Without much ado and for the purpose of clarity, let me quickly inform that the term charlalism as used in this piece refers to a situation where an otherwise established journalist descends into the odious arena of charlalism just to satisfy some vested interests and or for pecuniary benefits. Succinctly put, charlalism is the mixture of journalism with charlatanism.
A typical example of charlalism is the recent piece written by Louis Odion on Governor Olusegun Mimiko, the Iroko of South West politics. That piece was the lowest any journalist could go in the execution of a hatchet job.
Taking off on the heels of the recently concluded governorship election in Ondo State, it becomes most unfortunate when an otherwise fine journalist takes to paid rhetoric to justify a process that has been rightly described as a fraud by the highest courts of the land. That Odion in that piece chose a character like Jimoh Ibrahim as his protagonist says a lot about the effect of the biting hunger and economic hardship in the land on the likes of the writer.
It can be said without fear of being contradicted that the All Progressives Congress, APC, is deliberately creating an atmosphere of hunger in the land so that, as they did in Ondo (s)election, it would be easy for them to buy anybody just to do their bidding. However, with the likes of Odion, one had thought that men of integrity would stand on their principles and do the right thing always no matter the enormity of filthy lucre dangled before them.
The purported loss of the (s)election by PDP did not have anything to do with Mimiko’s renowned prowess of being a political juggernaut. Far from it! The Iroko’s avowed political prowess was what threw APC into frenetic panic mode the moment Eyitayo Jegede SAN was cleared by the courts as the right candidate for the PDP. But for that late clearance, the APC knew that the (s)election was a walkover for them. They already considered themselves winners until Jegede came into the equation. Knowing full well the herculean task they were to face against a candidate backed by The Iroko, APC threw all their “federal weight” into the election.
Several serving APC governors and ministers stormed the state with various sums of money to induce voters with the security agents serving as cover for their nefarious activities. They knew the people were hungry as a result of the APC-led federal government induced recession, and they shared paltry sums to the electorates in what was termed as operation “Buy and See”. This is no secret, it was done in the open.
The court processes leading to the election were discharged of at the Appeal Court only two days before election leaving Eyitayo Jegede with only one day for effective campaign. Seeing that it was impossible for Jegede to meet up with all the complexities of such an election within 24 hours, all appeals to INEC for it to shift the election by some days fell on deaf ears. The implication of this was that the election was conducted in severe and several breach of the Electoral Act which states that a candidate in such an election must be allowed a minimum of 30 days to campaign.
It is also instructive to note that the list of agents used by INEC for PDP was the one earlier submitted by Jimoh Ibrahim as the commission told Jegede it was late for them to accept a new list from him, hence, in a majority of the polling units Jegede had no agents and those who managed to go from Jimoh’s list were not in any way committed to the cause. This happened despite the fact that the Electoral Act stipulates that a candidate must be allowed a minimum of 7 days to submit his list of agents.
Jegede also did not have the opportunity to scrutinize the voters’ register nor was his name on INEC website as PDP candidate until only about few hours to the election. In another country where foul is not fair, that election would have been postponed to allow for a level playing ground for all candidates especially as the Justices of the Appeal Court had described the pronouncement of Justice Okon Abang recognizing Jimoh Ibrahim as PDP candidate as a fraud.
But who would want to give Dr Mimiko such a chance? Who would want to take such risks in the name of being fair? They all knew what awaited them, hence, the deployment of every available federal might, ministers, governors, INEC, security agents etc against Mimiko and the people of Ondo.
The loss of that (s)election does not in any way mitigate the monumental political sagacity of Iroko nor does it vitiate his aura and clout which have helped him climb to the very peak of politics in the southwest in particular and Nigeria in general.
Despite the hateful remarks, Odion could not hide the facts of Mimiko’s gargantuan achievements in office even with a whole two months to go. Like a man the gods are determined to save from self-destruct for attacking a man of the people, he was inspired by them to praise, in one fell swoop, his sterling performances “in the area of improved healthcare (especially maternal welfare) and empowerment of market women through the provision of stalls and soft loans”.
Then the next moment he rejoiced at the exit of such a man? How wicked could people be? In one breath, you acknowledge that a man has been this good to his people and then you rejoice that he is about to leave office without anyone to continue his laudable legacies? On whose side is Odion? On the side of the people whom Mimiko has brought succor to through his “Caring Heart Initiative”, or on the side of the Cabals that worked to see he does not have a successor who would continue such legacies but are most likely to bring recession, hardship and hunger nearer to the people as it is at the APC-led federal government?
What will happen to the mega-schools dotting the length and breadth of Ondo landscape? These mega schools, for those who know them, even beat some universities in terms of structures and facilities. . What will happen to the children who are conveyed in buses to and fro school everyday free of charge?
The fact is that no matter what happens, Mimiko’s legacies will always speak for him. Apart from Lagos (most probably because of its humongous revenue), no other state in the southwest and south south combined as led by APC governors, can match the achievements of Mimiko, the Iroko.
What baffles the likes of Louis Odion is how this man has come to climb such enviable heights within just a short period. For a man who became Commissioner of Health in Ondo State at the young age of 38, and has held several other positions including being SSG to Ondo State government, a minister of the Federal Republic, and then a governor, Odion must have been at a loss as to how one person could achieve so much. Such feats leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the Odions who themselves could not cope with the mental and physical demands of such offices, hence, he had to resign from being a commissioner in Edo State just after four years “to be with my family”. This was shortly after news went viral that Odion was battering his wife, Bola, on a regular basis to the extent the poor woman had to relocate temporarily for some reprieve.
He must have wondered how Mimiko has been able to keep a very steady and peaceful home despite his neck-deep involvement in politics.
Apart from the attraction of filthy lucre, it is obvious that Odion launched his tirade on Mimiko out of jealousy, but if one follows Mimiko and his politics closely, you will know that such odious tirades rather than discourage the Ondo State governor, only end up firing him up the more.
Contrary to what Odion would want his readers to believe, the Ondo election is proof of Mimiko’s popularity in Ondo State and the southwest. For his candidate to have polled a total of 150,380 votes and came second in that election, beating other high profile candidates like Olusola Oke of AD and Olu Agunloye of the SDP, with just a day campaign, and with all the shenanigans stacked against him, shows what could have happened only if the election was shifted by even just one day.
While no one begrudges Louis Odion for doing the biddings of his paymasters, one would have expected him to do so while remaining on the path of honour and integrity. It is obvious that his inglorious piece is the first shot against Mimiko as 2019 approaches; it is, however, also the best time for the Odions of this world to know that governor Mimiko thrives best in the face of extreme adversities, and that it is those who are needlessly dissipating energy trying to cut the Iroko down that will return home ashamedly with blunted axes and flaccid muscles.
Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst who lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a member of The Trent’s Elite Columnists. His column is published every Friday. He tweets from @stjudendukwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.