19th December, 2022
By Dipo Olorunyomi
After months of “tactical retreat,” Festus Adedayo has dramatically returned to his favourite sport: Tinubu-bashing. When pent-up bitterness mixes with residual vengeful spirit, the amalgam can be quite toxic. It poisons the mind and beclouds reasoning. Adedayo’s own manifestation of such co-morbidities can easily be diagnosed in his latest piece with the title “Onanuga, Alake and Obaigbena At Thessalonica” published on Sunday (December 18, 2022).
One, Adedayo set out on a clearly false premise which is conflating the present roles of Messrs Bayo Onanuga and Dele Alade as spokespersons of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, with their former jobs as media gurus. Relying on that patently rickety theoretical foundation, the author then proceeded on an elaborate voyage of twisting facts, citing beer-parlour fibs and embellishing conjectures in a manner that not only disgraces scholarship but, in fact, raises cogent questions on the integrity of a doctorate degree he claims to possess.
Adedayo’s intervention was supposed to be against the backdrop of the sharp exchanges between the two spokesmen of the APC campaign and the promoter of THISDAY/Arise TV over the refusal of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to honour invitations sent by the latter. As key strategists of the APC campaign, both Onanuga and Alake argued that it was their prerogative to decide the most effective tactic their candidate adopts to reach the Nigerian voters, vowing not submit to the dictation of anyone.
That essentially is the crux of the position of Onanuga and Alake. From both objective and subjective lens, it is a legitimate claim, especially when they claim they have strong evidence that an ambush was being laid for their principal. Only an analyst with deficient faculty will seek to demonize them for this, like Adedayo labored so hard to do.
Well, those who follow Adedayo’s writings weekly are not unlikely to observe this rather obsessive worship of the minstrel of the lumpen chaste of Yoruba cultural establishment popularly known as Ayinla Omowura. Hardly will he ever allow any opportunity to pass without inviting his local musical idol — amulets, incantations and all — into otherwise serious discussion. But that is precisely where Adedayo’s talent ends. His vacuous reading of events, the fickle comprehension of issues is often laid bare starkly whenever he veers outside the bucolic province of Apala music. Definitely, the skillset required to transliterate Ayinla Omoruwa’s Yoruba panegyrics is dissimilar to that needed for a nuanced dissection of a more substantive matter.
For instance, Adedayo loaded his poorly conceived article with a bogus declaration that the APC presidential candidate is a drug baron in Chicago without backing that with cogent evidence, other than the hackneyed line from the gutter of social media. A true scholar does not make baseless claim or revel in retailing beer-parlour hear-says or rumor. In any case, the United States Government had through its Lagos embassy dispelled such a big lie as far back as 2003. Yet, Adedayo, a supposed senior journalist, continues to echo this lie. In another breath in the same article, Adedayo came close to certifying the APC candidate as a medical invalid, again without telling us if he had personally conducted a medical evaluation of Tinubu or if he was privy to his medical records. Such antics are hallmark of a pseudo scholar or intellectual shaman.
Let it however be noted that Adedayo’s reference to kerfuffle between APC spokespersons and THISDAY/Arise was a mere facade to execute a sinister agenda. A casual content analysis of the referenced piece will reveal it disproportionately tilts towards a most vile and virulent personal attack on Alake. As the Yoruba would say, “Kila gbe kile ju” (attack is disproportionate to provocation). It is all in Adedayo’s desperation to resume his now well-known, long-running campaign of vendetta against Tinubu over his loss of a plum appointment offer as Special Adviser to the senate president in 2019. So, to set the duo up for attack, vengeful Adedayo disingenuously resorted to framing their current assignments as an extension of the newsroom and conveniently concluded that not having their principal submit to any conceivable media invitation is, according to him, doing journalism grave damage. What a disjointed logic by a cluttered mind!
The last time Adedayo reared his ugly head in this Tinubu-bashing, he was roundly exposed as a sulking brat still unable to overcome the shame and trauma of losing what he considered a “dream job” in 2019. It surely bespeaks poor breeding for Adedayo to resort to use of indecorous language on someone far more accomplished in journalism than him. Alake, one of those who had distinguished themselves as conscientious journalists and indeed staked their lives in the popular struggle against military dictatorship in the 90s, left journalism in 1999 when he took up appointment as Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy. He has not looked back since. Unlike Adedayo whose evolution in the past two decades has been a perpetual oscillation between the newsroom and government appointments, forever hustling and touting for job at every election cycle.
When Adedayo hypocritically pontificates on the values of public sector governance and the ethical journalism today, it is as if he was not the rabid “attack dog” recruited from Tribune in 2003 and clothed as “Chief Press Secretary” by then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani reputed for unleashing a reign of terror in Enugu State for eight unbroken years. Adedayo was the super-efficient megaphone who penned several worshipful articles venerating Nnamani, too eager to justify the crumbs falling into his mouth and pockets from Nnamani’s buffet table. Jobless after Nnamani’s tenure ended, Adedayo returned to the newsroom and started using his “jeun jeun” (purchase-able) column to tout for job until Governor Abiola Ajimobi also invited him to Agodi Government House in Oyo State in 2011 to “come and eat”. But ever a treacherous person with deep character flaw to always bite the fingers that fed him and betray benefactors, Adedayo’s true colours soon became manifest to Ajimobi who had no option left than offload Adedayo at some point and pick someone else
as Media Adviser.
So, for another four years, Adedayo was back to his habitual hustling for political attention with his pedantic column. Week in week out, he was unsparing of APC and its leaders. But it was all grandstanding. When an offer came from one of such APC leaders to become his media adviser in 2019, Adedayo, the sanctimonious, highly “principled public intellectual” jumped at it with the alacrity of a famished baboon thrust into a banana plantation. There were reports that his kith and kin in his native Akure had, in fact, chosen an “Aso Ebi” and made elaborate arrangement for a “night bus” to convey the clan to Abuja for his scheduled inauguration as Special Adviser to Dr. Ahmed Lawan, the senate president only for a terse message to arrive at the eleventh hour that his appointment had been withdrawn. Of course, Dr. Lawan’s action was precipitated by outrage expressed by APC youths in Abuja, stating that they could not understand why a man who habitually abused President Muhammadu Buhari, APC administration and its leaders would be shameless enough to now partake in the spoil of the party’s electoral victory.
Again, when Adedayo deployed viciously derogatory words against Tinubu and media platforms promoted by him, many are left wondering if it is not the same Adedayo who was offered a senior editorial job in one of such outfits linked to Tinubu. For about four years, National Life and later The Nation provided a source of livelihood for Adedayo and his family. This was after he became jobless following Nnamani’s exit in Enugu. Pray, what faith — whether Islam or Christianity — will permit someone descend so unconscionably low? Of course, only serpents and Judas behave that way. It is a measure of Adedayo’s true character.
* Mr. Dipo Olorunyomi, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Ogun State.