two things: the first is that Igboho is a political thug available to the highest bidder, the second is that, many of the top politicians in the Southwest are aware of this and they use him when the occasion demands and three, that the political godfather of the Southwest, Tinubu, does not only know Igboho but had used his services in the past to his advantage and even offered him a ‘golden handshake.’

What can be deduced from this is simple: that since 2009, there has been a relationship between Tinubu and Igboho and two, that with Tinubu’s ability to offer a ‘golden handshake,’ that the loyalty of Igboho could be and has been sustained over the years.

This, exactly is why current happenings in the Soutwest cannot be dismissed as mere happenstance by some misguided elements to evict the Fulani from Yorubaland as it bears all the traits of a rehearsed plot.

The whole episode bears the mark of a script well written to draw the attention of the rest of the country to the Southwest and to pressure certain political forces into accepting certain candidates that have not been accepted as eligible to succeed Mr. President. 

First, it was the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu who asked the Fulani in certain parts of his state to vacate those places or be penalised. 
Then Igboho fell into the picture and the entire country has not remained the same again.

As one tries to make meaning out of the matter, it will be apt to scrutinise the precedent scenario so as to grasp the full picture of what is going on in the Southwest with Igboho and Tinubu. 

In the late 90s, when it was clear that General Sani Abacha was not ready to hand over the reins of government to anyone else, but was bent on perpetuating himself in power, politicians in the Southwest took a decision aimed at forcing the General to quit and sponsored Ganiu Adams to take over the leadership of the Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, from Dr. Federico Fasehun and the OPC under Adams began to unleash mayhem in the Southwest that made governance more difficult for Abacha.

By then, many of the NADECO leaders including Tinubu had gone on self exile and the junta could not identify the real forces behind the OPC. It was much later when Nigeria returned to democracy and most of those self exiled pro-democracy activists returned that the picture became clearer that it was just a political tool to protect and advance the cause of certain interests.

Now the whole drama is being repeated with a slight adjustment to the dramatis personae. Rather than Adams, we now have Igboho, but the people behind the plot, those directing the scenes from behind have not changed.

Clearly, what is happenings in the Southwest is the voice of Jacob but the hand of esau. While it is Akeredolu and Igboho whose voices are being heard, it is obvious that it is Bola Ahmed Tinubu that is somewhere playing the music. 

It is well known that Tinubu wants to be President of Nigeria and his quest for the coveted office has intensified in recent times because age is not in his side and this seems his best opportunity given that he belongs to the ruling party and the incumbent is serving his seond term. 

But Tinubu has been served sufficient notice that APC cannot hand over the presidential ticket to him as there are many issues dogging his ambition that makes him ineligible for the presidency. 

The first is that he has many criminal allegations against him that it will not be good to have him succeed a President who has done much to fight corruption.

The second is that he was the one that nominated the current vice president and it will not be fair to exclude other politicians from the Southwest who have served the country well in order to please him and thirdly, it is the people that will decide their President in 2023 and not any other person.

But Tinubu appears desperate and is trying all including using the old and discarded methods of NADECO to twist the arms of the powers that be. This is why Igboho has been unleashed on us.

But Tinubu’s presidential ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian as it self serving and not based on the desires to transform the country. 
Nigeria does not need people who believe in the power of money and violence. It is time the nation is freed from the grip of the old order and allowed to move ahead.

Akinbile is a public affairs analyst and wrote from Akure.