APC Guber: Of Agba’s Aspiration And Tenebe’s Gobbledygook

By Sufuyan Ojeifo

I am not a politician; but my interactions and decisions, especially at the microcosmic family level, largely find anchorage in the ramifications of politics. In the context of this existential reality, I have always had my preferences even among my children, but I try as much as possible to mask my proclivities and be fair to all as a father. It is compelling on fatherhood to consider the morality of actions. Are my actions ennobling or are they, outright, denigrating? Are they reinforcing or vitiating the basis of kindred spirit? If by my actions or inactions, significant others are left with the option of questioning my rationality, morality, fairness and other virtues that coalesce to define my personality, then my essence becomes tentative, largely open to debasement and, ultimately, rethinking. This applies to all persons.

My position supra stemmed from the apparent thread or streak of unconscionable debauchery that manifested at a press conference addressed by the acting State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Jarret Tenebe, a self-styled Emperor, last week in Benin. From Tenebe’s gobbledygook on just one man-one of the leading governorship aspirants on the platform of the APC and former minister of state for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, it was evident what the raison d’etre of the press conference was. The whole essence of Tenebe’s press confab, as predetermined, was the demonization of Agba in his bogus construction of causative values that were themselves outlandishly impossible let alone probable.

Again, the scenario above speaks to Tenebe’s deployment of his office as acting State Chairman of the APC in advancing both his animus and bitterness against Agba. By allowing the no-love lost with Agba to contour his essential focus and pronouncements at the press confab such that Agba became his talking point for almost the entire duration of the question-and-answer session, Tenebe had lost every modicum of consideration as a fair leader. Put differently, he cannot be trusted to be fair in his interventions in the process(es) leading to the conduct of the party’s governorship primary election to choose the party’s standard bearer.

Tenebe is biased. He is tainted. Therefore, he should recuse himself from the governorship nomination process(es). He should not even be allowed to have a say whether overtly or covertly in the consummation of the governorship primary election. He is a potential bad influence and cannot be trusted to be fair to Agba, going by his pronouncements a priori. Consider a number of previous incidents that are post hoc to Tenebe’s palongo dance, a marketplace dance that he could not refrain or disconnect from, which has now discounted the office of acting chairman of the party he occupies: when, at a juncture, late last year, some party leaders from Edo North endorsed Agba for Edo governorship, Tenebe was the first to kick, threatening in his capacity as deputy state chairman to ensure that the leaders were sanctioned; and, his infantile riposte of publicly rejecting the Christmas gift of bags of rice that Agba sent to him in the kindred spirit of the season. It was to his eternal discredit that having approbated and reprobated about Agba’s purported stinginess, Tenebe, suo motu, asked that he should be furnished with a bank account to which he could pay the sum of $5000 that Agba announced publicly that he contributed as support for “medicare” when his wife was sick. Pray, can anyone who gifted his significant other $5000 be said to be stingy?

Perhaps, just perhaps, public implication of Tenebe was Agba’s last resort to put a stop to Tenebe’s chicanery that verges on the conscious shenanigans to wrongly categorise or pigeonhole him (Agba) so that stakeholders in Edo political ecosystem can perceive him as “stingy”. If Agba said the picture of him as a stingy man being painted by Tenebe to party men and women was wrong and he cited an example of how Tenebe had once benefited from his large-heartedness, what was wrong with that interposition? Besides, it was clear from the outset that Tenebe had invested his support in some other aspirant from Edo North for good consideration and would stop at nothing to upend Agba’s ambition, which he considers as a most veritable bugaboo in the APC governorship enterprise.

After the post hoc supra, then the subsequent ergo procter hoc of his disingenuous deductions that Agba had been undisciplined in the matter of collecting the APC expression of interest and nomination forms for the 2024 governorship primary election on the APC platform. At the press confab, Tenebe overreached himself, not the party nor its stakeholders, when he claimed that Agba was screened out for alleged indiscipline. Consider the particulars of Tenebe’s magisterial declaration on a matter that the National Working Committee (NWC) had taken a writ large decision on to the effect that all those interested in the ticket of the party were free to procure the nomination form: that Agba collected the nomination form after the party had directed that no aspirant should do so until after the leadership meeting on proposed pruning of the number of aspirants. But Tenebe, deliberately chose to be unfair to Agba by deploying the platform of the office of party chairman to propagate a one-sided narrative. That was simply a mischievous gambit of calling a dog a bad name so as to hang it.

For the purpose of balance and fairness, here then is the cure for Tenebe’s mischief: there are a body of evidence to rebut Tenebe’s assertion and to validate the fact that Agba collected his expression of interest and nomination forms before the notice issued by the party to prospective aspirants by the APC State Secretary, Mr Lawrence Okah, not to purchase nomination form until after the meeting of the leadership on Saturday, January 13, 2024. Whereas, a former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State, Barrister Henry Idahagbon collected the forms on behalf of Agba on January 10, 2024 about 11.55 am, the WhatsApp message that was sent by the PA to the State Secretary of the party to all aspirants on January 10, 2024 was sent out at 12.40 pm. The 12.40 pm message could not change or arrest an action that had already taken place. An obscurantist philosopher once said: “This then is denied unto God: the ability to change the past.” It is laughable that Tenebe would appropriate the role of the Julius Ihonvbere Committee to approximate what I consider a tenuous rationalization of his claim as to the reason the Committee screened out Agba. It is now clear that the gambit of stealthily removing Edo North from the list of six aspirants had the imprimatur of Tenebe and was targetted at Agba.

Tenebe is an angry man. He has the right to be angry. He is acting mischievous and vicious. There should be a limit to mischief and viciousness. He is enjoying his transient powers as acting chairman of the party to demonise and sway the party’s leadership sentiments against Agba. And the man that he is doing all of his shenanigans against is quiet and taking the public assaults in his strides. This is leadership that should be rewarded with the party’s guber ticket. Should that not tell Tenebe that he is enmeshed in a solo macabre dance as Agba occupies a moral high ground in a political ecosystem where it is gladly flaunted that there is no morality. But in rounding off, I somewhat disagree. There could be morality in politics. It depends on the zeitgeist and the decision of a few individual, a rarity, indeed, to play the realpolitik and governance or administration politics on the platforms of accountability, integrity and transparency. Whereas some politicians are perennial customers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), including Tenebe, for alleged sundry offences (see EFCC link: https://www.efcc.gov.ng/efcc/news-and-information/news-release/2902-efcc-docks-jarret-tenebe-for-oil-fraud) and some of those he is backing for the guber ticket, there is no record that Agba’s hands had hitherto been caught in the cookie jar of crime.

I rest my case, for now, and keep my fingers crossed, as all APC governorship aspirants who have collected and submitted their nomination forms are warming up for the scheduled February 17 primary election.

■ Ojeifo is publisher of THE CONCLAVE and can be reached at ojwonderngr@yahoo.com