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Pendulum: A Toast to My Angel Mike Awoyinfa at 70

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By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, it is often said that God will not come down from heaven to help anyone, but he will always send someone in the form of an angel to do so. Let me confess, that, I found one in Mr Mike Awoyinfa, my former boss at the Weekend Concord, from March 1989 to May 1990. For the benefit of those who may not know this quietest of quintessential gentlemen, Mr Mike Awoyinfa is one of the most prolific and exceptionally versatile writers that Nigeria has ever had. A literary guru, with an exceptional and exciting witty writing style, Mike Awoyinfa is a cut above most of our writers. His intelligence and sense of logic demonstrated in his writings are complemented by his bright and engaging personality which those closest to him have enjoyed over the years.

Our paths first crossed around April 1988. This is a story that I have told several times. Since it is one of those stories that defines what I have now become, and also because it is relevant now, as I celebrate Mike Awoyinfa, I will briefly recount the relevant parts of the story.  I had travelled from Ile-Ife to Lagos desperately in search of a job. I had just completed my Master’s thesis in Literature-in-English at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, after a first degree in Yoruba at the University of Ife (1982). My dream was to be a Scholar/lecturer, but for some reasons which I need not elaborate upon now, it became an impossible mission. In frustration, I was advised to engage in freelance writing as a way of inching myself up the Nigerian journalistic ladder. I started to work freelance for two major newspapers with relative minimal compensation. The Guardian in Lagos was paying N25 per article. The Sunday Tribune in Imalefalafia Ibadan paid nothing, but I was happy with the exposure I was getting, the contacts that I was making, and the experience that came with it. These were invaluable.

It was during this period that I travelled to Lagos again in search of greener pastures. I had hoped to get a job at The Guardian, but it soon became clear that this was a mirage. I was then advised by my friend, Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo, of blessed memory, to  explore the possibility of being offered employment at the African Concord magazine. I immediately seized upon the advice and visited the offices of African Concord magazine, where I met the Editor, Mr Lewis Obi, and I was instantly offered employment. I already knew it was only a matter of time before I got a decent job in journalism because of the work that I was already doing, and I was prepared to wait patiently for this to happen. Prior to that visit, I had begun to make a name for myself as a writer and was becoming well known in journalistic circles. The offer of appointment was therefore partly a result of my growing reputation. During that trip, and after the job offer, the adventurous spirit in me led me to the Features Desk of the National Concord which was headed by Mr Mike Awoyinfa. On meeting me, Mr Awoyinfa instantly engaged me to write a feature for him which I obliged excitedly and proudly. I believe our mutual love for books and music also got us glued to each other. His inspirational and effervescent style of writing also endeared him to me and was an inspiration for me. He has a simple and effective way of communicating. Not enamoured with the use of grandiose and grandiloquent words unless they communicate his intentions and feelings more. Some of the way that he writes has influenced my way of writing too.

Even though I was a Staff Writer at the African Concord magazine, I was simultaneously contributing to other publications under the Concord Group, periodically, such as the National Concord, Sunday Concord, Isokan, Business Concord, and before long, I had become a star writer within the Concord Group and a household name in the public domain. This pattern of writing for the other Titles in the Concord Group stable had been kicked off by that first Feature story commissioned by Mike Awoyinfa at the beginning of my time at African Concord.

In early 1989, barely seven months after resuming at the African Concord, Mr Lewis Obi called me to drop a bombshell. He said a new publication to be called Weekend Concord was being launched and the Management was poaching some of the best writers in the business to start the new tabloid. I had been considered one of the best writers in the Concord Group and earmarked for reassignment and redeployment to the new tabloid which was to be headed by Mike Awoyinfa as the Editor. To say the least, I was both disappointed and apprehensive particularly as I was told that I had no choice in the matter. This element of coercion in the job put me off completely. For a Scholar, I preferred writing for what I believed was a serious journal like African Concord. I felt it was a come down and demotion to become a writer for a tabloid like the Weekend Concord was planned to be.

Unknown to me, my destiny was heavily tied to Weekend Concord, and I would become a globally renowned and highly reputed and respected journalist because of the experience and expertise gained from being a star writer at the Weekend Concord. We spent some weeks planning our maiden Edition. Mr Awoyinfa insisted we must launch it with a bang, so we needed a banger of a debut cover, what he called a major scoop. He was the right man to direct the affairs of the weekend paper because he had a nose for stories and knew exactly what the people wanted to be served at the weekend.

Mr Awoyinfa sent me out in search of that extraordinary story. It was like traveling in the wilderness in search of the unknown. I dreamt up many ideas, but none was easy to activate and actualise. However, mercifully and eventually, I got my major scoop from an interview with Mrs Laide Soyinka who was the Chief Librarian at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State. I also got another exclusive interview with Ilemakin Soyinka, the son of the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.

On my return to the office, my boss was floating in the skies, very excited that I had gotten enough stories to last us the first three weeks.

It would be difficult to find another Editor in the league of Mr Awoyinfa, who was also lucky to have his best friend, Mr Dimgba Igwe, of blessed memory, a prose stylist, as his Deputy. Dimgba and I shared the same birthday, 16 May which probably also made us soulmates at Weekend Concord. There were also a few crack newshounds like Omololu Kassim, Aliu Mohammed and others as backup. We met our launch target of March 4, 1989. To say we took Nigeria by storm would be an understatement. Week after weeks and month after months, we broke new grounds and our circulation figures increased uncontrollably. We soon hit 250,000 copies in a jiffy. Only the shortage of newsprint curtailed and slowed down our growth in the circulation stakes. My boss could have claimed all the glory, but he was humble enough and he regularly praised my talents and uncommon nose for news to high heavens. He did not stop there, he backed up his generous words with kind promotions. Within two months, he recommended me for double promotions, straight from being a Staff Writer to Literary Editor, in May 1989. And barely six months after, in November 1989, I became News Editor, which made me the number three man in the hierarchy at Weekend Concord. My life in Lagos was absolutely surreal. In under two years, I had become the darling of my employers, Chief Moshood Abiola, our Chairman, and his highly cerebral wife, Dr Mrs Doyinsola Hamidat Abiola, the Managing Director. The only snag was that I had reached my peak so soon and there was no more room at the top as far as the Concord Group was concerned. It was Mike Awoyinfa’s effusive praise and appreciation of the work I was doing for Weekend Concord that made me become the cynosure of all eyes not just in the group and the media world but also in celebrity circles. I was already well known in those circles because of acquaintances I had made through family, friends and at the university but this snowballed because of what I was doing at Weekend Concord. Mike Awoyinfa was prepared for me to hug the limelight, notwithstanding that I was his subordinate and using his platform. It is the measure of the immense man that he is, that he recognised the star that he was nurturing and was only too eager to support and advance my career in every way possible. I guess he knew he was birthing a star journalist.

This was the period something monumental fell on my laps. I got an invitation to have a discussion with the highly spirited Publisher of Classique magazine, Mrs May Ellen Ezekiel Mofe Damijo, now of blessed memory. MEE as she was fondly called had started a lifestyle journal, but according to her running it was proving problematic because of her vision and other commitments. She needed a competent and confident Editor with the right contacts and connections while she would tackle the issues of marketing and business expansion. She made me an irresistible offer which would instantly catapult me to the pinnacle of my career as Nigeria’s highest paid Editor. While I was busy procrastinating and dilly-dallying, I decided to mention it to Mr Awoyinfa, whom I thought may choose to be selfish because of my utility roles at Weekend Concord, but I was dead wrong. Not only did he congratulate me, but Mr also Awoyinfa personally drove to the Penthouse office of Classique magazine, then at 3 Allen Avenue, Ikeja, and encouraged me to accept the offer immediately. That was it. Our mutual respect for each other grew in leaps and bounds thereafter, and we became like members of the same family. Till this day, our love has never faded. His children are close to me, especially Babajide, who he jokingly told me that he has donated to me because “he likes you too much…”

As “my Boss for life” celebrates his Platinum jubilee, I humbly plead with everyone reading this piece to kindly rise with your glasses filled with wine, water or juices, and join me in raising a toast to one of Africa’s extraordinary journalists of the 20th and 21st centuries, Mike Awoyinfa…

May Mike Awoyinfa continue to live in good health, happiness and prosperity…

HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY SISI ABAH FOLAWIYO 

Yesterday, 22 July 2022 marked the 80th birthday of Mrs Abah Folawiyo, the widow of the former Baba Adinni of Nigeria, Chief Abdulwahab Iyanda Yinka Folawiyo, and the mother of my very dear friend, the irrepressible Segun Awolowo. Sisi Abah as she is fondly called was born in 1942 into the prestigious and noble Koku family of Ijebu Ode. Her mother was Ghanaian, and she was brought up and educated in both Ghana and Nigeria. On account of this fact, she is very close to her maternal family in Ghana. Her education in a Convent School in Cape Coast, Ghana was to shape her life which she considers as a sober one despite her flamboyance, popularity and celebrity status.

Sisi Abah is known and reputed for her expertise in fashion, designing and sewing. She was the winner of the first Daily Times Fashion Designer Award and also won the first Fashion design award in Ghana organised by the defunct Ghana Airways at the launch of its first aircraft. Her first trip abroad was to Beirut being the prize she won as the winner of the Ghana Airways competition.

A very talented woman. Sisi Abah had her own fashion house situated in Surulere, Lagos, which was known as Labanella.

She started the fashion house with her friend Ornella, and this led to the eponymous name of the fashion house. The fashion house, a pioneer in its field, was a very successful brand. It became even more successful when then General Olusegun Obasanjo, as Head of State, banned the importation of foreign clothes and materials. Her business blossomed and boomed as she took advantage of the ban. Although she has retired, she still designs and sews for a select few.

Sisi Abah has gained recognition from Nigerian Fashion Designers. For a long time, she was the national President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), of which I became a patron years ago, and she is now a life patron of the Association

Sisi Abah is also a very good cook. Family and friends will attest to this. She is a fantastic hostess, always prepared to entertain guests and leaving nothing to chance by not only supervising the cooking, but personally doing most of the cooking herself including buying and preparing the ingredients. Sisi Abah puts paid to the debate and controversy about which Jollof Rice is the best by plumbing for Nigerian Jollof Rice. She s most qualified for this task given her Nigerian and Ghanaian roots. I must not forget her dancing prowess which exhibited when I had the honor of hosting her and her friends, inclusing Iya Oge Opral Benson, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, and others at my home in Accra, Ghana.

Most importantly, she is a family woman. She also loves wholly and with all her might. Previously married to Lagun Adesanya, now a Celestial Church Priest, She married Alhaji Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo and converted to Islam because that was his faith.  She had no children from these relationships. Her only son, Segun Awolowo is the grandson of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his wife, Mama H. I. D Awolowo.

The lovely, beautiful and delectable Sisi Abah is a very caring and warm Sister, Aunt, Mother, Grandmother and Friend and regularly gives to charity as part of her philanthropic and Islamic duties. She looks after everyone in her circle of influence.

I wish her a very happy 80th birthday.

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Pendulum

Pendulum: My Personal Take on Atiku, Wike and Ayu

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By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians,

I come in peace. According to the Holy Bible: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God…” Matthew 5:9.

The political party I belong to is PDP. I had contested its Presidential Primary months ago but lost spectacularly. I’m not here to offer excuses about what happened or did not happen. I’m writing this epistle first as a peacemaker and also, secondly, as an academic exercise. I’m interested in exploring the possibilities of how our big gladiators can re-embrace one another. Once upon a time, they were all friends. Friends sometimes fight bitterly. Even husbands and wives do disagree vehemently and, at times, to a point of irreconcilable differences. However, even in those times, miracles can happen and events and circumstances bring them back together.  This is the stage we are right now. Only a miracle can save the once buoyant and vibrant relationships that existed between these major anchors of the PDP and restore the trust between The Wazirin Atiku Abubakar, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and Governor Nyesom Wike.

The key words in the middle of this war of attrition are MISTRUST and DISTRUST.

I need to emphasize that earlier this week, I and four other former Presidential aspirants visited our Party’s Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in Abuja.

The delegation was led by Alhaji Mohammed Hayatudeen. Those former aspirants that attended the meeting were Mohammed Hayatudeen, Dele Momodu, Tari Oliver, Bar Charles Ugwu and Bar Chikwendu Kalu. This was the first official meeting of it’s kind by any group of aspirants after the National Convention that saw Alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerge as the Presidential flag bearer of our great Party, PDP. I must emphasise that we represented the small group of six former aspirants who had met in Lagos and reached a decision to meet our candidate. Only one of us was absent, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, because he had to leave for the US before the meeting took place.

It is not true that our small group was snubbed by anyone of the other aspirants. We did not invite Governor Nyesom Wike since he we understood and knew that he is still angry about the conduct of the election, it’s outcome and events that transpired shortly thereafter. Before meeting with our Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku, we had reached out to some of our party’s leaders who were reachable. We had even paid a visit to former Governor Ayodele Peter Fayose who is currently recuperating from a major surgery, in order to show our empathy and consideration for him and his condition. Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State had actually agreed to host us soon. Chief Anyim Pius Anyim also promised to host us since he was unavoidably absent and away from Abuja at the time we met Atiku. Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki also offered his apologies as he was out of the country.

The truth is that everyone is anxious to see an end to the imbroglio rocking our party. Even our opponents are eager to see an end to it, one way or the other, because PDP has been getting all the good and bad attention (and every publicity in PR parlance, is good publicity). So we decided to start the peace process from our own side as former Co-contestants for the Presidential ticket of the PDP, in a bid to ensure that we reduce the almost perennial bad news about our Party.

Our candidate was happy and delighted to see, and welcome us to his home. The atmosphere was both convivial and jovial. He expressed his great pleasure to see his former colleagues and co-contestants and assured our team of his readiness to collaborate and build a formidable team that would not only see the PDP winning the upcoming election, but also strategically position the Party for the upcoming business of governance after our resounding victory.

The team spoke about our foremost interest in ensuring peace and stability in the Party, stressing the need for the Party to walk and talk through the difficult challenges that it currently faces, and restore peace speedily through meaningful dialogue and reconciliation.

I need to interject by stating that my article and opinion herein is strictly personal to me. This would be my third troubleshooting intervention following on the earlier two I had circulated widely on other platforms. The first was addressed directly to my very dear friend and Brother, Governor Nyesom Wike as follows:

“MY KOBO ADVICE TO GOVERNOR NYESOM WIKE…

My dear Brother, good evening. I have watched you in recent months with trepidation. I’m scared about your inability to comprehend the country called Nigeria. You must have underrated how the owners of Nigeria operate. I have studied the biography of CHIEF OBAFEMI AWOLOWO. I was an insider in the June 12 1993 crisis, and a veritable witness to the tribulations of my great mentor, CHIEF MOSHOOD ABIOLA. Closer home, you must have seen how your predecessor, DR PETER ODILI, was stopped in his tracks in 2007.

You’re certainly one of Nigeria’s best performing Governors, if not the best. Personally, I’m very proud of your uncommon achievements. I know you are very angry. It is your right to be. But I’m begging you in the name of God not to take decisions based on anger… Nigeria has been very kind to you. Rivers State has been extremely generous to you. GOD has blessed you beyond imagination. You have such a beautiful family. Your people love you stupendously for services delivered to them. PDP has been your solid platform. You should never destroy a bridge after crossing the river. Even if you no longer need the bridge, what of your friends and family? I pray you kill this excessive and perpetual ANGER. It is getting out of hand. Most people around you will keep quiet for fear of losing patronage. Many politicians survive only on power. My Brother, I love you. But someone must be able to tell you the truth. No General fights on too many fronts. Please, apply the brakes, before it is too late…”

To his credit, Wike called me that night and although he was still simmering we spoke briefly, but cordially, about my humble admonition.

Wike has been like a combination of Ronaldo and Messi in our Party and I believe he must be appeased by all means possible. I was encouraged when I saw pictures of his meeting with our Party’s Presidential candidate with a few of our Governors having dinner in London. But nothing seemed to have come out of what I thought was an auspicious meeting.

So I wrote a second letter addressed to the generality of the Party faithful as follows:

“A LETTER TO PDP MEMBERS

My dear party members, good morning. I woke up thinking about the sad and unfortunate crisis rocking our party. I’m wondering if we’ve not been victims of mass hypnotism. Someone needs to wake us up from this state of somnambulism.

Months after we concluded our Presidential primary, we are still busy fighting and calling ourselves unprintable names, thus forgetting that, once upon a time, we were friends, with shared dreams and aspirations. We all looked forward to how our party would dislodge the APC behemoth that deceived Nigerians with highfalutin promises but failed spectacularly on delivery.

Agreed, costly mistakes were made in our party Presidential primary, some of them avoidable, but we cannot continue to dwell on it, lest we  throw the baby away with the bathwater.
Now that we’ve narrowed the principal actors to our National Chairman, Governor Nyesom Wike and our Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, I wish to appeal once again to them to urgently rise above this war of attrition for the sake of long-suffering Nigerians who need our attention desperately. PDP is the oldest party in Nigeria, since 1999, with the requisite experience to tap into in order to reverse our perfidious descent into anarchy.

I salute the courage of Governor Wike in boldly and vociferously letting the world know what went wrong and what should be done moving forward. He should please sheath his sword and allow party machinery fix the rest. I also appeal to our party elders to resist making inflammatory statements that may further escalate the crisis. Truth is, we can, and should, defeat APC spectacularly in the next election and hopefully form a Government of National Unity in 2023, as suggested by our candidate. Let’s not destroy this opportunity with our own hands.
Nigerians are waiting to see the practical presentations and demonstrations of our manifesto. Majority of the other candidates and members of their parties were at different times members of our party, PDP. For every finger they point at us, four others will point back at them.
Time has come for our party to retake the victory and regain the glory.”

My personal takes today are that one, we must recognise that issues of injustices in our Party must be addressed and not swept under the carpet. No attempt should be made to make the Southerners in our Party feel like bystanders. We need massive votes from every part of Nigeria. Two, whatever promises were made privately to Wike should be re-visited and reviewed and if they have changed and can no longer be sustained, fresh decisive and sincere negotiations should take place between our candidate and Wike. The aim should be to try and meet him at a point closely aligned to those initial promises. That is the hallmark of justice and integrity on which our great Party was founded and built. I’m not saying anyone is indispensable, but Wike deserves our respects for his humongous support for our Party. There was a time that PDP would have been consumed and destroyed, but Wike was one of those few who stood tall like a colossus and held the Party together. Three, I will plead with Wike to calm down and let God fight his fight. I’m not happy the way the media is exploiting the crisis while making him look too cantankerous and obstinate. He has proven his point too well. Now he should let his cause take its course. I believe history will eventually vindicate him. The head that will wear the crown can never be denied. No matter how long it takes, it will happen if it is God’s will. King Charles III is the most recent example of this truism!

Four, PDP should link up more to the many younger talents and self-accomplished technocrats that abound in Nigeria and abroad and stop giving attention only to career politicians. A political party that wishes to dislodge a ruling government must target and attract first time voters.We must appeal to those in the Diaspora who send money back home to their families and friends.

I pray our leaders and elders would see reason and embrace peace urgently…

GOOD NIGHT OUR DEAR BELOVED QUEEN

I have often been asked who’s the greatest personality I ever met and my unequivocal response was always: HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II. The extraordinary and remarkably graceful and regal woman and monarch has impacted the whole world in a way none other has. She is one of the few people known only by their Titles, the Queen. But, of course, she is the most renowned of them all.

On July 29, 1995, I landed at the London Gatwick Airport from Accra, Ghana. For me, it was the beginning of an unplanned and unanticipated sojourn in the land of unpredictable weather for the next three years.

I will forever treasure the unbelievable support and the unimaginable protection my family and I enjoyed as asylum seekers and later, refugees, from Her Majesty’s Government…

I was so grateful on behalf of myself and family that I started dreaming of meeting Her Majesty, but never knew how this tall dream could ever be actualized. However, nothing is impossible with God. And when things happen for me they do so oftentimes in a blaze of honour and glory. Indeed, when the appointed time came, the Deputy British High Commissioner was the one who contacted me, shortly before Her Majesty’s last visit to Nigeria in 2003. Apparently, the High Commission had been trying to reach me for a while because they had a mission for me. I recall that I was in Ghana when the call came through that Ovation International magazine and Thisday newspaper were the only two publications shortlisted by Buckingham Palace as the official titles allowed to cover the extraordinary visit…. I was thrilled beyond measure at the recognition and honour. I knew then that dreams come true in the most unusual of ways. Naturally, I was invited to be a guest at the cocktail reception organized by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Sir Philip Thomas, and I got an opportunity to introduce myself to the Queen.

I had rehearsed and rehearsed what I would say to her within the few minutes of standing before her and it was a most fulfilling experience indeed…

The rest is now history…

May her beautiful soul Rest in Peace…

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Pendulum: My Early Permutations on 2023 Presidential Election

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By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me make a few clarifications before going into the nitty-gritty of this epistle.

Today, I’m wearing two caps on this page. I’m a journalist as well as a politician. I have been both for decades, although I remain pre-eminently a journalist. Also, I have been a non-partisan politician for a long time until recently. Even then I have seen it fit to support candidates from the two mainstream political parties depending on the capacity and performance of the ruling government party. Since this is my column, it is expected that it will reflect my personal opinion and not that of any other person. This has always been the case although my opinion may sometimes be shaped by not only the voracious reading culture that I have made the mainstay of my career as a journalist but also the wide consultations and interactions that I continue to have both as a journalist and politician. And opinions can oftentimes be subjective, although I try to be as objective and fair as possible. I am aware that even objectivity and fairness can be relative, but they are standards one must strive to attain, maintain and exist by in life. Equally importantly, I am also brutally frank and open to self-criticism at all times.

Going on to my early permutations for the 2023 Presidential race, let me state categorically that I have at least six good friends in the race, namely, Mr Abdul-Lateef Kolawole Abiola, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mr Omoyele Sowore, Mr Peter Obi and Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. All six of them are eminently qualified to lead our country Nigeria. They all have distinctive personal characteristics and attributes which enable each of them to be individually considered strong candidates for the position of President. However, each of them cannot be considered in isolation. They must be looked at from the viewpoint of Party, background and relationships. I must therefore establish some methodology for my assessment of what would determine the ultimate winner of the 2023 Presidential contest.

In present day Nigerian Presidential elections, there are certain major factors at play. These factors have become majorly important given the prevailing circumstances in the country particularly those of agitations for restructuring and secession, insecurity, failed economy and poverty, gross unemployment, infrastructure deficit and decay, educational maladministration and maladjustment and parlous health services. These major factors include the following:

One. There were usually two mainstream political parties. In 2023, they will be APC and PDP. A third force is still warming up as a major challenger, especially in the Southern regions. It is not yet known how much power it can garner and galvanise in the coming months. That is the Labour Party. In all honesty, that is as far as my third eye can see for now. I apologise therefore to my three other friends in what I call fringe parties, namely, Kola Abiola, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Omoyele Sowore. Kwankwaso has a chance of doing much better than the other two because of his popularity in the massive electoral cauldron that is Kano State. He also has some following in the North, but I still do not see him making such an inroad as to garner more than 3-5% of the total votes cast.

Two. Ethnicity, or what is called the race factor in the United States of America, will play a major part in 2023. A lot of Nigerians have seen the ethnic factor play out by a division of the country into three large parts, the monolithic North, the South West Edo and Delta States, and an amalgam of the other South South States and the South East States. On my part I do not see a monolithic North as well. The Middle Belt including Kwara and Kogi States have been much maligned and marginalised in this respect. Yet they have their own strong force and voice. I will break down its beneficiaries in the next few paragraphs.

Three. Religion will play a significant role in 2023. We have already seen how this has become a major thorny issue due to APC’s decision to present a Moslem/Moslem ticket. It is also frontloaded as a major factor because of the prevailing distrust and insecurity that is all pervading in the country. This used to be largely a Northern thing with grave vicious violence being unleashed upon one another by Moslems and Christians alike. However, this distrust, and insecurity, has spilled over into the South and is part of the reasons why agitations for restructuring and self-determination have risen to a crescendo.

Four. Money. This has always been a major player in determining who succeeds to the Presidency of the country. The ruling Party has always had an advantage in this area. For starters, as of June 2021 there were almost 180,000 polling units in Nigeria. It is not unusual for additional polling booths to be created a few days to the election. What is constant is that every serious political party has to have at least one agent at each polling unit and these polling agents need to be adequately remunerated and provided with all necessary logistic material to ensure effective and efficient return as a party polling agent. To man all these Polling stations will need at over N20 billion by my reckoning and that is being on the cheap side. Loads of cash will therefore be needed by all of the contestants.

Five. The Buhari factor. The Federal Government is too powerful as it controls INEC, Police, Army other security agencies, even the Central Bank and so on, to a large extent. This is a major tool for any government which is unwilling to give up the stranglehold it has on power, particularly when it realises that the populace is thoroughly dissatisfied with its performance.

Let me now take you on a tour de force of what you should expect to see next year.

From my crystal ball, I can foresee a straight fight between APC and PDP candidates. In this round one, APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu seems to be at an advantage. His party is currently in power and controls all the appurtenances of government. Nevertheless, the strength of APC is also its main weakness. After eight years of monumental failure in office, it has lost most of the attraction that brought it to power in 2015. Its victory in the 2019 Presidential elections is still controversial till this day. Nigerians may wish to punish APC for its terrible performance which has not only seen them more impoverished but also more insecure and afraid for their very lives. Tinubu’s case is worsened by the fact that he has a dilemma in being unwilling to distance himself from this government’s policies which have failed the people so woefully because of the fact that this will be seen as wilting criticism of the Buhari administration. The withdrawal of the support of Buhari apparently still sends shivers down the Tinubu camp.

On the issue of ethnicity, this may be the major clincher in the race. There are two Southern contenders in the Presidential election. The major Southerner is the former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and to a lesser degree, the other Southerner is former Anambra State Governor, Mr Peter Obi. My brothers and friends, Kola Abiola, and Omoyele Sowore, both Southerners as well, have little say in this battle royale which the 2023 Presidential election portends. The principal challenger for Tinubu and Obi will be former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. In the South East, I believe that the Igbos are likely to back their son, Obi and the Labour Party for the most part. Obi’s Anambra State is a hybrid State presently controlled by APGA. The State does not have a serious Presidential candidate contender. It is noteworthy, that the South East has traditionally been a veritable stomping ground for the PDP. The Party presently controls Enugu and Abia States. This is not likely to change too much, and the PDP may win or come a close second to the Labour Party. Notwithstanding the fact that APC has made some inroads into the South East by virtue of the fact that it controls two States, Imo and Ebonyi, one of which it does by virtue of the defection of the Governor, I still feel that it will come a distant third. My opinion is that the Labour Party is likely to take the lead with about 45 to 50 percent of the total votes cast in the South East because of the Obi factor, even though it presently has no showing in that region at the moment. Atiku will follow with about 30-35 percent and Tinubu 15-20 percent.

In the South South, Atiku will take the chunk of votes because these have always been predominantly PDP States, although in some States like Rivers, Delta and Edo, the crisis in the Party may cause the PDP to lose votes some of its normal votes, if not quickly resolved. Similarly, the defection of Governor Ayade of Cross River State may also cause the PDP’s margin of victory in the Zone to shrink, especially in Cross River State. My belief is that the Zone is guaranteed for Atiku because his Vice-Presidential candidate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, comes from this zone. There are usually huge votes from here, although these were emasculated in 2019. PDP is likely to record up to 60 percent in most parts, if Governors Nyesom Wike, Ifeanyi Okowa, Udom Emmanuel, Douyi Diri, Godwin Obaseki and other party loyalists give their all. If the Party’s crisis in the zone is allowed to fester and worsen, the PDP may get no more than 50%. The rest will be split between APC and Labour with APC taken between 20 and 30% depending on how the PDP intra Party mess develops.

The South West will be extremely dramatic, and the results may be very shocking. APC controls four States here, Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo and PDP, two States, Oyo and Osun.
While Tinubu will definitely win Lagos, his margin of victory may be reduced by the popularity of both Obi and the mass grassroots mobilisation of the PDP Gubernatorial candidate, Mr Olajide Adediran, aka Jandor. This is the only State in the South West that may feature three strong contenders. The Igbo population in Lagos and the EndSars Movement will favour Peter Obi more than it will favour Atiku. The other South West States will witness a tough battle between Asiwaju and Atiku with Tinubu holding the sway because he is a Yoruba man.

Now, let’s move to North Central and start with Kwara and Kogi States. The Saraki factor will help PDP in Kwara. The former Senate President has obviously regained his bounce especially because of the perceived frugality of the incumbent governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. This may give Atiku a major edge over Tinubu here. Kogi may be tougher to win for Atiku because of the young Governor, Yahaya Bello, an APC stalwart, but the two parties will run almost neck and neck. Obi is unlikely to feature significantly in these two States. Plateau State is an APC State but with the Muslim/Muslim brouhaha, APC will face an uphill task because this is a major Christian State in the North. PDP is in charge in Benue and again the Muslim/Muslim ticket of APC is highly contentious here and will swing even more votes to PDP. I feel that most of the Northern Christians may support Atiku for having a more balanced ticket. Though I understand that some people in these parts of the North Central are tempted to consider Peter Obi, but their leaders are reaching out to them and telling them not to waste their votes. Niger and Nasarawa are presently controlled by APC Governors. Obi will not feature in these States. It will therefore be a straight fight between Atiku and Tinubu, with Tinubu winning more than 60% of the votes in Niger State and no more than 55% of the votes in Nasarawa State based on the incumbency of the APC Governors countered by the Atiku factor.

The North East will be very interesting. Many pundits are wondering why Tinubu chose a Kanuri man, Kashim Shettima, from Borno State, as running mate and not someone from the largest voting zone in the North West. Well, as an experienced politician, he probably knows what we don’t know. The PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is a Fulani man from Adamawa, a North Eastern State. The North East has not produced a Nigerian President in a long time and the crave for one favours Atiku sentimentally. I know Atiku will do much better than he did in 2019 because the Buhari factor is absent. And in any event Buhari has performed abysmally. This may spread to Bauchi, a major PDP State, as well as Taraba State which is also a PDP State. I believe that there will be some swing towards Atiku in Yobe State although the State is a prominent APC State now and Shettima’s Kanuri influence will help the APC ticket here. The race will be hotly contested but the result will still be a victory for Tinubu though the margin will be slimmer when contrasted with the massive victory for Buhari and APC in 2019.

The king of voting in Presidential elections remains the North West which is the largest voting bloc in Nigeria. It is almost impossible to become President of Nigeria without winning big in this region. The State of Kano takes the cake in this respect. Kano State alone could close almost any margin that a Presidential candidate is bringing from other Zones. Despite being an APC State with a strong Governor in Umar Ganduje, Atiku Abubakar may likely lead others, namely Tinubu and Kwankwaso, because of his Fulani lineage and heritage. Blood, they say is thicker than water. Having said that Kano is predominantly a Hausa and not Fulani State and this should augur well for Tinubu. What is clear is that Tinubu definitely needs Kano, like a million dollars lifeline, to borrow that popular proverbial cliche. To this end he has worked assiduously to build bridges in this State and other North West States. This is one of the primary reasons that he won the APC Presidential Primaries, and he still count on the people of Kano to vote for him against the Fulani, Atiku Abubakar. In fact, the three Ks of Kano, Kaduna and Katsina are absolutely needed for victory by any Presidential candidate. Kaduna is a bit tricky because of its preponderance of Christian population, but Nasir El-Rufai is a strong no-nonsense APC stalwart who will want to deliver massively for his Party. Sokoto, is a major PDP State and Tambuwal has shown deep loyalty to Abubakar and his cause. Atiku will win easily here. Zamfara and Kebbi States are under the control of APC, but Atiku’s cultural affinity may give him some edge in these two States but maybe not too much as to give him overall victory, which still seems likely to go to APC in these two States, if the 2019 results provide some indication although again, the Buhari factor will reduce APC votes here as in other core Northern States as he is not on the ballot….

I will be back with more updates in the coming months…

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Pendulum Guest Columnist: The Audition for the Inciter-in-Chief (And Other Concerns)

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By Segun Awosanya (Segalink)

In 1949, George Orwell described a nightmarish future in the classic dystopian novel 1984 and one of the most popular quotations in his oeuvre is “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

In the Nigeria of now, we can conclude that there are several conspiracies playing out towards the 2023 general elections and the leading propagandists are those claiming to bring about a change, while deploying old antics just to pull a wool over the eyes of the vulnerable masses.

Unfortunately, wittingly or unwittingly, the fourth estate of the realm, the Press/Media, with the explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues are also part of this conspiracy, given the fact that of the 18 different political parties slated to participate in the elections, only three (3 or 4 occasionally) are showcased based on the need to engage the roving mob that keeps the three in their mention, thus systemically disenfranchising the remaining 15 with substantial values to bring to the political dialogue.

It can be argued that the mainstream media have bills to pay and would need to supply narratives based on demand, but can click baits, trending rhetorics and well worn lame narratives being projected as substance be a solution to the Nigerian political conundrum? In a secular state, should the internal rancor (Muslim/Muslim or North/South debacle) of any political party become subject of national discourse over the pertinent matters of the state of our union? Is populism a solution to our leadership crisis given all that we have gone through in the past years (especially in the past seven years)?

A Yoruba apothegm states that when brothers come out laughing from a family meeting, they have economized the truth to avoid conflict and have thus, began a war within themselves, however much they may choose to avoid confronting this reality. There has been a tremendous attempt to silence the voices of reason through cyber bullying, blackmail, character assassination via contracting a rogue self acclaimed investigative journalist (on self exile), who specializes in libel and notably the deployment of threat to life in some cases as have been recorded with Reno Omokri, Pastor Poju Oyemade, Sam Omatseye, Deji Adeyanju, Aare Dele Momodu (and many other notable figures) and most recently Femi Anikulapo Kuti, whose family was threatened along side the promise to set the African Shrine ablaze, simply because Peter Obi’s ‘IPOBean’ mob failed to force an endorsement. They also did not spare Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and HE Atiku Abubakar from their unhinged malevolent and vicious online mob attacks.

The Candidate of the Labour Party (ex-PDP Chieftain) HE Peter Obi keeps riding the wave of these online violence and cyber bullying with inciting words that are mostly semiotics of social standing and cultural posturing (half information and pretentious piety). The Cable quoted him as saying— “We’re going to take back Nigeria and give to the Youth” as though he is not part of the same old system he has chosen to target for harassment. He knows quite clearly that the mob he is leading on are void of independent thoughts and were mostly secession agitators amongst other hate groups that have found a comfortable abode under his negligently chaotic, mendacious and divisive campaign, that disturbs public peace within the online community and may soon degenerate into civil disobedience if the coercion and abuse is not curbed.

Nigeria belongs to ALL Nigerians and no one can give to the youth what already belongs to them. The click bait campaign will not upstage the dominant contenders. We must stop raising false hopes and address the real issues. Insults and abuses are no structures and encouraging division must be jettisoned! The well worn political tactics of promising to give to people what already belongs to them is like picking their pocket and displaying what was stolen from them. This is highly manipulative and justifies the reservations some deep thinkers have about Peter Obi’s campaign (which is mostly implemented by his mob in the form of campaign of calumny against dissent). Nigerians do not need deceivers posing as a solution at this point of our polity!

Nigerians are vulnerable now more than ever in yet another quest to solve their leadership crisis and what is substantial is for the candidates to prove to us WHY they should be supported and HOW they will mitigate the critical issues buffeting the development of the nation. On this account the valid criteria for attracting audience would be the presentation of documented manifesto that the people can study and ask crucial questions during the campaign and debates in order to make objective decision in the know.

There are efforts to deliberately lower the bar and reduce logical national discourse to sentimental rhetorics set to further incite and divide the people along ethnic and religious lines. It usually begins with the coordinated attacks on public figures, especially the ones the people rely on for factual and objective engagement on national issues. The irony here is the fact that the real Third Force Candidate —Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) standard bearer— Prince Adewole Adebayo Esq, the AAC’s Omoyele Sowore, NNPP’s Sir Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, have all remained on topic addressing critical issues as well as the Candidates of the Legacy Political Parties APC (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu) and PDP (HE Atiku Abubakar). None of the supporters of these prominent contenders have gone rogue enough to threaten the unity of Nigeria or the freedom of expression and association of others like the ‘Obidiots’ (The Militia Wing of Peter Obi’s Campaign) have chosen to do so brazenly.

In his Theory of Moral Sentiments, written a century and half before Collingwood’s memoir, the great economist and social theorist Adam Smith defined why a civilized society is not a war of all against all – because it is based on sympathy. It is my considered view that empathy, responsibility and conscientiousness are all being defenestrated in the political amoral macabre dance, because there are no consequences for political recklessness in Nigeria, despite the rising security vulnerability of our clime.

No matter where you are in the world, you will agree that it is very easy to identify a Nigerian a mile off. It is either by their demeanor, dressing, manner of speech or use of words. When in a business meeting, Nigerians exhibit their nationality by making statements like, “We are the first ever to do so and so” or “We are the only one in this market” My candidate is the Only candidate on the Ballot” etc. These statements as well as others, spare not the people in high ranking positions neither does it respect social stratification. They are symptoms of a religious annexation to fallacies and the undying love for Monopoly and recognition.

Our firms, government as well as individuals, seek dominion across spectrum. Those in the business sector want to dominate the market, dictate pricing and profit perpetually from the market. Little wonder the aim of most is usurping political power enough to own everything that works across sectors. It explains why politicians own/fund media outfits, since the very first leg to ruling the market is to control group minds, beliefs and ideas of the masses. The same way politicians use public funds to stabilize the financial status of their private firms under the guise of ‘saving it in the business they trust’ and brag with this fraudulent unethical behavior during campaign to the cheers of copiously ignorant unfortunate ethnically bigoted souls.

Public intellectuals and authors have argued that monopoly, however desirable is the failure of capitalism. When Monopoly is ignited (especially in our clime, with the aid of government), the consumer no longer has a choice, prices escalate and innovation plunges with the forceful gag on the voice of the consumer public. Since we are being factual, looking around you today, you will see glaringly that this is the summary of what is happening across spectrum, while our government pay lip service to creating enabling environment or ease of doing business on paper. The same can be said about the folksy and deceitful “From Consumption to Production” campaign void of any meaningful framework beyond exciting the ignorant masses on yet another trajectory of forlorn hope.

Majority of Nigerians are susceptible to the entertainment reality TV shows brings, which is more like a desired bride of the Post-Modernistic age, where people embrace the simulation of a simulation just to avoid the harshness of reality. This need not require statistics because we know this is true. DSTV rakes in Millions if not more annually with their Big Brother reality TV show. A lot of our youth erroneously believe reality shows are about reality but forget that they are principally shows, designed for entertainment and profit. This has become a culture because we make heroes of flawed people in our society and create narratives around them as though it were some game we can vote on.

Our lives have since become reality shows, while lurking behind avatars and social-media handles (surrogates). The more uncertain the real world gets the more people long for escape. We often take refuge behind our surrogate lives on social-media, where we can do the impossible virtually to compensate for our failures and uncertainties in reality. It is no surprise that a nasty, flawed, bad behaved Facebook/Twitter/Instagram personality living through daily drama and tragedy will gain more followers on Twitter and Facebook simply because people love flawed (hilarious) fictional characters they can jeer and root for.

Brands are not left behind. They will move their products and services cum promotions to the pages/handles that get the attention of the crowd for visibility, endorsement, exposure and impressions. The same theory holds true for train-wrecks and badly behaved characters on reality TV shows who get more votes to stay on, while morally good characters are evicted.

Our world has changed indeed as superhero movies no longer attract huge views based on the goody two shoes act of protagonist but for their flaws, drama (in their lives) and the threat posed by the villain in the movie. It will interest you also that this explains why men wants good girls, who will become bad girls for them alone in the confines of their bedroom. Likewise, why ladies want bad boys who will be good to them and them alone. Something in us just want the intrigue, drama and adrenaline pump from escapades and wild adventures that take our breathe away.

The reality however remains that we all love to watch this play out in other people’s lives than be a part of the drama ourselves. The dichotomy however presents itself when we are confronted with the need to vote political leaders. We somehow cannot seem to make that transition enough to understand clearly that our culture of choosing characters on reality TV shows is confined only to the screens and not in real life. Fundamentally, politics have real life consequences.

Nobody reserves the rights to tell you who to vote for, not your Pastors, Imams, Governor, Traditional rulers or Celebrities (custodian of societal behavior). It is your constitutional right to choose freely without coercion and not to be discriminated against based on that inalienable right to choose. Cyber bullying remains a crime in Nigeria and the authorities are aware of the current development and will start taking action soonest against known extremists constituting a nuisance online with threats to the life of others.

The valid directive remains taking -personal responsibility to study the options and decide in the know based on Competence, Capacity, Capability, Credibility, Character, Clarity, and Conscientiousness. Nigeria belongs to all of us and all forms of extremism MUST be shunned along religious and ethnic lines. Identity politics of hate is never a useful approach to lifting any nation out of political doldrums and any individual or political party deploying this clearly should not be encouraged with an engagement at our collective expense.

John Boyd’s framework for action in conflict is highly recommended here as there is a cause to; OBSERVE (collecting data and analyzing same) across the sectors of our economy, ORIENT (Frame the analyzed data on issue based basis) along the confines of global Culture and best practices, knowledge and the application of education and experience, which makes informed DECISION (Strategy) easier towards picking a course of action. It is until then that we can simulate (TEST) our idea before taking it to the market with ACTION. The figurative primitive animism of the attribution of sentience to inanimate political figures on a trial and error basis will only claim more lives of innocent souls as done once before. It is time to put an end to the elect and regret cycle of the politics of ethnic extraction and religious bigotry as mired in identity politics of hate.

The Children are watching and absorbing and it is incumbent on us (custodian of societal behavior and responsible and active citizens) to take seriously the prayer in our National Anthem that admonishes that we pray to the “God of Creation to direct our noble cause, and guide our leaders right, while helping our youth the truth to know.” Talking at each other, hating on each other and dividing the people along ethnic lines only favor our collective enemy (social injustice). We can put an end to this and recalculate our coordinates towards building a nation where Peace and Justice shall reign.

Segun Awosanya (SEGALINK) is the CEO of a futuristic Brand, Media, Tech, Research, Business & Strategy Consultancy firm (Aliensmedia), The President/Founder of Social Intervention Advocacy Foundation (SIAF) and the Convener of #EndSARS #ReformPoliceNG Advocacy.

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