Smart Adeyemi: The slide of ambition


Senator Smart  Adeyemi

Senator Smart Adeyemi

Senator Smart Adeyemi (SSA), believes that there would be nothing so smart about being in opposition. In the past eight years the former national president of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), was a constant loud voice in the senate, where the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), enjoyed majority status. Come August 18, SSA would be 56 years of age. So there is no way there could be a fool at fifty-six. Adeyemi is smart because only a fool remains in a house of exile.

SSA likes to be heard and sit on the front row. Perhaps, he wants to be an SSA (Senior Special Assistant) to President Muhammadu Buhari. As such, he knows there is no way he could be so appointed to such an office until and unless he members among the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He must have relied on the fact that precedent was set when his former colleague in the Red Chamber, Senator Ita Enang, was appointed the SSA to the president on National Assembly matters (Senate).

It may not be that the senator, who represented Kogi West Senatorial district from 2007 through 2015, expects to be appointed SSA, NASS. Though he has gotten used to the sweet feel and the ambient swagger of political power around the Three Arms Zone, Abuja; Smart seems to know from experience that in politics, a lot of things are possible. Moreover, having been in the senate for eight years, Smart is aware that banana peels are strewn along the short distance between the NASS and Presidency.

What the senator did penultimate week by defecting from his former party, the PDP, to APC, could therefore be interpreted on the basis of geo-political realignment and positioning. Nine months before his leap, or better still, slide towards the ruling party; Smart was not only the senatorial candidate of PDP for Kogi West, but actually walked through the different tribunals in a spirited effort to upturn his electoral loss to Senator Dino Melaye. Had he succeeded, Smart Adeyemi would have been in the Red Chamber, raising his voice and arms to demonstrate his loyalty to party and constituency.

In those days, hearing the senator speak leaves the impression that he was a true custodian of the cross and crown of Kogi West. There was unusual passion in his adumbrations. He defended the PDP as if the party was the only good thing that befell Nigeria’s democracy.

Even when he tangled with the APC senatorial candidate, Melaye, in the election controversies, Adeyemi maintained that PDP won the senatorial election of March 28, 2015 for Kogi West. Having failed to convince the judges that he and not Melaye of APC won the election, the two-term senator refused to remain on the floor to bemoan his defeat.

Rather, in his subconscious, he seems to acknowledge that he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. His idea of running away happened to be in quitting the party that handed him the ticket to Nigeria’s senate on two occasions. Also, as quick-make politician, Senator Adeyemi understands that to fight another day, he must cling to a platform that would not allow him to slide, but bounce.

But by joining Melaye in the APC, Adeyemi may have unwittingly given himself out as a liar. He has in one political calculation rendered his arguments in the election petition tribunal as sophisticated perjury. Yet on a flipside, he must have reasoned that the best way to square up with the man that defeated him was to join his club and start the ‘fight for a shirt at home’.

The last time he fought, Smart was up in arms against his colleagues that wanted to join their state governors in defecting to the APC. It is now obvious that he appeared bold and assertive then, not out of conviction but convenience that the then chief executive of his state, Capt, Idris Wada, was not among the defecting five governors.

From his recent defection to APC, Senator Smart Adeyemi reminds Nigerians that his antics on the floor of the senate two years ago, when the beagle for the battle between PDP and APC sounded; was merely to humour Wada and PDP to graciously grant him another allowance for a return ticket to the senate. That is, even when PDP leaders of Kogi West had warned him that his hunger for a third term would earn him ignominy.

And to remember the drama that he engineered to precede his eventual fall into political recalcitrance, the former journalist showed his true colour as a political turnagbada (not turncoat). First, the Kogi State chapter of PDP was deceived into public denunciation of his rumoured defection plans.

In fact, the party literally swore that reports linking the foremost member of PDP caucus in the seventh senate as considering ‘divorce’ were sponsored. PDP noted that having chaired the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), “those behind the reports that Senator Smart Adeyemi was about to defect to APC are daydreamers and political jobbers”.

Even when the senator released his supporters to perform the role of forerunners for his eventual crossover to APC, the PDP, through its Ijumu local government council chairman and secretary, Idris Imran and O. Obanishe; declared that the senator “remains a strong pillar of the party in Kogi.” Adeyemi cannot and will not leave his investment and supporters behind to join the APC for no reason because he is noted for peace, progress and development,” the party declared in a statement.

But penultimate Friday, the Senator came out of ‘hiding’ to announce his defection to APC. While stressing that he had no regrets in renouncing membership of PDP, Adeyemi disclosed that he was joining APC to support (latch on?) President Muhammadu Buhari. He ordered his supporters to join him in APC “with immediate effect.”

Prior to the governorship election and after he flunked the senate poll, the senator had explained how over 75 percent of his supporters that joined APC informed him that they left “because the PDP could no longer protect their interest and aspirations”.

Whether it was cowardly or smart for him to join a party he traduced months ago could be seen in the days to come, especially as he prepares to fight again. Having failed to return the senate for a record third term, the way his defection was gleefully announced and received by Governor Yahaya Bello, suggests that the politician of many colours could have his eyes fixed in the direction of Lugard House.

SSA may have seen a window of opportunity in APC, where his state governor is battling with legitimacy and was therefore prepared to offer his support, in the hope of reaping from the new investment. That may be a tall ambition.

Some of the so-called supporters the senator was urging to empty into APC claim that their former senator was running for cover to receive government patronage from Bello. But it seems that if he succeeds in receiving the insurance cover for financial and social empowerment, the Senator must have sounded the final whistle on his political odyssey.

His constituents claim that the state of development in his immediate Iyara-Ijumu precincts do not bear any beautiful marks to signpost his eight years in the Red Chamber. Senator Adeyemi’s kinsmen further alleged that he had more socio-economic presence in Ilorin, Kwara State, rather than in Okunland.

Whatever becomes of the latest refugee in APC, it should be recorded against the man who represented Kogi West in the senate that he turned leadership upside down by choosing to be the tail rather than the head. Instead of sitting down with his supporters and constituents to evaluate the progress so far made, if any; and contemplate the way forward, Senator Adeyemi was seen climbing through the roof to literally enter into a house made by others and gesturing to his people to join him. Whatever direction his new political decision takes him, SSA should learn that he has developed two left legs out of lack of balanced political diet.

In his new posture, whenever he presents himself for another elective position, Kogi people and, indeed Nigerians, may be forced to ask him, who are you?

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