Opinion

History and PMB’s walk in the Lagos garden

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History and PMB’s walk in the Lagos garden

By Louis Odion, FNGE

The ugly monkey is full of wiles and revels in iniquities. As the magic-realist tale from the folklore common in the coastal communities of Edo north goes, the comical primate makes a long career of betraying friends, conning neighbours and raiding communal trough for banana in assorted human guises and disguises.

 

Then, come the day of reckoning. In the climax of the profound morality yarn, sly monkey goes to the market and fails to return home.

 

The echo of the foregoing folklore could not have completely evaded those perceptive of the more dominant of the contending arguments between APC and PDP in Lagos ahead of the 2019 general elections. After losing the presidency in 2015, after pillaging Abuja and elsewhere for 16 years, PDP desperately sought a consolation prize. Shiploads of dollars were rushed to the Lagos coast. Smart Lagos voters gorged on the free dollars, but typically voted their conscience.

So, it turned out that the proverbial monkey that entered Eko market did not return.

 

Now, PDP is seeking to resurrect itself in this general election. But it is not certain yet if many are willing to buy its own counterfeit version of history in Lagos.

 

With 6.6 million voters, Lagos is undoubtedly critical to deciding the direction of the electoral pendulum in the presidential duel.

 

If enlightenment makes Lagos crowd easy to engage, that also makes it difficult to deceive them. The Lagos crowd is too discerning to mistake apples for oranges, too astute to easily forget the lessons of yesterday. Drawing from the best and the finest across the federation, the predisposition to a cosmopolitan character then means the Lagos crowd is not easily seduced with cheap sound-bites or detained by provincial prejudice that ordinarily poisons the air elsewhere.

 

For instance, older Lagosians would easily recall the destitution of two decades ago. From the near wasteland of the 1999 when the soldiers retreated, Lagos has since morphed into the fifth largest economy of the African continent out of sheer innovation and consistency of a visionary leadership pioneered by Asiwaju Tinubu.

 

It is easy to situate Lagos’ exceptionalism in the South-West zone. A philosophical explanation for this can perhaps be drawn from the insights offered by the likes of Pastor Paul Adefarasin. In his sermon which trended widely in the social media in the past few days, the engaging senior preacher at House on the Rock contends that it takes a truly liberated society for voters to realize that it is far more rewarding ultimately when politics is driven by consideration for tomorrow rather than immediate gratification, love not hate, ideals not deals.

 

If we then undertake a comparative audit, there is scarcely any enduring evidence or monument to prove that PDP acquitted itself appreciably in any of the five other South-West states it had opportunity to administer at some point in the last two decades. In Ogun, voodooism had infected politics. “Garrison fever” displaced folksy civility in Oyo. Ekiti degenerated to “stomach infrastructure”…

 

So, when PDP feverishly seeks to preach the gospel of salvation today, it is as if they assume Lagosians have forgotten yesterday so quickly and that the people are incapable of the independence of thought. So sadistic, so power-drunk was PDP that federal might was used to barricade Lagos highways against even the deployment of ambulance – ordinarily designated universally as totemic of human compassion and charity.

 

Who has forgotten how then works minister Seye Ogunlewe’s goons blocked on “federal highways” ambulances procured by Tinubu from ferrying the wounded and the bleeding at point zero, thus erasing the last chance of survival?

 

Grumpy OBJ, in turn, needed a magnifier to read and digest Supreme Court judgement on withheld Lagos council funds while innocent school children waited on teachers owed salaries.

 

It was that acutely discerning and reflective multitude that President Buhari came to face last Saturday as the APC train lumbered into Lagos.

 

It would have been impossible to squeeze the state’s over 10 million adult population into the iconic Teslim Balogun Stadium to hear Buhari give account of himself and tender evidence of gratification for the decisive role Lagos voters played for his historic win in 2015. Those absent could hear and see back home through live television transmission.

 

It was a moment for popular local music idol KWAM 1 to demonstrate the distinction of “Eko for Show”. The host governor, Akinwumi Ambode, made a modest rendition of “Shaku Shaku” shuffle. Governorship candidate Jide Sanwo-Olu gave a glimpse of the magic wand to expect before the ecstatic crowd.

 

Amid song and dance in the Lagos sun that day, we heard the homeboy, “three-in-one minister” Babatunde Fashola detail an account of how Buhari had delivered in social infrastructure in Lagos despite the paucity of fund. Tinubu, in turn, reminded the people of yesterday. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo brought evangelical, if not professorial, fervor.

 

With his distinctive “Kenny Rogers” white beard, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo could not have been mistaken in the mammoth crowd. Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo shuffled in belatedly in an unaccustomed Agbada. I saw my friend – one that sticks closer than a brother – Festus Keyamo too on the stage.

 

Everything considered, given its sophisticated sense of judgment, the Lagos crowd will be the first to frown at President Buhari’s inadequacies in the past four years. There is no doubt that perhaps a better outcome would have been achieved had more clarity been brought to charting the economic direction early in the day and a broader prism adopted in selecting and recruiting from the over-abundance of talents across the land.

 

But taking a hard look at the referenced shortcomings does not mean that the Lagos crowd will not be charitable to also acknowledge that, but for Buhari’s austere spirit, the economic carnage already inflicted in 2015 by the departing PDP vultures would have proved more intractable.

 

Again, either idle mischief or sheer economic illiteracy is demonstrated when PDP accuses Buhari of borrowing too much money since 2015. PDP’s larceny and squandermania had bled the economy so much that by the time Jonathan was exiting, even federal workers were being owed back pay for the first time in Nigeria’s history. So, Buhari’s borrowing to fund the construction of infrastructure surely helped substantially to stanch the inherited hemorrhage as well as re-inflate the economy in adaptation of the Keynesian principle.

 

True, some other promises of 2015 may not have been fulfilled, but the Lagos crowd remembers that Buhari has delivered on ceding the ownership of key federal assets to Lagos as well as cementing its status as oil-producing state.

 

Perhaps the most evocative is the construction and delivery of brand-new rail-track connecting Lagos and Abeokuta, complete with modern coaches. Ditto Lagos-to-Ibadan. Even an instinctively critical Professor Wole Soyinka had to attest at its inaugural ride from his native Abeokuta last week that such could only have resulted from “do-and-do politics” – a needlingly poignant innuendo against yet again OBJ, the most recognizable exponent of its vile opposite – “do-or-die politics”, born and bred in the very Abeokuta itself.

 

At a sentimental level, Lagos, despite its variegated demographics, rarely ever forgets true comrades. The Lagos crowd is untrammeled by prejudice – creed or ethnicity. It has a long memory, remembers and worships its true heroes and heroines, never forgetting to whip villains.

 

On June 12, Buhari has undoubtedly kept faith with the Lagos crowd. Those accusing him of seeking cheap plaudits by bestowing the highest honours in the land on MKO and the people’s authentic advocate, Gani Fawehinmi, conveniently assume that Lagosians have forgotten Buhari’s physical role during the popular resistance of June 12 annulment in 1993.

 

As a young Concord politics reporter then, I covered countless street protests in Lagos, one of which Buhari was in the forefront alongside the likes of Pa Tony Enahoro. So, the Lagos crowd never forgets those who stood for something or truly identified with them in their hour of need. Not fair-weather friends. Or traitors who chanted “alluta” in daylight in fake costumes only to collect Judas’ blood money from the military at night to sell unsuspecting comrades down the river.

 

So, for Buhari, last Saturday must have been a reunion of sorts with the old Lagos crowd.

 

Glo in world ring with Joshua

For boxing aficionados like us, reports of a dalliance between Glo and world’s new golden boy of boxing, Anthony Joshua (AJ), couldn’t have passed unnoticed. The meteoric rise of the Nigerian-born world heavyweight champion to global superstardom from the humblest of circumstances is only matched by the extraordinary run by the Nigerian telco on the continental turf.

 

The cheering news is that with the reported “partnership” between brand Glo and brand Joshua, a powerful Nigerian story is presented to the global audience. We gleaned that from the schemer of marketing activities and innovations by the telco for 2019 unveiled last week.

In boxing parlance, such deft marketing coup by Glo could be likened to the perfect fistic poetry of bobbing and weaving, capped with the knock-out of the opponent with a masterly delivery of hand combination.

 

For effects, AJ declared: “I respect the ownership and management of Globacom and as a Nigerian, I believe charity must begin from home… We’ve the fastest speed, longest reach and the Nigerian fighting spirit as game changers.”

 

In terms of international relations, the benefits of Glo-Josh partnership are undoubtedly immeasurable. One, when Joshua potentially mounts the rope square in June for the first time on U.S. soil against Jarell Miller, he will not only be defending his coveted world crowns but also showcasing Glo as well. National pride will be drawn from the resilience both have shown from little beginning to the zenith. No one gave Josh a chance initially in his fatherland. He would thereafter rise from the depression of personal turmoil as a teenager in the U.K. to conquer the boxing world.

 

Similarly, Glo overcame the pains of losing $20m deposit in its initial bid for telecom license to becoming not only Nigeria’s preferred telco within a record short time but also a major player on the African continent.

 

Two, by collaborating on the world stage, the benefits that the two big Nigerian brands are drawing are not only mutually beneficial, but also redound ultimately in PR mileage on Nigeria whose international stocks are, sadly, perennially blighted by the negativity of unabated terrorism and poor development index.

 

Apart from standing in Josh’s corner henceforth, of great interest also is more utilitarian value Glo says it will deliver on its network in the times ahead. From details already revealed, its new Mobile Money service will certainly alter the narrative in retail banking in Nigeria.

 

According to Glo, the estimated 60 million unbanked Nigerians will have an opportunity of inclusion, just at the click of a button on a Glo line.

 

More, for international travelers, it promises the most affordable roaming data in 60 countries with over 6.4 million Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide.

 

Surely, these are mouth-watering offers.

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