“Daring is wisdom. It is the highest part of war” –General George S Patton.
By CHIDI OBINECHE
He comes straight as a blue-nose of the intrepid power quandary in Lagos State. His story reeks of a man, made for politics, and an exemplar of Winston Churchill’s summation of politics “as war by other means.” He has been variously described as the stormy petrel of Lagos politics, a wacky fellow who dredges from the deep.
From his days in the National Republican Convention, NRC, to the Democratic Party of Nigeria, DPN, onward to the Alliance for Democracy, AD and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, he has shown volubly in words and deeds that he is not cut out for the smooth side of politics. His brand is sweaty, flexing, and labyrinthine. He throbs in the stymied pathway of go-getting. In Lagos his forte, he has held many important and riveting positions ranging from local government chairman, commissioner, ambassador and senator. His bid to be governor hit the rebound. He, however, proceeded to the center to become a minister. As minister, his hands were into many pies. He walked on quicksands and swam deep in muddy waters. He was adrift with belt-cutting intrigues and creative plots that can unbundle adversaries. He meandered in savvy crafts that rallied support for his chosen party and government. In these straits, he made no bone of ethnicity, bandwagonism or the hegemony of power denizens. He turned a blind eye to the frenzied preferences of his people. He followed his heart. In pursuit of these pristine values of his, he may have strayed on the side of caution and got intractably linked to the messy slush funds from the National Security Adviser of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, Col Sambo Dasuki. He was the prime character in the high drama that attended the Ekiti governorship elections in 2014. Not only was he alleged to have caused a stir in the movement of soldiers in his capacity as minister of state for defence to the state, he has been allegedly fingered as the points man in the dowdy transfer of a huge cache of funds to the PDP standard bearer at the time, Ayo Fayose for the oiling of the contest. Obanikoro, popularly known as “Koro”, quietly slipped out of the country after the elections and sojourned in the United States of America where he returned to school for a Master’s degree in History. He had a choice to remain there till the end of this administration. As a citizen of the state of Maryland, he could have chosen to live out the rest of his life there in pomp. But in a surprise move penultimate Monday, he flew back to the country and headed straight into the waiting hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC officials over allegations of N4.75bn traced to his account and that of his sons. His return has put paid to rave and insidious insinuations that he was on the run from the law. In captivity, he has been explaining his role in the welter of financial sleaze allegations. He has shown character and courage and an instinct to willingly become unpopular. Koro has demonstrated the rule of the thumb that “safety first” should not be an excuse for cowardice.
Born in 1957, Obanikoro attended St Patrick’s Catholic School, Idumagbo, Lagos and Ahmadiyya College (Anwar-ul/Islam College) Agege. He worked briefly as a clerical officer at Lagos State Health Management Board, (LSHMB) and at Union Bank before travelling overseas for further studies. He earned a BSC in Public affairs and a Masters in public administration at the Texas Southern University, and returned to Nigeria in 1989.