AIT: Bola Tinubu’s exculpation

THE National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (fodly called Jagaban), has deservedly been named “The Sun Man of the Year” (2015), which will be conferred on him this Saturday.

A critical point that needs underscoring from the outset is the incontrovertibility of his indis­pensable instrumentality in the emergence and victorious trajectory of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Recently, the Africa Independent Television (AIT) carried a spurious documentary on Asi­waju Tinubu entitled “The Lion of Bourdillon”, which tried to unmask the opulence of the for­mer governor of Lagos State. In the eyepopping and libelous film, the station viciously descended on the astute politician for amassing superfluous wealth suggestive of ill-gottenness.

Expectedly, the fictive documentary became a subject of litigation as Asiwaju Tinubu swiftly went to court to establish his innocence. Penul­timate Friday, both parties in the case agreed to an out-of-court settlement with remedial terms and conditions in favour of the Jagaban (of Ni­ger State).

The moment I saw the specious documentary, I knew it was an exaggeration to hellishness. There is no doubt that Asiwaju Tinubu is fabulously rich. He is indeed one of the few moneybags in the country. Nobody can controvert this, but to paint a malicious picture of illimitable and utopian wealth is taking politics or any other intention to absurdity.

If any credible station was going to do such an investigative documentary that must be ethical, balanced and objective, it perforce needs to get its facts right—the margin of error should be infini­tesimal. This is what professionalism is all about. After taking precautionary steps before showing the documentary, the station should be ready for litigation, if it arises, instead of asking for settle­ment, with a feeble justificatory line by Daar Com­munications PLC (owners of AIT) lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, that the World War 2 and the Nigerian Civil War, among others, were eventually resolved on the round table. This analogy is irrelevant in the current circumstance. The irrefutable point is that AIT goofed monumentally. Nobody should beat about the bush using historicality.

The point is that most media establishments have jettisoned ethics and professionalism due to asphyxiating financial exigencies and erosion of cherished values. In places where existential core principles are respected, this infraction by AIT would have led to viewership resentment alongside humungous sanctions by regulatory and supervisory agencies, which may not have been foreclosed.

It is possible that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have bankrolled the documentary to tarnish the exponential image of Asiwaju Tinubu and concomittantly diminish his reputation and blossoming influence on national politics with the massive and conquistadorial ascent of the APC. The likely documentary sponsors felt that Jagaban needed to be humbled. Otherwise, his unchecked flourish would culminate in the eventual change in the leadership of the country! The rest, as they say, is now history.

If the motive behind the bovine documen­tary was not political, what was the objective of the AIT? Did it intend to educate, inform or entertain the viewing public? Perhaps, it margin­ally achieved the third prop of these elements of communication. In pursuit of this, however, a re­sponsible medium is not supposed to calumniate or denigrate any person, especially an eminent and respected member of the society—an insti­tutional democracy icon by all considerations.

How would critical and interrogative viewers take the information from AIT henceforth in the light of “The Lion of Bourdillon” bungle? For me, it has caused an erosion of confidence that may take a long time to redeem. It even misled me recently into making hypercritical remarks about Asiwaju Tinubu in this medium. Like High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, I apologize for the unwarranted attack informed by the AIT dis­information!

The lesson from this development is that other media houses should be cautious when dealing with sensitive matters that have the potentiality of litigation especially when it has to do with em­inent members of the society. For those who do not know their rights or do not have the resources to pursue the same, it may not be an issue, but for the Tinubus of this world it is fraught with risk, as we have just experienced.

The exculpation of the Jagaban has pepped up his integrity despite shrouded voices against his superlative wealth and its multifarious sources. By virtue of the out-of-court settlement offer, it is confirmatory that, largely, Asiwaju Tinubu must have made his money through genu­ine means and ways. A further implication of the out-of-court settlement stuff is that all the pockets of gossip and rumours about question­able enrichment have been put to rest follow­ing this unchallengeable high court declaration. This judicial exoneration of the Jagaban is indeed a major boost to his political and private profiles. Before now, there had been all manner of whispers about his networth considering his moderate graph from financial liberation to con­founding explosion of immeasurable riches with his fingers in virtually all blue-chip pies.

On his bordeless and boundless philanthropy, between 1999 and 2007 when he was the gover­nor of Lagos State, there was hardly any national newspaper editor based in Lagos who did not get at least a plot of land in Lekki amid financial ac­coutrements personally—not officially—from this emerging Asiwaju of Yorubaland. The only exception among such editors was, perhaps, this writer for exclusive reasons that bordered on the paramountcy of my legendary oppositional jour­nalism! It is not surprising that Asiwaju Tinubu went ahead to acquire The Comet, a fledgling publication, which transformed to THE NATION, one of the country’s leading newspapers. TVC and Radio Continental also belong to him.

As the Jagaban receives “The Sun Man of the Year” shortly, I have the conviction that he will naturally intervene in the litigation involving his friend, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, this medium and THE NATION on one hand and the earlier one by Mr. Sam Omatseye on the same matter. It is contra­dictory for us to be in court amid bestowal (and receipt awards. Existentialism and spirituality revel in profuse forgiveness, irrespective of who is wrong. I equally look forward to the eventual reconciliation between Asiwaju Tinubu and Sena­tor Adeseye Ogunlewe, Mr. Femi Pedro, Chief Olabode George, and Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, among others. Interminable political estrangement is antithetical to the Jagaban burgeoning, nation­alistic and universalistic leadership profiling. The first test of a truly great man is his humility, says John Ruskin.

By EBERE WABARA 08055001948




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