By Olusesan Laoye
The launch of the autobiography of Chief Bisi Akande, the pioneer interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), with the title “My Participations” has gone but it has left behind a ton of controversies, which would forever be a scar on some dramatis persona mentioned in the book, and notably those who the author claimed, he had sparred with in the course of his political journey in Nigeria.
Other Nigerians and even those mentioned in the book, may have expected the controversies based on the fact that such autobiographies in the past, written by notable and prominent men in Nigeria, had generated similar controversies.
My Command written by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Diplomatic Soldiering by Major General Joe Garba, late Dim Odumegu Ojukwu’s Not My will, and even the recent account of former President Goodluck Jonathan in office, had generated such a strong heat but people let go based on the fact that they never felt the authors or those who wrote on on their behalf, had any deeper ulterior motives beyond the ordinary, and that their books only revealed the accounts of their lives, as they occurred to them.
The difference, which people believe that “My Participation” has introduced has been accentuated by its timing, the suspected motive for which it was published, and the impression which Chief Akande was allegedly trying to project at the expense of those at the negative receiving end of the contents of the book.
It is being seen by a lot of people, that the book was timed towards boosting the presidential aspirations of Akande’s friend and alleged benefactor, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who a day after its launching, openly declared his intention, not even at his home base but in the North, where he seemingly believes that the bulk votes that would make him President would come from.
Indeed, it has become so glaring, as Chief Olabode George, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), said that Chief Akande was only tying to sell Tinubu to President Buhari and the North, thinking that it was only by maligning his own people in Yorubaland, that would show that Tinubu and his supporters can be trusted and should be taken serious in the ongoing succession build-up. But they may have forgotten that the Yoruba would not take kindly to that, since it is a taboo to destroy the elders, not even for any other reason, even if it is for political gain.
As another Yoruba leader puts it, Akande’s book has stirred the hornets nest on a lot of issues especially, as it touches on the issue of derogating his own people.
Although on a more even keel, it was not the Yoruba alone that got the bashing of Akande in the book, as a political analyst however posited, Akande must have carefully chosen his targets and groups that he envisages could come in the way of his mentor’s presidential ambition.
Some of these people who are still alive include, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, who himself is very much in the presidential race and who is also believed to be about the most favoured contender yet in his party, the PDP. Both Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Olu Falae, the leaders of Afenifere, whom Akande and other Alliance for Democracy governors, including Tinubu, now jostling for the presidential ticket of APC, had offended those who have been vocal about the presidency and attitude of the APC and the alleged mess which they believed Tinubu who sold the candidacy of President Buhari, has plunged the Yoruba people and the whole nation into, are also focused upon in the book.
Others include former President Olusegun Obasanjo who could have objected to Tinubu’s aspiration in favour of that of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, while late Sir Olanihun Ajayi, one of the leaders of Afenifere, who it was said had vouched for Tinubu to be governor of Lagos State, when it was alleged that late NADECO leader, Chief Anthony Enahoro and several others had categorically opposed Tinubu claiming that they had carried out due diligence on him, and that he should be rejected, even as the group should stick to Engineer Funsho Williams, who was later mysteriously murdered, while still pursuing his governorship ambition and whose murderers are yet to be found.
Chief Ajayi before his demise had said severally and openly too, and indeed never hid his regrets that it was a mistake the Afenifere had made at that time, to have not replaced Tinubu with Williams.
He claimed that Tinubu for his own selfish reasons rebelled against Afenifere and caused a sharp division within the group, with his co AD governors, which the Pan Yoruba group, has never recovered from till date.
Former Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who happens to be Akande’s successor in Osun was not left out of the negative accounts in the controversial book as it for example had to do with the controversies related to the Bola Ige’s house, Abere, Ede, Osun State Secretariat.
On that latter issue, Akande believed that Oyinlola painted him as being corrupt and not the saint that people had been made to believe he was because he awarded the contract for the Bola Ige house, gave the contractor the whole sum of N800 million, while the job was not completed and even when he did not win a second term, which made Oyinlola who took over to query the award of the contract.
One other fundamental issue which many in the the Yoruba race are queasy over is the claim in the book that it was Bola Ige that formed Afenifere and not Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, late Oni of Ife, Oba Sir Adesoji Aderemi and others which had metamorphosed from Egbe omo Odua to Afenifere, since 1951 and which had been on the lips of people in Yoruba land before Bola Ige was shot into the lime light, by Chief Awolowo.
Since the book was launched, it has generated reactions, especially from those Akande accused or mentioned in unsavoury terms.
For instance, those in Atiku’s group condemned the allegation he made against their principal , that he was begging Tinubu for money while in Action Congress (AC) during the 2007 Presidential race, in which Atiku was the candidate of the party.
They described Akande as Tinubu’s lapdog, who was suffering from amnesia, saying that he had twisted what really transpired then, in 2007 when Atiku was picked as the presidential flag bearer of the AC.
According to Paul Ibe, the spokesperson for Atiku, “Atiku and other leaders contributed to the funding of the party and not Tinubu alone. To us, Akande’s claim was mischievous and what he wrote was misleading while tying to whitewash Tinubu.”
Adebanjo who spoke on the allegation that he had pestered Tinubu to build a house for him in Lekki said that he had repeatedly told people even at a debate that he sold his house in Surulere to build a house for himself at Lekki without a kobo from anybody.
On the issue of the PDP supplanting the AD governors during the 2003 polls, Adebanjo argued that Osoba and his colleagues were victims of their own betrayal of the principle of truth, saying they were traitors and sell-outs who paid a price for their treachery.
Said he: “It is as a result of their betrayal. Osoba and the rest made an agreement with Obasanjo behind us to spite the leaders of Afenifere because we were claiming that we were responsible for their election. And they wanted to say that they can win election without us.
“So, they made a deal behind us with Obasanjo and at the end of the day, Obasanjo kicked them out. They got the result of their treachery. They were thinking that the man will keep to his word and they will claim to have won election without the support of leaders of Afenifere. That was what took them to that disaster.”
“It is an act of betrayal. They wanted to be in power willy-nilly at the expense of philosophy, principle and at the expense of the truth and at the expense of the interests of the Yoruba people.
“Even the alliance which they said they are having with President Muhammadu Buhari now which is causing trouble, how can you imagine someone who is a product of the Awolowo philosophy having an alliance with somebody like Buhari?
“And I described them at that time as a collection of incompatibles. So Afenifere has no business with them at all”.
Pa Adebanjo said that the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Tinubu and the former governor of Osun state, Chief Bisi Akande have done nothing for the Yoruba people.
He maintained that Asiwaju Tinubu and Bisi Akande are only doing all they are doing for their personal interest and that he (Ayo Adebanjo) does not like people who are only concerned about themselves alone.
On the comment about former president Olusegun Obasanjo in the book, the political activist, Timi Frank disagreed with Akande, that Obasanjo had opposed the Presidential ambition of Buhari, but that on the contrary Obasanjo was one of the people who worked for the emergence of Buhari to be President.
He argued “as a young person in Buhari’s team and Deputy National Publicity Secretary, I knew the role former President Obasanjo played to make Buhari President, both at home and internationally”
He continued “maligning Obasanjo is to win Buhari favour and support, but Akande should have found a better way of canvassing support for his benefactor Tinubu in 2023.”
One of the Yoruba leaders who did not take kindly to Akande’s book is Chief Bode George, who asked him to withdraw the book and apologize to the Yoruba leaders said to have been maligned in the book.
According to the elder statesman, ” the book is shameful and he should be warned not to set his house on fire because of Tinubu’s ambition which is not acceptable.”
Also while reacting, one of the allies of Senator Iyiola Omisore who wants to remain anonymous told Business Hallmark that Chief Akande’s remark on the Senator, while he served under him, would be reacted to later but they would not want to join issues with the former Governor of Osun State, now in the same party “with us.”
Meanwhile, a political commentator has observed and described Akande’s book as full of gaps and inadequacies, saying that he Akande, may have deliberately omitted some portions of the story which could have given clarity to some points and removed a lot of the ambiguities that are now causing a lot of heat in the polity.