Open letter to Dele Momodu

Phenomenal
20 Min Read
Tinubu and Momodu during the June 12 struggles

For you I have immense respect. I always have and I always will.

How you ended up with the PDP I just cannot fathom because they do not deserve you and neither will they reward you for your immense efforts to lift their sagging image and restore their dwindling fortunes.

Even though we are on opposite sides in this political conflict, I have avoided joining issues with you because I like and respect you.

You are a publisher of high repute, a civilised, enlightened and knowledgeable individual, a creative artist who has shown the world that there is so much class, good taste, artistry and beauty in Africa and that we do not all live in mud huts, a former presidential aspirant whose political party did not have the decency or presence of mind to value or appreciate, a freedom fighter who fought for NADECO and who stood with Chief MKO Abiola till the bitter end and someone whose counsel I value and whose weekly columns I read avidly.

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You are also someone who I place firmly in the class of some of the most profound, powerful, compelling and inspiring essayists of our modern age such as Sam Omatseye, Adebayo Williams, the late Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, Wole Soyinka, Akin Osuntokun, Chinwezu, Reuben Abati and a number of others.

You are an intellectual par excellence, a self-made man whose humility and charm speaks volumes and an individual who God has used and blessed in so many ways.

I remember the critical role you played in settling issues between me and my second wife where everyone else failed and between me and a leading and highly respected Lagos-based pastor who was a presidential aspirant in the APC when we had a misunderstanding which almost snowballed into a public row.

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You did well on both and other occasions and, as you know, just as I rarely forget a sleight, I never forget a favour.

For these noble efforts and for providing so much insight on national issues to the Nigerian public over the last few decades with your brilliant literary contributions and commentary I say a big thank you.

Though we stood together with millions of others during the historic June 12th struggle, we may not have always agreed on everything else and over the years we have more often than not found ourselves on opposite sides.

Yet despite this there has always been camaraderie, respect, decency and decorum between us and by God’s grace that will never change.

Permit me to cite just one example.

In 2015 you were with the APC and at the forefront of the campaign for a Buhari presidency whilst I was in PDP and proudly stood and spoke for President Goodluck Jonathan.

Encounters
Today you are with the same PDP you fought against in 2015 and speaking for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar whilst I am in the same APC I opposed in 2015 and I am speaking for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The 2015 election verbal and literary encounters between our various media teams particularly were classic, ferocious, fact-based, volcanic and historic.

It was a battle royal which involved other great gladiators like Lai Mohammed and Olisa Metuh and which made the media debates and intellectual jostling of the 2019 presidential election and today’s look like a tea party and child’s play.

Unlike today, in those days there was a very high standard and profound degree of discipline, intellectual content, sound logic, clarity of thought, precision of delivery, wit, power punches and profound and enlightened commentary by very well educated and eloquent men and women.

Issues and individuals were discussed and vigorously debated in the print media, social media, radio and television and the encounters were exciting, formidable, educative, entertaining and quite a sight to behold.

Fate and destiny has made it such that we appear to always be on opposite sides during all these presidential elections yet we have still remained brothers.

That is commendable and that is as it should be.

Yet the attribute of a true friend and brother is to always be frank and candid and I urge you to permit me to be so on this occasion.

Out of the numerous Media Directors of the inglorious and confused contraption that they call the Atiku/Okowa PCC, you are the only one I have any regard for.

The rest are little better than kindergarten students when it comes to the noble art of commentary, writing, speaking, public discourse and debate.

To put it mildly they are intellectual Lilliputians who are not fit to run a local government area let alone a nation.

They cannot even attend town hall meetings without disrupting the place and insulting their elders and betters.

I have nothing but contempt for them.

Joining issues with them is deeply insulting to me.

You are different because though, by your own admission, you come from a very humble background; you have managed to excel and evolve over the years and are now a good reflection of more worthy and noble stock.

This has much to do with your link to and upbringing in what most refer to as “the Source” in Yorubaland and your proximity to the Royal Palace at Ile Ife, my ancestral home.

You are a kind and restrained bridge-builder and peacemaker and, when your appointment was announced, I told members of our team and my political colleagues and associates that that is the best appointment that Atiku Abubakar had made.

I also told them to avoid a conflict with you unless it is absolutely necessary because, unlike others, you are knowledgeable, skillful, experienced and profound.

I like you and I guess I always will, given the respect and affection you have always showered me with.

You are humane; you are not an insensitive and heartless beast.

Unlike some in your camp, you do not sleep with cars parked in your bedroom like a depraved and deprived gutter snipe and wayward child confirming the mental illness that everyone knows that it suffers from is real.

Unlike some in your camp, you do not preach long, boring and meaningless sermons which they describe as “nuggets” and fire cheap shots from the safety of a foreign country proving that they are nothing but gutless cowards.

Unlike some in your camp, more often than not, you seek and tread the path of peace without conceding your point or prostituting your principles.

Unlike some in your camp, you are not a pathological liar, a motor park tout and agbero or a heartless and cruel sociopath who delights in the destruction and humiliation of others and who makes boastful threats simply because their adversaries disagree with them.

Unlike some in your camp, you have not sworn to send our candidate, the Jagaban, and his supporters to jail for no just cause simply because we threaten and oppose the ambition of Waziri, your principal and leader.

These are your virtues and I applaud you for them.

Battlefield
However hear this and let it sink in.

The war is getting hotter by the day and, sooner than later, you and I shall engage and meet in the field of battle.

As you know when I say ‘war’ I am speaking figuratively.

I am referring to a literary war rather than anything physical but nevertheless it is a war all the same.

And as Carl Von Clauswitz, the famous and highly celebrated Prussian Army General, said in 1810, “war is not merely a political act but a real political instrument: a continuation of political intercourse, a carrying out of the same by other means”.

For those who are not too well grounded in the English language, what Von Clauswitz is saying, in short, is that “politics is war by other means”.

And he is absolutely right.

It is in this context that I speak of war here and none other.

And in this war, just like any other, we must fly our flag, fight our corner, defend our turf, protect our leader and hold the line for God, honor, party and country.

Given your position in your campaign organisation which, I am told, is Director of Strategic Communications, you have a duty and obligation before God and man to fight, protect and speak for your principal and, given mine, I have an obligation to do same for ours.

Both of us will put everything on the line to achieve our objectives and my prayer is that, given the heat that we will undoubtedly generate over the next few months, we both come out of it safe, sound, healthy, unscathed and still as friends and brothers.

I say this because when push comes to shove I will do my job effectively, I will defend my party vigorously, I will speak for and support my candidate gallantly and I will do it all with strength, power, passion and zeal.

I will not take any prisoners and there will be no holds barred.

I will confront, confound and challenge you, your team, your colleagues and your principal in body, spirit and soul with my words and prose and make you wish you had never taken up this assignment.

It is at that time that I will become your worst nightmare.

You see the first rule about a press war, and, as you know, I am a veteran of many, is that if you want to indulge in it you must have a very thick skin and you must be prepared to take more punches than you give.

I am used to that but the question is whether you are?

Simply put, can you take it?

Everything and everyone around you stands to be challenged by my whirlwind of wrath and my hurricane of deadly missiles and vicious prose.

I will literally rock your respective worlds.

I strongly advise that unless you have a very durable chin and thick skin that you do not get in the ring with me.

Once in that ring I become a very different person.

Once the war begins the reasonable, kind and courteous man that you know and love goes out of the window and the dark side emerges and takes over.

It is my nature.

I am restrained and polite, especially to those I have a soft spot for or happen to like, until I am sufficiently provoked, the fight begins and I choose to get up, close, nasty and real.

Once that happens, all hell breaks loose; nothing is beyond me and nothing is left standing. I am the warrior of warriors. From that point on it becomes a verbal slugfest and it may last for weeks, months and even years.

Once we enter that mode and realm, everything changes.

Figuratively speaking, I will take you to Golgotha and back and I will enjoy every minute of it, no matter what you do or say.

Your counter punches will excite me all the more and I will actually yearn for them.

This is because they make me feel justified in my spree of wicked and savage verbal bombardments.

I never throw the first punch but I always throw the last.

Be wise my brother and don’t wake up the Hulk in me.

Be wise and stay away from me in the field because when brother meets brother in battle, no matter the love they share, only one can remain standing.

Be wise and avoid Achilles in this conflict as best as you can.

Be wise and do not seek Kalid Ibn Walid in the heat of the battle.

Be wise and do not pray to meet Aragorn of Gondor in the killing fields.

Be wise and retreat when you see Ragnar Lothbrook on the day of carnage and on the morning of swinging swords.

To be clear there is only one man I respect in your party, the PDP, when it comes to such battles and the art of debate and discourse: you know him well, his initials are SS and he comes from Abeokuta in Ogun State.

Though younger than the two of us, he has learnt much over the years and he is gifted in the art of speech and war.

He is a true and noble warrior.

He is indeed a Hector and a worthy adversary.

He is patient, focused, incisive, knowledgeable, resilient, tough, well-read, quick off the mark, a good counter puncher and, most importantly, utterly ruthless when he identifies the enemies’ weakness.

He is like Vhagar, the massive, mighty and powerful Taragarayn dragon from R. Martins’ famous book and block buster series ‘House of Dragons’ but I remain Valerion the Black Dread, the biggest and baddest dragon in the history of Westoros and the Seven Kingdoms.

None of your colleagues and co-appointees are anywhere near SS in terms of eloquence, substance or delivery.

None has his spark, strength, wisdom, power to endure, ability to absorb blows and ruthless streak.

None have his reflexes and intuitive instincts.

None can grip the jugular and go for the kill when he sees an opening or senses a weakness during the course of the debate like he does.

Your team is weak.

I will make a public spectacle and sport of all of you put together.

I urge you, for the sake of your principal who appointed you in good faith, to tread the path of caution and not start this press war.

As England’s King Henry V said when he warned his counselors before deciding whether or not to wage war on France at the battle of Agincourt, I urge you to “wake not my sleeping sword lightly”.

Between you and I let there be decency and decorum in this long campaign so that post-February after the war is lost and won, we can still be friends and brothers.

Issues
Let us stick to issues in this conflict and not get personal.

Let us remember and honor the rules of engagement and let us operate within them.

Let us respect ourselves and not bite off more than we can chew.

That is my counsel my dearest brother but if you choose otherwise I would be more than obliged.

As a matter of fact I would enjoy it.

Remember I am Achilles and I live for war and the glory that is attached to it.

May God guide you my friend.

May He continue to be with the one and only BOBBY D!

May He grant you the courage to reconsider your position, to realign and to join the progressives and the winning side where you truly belong. May He cause you to remember that Bola Ahmed Tinubu stood with you in the trenches many years ago during the days of trouble and showed you loyalty, love and kindness.

May you have the presence of mind to recognise the fact that this is the time to pay his good back with good and support him in his sacred and divine quest to lead our great country. May you remember that you are proudly counted as a son of Ile-Ife and that the Yoruba have always stood by you and loved you even though you are actually from the South-South.

Finally may you continue to flourish and go from strength to strength, may your ink never run dry and may your pen continue to bring joy, hope and inspiration to millions.

All the best and God speed my brother.

We shall meet at Phillippi!

• Fani-Kayode is the Director of Special Media Projects, Special Media Operations and New Media of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council).

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