• Segun Arogundade

Truth, Oshiomhole and the Hatchet Men

Comrade Segun Arogundade

Much as the proliferation of columns in Nigeria’s print media today offers a plethora of perspectives to public issues, the downside is the high incidence of abuse by mercenaries. A vivid illustration is a piece entitled “The disintegration of Oshiomhole” by Mr. Yinka Odumakin, a self-styled “Yoruba leader”, published recently in a national daily.

Maybe, I should begin by explaining myself. I am a keen follower of political events in Nigeria, though neither a sympathiser of APC nor PDP. However, based on my own deep knowledge of the events Mr. Odumakin wrote erroneously about, I thought I am morally obliged to weigh in in public interest.

In an attempt to settle personal scores with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the slayer of PDP godfathers, Odumakin audaciously descended into libel, dressing hear-say as facts and passing judgement based on utter falsehood. Barely disguising his malice, he conveniently took off with the “unpopular view” reportedly expressed by the former Edo governor at the colloquium organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress two weeks ago on restructuring – the burning issue of the day.

To be sure, I watched television footage of the event at issue as well as reports by at least four of the leading national dailies. Contrary to the spin by a section of the press, I don’t see anywhere where Comrade Oshiomhole spoke against devolution in a manner that would obstruct good governance of the country or impede the deliverance of succor directly to the long-suffering masses of Nigeria.

Comrade Oshiomhole is not just a talker, but also a doer, as can be verified from his stellar performance as two-term governor of Edo State. The memories of the likes of Odumakin may be short, but the real Nigerian workers will certainly not forget the man who never failed to champion their cause, even as Edo governor. When it was most “unpopular”, Oshiomhole once broke ranks with his fellow governors to join NLC street protest in Abuja demanding that the N18,000 minimum wage remain sacrosanct. Just as Edo teachers will certainly not forget who pioneered the payment of TSS in 2011 when the relatively “richer” states were foot-dragging.

I think Oshiomhole’s only point of departure was the view that rather than be fixated on the current elite game of endless “talk talk” on restructuring, we should not forget to channel more energies towards evolving ideas that will immediately better the living conditions of the masses of Nigeria. He definitely speaks from rich hand-on experience in political office and genuine concern for the poor at the receiving end of the harsh economic climate today.

In any case, having also been a two-term president of the NLC, a pan-Nigerian institution for that matter, how do you expect Oshiomhole to, at this point, descend so low as to be mouthing divisive or separatist rhetoric being indulged in by ethnic entrepreneurs and sectional irredentists like the Odumakins of this world? NLC only recognises one Nigeria. NLC is religion-blind and ethnicity-void. That is the pan-Nigeria movement Oshiomhole represents and on whose behalf he speaks.

However, the former Edo governor expressed misgivings at what he described as the desperate attempt to hijack the restructuring debate by PDP and its apologists who he believes rather view it primarily as a tool to attack and vilify the ruling APC of which he is a proud member. Oshiomhole’s “yabis” against PDP is what I think actually annoyed Odumakin, who was undoubtedly empowered materially by the discredited Jonathan administration. Of course, it is a statement of fact that Odumakin and his madam temporarily relocated their matrimony to the 2014 Abuja confab and each collected princely N4m monthly while the talk-shop lasted.

We all know plenty of dollars exchanged hands during Jonathan’s desperate bid for second term between 2014 and 2015. Odumakin even rushed out a piece of hagiography in praise of his PDP benefactors then. He is yet to tell us who sponsored the “emergency book”, even though it is already open secret. If truly Odumakin and his co-travelers were truly sincere about implementing the recommendations of the 2014 confab report and were so committed to “restructuring” then, how come they could not persuade their PDP paymaster then to implement aspects of the proposal that did not require legislative reengineering?

These were the factual points Oshiomhole was trying to make, but which the Odumakins of this world are now labouring futilely to twist out of context.

To show how jaundiced he was against Oshiomhole, Odumakin shamelessly raked up the issue of the ultra-modern 5-Star Hospital in Benin for which the former governor has been praised by all and sundry, but which PDP has expectedly been battling to discredit.

Thank God, no one is accusing Oshiomhole of laying claim to a structure that does not exist, as was the case under PDP. The truth of the matter is that Edo now has a new governor in person of Godwin Obaseki, who appears to have a different view on how best to manage the hospital. The latter, being a technocrat, believes the edifice and its modern appurtenances are better left not in the hands of civil servants, but managers from the private sector to be given strict targets to deliver value to the public and the investor (government). Should Oshiomhole now be crucified for Obaseki’s different idea?

But, for God’s sake, what has the Benin hospital got to do with the colloquium in Abuja? To hatchet men like Odumakin, a connection had to be made, no matter how ludicrous. Shamelessly, he devoted a huge space in his pathetic write-up to quote all the foul things earlier uttered by the voluble chairman of Edo PDP, Mr. Daniel Orbih. Just to get at Oshiomhole. What a shame!

Most pathetic of all the drivel written by Odumakin is his attempt to belittle Oshiomhole’s remarkable achievements as an individual who rose from humble background to national limelight and his monumental contributions to the labour movement in the last three decades as a committed unionist. It is pointless even replying Odumakin here. Right-thinking Nigerians already know the truth.

In any case, who is better placed to expose Odumakin’s treacherous character than Chief Ayo Opadokun, an Afenifere insider. During a bitter epistolary exchange not too long ago, the NADECO chieftain described in details Odumakin’s penchant for biting the fingers that fed him. For instance, when he was struck down by a mysterious affliction in his arm years ago and was penniless, Opadokun revealed that it was Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that came to his rescue by offsetting his medical bills. But that show of goodwill in his hour of dire need would not stop Odumakin from betraying his benefactor soon after he was discharged from the hospital.

On the contrary, Odumakin is the one who is yet to explain satisfactorily to the public what he does for a living other than parading himself as “Yoruba/Southern leader” by virtue of being the “spokesperson” of Afenifere. That was the big challenge thrown at him in 2011 by no other than the Publisher of THISDAY, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, when this political hustler tried to blackmail the media guru in the countdown to the general elections of that year. Of course, the “very principled” Odumakin was then working for General Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential Campaign Organisation against Goodluck Jonathan.

But by the next election season, this political harlot had slipped over to Jonathan’s bed without batting an eyelid. Yes, because the price was right! What a shame.

Lately, Odumakin has been linked to a multi-billion naira radio station in Oyo State. He is yet to deny interest in the eye-popping undertaking and also explain where the money came from since the Afenifere job is not known to be a salaried job.

Of course, the sacking of PDP from Ondo last year only meant the final destruction of the last source of “stomach infrastructure” for political mercenaries for South-West PDP like Odumakin. Until Gbenga Daniel lost out politically in 2011, Abeokuta used to be their rendezvous. Thereafter, they retreated to Akure and began to praise-sing Segun Mimiko as a latter-day “Awoist”. Too bad, the “Oshokomole” of Ekiti State (Ayo Fayose) is today not deceived by the theatrics of these funny characters wearing fake Awo cap.

Overall, it is a measure of the political tragedy of Nigeria today that in an environment where you have the likes of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, both phenomenally accomplished in politics and professional calling by any standard, political riffraffs like Odumakin will take liberty to parade themselves as “Yoruba leaders”.

So much for a pathetic columnist!

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