One thing being a journalist and a Nigerian has taught me is that things are deeper than how they appear at the surface level. I have learned to trust my observatory skills and try to regularly juxtapose my findings with what the physical features tend to show in reality. This has helped in exposing discrepancies that foretell doom.
I focus more on the underlying factors that define events. I tend to dig into what an interviewee is trying hard to conceal and not really what he is letting you know.
When Deji Adeyanju, the convener of the Concerned Nigerians group collaborated with the eccentric Charles Oputa of the OurMuMuDonDo movement – a seeming good governance advocacy group for regular protests, I felt something was amiss. It was hard to concretely and empirically explain my feelings in a way that would make sense to the next person. A former colleague of mine at the newsroom was fond of Deji Adeyanju and Charly Boy. He was an ardent Twitter user which is like the base of both individuals. He was always eager to report their protests and also follow them up with updates. He so much believed in them that he would sing their praises like a chorister. His interest and passion were really intense and intimidating.
One day, I was forced to express my uneasiness about the duo and my colleague apparently shouted me down. He took my views personal and this affected our cordial relationship briefly. I only told him time would tell if my views are relevant or not. This didn’t deter my colleague from giving the duo media coverage in a reinvigorated manner.
Many things Didn’t just seem right about Charly Boy apart from his weird and confusing physical appearance. With due respect, I have always seen the former PMAN president as an elderly attention-seeker who just wanted his name in the headlines and two major incidents gave that mere feeling credibility. In 2011, Charly Boy gave oxygen to rumours about his bi-sexual orientation when he was pictured kissing media personality, Denrele Edun who many will swear with their precious lives that he is gay. Charly Boy leveraged on the alleged publicity stunt to promote his new music titled ‘Ninja Bike’.
It took him 5 years to come out with an explanation summarized to be a promotional strategy. That extreme measure to me was deeper that what it seemed. Apart from this, the 67-year-old man graduated from uploading nauseating photos that could give a baby bad dreams to sharing his nude pictures online. He boasted that he was fit and strong at his age, challenging people in his age group to attempt such. Who does that at old age?
Moving away from Charly Boy, Deji Adeyanju is a product of the Peoples Democratic Party. He was the director of New Media of the main opposition party in Nigeria. Specifically, he was in charge of the official Twitter account of the PDP. According to a presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, Deji who is a close associate of the Chief Editor and Purveyor of Fake News – Femi Fani Kayode frolicked with the numerous ‘goats’ that ate our ‘yams’. Life was good for Deji and the instincts of activism were recessive in him. Deji and Fani Kayode share a major similarity which is the uncanny penchant for Fake News. The duo has contributed immensely to the spate of misinformation in Nigeria via Twitter where they are heavily followed. When the All Progressives Congress-led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015, the PDP ran into crises. The conduit pipe conveying the ever-flowing loot was cut off or let me say the looting changed hands and the PDP ran into threatening challenges.
The Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee moved to reform the party. The former governor of Kaduna State felt Deji was soiling the image of the party on social media so he axed him. Deji was left without a job so he decided to run for the office of the National Publicity Secretary of the party but that failed. The young man needed to survive desperately and also sustain his family so he delved into activism. He formed the Concerned Nigerians group and became a ‘professional protester’. He listed some causes and decided to pursue them towards the reformation of Nigeria. Nigeria has uncountable problems and someone like Deji found reasons to protest every day.
Charly Boy birthed his the ‘OurMumuDonDo’ movement around the same period of time with Deji’s pressure group and the duo later morphed into one technically. One factor which made me uncomfortable about them was that they were available to protest against any issue that came up in the political space and they did it virtually every day. As a realist, I was more concerned about how Deji was surviving the harsh economic realities in Nigeria. A man with a momentous means of livelihood will not engage in public protests every day like the Arab Spring except the act pays the bills. Even the almighty Yellow Vest protest in France is done during the weekends as the participants have lives outside the movement.
Most public protests and advocacies in Nigeria are hollow and artificial. They are mostly serving the agenda set by a politician who is ready to fund the exercise and pay the participants. A perfect example is the influential Occupy Nigeria group, a socio-political protest movement which gained prominence when it marched against the removal of fuel subsidy by the ex President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration in 2012. We were shocked to later find out that the group was being funded by the popular godfather in Lagos State. The group went silent when Buhari removed the same fuel subsidy in 2016 thereby confirming the elitist interests they actually serve.
Inasmuch as Deji’s tainted history affected his public acceptance as an activist, he used his contacts in the media to massively promote his causes. The unprofessional nature of our security operatives made Deji, Charly Boy and their other hungry-looking counterparts look like victims and some people showed them sympathy. I soon discovered that Deji was promoting his public page on Instagram and Facebook simultaneously as a ‘politician’ with other free titles added to it. I sensed his direction; apart from the perks he would have been entitled to for running a ‘protest company’, he was also building his profile as an activist purportedly fighting for the liberation of his people like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela. This could have given Him political advantage in the future as a reformer.
Fast forward to March 2019, Deji returned from prison after 78 days and Charly Boy collected money from a spokesman of the camp that locked up Deji. While Deji was behind bars, Charly Boy was loudly quiet. Rumours have it that Charly Boy was bribed to speak against the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar. It has also been revealed that the OurMumuDonDo movement has been collecting money from international donor agencies to execute ‘projects’ and Charly Boy has refused to be accountable and transparent with financial records presumably for selfish reasons.
“We cannot be criticising others outside without following some of those things internally. Do you what it means, if you get XYZ million Naira for a campaign in Sokoto or Anambra and the project team spends about 20 percent and the rest is unaccounted for?” a source in the circle of the OurMumuDonDo movement told the Vanguard newspaper.
As Charly Boy accused Deji of wanting to use the movement to generate and share money like a political party, Deji has released an audio tape in which Charly Boy admitted he collected a Greek Gift from Festus Keyamo as ‘support’ for the advocacy group. Nigerians are not fools!
Charly Boy brazenly claimed in an interview with Roots TV that he recorded a song to taunt Atiku and Keyamo paid him handsomely in the tune of 8 to 9 figures to use the song for political advantage. He alleged that everybody around him including Deji wanted a part of the money he received for the song he recorded. Trust me, the song was produced after Charly Boy was paid by Keyamo.
Both parties are criminals and they came together to grab their share of the national cake. They have been seeking relevance to position themselves for lucrative political deals. The OurMumuDonDo movement is nothing but a transactional group set up to be hired by powerful hands who could afford their clamourous services.
If Charly Boy had shared the money Festus Keyamo gave him with Deji, I can bet my life that the latter would have remained silent like a dead man. Deji who has been away for three months needs cash to settle bills and stand as a man. He feels hurt that Charly Boy has swindled him and he decided to sue him to the court of public opinion. It’s heartbreaking that an achiever like Charly Boy who hails from a very honourable family of the late Chukwudifu Oputa GCON – who was Judge of the Supreme Court of Nigeria from 1984 to 1989, will soil his image for a few coins.
Most Nigerian influencers are for sale. They pose as analysts when indeed they are advocates. They worship money and make a fortune off the despondent who see them as messiahs.
This is an endemic societal malaise. Even the Nigerian pastors reportedly collected billions of naira during the build-up of the 2015 presidential election to campaign against the then-presidential candidate of the PDP, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. (Rtd). Today, some pastors are churning out fake prophecies about election results for the purpose of currying the favour of the political class who could pay them big. Nobody is totally clean in this part of the world. We love illegal monies like monkeys love bananas.
The shameful story of Deji and Charly Boy will serve as a wake-up call to weak-willed Nigerians who follow people sheepishly without having critical, discernable and analytical minds to unravel their ulterior motives. Mark my words, Charly Boy will NEVER recover from this scandal. He is gone!
Osayimwen Osahon George is a journalist, he writes from Lagos State.