By Musiliu Obanikoro
I read the piece written by Mr. Tope Templer Olaiya on the Greater Lagos section of The Guardian Newspaper of Thursday February 20, 2014 on page 14 titled: “Return of ‘Koro’” and decided it is important to set certain records straight compared to how they were painted in the piece.
I am particularly worried that as much as Mr. Olaiya attempted to sound balanced on his analysis of the implications of my appointment as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the partisan politics in Lagos State, he largely represents my person as a promoter of election violence and I am compelled to reject such representation.
First, it didn’t come as a shock to me that my appointment is causing uneasiness in some quarters, especially when it is seen as a political calculation to strengthen the opposition to the way and manner the affairs of Lagos State are being managed. For those with the mindset to conceive a larger picture, my appointment offers Lagos State an opportunity to command the representation it deserves in the National Executive Cabinet. It was based on excellent and impressive performance in my previous engagements in the service of my fatherland.
There are indications that I have utilized such opportunities in the past to raise the profile of Lagos State to a new level in relation to excellence of ideas, and the pursuit of greater good of Nigeria. My interest at all times- and this appointment offers another opportunity, is to work with willing and positive Lagosians and Nigerians to better the lots of my people.
Secondly, it was abhorrent to read from the piece a reecho of the ritualization of our political culture by a supposed All Progressive Congress (APC) stalwart, that I swore to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at the Holy ‘Kaaba’ in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, that I will ‘not go anywhere’- referring to my defection to the PDP as a Senator. For the records, I do not engage in such kind of repugnant activity. My political poise is based on sound ideology and my leanings shift when the walls become slippery.
The piece again reechoed another supposed APC chieftain labeling my campaigns as ‘always violent’. He cited the 2007 Oregun incidence when my campaign train was attacked by the opposition to draw credibility to this argument. The one sided nature of the report did little justice to my person. For the record, my campaign train did not attack itself on that fateful day. It was a well-orchestrated plan by the party in power in Lagos State that was struggling to hang on to power, to discredit my campaign organization. That is obvious from the continuing use of the same incident to malign me today.
I am a family man with strong family values. I have been married for 35 unbroken years and managed a family I am proud to say, is a successful one. I have raised children amongst who are successful graduates in different human endeavours and who are already contributing positively to their fatherland. These values are arguably not that of a man that can be described as violent. I doubt if these individuals labeling me as violent can parade such credentials in their personal lives.
The same elements are perhaps hyping a pretentious Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) recruitments allegedly aimed at training certain youths for election purposes in 2015 by my party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Since FERMA had strongly disclaimed such activities under its guise, it is better to waive it aside as the restless antics of an unsecured group and individuals. The Lagos State Government controls enough security apparatuses to stem any suspicious act of violence as it is being brewed within its jurisdiction, if it fails in its responsibility, it should not lay the blame on the doorstep of the Federal Government or the PDP in the bid to score political points.
I would like to conclude this response by offering a little advice to the writer of the piece that necessitated my response. The hallmark of the fourth estate of the realm is the production of balanced reporting that adds significant values to the lives of the readers. Your respected role is to provide a mirror for leaders and followers to view and review themselves without adding blemishes that are controversially painted by your pen. In this particular piece, you have consciously or unconsciously did that to my person. What I seek are positive suggestions and advices as well as your prayers on the roles that fortune bestows on me to serve Nigeria.