Last weekend, Louis Odion, a columnist in The Nation newspaper, launched a tirade on the Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko. Odion’s diatribe is anchored on the premise that “with the hostile take-over of last weekend, Iroko has lost the opportunity to have a say in how his story in the last eight years will be officially documented.” While details of his leper’s odyssey across national newspapers are well known, it is indeed strange that a writer who claims sanity would make the statement just quoted.
In evidence here is a deep-seated illiteracy and poverty of thinking. You would no doubt have noticed that since coming to power in 2015, the APC-led government has been busy blaming its predecessors, seeking to cast them in negative light while committing the most infamous crimes. But consider, for starters, that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which attained glory in the Jonathan years is now nothing more than the appendage of the APC government, witness INEC’s perfidy in Ondo State in subverting the Electoral Act just to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the APC. Odion, as a columnist, revels in APC’s vomit.
In Odion’s warped view, the history of the Jonathan years can only be written by Buhari, presumably following his (Buhari’s) “hostile takeover,” in 2015. By inference, if Akeredolu tells the Ondo people that Mimiko did not pay the highest minimum wage in the country for years, did not roll out free shuttle buses for students or did not float an Abiye programme benchmarked by the United Nations, they would believe it because they have no capacity for rational thinking. Now, is history a matter of eight years? And does Odion, honestly think that the history of the Mimiko revolution in Ondo can be undone by Rotimi Akeredolu? Will the University of Medical Sciences in Ondo town disappear? In all fairness to Akeredolu, he has not set himself such a hopeless task, and so we had better leave him out of this discourse.
Hear Prophet Odion: “The stories of his little miracle here and there will likely be completely obliterated when the “enemies” commence a re-write after his exit.” Just why is Odion taking painkillers for Mimiko’s headache? Pray, will future generations be reading Mimiko only according to the narratives of his “enemies”? Does history, or let’s narrow it down to Nigerian history, begin and end with Buhari? Will today’s power-drunk desperadoes on whose behalf Odion excoriates Mimiko never leave power? In short, will there never be a Nigeria after the present perilous times? For a person who read History and International Relations in his old age as it were, it is surprising that Odion possesses neither the wisdom and introspection that come with age, nor indeed any knowledge of the workings of history. He simply butchers history.
He is hollow and pathetically so, because Nigerians are still celebrating MKO Abiola despite Olusegun Obasanjo’s violence to his memory or, in his own words, “hostile takeover.” But Odion, already in frantic search of a political portfolio as potential media consultant for Akeredolu, threw caution to the dogs and addressed the governor of Ondo State in the most condescending tone and the most deprecating terms. Mimiko is a two-time commissioner, SSG, minister and two-term governor. But more important, he is a consistent advocate for a restructured Nigeria, and a pace-setting governor honoured by the United Nations. He is a medical doctor and not a lay-about, and he certainly is clear-headed to see beyond the present times in which Odion is trapped.
Odion must have read the epochal “Jagaban returns to Lagos empty-handed,” an accurate reading of the story of the 2012 governorship election in Ondo State, but he cannot avoid digging up discredited narratives. He claims that “For all Tinubu’s moral and financial support during the protracted legal battle to reclaim his stolen mandate, Mimiko, emboldened by his new PDP friends in Abuja, would turn round to publicly call his old benefactor unprintable names during his re-election bid in 2012.”
It was Tinubu who went to Akure and called Mimiko names, saying he spent “pounds and sterling” on Mimiko, but Odion, must embrace selective amnesia. Mimiko’s constant refrain in 2012: “We trust in no godfather, we trust in God, the Father.” I dare say that it is the same God, the Father in whom Mimiko trusts that has preserved him till date, but Tinubu is Odion’s new god.
Odion cleverly avoids issues and dwells on hearsay. Pray, what moral and financial support did Tinubu give to Mimiko? Mimiko and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) were both commissioners in Bamidele Olumilua’s cabinet, which informed the latter’s work as Mimiko’s counsel while he battled to reclaim his mandate. In any case, did Mimiko ask Tinubu to manipulate the electoral process or purchase justice on his behalf? In the 2007 governorship election, Tinubu had his own candidate in Adegoroye on the Action Congress (AC) platform. Mimiko’s reclamation of his mandate is due to the support of the Ondo people and all justice-loving Nigerians, not to Tinubu. Was Mimiko expected to relinquish the authority and legitimacy given to him by the people on the altar of godfatherism?
Odion also waxes lyrical on Jimoh Ibrahim, a man whose character the Supreme Court has already addressed, and who is on record as saying that he deliberately connived with external forces to subvert the judicial process—a man who will still be prosecuted for his contempt of court. When Jimoh Ibrahim got Owena Motel, the arrangement was that he would build six additional hotels. He did not, and neither did he make any returns back to the state govt. Up till the time the hotel was taken from him, he ran that place aground just like he did Newswatch. So, why is Odion suggesting that, because Ibrahim is a billionaire, the Ondo State government should have allowed him to continue to rip the state off?
Throughout his doggerel, Odion busies himself with what is called projection in the sociological literature. Since even this term must cudgel his brain, let us explain that it is a grand strategy of accusing others of what one does or intends to do, casting one’s sins, so to say, on other people. Odion has traversed the newspapers committing treachery. Odion does not consider his humble beginnings but has now become a loudmouth because providence made him an editor. He had only the good old school certificate when Nduka Obaigbena took a liking to him and positioned him very well, making him the editor of a stable. He only finished his undergraduate programme in LASU in 2005/2007. He left ThisDay and headed to the Sun newspaper, but his character stuck to him like a plague.
At The Sun, he wrote diatribes against Obaigbena, his benefactor, and this almost led to an altercation, as ThisDay staff wanted to reply him, knowing that he recognises only the present morsel in his mouth. Exited from The Sun, he ran to Tinubu, who then rehabilitated him with National Life, a paper he promptly ran aground. A total failure in Edo where he got a commissioner’s portfolio through political patronage, Odion left the state with ignominy. He will one day launch attacks on The Nation and Tinubu, because neither character nor integrity means anything to him. Surely those living in glass houses should not throw stones?
When a person lacks character, whatever (s)he has is waiting to be blown away by the wind. Odion’s day of bitter tears lie in the future, but he is trapped within today.
––Tunde Olosunde wrote from Akure