Tinubu, Banire In The Beginning: Setting The Record Straight By Niyi Akinsiju

It is becoming obvious that the spate of attacks on the personality of Dr. Muiz Banire by a newspaper I once considered respectable will not stop so soon.

Apparently, the young man has stepped on the powerful toes of the highest stakeholder of the newspaper by conducting his later day politics in what most Lagosians appreciatively believe is a daring defiance of a cult of personality that has been built around Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Party (APC).

I have been following many upbraids emanating from different columnists from the stable of The Nation newspapers and had thought that though they all dripped of noxious bile, they still passed the test of common sense…until I read a supposed rejoinder by one Hakeem Adisa to a response by Mr. Taiwo Sanyaolu to an earlier riposte by Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi in the same The Nation.

Now, that was pedestrian to say the least, nauseating would better express my consideration of that filthy article and to think that The Nation, with its well respected team of seasoned journalists, would allow that thing be published in the newspaper is only indicative of the paper’s managers allowing street sentiments becloud their sense of professional judgment.

In truth, after going through that Adisa’s thing, my initial response was outrage and a temptation to engage in tirade in reaction thereto. Thankfully, a better sense admonished me not to descend so low to the gutters, that toxic depth the likes of Adisa had fallen into as they make to defend their godfathers.

In this article, I simply wish to set the record straight especially in connection with the assault on the person of Dr. Muiz Banire, one of the finest gentlemen to come out of Mushin, and I must say, some of us are exceedingly proud of him because we grew up together in that great community, so misunderstood for its character and enabling influence on the very young.

But first, can we lay the reasons for the unceasing excoriation of Banire on the table of public attention? He is accused by this hagiographer of the Tinubu political ancestry as one that betrayed the cause of the now ancient tradition of imposition of candidates on party members.

Adisa, like other columnists writing for The Nation, argues that: “Banire and his cohorts simply lack the locus standi to fight against imposition because they owe what they are today to that self-appellated ‘denigrating politics.’ Allowing Banire’s coup d’état against Tinubu will amount to swallowing Sanyaolu’s logic that ‘Lagosians are not idiots that can be manipulated anyhow without resistance for politics of imposition to continue forever.”

Can’t yet find any sinew of logic in this argument, yet, it has been the refrain of several columnists with that newspaper. Let us assume strictly for the purpose of argument that a major participant in a continued case of heist, and in this case, we talk of the expropriation, the equivalence of the stealing of the collective will of the people, decided to want out of the whole shady scheme.

So, among this band of undemocratic elements that desperately desired to perpetually seize our collective patrimony, one is so daring and could step out and tell it to the face of the protagonists of imposition that ‘enough is enough.’

Every lover of democracy should be filled with appreciation for Banire. So, if Banire is not the whistle blower of this stranglehold on the party of the progressives, who should? Simple dialectic explains the basis of the reformation of a system, (not a coup d’état as Adisa would want us to believe). At a point in the life of a system, no matter how it had flourished, it would develop its own contradictions generated from all social forces or concepts that had driven it to success.

Of course, all great movements, either revolutionary or reformists, have had the buy-ins of former collaborators in the abused or corrupted systems to force desired changes. Therefore, if Banire has decided to part ways with this practice in the midst of others, definitely, Lagos State will be better for it and by extension, a clear signal goes to those other politicians that have turned access to our political platforms the monopoly of the few in other States.

What is evident in Adisa’s diatribe against Banire is his agreement with the fact that imposition of candidates is immoral and antithetical to democratic practice. At this moment, most Lagosians that normally gravitate toward the progressive divide of the political arena are grumbling audibly. Only a deaf would say he could not hear. So, we can only be grateful to Banire that, unlike the usual Nigerian, he would leave his comfort zone in the embrace of Asiwaju and partner with the growing list of people who want the imposition approach changed.

Yet, we still need to put the record straight. Banire can’t possibly be described a traitor, a traitor to Tinubu? What illogic? Adisa ascribes Banire’s rise, politically speaking, to Oba Olatunji Hamza, the political veteran we fondly call Baba Hamzat in the Mushin area.

He went on, disdainfully, to render a disturbing but clearly convoluted history of Banire’s growing up years in Mushin.
I acknowledge here that Adisa claimed he is a Mushin resident but I am very sure he was in diapers back in 1988 when Banire, in company with other youths in the then Ward H1 in Mushin Local Government Council, sponsored, against all expectations and tradition, a 21-year old Sikiru Kayode Bello as Councilor.

The youths of that generation excelled over the retired Unity Party of Nigeria stalwarts who were desperately focused on using their party machinery of 1979 to 1983 to corner all contested offices to the Local Government Council in that year’s Zero-party election.

I can attest to this because I was an active participant in that historical movement. For those of us, young men and women in Mushin of 1988, that was a courageous move to stop the domination of our political firmament by elders that won’t acknowledge that the younger ones had a role to play in community development.

So, if we have to track political ascendancy by timeline, Banire had been active politically before than most of these Almajiris could ever imagine. And by the way, I guess this information would do some good to people like Adisa. Banire comes from the distinguished Banire family.

The family, led by Banire’s father, Alhaji Suberu Banire, had established an illustrious political lineage in the Mushin area by the 1970s. Interestingly, the elder Banire was one of the older generation politicians the youths massed behind Kayode Bello to oppose. Unfortunately, the old man died some years after that.

However, Adisa’s venomous imputation of a political upstart to Banire’s progression in politics is embarrassingly established by the fact that he knew nothing about this young man pre-1999. Let’s see how Adisa wishes to rewrite this: Banire was elected, not selected, as the Legal Adviser of both Mushin and Ojo Local Government chapters of the Social Democratic Party back in 1991.

That was no mean achievement when you consider his tender age at that time. Of course, we can at this point start a track back to Tinubu’s introduction to the political playing fields through the Chief Dapo Sarumi-led PRIMPROSE group in the SDP and his eventual emergence as a Senatorial candidate on the platform of the SDP.

But we won’t conduct ourselves in the despicable interpretation of people’s past as Adisa. We let that be and hope that the issue of who gets to the starting block first won’t be escalated further than Adisa made it.

And what banalities did Adisa bring to the fore in that article of his? Atrociously glib talks of Banire ‘getting married in 1994 in his inherited one room in his father’s house at No. 1, Suberu Banire Street, Ilasamaja, Mushin. And about some friends later contributing money with which he moved to a two-bedroom apartment at 27, Araromi Street, Mushin from where he was appointed through the influence of Alhaji Hamzat as a Special Adviser to Tinubu.

Let me just quickly remind Adisa if he ever knew that Alhaji Hamzat was supposed to be in the cabinet that year.

Trash! This Adisa can’t possibly be a Mushin resident; he is certainly one of those deployed at The Nation to do the hacker’s job on Banire.

Well, we may accept the fact that the offices of The Nation Newspaper are situated within the Mushin Local Government Area, so it can pass that Adisa has been spending some of his time as a worker in Mushin, because he is blatantly deficient on information related to the subject he so deprecatingly describes as poverty-stricken.

I was actively involved in the planning and hosting of Banire’s wedding ceremony. Truth be told, I was the chairman of the Planning Committee that Adisa infamously called Committee of Friends.

Seriously, if Adisa does not belong in the gutters, what has a wedding ceremony got to do with personal political progression? I recall that the wedding ceremony had all the pomp of a society wedding. Alhaji Shina Akanni, one of the fuji music raves of that period, was on the band stand. It was a concert-like affair on the open field of Arch-Bishop Aggey Secondary School with provisions for all night dig.

It’s just logical in the Yoruba culture of appropriation that you don’t marry into your father’s house and throw a big shindig. I really find this belittling, you know, that we will be talking of these inanities because one fellow somewhere had to earn his pay, but I must get this record cleared.

Despite the one-storey building with several flats and a bungalow built by Banire’s father at Number 1, Suberu Banire Street, Mushin plus many other buildings across Lagos State, Banire established his independent-mindedness when he rented a four-bedroom apartment at 29 Araromi Street, Mushin not 27 as rumoured by Adisa and that was before he got married. Adisa, in his hasty effort to paint his quarry black in the public place would not know that Banire lived on the first floor of that single storey building.

Thankfully, Adisa, in his pettiness noted that Banire had a ramshackle 1986 Toyota Camry car that broke down intermittently on the road. Really amusing! Banire was one of the young men to drive his own car back then, and it was to the envy of all that the young man could actually purchase a car at that time.

I won’t put any iota of decency on his statement about Banire wearing a white-turned-brown collar “jalamia” which Adisa describes as his best-priced wear then.

Suffice to say that immediately after his LLM programme, Banire was employed straight into the Faculty of Law of the University of Lagos. Of course, we appreciate the insistence on sartorial elegance with which lawyers are trained to turn out in public places. Only a character with low imagination would glibly attribute wrong mode of dressing to a young teacher of law. Adisa!

The most unconscionable observation by Adisa is his querying Banire’s career profile. I attended the University of Lagos and I was a very active student union member and indeed was the President of the union in 1987. As an alumnus, I make it my responsibility to track all distinguished alumni of my generation. Banire was one of them. The record speaks clearly on his status when he left the University to join the Lagos State Government as he was a senior lecturer.

Adisa should exhibit some journalistic savvy by crosschecking his facts.

And talking about Banire deploying public time, office and influence to achieve a personal academic end, I think Adisa belong in that class of people that sleep on their potentials. Ordinarily, the perks and attraction of public office should have thrown Banire off the staid scent of academics, but unlike characters in the mode of Adisa, he refused to be distracted.

Through a part-time study schedule, Banire made his Doctoral degree in law and I hope Adisa is not calling the integrity of a degree issued by the prestigious University of Lagos to question?

I observed Adisa raging over supposed cases of imposition masterminded by Banire in Mushin. He obviously lacks an understanding of the composite political history of Mushin.

There are so many forces in the political space that no single individual dares appropriate all political opportunities available.

Do I need to explain the processes that led to the emergence of Mr. Babatunde Adepitan as Chairman of Mushin Ajina Local Government? Mr. Bolaji Yusuf Ayinla, the Chairman of the Electoral College that screened and conducted the elections where all Councilors and the Chairman emerged is very much around to give evidence of the primary elections conducted to facilitate the emergence of the party’s candidates.

Adisa seems to be at his best in his empty-headed derision of the author of the article: Mobolaji Sanusi and Almajiri Journalism, Mr Taiwo Sanyaolu. Incidentally, Sanyaolu is also well known to me, we are both thorough-bred Mushin residents. He is a graduate of Kwara State Polytechnic. But I find Adisa’s condescending dismissal of Sanyaolu as “an aluminum seller with a small shop in Mushin” as profoundly profane and symptomatic of the disdain with which some inchoate characters like Adisa relate to artisans.

So, all artisans are considered illiterate in Adisa’s estimation? Anyway, I can tell him that Taiwo learnt aluminum craft as a secondary school student on attachment to his elder brother but he does not run a small shop, he is, in fact, a successful supplier/contractor. Today, he also runs a highly patronized firm of event managers.

In all this, I have strenuously limited my response to the pedestrian issues raised by Adisa in his article. I feel sad that he tried to demonize Banire even as he made attempts to lionize Asiwaju. I plead with other characters in the mould of Adisa, another Almajiri, to focus more on the issues rather than the personalities. We don’t want to start a compare-and-contrast discourse of our leaders. At issue is the desirability or otherwise of primary elections, let us limit ourselves to this.

And by the way, I am a loyal member of the APC, committed to the values and ethos of democracy and profoundly believe that the progressive class needs a strong dose of reformation in order to stand strong to take its rightful place in the Nigerian political space.

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