Sunday Dare and the pathetic mission to silence Bola Tinubu’s critics, By Femi Aribisala
Are death sentences now to be passed on people who don’t support the political views and ambitions of Bola Tinubu?
On 24th June, 2014, I wrote an article in my Vanguard newspaper column entitled: “A Muslim/Muslim Presidential Disaster for the APC.” This was followed on 1st June, 2014 with another article entitled: “The Beginning of the End of the Bola Tinubu Dynasty.” These articles have understandably elicited responses from the Tinubu brigade.
Vanguard Special Reports
On 2nd July, Sunday Dare, Special Assistant Media to Bola Tinubu, wrote a rejoinder in Vanguard to the first article entitled “Re: A Muslim/Muslim Presidential Disaster for the APC by Femi Aribisala.” On 3rd July, he wrote another rejoinder to the second article. Both articles were presented as Vanguard Special Reports; including an old article written by Professor Sam Oyovbaire entitled: “The Government and the Media: Partners in Progress.” This was followed on 5th July by yet another article in Vanguard by Gbenga Olorunpomi entitled: “History Will Be on Tinubu’s Side.”
Dare is so confident I would not be allowed to respond to his broadsides, he titled his second rejoinder: “The Beginning of the End of Aribisala’s Fiction.” However, he is greatly mistaken. I reserve the right to continue expressing my views. Nevertheless, I understand the basis of Dare’s confidence. My views are now unlikely to continue to find true and frank expression in Vanguard. Therefore, I have decided to resign my appointment with Vanguard in order to protect my independence and integrity.
Dare celebrates his paymaster, Bola Tinubu, as a great democrat. Indeed, Olorunpomi says: “Nobody has contributed more to the sustenance of democracy than him.” But a democrat, who is also the leader of the opposition in Nigeria, does not try to stifle opposition to his own positions. He does not muscle the press into carrying only those views and perspectives that promote his interests. As for me, I will not be intimidated or silenced. Nigeria does not only belong to the rich and the powerful.
Dare starts his rejoinder with a quotation saying: “Femi Aribisala sounds like Nigeria’s Salman Rushdie.” This, in itself, is the height of mischief. Salman Rushdie denigrated the Muslim faith and a fatwa or death-sentence was passed on him ensuring that, till date, he lives in hiding.
I have never denigrated the Muslim faith. Indeed, my beloved grandmother was a Muslim. All I have written is that a Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket is inappropriate in Nigeria, in this season of rampant Boko Haram killings of Christians and the bombing of churches in the North. For this reason, a paid hack of Bola Tinubu is implying that a death-sentence should be passed on me. And yet, this same man insists his boss is a democrat.
Are death sentences now to be passed on people who don’t support the political views and ambitions of Bola Tinubu? Is this the progressive politics that is being touted by the APC? There is nothing progressive about this. It is the same old-time politics of threats and blackmail that has been the bane of Nigeria.
This is getting devious. The stakes here are apparently very high for Dare and his gang. The 2015 election sounds like a matter of life and death to them. But I have no interest whatsoever in dying over who will be the next Muslim vice-president of Nigeria. My kingdom is not Nigeria. My kingdom is the kingdom of God. The righteousness of God does not come through political elections. Jesus has no interest in changing Nigeria for the better. He is only interested in changing Nigerians.
Tissue of lies
Dare made a number of insinuations in his vituperation and diatribe against me. He is mistaken in presuming that my motives are the same as his. I am not in the pay of Goodluck Jonathan or the PDP. But Dare is in the pay of Bola Tinubu and the APC. I would never work for any politician or government. But Dare is a “gofer” for Bola Tinubu. The organization I was working for was Vanguard. In any case, I only worked for Vanguard part-time. Having now left Vanguard, I am not looking for a job: I already have a job. I have been essentially self-employed for the past seventeen years.
In order to defend his pied piper, Dare littered his rejoinders with outright lies. He says I started my piece with a purported quotation from Tinubu that never occurred. That is a lie. This is the quote and I repeat it. Tinubu said: “Nobody, no one under the sun, under the United Nations Human Rights Charter, can stop Bola Tinubu’s ambition.” If this is a false quote, Dare should advise his boss to sue me for libel.
Dare is a liar. He is the one that attributes to me things I never said. He says: “Aribisala claims Asiwaju wants to be another Awolowo.” That is a lie. I never said so. He says: “Aribisala accuses (Tinubu) of trying to supplant Awolowo.” That is another lie. I said nothing of the sort. He says I failed to acknowledge the “enormous contribution” Tinubu made in ensuring that the PDP did not hijack all the South-West states “by any means necessary.” That is also a lie. I acknowledged this in my writing.
He says: “This hack writer asserts that Tinubu seeks a dynasty. He cannot be more incorrect.” Sorry, Dare, I cannot be more correct. Placing single-handed your yes-men, friends and relations in key positions in the South-West is tantamount to trying to establish a dynasty. There is no point in lying against the truth. Everybody knows Tinubu has never been committed to true democracy. He is committed to what he calls “god-fatherism.” Unfortunately for him, that is a term usually applied to the Mafia.
Dare says: “Aribisala wishes he were Tinubu. Instead, Aribisala is relegated to being the Asiwaju of his own imagination.” That is balderdash. The last thing I would aspire to be is the highfalutin leader of a bogus political party or, indeed, the Special Assistant Media of Bola Tinubu. Tinubu is a politician and I despise politicians. They are the problem with Nigeria. Politicians are bought and sold. But, by the grace of God, I cannot be bought.
Dare should be more fastidious by first doing a little homework before rushing to make false allegations. In a recent interview with Jide Akintunde of Financial Nigeria magazine, I put this on public record: “I am a student of politics. However, I hate politics. It is ungodly, it is false, and it is practiced with deceit. You cannot be a successful politician and, at the same time, be committed to the truth. Therefore, my interest in politics does not go beyond the academic. I write about politics primarily to expose the deceit of politicians. I could never be a politician. Neither can I ever be interested in accepting a political appointment.”
Dare says: “Until Nigerians stop thinking of politics as an avenue for self-aggrandizement instead of selfless service to the state we would not make meaningful progress.” This is strange coming from him to me. I am not and will never be a politician and I am a man of very modest means. But Bola Tinubu is a politician who is now rolling in wealth. In the interest of transparency, he owes the Nigerian public an explanation for his sudden stupendous wealth. For example, it is reported that Tinubu has recently bought a mint Global Express aircraft costing upward of $30 million. There are also reports that he has taken over the former Secretariat of Ikoyi Local Government in Lagos, where he is said to be putting up a spanking 14-storey building.
I live in Lagos and have done so for over thirty years. So I know what Lagosians think of the privatization of their economy. I know what they think about the mortgaging of their tax-collection to Alpha Beta. I know how disgusted they are with the rip-off of the Lekki/Ajah Express-way and the Tollgate. Dare is wasting his time if he really thinks he can pull the wool over our eyes simply because he has to earn his keep as Tinubu’s bulldog.
I hold no brief for Tom Ikimi. But I am amused that, now that he has fallen out with Tinubu, Dare refers to him as “an unprincipled politician (who) pitches his tent wherever he feels the grass is greener.” The hypocrisy here is incredible. Tinubu it was who led a delegation of APC bigwigs to Obasanjo’s Otta home begging the former president to be an unprincipled politician by moving over to pitch his tent with APC as their “navigator.” That shows how unscrupulous he is. What then are we to call the other PDP turncoats that now populate APC, from Rabiu Kwankwaso to Murtala Nyako to Atiku Abubakar? It would appear that, as long as they don’t fall out with Dare’s oga-at-the-top, they are principled.
Olorunpomi went as far as present Tinubu in the same bracket as Jesus and Mohammed. Dare describes Tinubu as a man with a “messianic mission.” Nevertheless, Tinubu’s ACN was beaten to third place in the 2012 gubernatorial election in Ondo. Chris Ngige, a very popular former governor of Anambra State, came a distant third in the 2013 gubernatorial election in the state because he was foolish enough to run on Tinubu’s APC platform. Kayode Fayemi, Tinubu’s APC governor in Ekiti, was recently defeated by a landslide by PDP’s Ayo Fayose. It would appear that the train of this so-called messiah is fast running out of petrol and spare-parts.
I know what really irks these praise-singers is my blowing the whistle on Tinubu’s vice-presidential ambitions. Dare writes about his oga: “That he is from the South-West or a Muslim should not matter, should it? Of course not!” Okay, my brother! Go right ahead. Let the APC field Tinubu in a Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket. Then they will really see the political disaster that awaits them. One thing is certain. In the full wake of that disaster, Dare is likely to lose his job as a highfalutin Special Media Assistant for not being worthy of his handsome paycheck