by Stanley Azuakola
Tinubu told a lie. His party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is expectedly standing firmly by his side, defending him, but what they really should do is count their losses, pray that the public loses interest quickly, and move on.
Tinubu is a donor and supporter of the United States’ Democratic Party; he must be a legal US resident (or citizen) for the party to accept his donation — no problems there.
Based on his donations, he got an invitation to attend the party’s three-day convention in Charlotte, North Carolina — again, no problems there.
Where there is a problem, however, is in Tinubu’s widely circulated press statement telling Nigerians of his “prime gold card invitation,” and informing that “at the convention, Tinubu is expected to discuss how to entrench true federalism in Nigeria in his private discussions with the leading figures of the Obama administration and seek the US support for Nigeria to hold a free and fair election in 2015”.
Everything about that press statement was a deliberate ploy to twist the minds of Nigerians into believing that Tinubu was specially invited to the convention as a Nigerian opposition figure, when in fact he was given the same kind of invitation that everyone who’d coughed out the princely sum of $5,000 was given.
When the truth came out, most Nigerians shook their heads, but the PDP took it a step further by releasing a very damning statement which included some choice words like “delusory frenzy”, “liar”, “desperate manoeuvring”, “reprehensible”, and “merchandise of falsehood”. We know that the PDP doesn’t have much credibility to criticise anyone on the matter of dishonesty. But they are a rival party and it is within their rights.
It would have been better if the Action Congress of Nigeria had just shut up and let this one slide but their spokesman, Lai Mohammed, took it upon himself to fire back and in the process heaped more lies upon old lies and dug his party further into the mire.
Let’s consider Mohammed’s statement.
He said: “He (Tinubu) was invited because of his support for the Democratic Party, and he never said he was personally invited by Obama.” But this was what the original Tinubu press statement said: “Tinubu who was invited to the Democratic Convention in his right as the leader of the Opposition and an influential figure in Nigeria will be at the ringside as the Democratic Party conducts activities…”
How is it possible that on the one hand, Tinubu was invited in his right as an opposition leader, while on the other hand, it was because of his support for Democrats? Besides, if he was invited in his right as an opposition figure, then the invitation was personal. After all how many other opposition leaders were so honoured? So how come Mohammed is now trying to sell the fact that Tinubu was never personally invited. Obviously Mohammed is trying to be too smart.
Also, it’s funny that Lai Mohammed is now claiming that Tinubu never said he was personally invited, but when the media was abuzz with the false news, they did nothing to clarify the misinformation which resulted from the wording of Tinubu’s first press statement.
Mohammed went further to say: “Anybody who is conversant with the Democratic Party National Convention, DNC, and US politics, will know that you will never be invited to the convention unless you fall into any of these three categories: you are a candidate, a delegate, or supporter of the party.”
That isn’t true. If Mohammed is conversant with the Democratic Party National Convention, he would know that international observers are also invited.
Then this: “Is it anyone’s fault that the PDP lacked the presence of mind and foresight to know that they should have been present at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina?” said Lai Mohammed. This doesn’t even make sense. Who says attending the DNC convention is a priority for any party? What if the PDP, as a “conservative” party (please don’t laugh) decided that it saw no reason to be in Charlotte with the liberal Democrats?
Bola Tinubu acted dishonestly in approving that initial misleading statement and should apologise or at least be quiet. It’s a testimony to the power of Tinubu’s propaganda machine that generally, Nigerians are quick to ignore his many wrongdoings. But every machine, even a propaganda machine, has its limits.
If this misstep was made by President Jonathan, Lai Mohammed would have been the first to release a bombastic statement, and Nigerians on social media would have been up in arms. Someone needs to call Tinubu out as well, and let him know that dishonesty under any guise is not allowed. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
The ACN broom needs to start sweeping the dirt in its own house.