Widely Read Magazine in Nigeria

Nigeria and the opprobrium over the origin or the originals

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Nigeria and the opprobrium over the origin or the originals

By Bala Ibrahim

There is a popular saying in Hausa that, “Idan kana so ka san asalin ka, to ka shiga siyasa”. This means, that if you want to know the origin or genesis of your birth, then participate in politics. Just venture into the politics of any elective office in Nigeria, and within the twinkle of an eye, the air space would be filled with multiple versions of your biological etymology, including, if care is not taken, the secret behind your conception.

Everything about your origin, or the where about of your original credentials would become the subject of public scrutiny, simply because you have ventured into the politics of Nigeria.

No sooner than the party primaries were completed, particularly those of the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP, in which Wazirin Adamawa, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged the flag bearer of the PDP and Jagaba, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos state became the flag bearer of the APC than a new debate began about the authentic age of the duo.

Questions commenced coming into the air space as to who is older between Atiku and Tinubu, with versions circulating like blood in the body. By their submissions, Atiku is 75 years old, while Tinubu claims he is 69 years old. But those submissions are generating a lot of opprobrium on authenticity, casting direct doubt on the original date of birth of the duo. And the reason is simple- they have ventured into the politics of Nigeria.

In what seems like a replay of what happened in the past, another round of censure has started against Ahmed Tinubu, accusing him of the falsification of age, educational qualification and source of wealth. This is an issue that took the front burner in the time of late Chief Gani Fawehenmi, SAM, SAN, way back to when Tinubu was the governor of Lagos state. The matter was adjudicated up to the supreme court, but Tinubu would not be permitted to stay near peace, simply because he has chosen to venture into the politics of Nigeria.

Contrary to what Tinubu said about himself, a cliché is circulating on social media, published by someone, giving something totally different from the version of the man, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The publication starts thus: “Bola Tinubu’s real name is: Yekini Amoda Ogunlere from Iragbiji Osun state. That is what is contained in his Primary and Secondary school certificates and that’s why he has refused to tender them before INEC. It also contains his real age”.

For reasons of time and space, I cannot reproduce the whole submission, but the cornerstone of his argument is that Tinubu is fake. He is not what he claims to be. And the reason is simple- he has ventured into the politics of Nigeria.

According to this fellow, Tinubu served as a house boy with a woman ( Abibatu Mogaji) – who, adopted him for a son, and compelled her brother- a successful Lawyer- Kafaru Tinubu- to assist the struggling boy to ‘integrate’ into the illustrious Tinubu family, by transmitting into the identity of her deceased niece- Bola Tinubu; Kafaru’s first child, who was billed to travel to the USA for further studies. He said, the fake Tinubu travelled with her Visa and identity to start a life for himself in America and spent the first couple of years attending extra-mural classes to access the prerequisite preliminary qualifications, before entering into Chicago State University.

Whether true or false, such a campaign of calumny or character assassination is not limited to Tinubu, it is the norm in Nigeria, provided you take the plunge of participating in politics.

In 2019, Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation, told a Federal High court in Abuja that Atiku Abubakar is not eligible to run for president in Nigeria, asking the court to hold among others, that considering the provisions of certain sections of the constitution, and the circumstances surrounding his birth, Atiku cannot contest for the top office of Nigeria.

Although the case was thrashed and thrown out in court, shortly after his emergence as the PDP flag bearer for the 2023 presidential election, another lawyer had filled another suit at the Federal High Court Abuja, almost on similar grounds, saying Atiku Abubakar is still not constitutionally qualified to contest, because he is not a Nigerian citizen by birth.

The contention of the lawyer is that Atiku acquired his citizenship in Nigeria by virtue of the 1961 plebiscite, which integrated some people of Northern Cameroon into Nigeria as new citizens of Nigeria.

But same Atiku was the Vice President of Nigeria for 8 years, yet, he would not be allowed to stay near peace, because he has chosen to venture into the politics of Nigeria.

Sometimes last month, at a public function in Abuja, some people were seated behind me and heatedly discussing politics, with special reference to the issue of the falsification of origin or identity. In the course of the discussion, one came up with the issue of Eng. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the former governor of Kano state, and the Presidential flag bearer of the NNPP.

The discussion was in Hausa and the guy was very authoritative, that the name Kwankwaso is an acronym for Okonkwo and Sons. According to him, Kwankwaso’s father was an Ibo man from the East, by the name Okonkwo, who arrived in Kano as a Railway technician, and over time, set up a Rail servicing company with the name Okonkwo and Sons Ltd. So Kwankwaso is simply Okonkwo and Sons mispronounced, he said.

Normally, I am not a supporter of Kwankwaso in politics, but I would not permit politics to discolour History and Geography. So in anger, I turned to them, and said, who amongst you is from Kano, please? All answered negatively. So where did you get that information about a man whose late father was the village Head and later District Head of the same Kwankwaso, an ancient town with a good history?

I said for God’s sake, you people should stop engaging in the slander of others, simply because they took the courage to venture into politics.

In shame and the visible embarrassment, all of them quietly walked out of the hall, tail between legs, and that ended the opprobrium over the origin, and perhaps what would have led to the originals of Kwankwaso’s credentials.

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