Dele Momodu’s fecund but wild imagination is capable of producing some entertaining prose. But his fulsome inaccurate ruminations are far divorced from political fact. In effect, he has reduced himself to being a tabloid sage, an ersatz wise man who seeks to disguise his cavalier arguments in a torrent of words.
There is nothing wrong with people having different opinions. That is human nature and thus the very essence of the political craft. However, something is wrong when a person blatantly ignores the plain truth to hoist before the public eye what he knows to be incorrect just to prove a point.
This is more than a matter of style. It is a fault – a lack of connection to veracity. That person becomes more a sophist and a magician of words hoping to bedazzle his reader than a journalist or commenter seeking to educate the people.
This is the problem at the core of the above-titled article written by Momodu and published on the back page of Thisday edition of Saturday, January 12, 2019. Momodu hinged his article on a false premise, on mis-information and as such the article is not an article befitting a newspaper at all.
As Momodu seems to be suffering from an acute bout of aversion to the truth, it might help to feed him some reality.
While inaugurating the APC Presidential Campaign Council for the 2019 election at the State House Abuja on Monday January 12, President Muhammadu Buhari said the party’s National Leader and Co- Chair of the council, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, would “take full charge of the campaign”. This is the way he put it: “…But I must also add that, though we will all be deeply involved, I would like to assure the nation that I will do my part without making governance or my work suffer. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, my co-chairman, will be fully in charge, and is going to be on 24-hour vigil. That is to say, the operational buck of this campaign stops at his table, and I therefore urge all of us in the leadership of this campaign, in the field operations on the campaign trail and in the secretariat to consult with Asiwaju whenever guidance is needed”.
Online platforms and prominent national newspapers reported the president perfectly, quoting his words without giving it unintended or unwarranted interpretation. A few days later, however, a bizarre collection of some unknown parties under the aegis of CUPP, Coalition of United Political Parties, purposely distorted the president’s statement. It also warned President Buhari against campaigning by proxy. The Chairman of this group, Obasanjo subaltern, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, contended if Buhari would ask Tinubu to lead his campaign, then he should give way as the presidential candidate.
This same warped idea was regurgitated by Momodu in his column wherein he accused Buhari of abdication of campaign responsibility to Asiwaju. To him, the fine arrangement worked out by Buhari is a poisoned chalice. He surmised that the APC leader was set up to fail. Let us talk truth to each other.
Momodu is trying to make a mountain of a grain of sand. Where in the world does a sitting president make himself the manager of his own campaign? Momodu would have a difficult time identifying where such a thing is custom. For many reasons, such a thing would be a foolhardy thing to do. The responsibility and correct things for any sitting president is to allow trusted allies to manage and coordinate the campaign. A decent and caring president, would devote the greater part of his time to the matters of governance. He will campaign only as the campaign requires. This is not where the bulk of his attention should reside. This is exactly as President Buhari has done.
Let’s change things around for the moment. I dare say Momodu would be up in arms if PMB had said he was going to devote himself to the campaign and that governance must take a backseat. Momodu would be the first to claim that the president had engaged in another form of abdication of duty. Thus, the problem is not with the president but with Momodu. He had already put in his mind that he would criticize the president come what may. But this criticism has not weight except with those seeking any reason to say they are against the president. But for Momodu to hold to this flawed position, means he would also have to chastise every president he so often mentions as being great politicians. Kennedy, Obama, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Clinton, all of them must fall by the measure that Momodu now uses. Again, Momodu has not said anything really bad about Buhari. What he is exposing is that his opposition to the man has led him into the land of the nonsensical.
Again to help Momodu of this self-induced fog, it may be good to repeat what the president said. The president clearly said Asiwaju Tinubu, as co-chair of the campaign council, would take charge of the daily oversight of the campaign working in conjunction with the campaign DG and others. PMB would play his appropriate part in such a way that governance would not suffer on account of the campaign. That was gracious in my view.
The president did not say he would not be on the hustings. He did not stay he would sit back at Aso Rock while Tinubu mount the rostrum in his stead. To put to lie Momodu’s ramblings, the APC held a campaign rally in Bauchi. Momodu should have the fortitude to tell the public if he saw President Buhari at the rally. Momodu has taken on the aspects of the current occupant of the White House. Both tend to say what they want without due regard to what is.
Two weeks earlier, President Buhari headlined the South–South kick-off rally in Uyo, AkwaIbom State. Other rallies have been lined up and you will see the president there.
Momodu can go on and deodorise his candidate as he likes, that is perfectly within his right to do. But he has no right to twist an unequivocal statement to suit his fancy. Again, Tinubu and the APC have made their choice. For Asiwaju, the decision about how the present gains in governance and reform would not be frittered away, but preserved and improved upon for tomorrow and how the future of this country would be better served is clear in this election. Momodu may have a different take on things as is his right. But he does grave disservice to the truth and to the people by uttering falsehoods and by acting like what is normal campaign procedure for a sitting president the world over is somehow a nefarious undertaking in Nigeria. By so doing, Momodu is trying to do more than muddy the water, he is trying to tell us that mud is in fact water. If this is the best he can do for his side, then he has shown that their campaign is one of calumny and not issues. For all the words emitted, nothing but unintelligible noise has sallied forth.
. Rahman, former Editor Thisday on Sunday, is Media Adviser to Asiwaju Tinubu.