Opinion: Tom Ikimi and the politics of deceit

by  Alfred Atoyebi Morgan


It was no surprise that he became the man that the Abacha Junta leaned on to help launder the pariah image of Nigeria on the internationally, after an election that was adjured to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria history was brutally and insanely annulled.

“Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Science without humanity, Knowledge without character, Politics without principle,
Commerce without morality, Worship without sacrifice.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The All Progressives Congress party today holds the best hope that Nigerians have to send the Jonathan led federal government out of power and usher in a new era of progressive and forward looking government. The APC has in its ranks progressives, pseudo –progressives, a few reactionary elements, conservatives and of course political spies. That is the unfortunate truth. A truth that threatens to undermine its cohesion as some of the reactionary elements who are driven by selfish ambition continue to threaten that the battle line is drawn.

But first, what does progressive mean and who are these reactionary elements within APC? The word progressive has been overused in our political space so much that it has become slightly devalued especially when you look at the caliber of individual going around with the sobriquet of being progressives. But what does it mean to be called a progressive. My online dictionary defines the word Progressive as “favouring or promoting progress”. It also sees the word progressive as “promoting reform in government”. We may therefore say that a progressive  in political terms is that individual or a collective of individuals who seek to make changes from the status quo or people who intend to change the way the business of government is run from a static or negative perspectives to more robust and positive action which will enhance and promote the standard of living of the majority of the citizens within a particular political space.

Over the years, Nigeria has been really unfortunate to throw up bogus characters who, due to the short attention span (SAS) of most of us, have taken political brigandage to such stratospheric level that even the devil, who is globally acknowledged as the master of disguise, will bow at the insidiousness of such men. Such men have been widely credited with the sobriquet of AGIP, an acronym for “Any Government In Power.” We have them in large number today and since most of such men can literally do nothing but survive on government patronage, the moment they are out of power, you see them scheming, using any means possible to either remain close, or claw their ways back to the seat of power. They do whatever they wish, knowing they will get away with whatever they can since Nigerian are always quick to forget and if we ever remember, we can always forgive and move on…sad but true.

Chief Tom Ikimi B.Arch (Hons) FNIA KSG is an Architect and Politician. His later profession as a politician is what he is trying to masquerade as a progressive one. No, Ikimi does not fit the bill. His antecedents are in public domain and his stewardship and thirst for political gain at all costs is common knowledge. It is too late in the day for an Ikimi to expect Nigerians to line up behind him in his fight against persons who Nigerians know how they fought to return Nigeria to democracy. If he has forgotten, millions of Nigerians who suffered and died under military rule will never forget. We still have the newspapers and images of his arrogance on television before the Nigerians and international community defending the brutal hangings of environmental activists, Ken Saro Wiwa and others.

Tom Ikimi had been active in the Nigerian political space but he rose to prominence when he was appointed the National Chairman of the defunct NRC (National Republican Convention) in July 1990 during the ultra-expensive but moribund transition program of the Ibrahim Babangida-led military junta. Under his guidance, the NRC won gubernatorial election into sixteen states of the then thirty states of the federation. Ikimi remains on record as one individual who signed away the electoral victory won by Nigerians and sent democracy into the wilderness.

Sadly after the presidential election was annulled by Babangida and his cohorts, Ikimi, an eternal opportunist, wasted no time joining the Abacha government as a Special Adviser in February 1994. He became Foreign Affairs Minister in March 1995 and retained the portfolio until the Federal Executive Council became dissolved on 8 July 1998.

It was a classical opportunistic move by the old wily fox. He wasn’t interested in democracy; all Ikimi needed was where his selfish bread could be buttered. Remember there had been lots of complaints about his mismanagement of the NRC. Party funds were reportedly mismanaged; proper book keeping of the party account was non-existent. Tom ran the party with military alacrity as he listened to no one. He was the antithesis of democracy.

It was no surprise that he became the man that the Abacha Junta leaned on to help launder the pariah image of Nigeria on the internationally, after an election that was adjured to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria history was brutally and insanely annulled.

As NRC chairman, Tom Ikimi exhibited anti-democratic tendencies. He was dictatorial and ran the party like a personal estate. Ikimi was unstable and rude. You may recall his altercation with the late MKO Abiola during the 1993 presidential debate. He was also allegedly disrespectful of his party members and it was no surprise that he publicly exhibit such traits during a nationally televised presidential debate.

Tom Ikimi is a friend of military dictators who served Abacha and publicly celebrated and defended the hanging of ken Saro wiwa even when the national and the entire world believed the hanging of the environmental right activists was in bad faith.

These are some of the antecedent of a man who today claims to be a progressive.

While the PDP has been a scourge in the lives of Nigerians over 15 years and counting, we can’t afford to pretend that anything will do. While I don’t believe that those who will run a political should be saints, yet even a sinner should be one who can be trusted. As one who is easily sold out, Tom Ikimi is not a man serious people should be associated with. A man who will sell hard fought democracy on the altar of political appointment is not a man to be trusted. We truly need an opposition and, by God, I believe the APC has come in at the right time, yet we need to have a perspective.

Tom Ikimi and the likes of Ali Amodu Sheriff, is the reason why sane people see the APC as an unserious party. While they are not alone, these two are mostly dangerous because they have been shown to be reckless, unreliable and will go to any length, including less than altruistic ones to get their selfish desires satisfied. The problem of Boko  Haram ravaging the land today, cannot be too far from a man of Modu Sherriff standing. He was the governor when this madness started and if the government of President Jonathan has any balls, Modu Sherriff should be answering questions and helping the security agencies to find solutions to the monsters he created.

Nigeria needs a viable opposition and in the opposition there will be various individuals, some good, some bad. But even evil should have its own limits. Tom Ikimi and. Modu sheriff have no business strutting their stuff and pretending to be opposition stalwarts.

If the APC will be taken seriously, then it is time to begin to define the sorts of characters that we can associate with them. No serious athlete eats and grow fat without care even after coming back from an injury, rather a serious athlete watch his weight and work to burn excess fat. Weight shedding is a prerequisite to be in top form which qualifies an athlete to win a race. For the APC to win in Nigeria, it must shed some unnecessary weight.

While we are not asking for angels to come and govern us, even the devil we know must have some human face. We may not remember the evil of most past politicians as history is not really our greatest forte, but for the those who claim to wish to serve us, we will put your lives to great scrutiny. The time when any clown will come jostling for power unchallenged is far in the past, today we call on all political gladiators in Nigeria to come to equity with clean hands.

APC must begin to shed unnecessary weight starting with Tom Ikimi and Modu Sheriff. Let us see you shedding that weight today. APC get cracking NOW!


Alfred Atoyebi Morgan works for the APC.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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