By Eghosa Okunbor
In defense of Atiku Abubakar and his purported rights to once again obtain the ticket of the PDP, as against the more principled stand of Prince Kassim Afegbua who believes his party should consider youth and look southward, a certain Isaiah Osifo tossed his cookies in a recent article wherein he resorted to ad-hominem – a familiar tactic of those who stray into debates with an impoverished arsenal of logic and useful argument.
Though conceding the brilliance of the media guru, he went on to accuse Prince Afegbua of being a ‘journalist of many faces’ whose public position on issues, including his objection to the aspiration of Atiku, is influenced by inducements.
Such a damning (and libelous) allegation ought to be followed with incontrovertible proof but Mr. Osifo offered none beyond insinuations that Atiku’s claim to the PDP’s ticket and consequently the leadership of Nigeria was so ironclad, only a profit-seeking person would oppose it.
However, even his own justifications of the ambition of the 76-year old scuttled the point, given that they were as weak as his grasp of the English language.
Take for instance his attempt to dismiss concerns over the age of Atiku Abubakar, a factor every objective spectator has flagged as at least a minus.
Mr. Isaiah Osifo quipped that ‘age is just a number’ and that ‘God’s special grace is upon Atiku’ before proceeding to offer the examples of the late South African icon Mr. Nelson Mandela and current President of America, Mr. Joe Biden who won the Presidency despite crossing the age of 70.
Had Osifo paid attention in history class and to the evening news, he would have realized the examples he presented actually exposed the flaw of his position.
President Joe Biden has struggled with persistently low approval ratings as many citizens, including members of his party, contend that he lacks the energy and verve to effectively manage the country’s roiling issues.
That’s not to mention the accusations of senility with every episode of awkward pauses and off-script rants during media engagements.
His one-year anniversary was marked by unwanted achievements, including the fact that he held the fewest press conferences in a generation, prompting mockery as ‘hiding Biden’.
These are all effects of presiding with ailing bones. Age is not just a number, certainly not for individuals seeking the leadership of a country of 200 million citizens, many of whom are youths.
His other South African example offers the biggest indictment and reveals Osifo as an unthinking lackey who runs with a narrative without subjecting it to scrutiny of any kind.
President Nelson Mandela gave up the Presidency and the leadership of a party he helped form and steered onto power following an acknowledgment of his limitations as a man over the age of seventy.
He probably would not have run, had he not been compelled by the circumstances that preceded the fall of apartheid and made him the most appropriate leader to set the stage for his idea of a ‘rainbow nation’.
Regardless, after just a stint and with no obvious obstacle to a second, he gave up partisan contest entirely and made the transition into an elder-statesman, thus preserving his legacy and role in history as an exemplary leader and democrat.
Prince Afegbua desires such honor for Atiku and has encouraged him to make a similar transition, contrary to Osifo’s distortions.
Also noteworthy is the issue of power-sharing and its importance to the preservation of Nigeria’s unity. Afegbua’s submission that President Buhari’s eight-year tenure should be followed with a return of power to the south is hardly a controversial point.
It in fact conforms to the PDP’s founding ideals of equity and inclusion which have determined previous contests, including the 2019 general elections where the party’s primary contenders all came from the north.
Isaiah Osifo had no reasonable objection to this vital point beyond the tired refrain that only Mr. Atiku possesses the ‘spread and network’ to unseat the APC. If Mr. Atiku fails again to secure victory as he did in 2019, should the party also hand him the ticket in 2027 because of his magisterial spread? If not, then why now?
Equally ridiculous and insulting is the implicit suggestion that the southern political actors within the party lack the so-called spread and capability to deliver victory. One is not surprised by the embrace of such a reductive and defeatist position by Isaiah Osifo, A vacuous mind gives birth to a life of subservience.
It is clear that Mr. Isaiah Osifo wandered into a debate he lacks the competence to prosecute. Perhaps it was due to idleness caused by the ASUU strike, considering he self-styles as a ‘University lecturer’.
For his sake, we can only hope that the government settles its differences with ASUU so he can return to the classroom and stop polluting the internet with his thoughtless rambles on issues above his pay grade.
Eghosa Okunbor writes from Badagry, Lagos.