“Engage Brain Before Opening Mouth”

by Toni Kan Onwordi

There’s a story I like to tell: When Jim Nwobodo was Minister of Sports, he had a run in with Bash Ali. Bash Ali had called a press conference at which he lambasted Jim Nwobodo. He called him names and ended with “ex-convict”. Someone had piped up that Jim Nwobodo was pardoned. Bash was quick with a riposte: “Ok, Jim Nwobodo is a pardoned ex-convict.”


I have just finished reading a piece by Reuben Abati in The Guardian of Friday 14, February 2003. Captioned, Bola Tinubu: A Review. Reuben Abati is as incisive as ever, but his argument this time has failed to sway me. His argument is that the recent revelations about Bola Tinubu’s drug case in the US, which led to his forfeiting almost $1m dollars has had only one effect and an ironic one at that: it has cast Tinubu as a victim and increased his approval ratings.

This, I fear, is far from the truth. Tinubu may have granted interviews and his camp, led by the loquacious Dele Alake, may be putting up a spirited effort at damage control, but the fact still remains that Tinubu has something to hide and was rattled by this latest bad news.

Since Tinubu came out to run for Governor of Lagos State, he has been haunted by terrible stories from his past. Early on, it was the Chicago University/University of Chicago saga. To evade capture, he claimed a proxy who completed his nomination form was the one who made the slip.

Then the Government College Ibadan issue cropped up. Now, my dad is older than Bola Tinubu and he went to Loyola College, Ibadan as well as the University of Ibadan. Off the cuff, I can count six of his fellow Loyolians and UItes. They include people like Pat Utomi, Raymond Dokpesi, Mike Dibia and the recently deceased Andy Akporugo of The Guardian.

So? Well, if my father who is much older that Tinubu can still recall his classmates, why can’t Bola Tinubu? How come nobody remembers seeing or sitting in the same class with Bola Tinubu at GCI?

When a man tells conflicting stories, there is a tendency to disbelieve him even when he is speaking the truth. That is the dilemma facing Bola Tinubu.

Two weeks back when Tell Magazine broke the drug/money-laundering story, members of the Tinubu camp went through Lagos and mopped up all copies of the magazine. I know because my mum who is an avid reader of Tell kept calling to ask whether I had found a copy for her after her vendor failed to deliver. Drivers conveying the magazines out of Lagos were stopped and manhandled by security agents. All these do not convey an image of clean hands. No, sir!

Tinubu may well win again, but the question will be at what price and how will posterity see this man who had no class mates, who cannot recall the name of the university he attended and who laundered drug money but did not get a criminal rap sheet.

James Onanefe Ibori is governor of Delta State. And some four weeks back, the man who is gunning for a second term had just one little headache, one pesky ex-exile and fish seller named Great Ogboru.

Now the reasons for his headache are multiplying: Warri is burning once again and political opponents are claiming that Ibori is an ex-convict, a fact, which makes him neither fit nor proper to govern a state.

But Ibori is fighting back with all the weapons in his arsenal. He has petitioned both the President and IG of police and this morning papers reported that Ibori is fighting another battle. He wants to be joined in a suit brought by chieftains of the PDP seeking to stop him from contesting on the platform of the party because of a previous conviction for theft.

Thinking about Ibori and Tinubu, I can’t help recalling an aphorism I shared on this page once: if you want to know the secrets of your family, join politics!


“Buhari is running?” Good, said a blind man. “His sins are finally catching up with him”

Sin or no sin, I am still trying to come to terms with Buhari’s emergence as a presidential candidate. And while I am still trying to unravel that conundrum, I still have to contend with the cheap coup he tried to pull off two weeks ago.

The skinny ex-general had written to INEC asking for a postponement of the April elections because, wait for it, it coincided with Good Friday and Easter. Now why would Buhari who asked Moslems to vote for only Moslem candidates be making a case for xtians?

It is called politics and it’s a game in which the most insincere wins. To win votes, Buhari had asked for a postponement to enable xtians observe Easter and I was happy to read that INEC refused to heed his call.

Someone should point him to the scriptures: “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mk 2:27

But being a fundamentalist, the man just won’t understand. Pity!


And now to the father of all fundamentalists. Osama Bin Laden has issued another anonymous tape message calling for a jihad on the US of A. And in making the call he mentioned countries where the jihad should begin and one of the countries he mentioned is Nigeria.

Hmm! As my crazy old friend Kemi Komolafe would say: carry me down I no wear pant, which in normal speak would approximate to: yanga dey sleep trouble come wake am!

Did I hear someone say axis of evil?


Well deserved jeers go out to Leke Pitan, Commissioner of Health for Lagos state who had insisted that the blast at Idumagbo was not a bomb blast but an accident arising from a fire incident in a welder’s shop which set off some empty gas cylinders or some such nonsense.

Those who should know have told us what really went wrong. It was a bomb albeit one used for commercial purposes.

The commissioner should engage brain before opening his mouth next time.

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Anonymous February 8, 2006 - 11:22 am

Concise and to the point. This is the first Nigerian internet article I have read with this effect and I really appreciate it. others just babble on unnecessarily!!

steve January 1, 2006 - 6:16 am

that negative comment by an earlier reader is just beyond comprehension…….u r a good writer with a good sense of humor….don't use too much high-sounding words……u didn't lose me on this "journey"..glad to read it……u remind me of onukaba adenoyi-ojo and jason pini (guardian express of the old) when i was still in naija….i am sure if i were still in naija i would be a huge fan of your writings.

Anonymous January 1, 2006 - 6:11 am

well written and delivered……….found the article very engaging to borrow the word of the writer.

adewale adisa June 15, 2005 - 3:04 pm

it contains a lot of outdated jargons. A disgrace to journalism in Nigeria


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