WHEN I wrote the piece: ‘Tribute to Tinubu: A Parody of Shakespeare,’ a few friends and colleagues said I was un-characteristically ‘patronising’. Some wondered if I too had not fallen for the Tinubu ‘cult of the personality’; or as one of them put it, ‘cult of the insatiable power-seeker’. And to quite a few of those friends and colleagues whose opinion about my professional integrity I do give a damn about, I did vouchsafe some cogent explanation: first I said that even as I was sure they knew me not to ‘advocate for the devil’, yet they should not forget that I was not one either not to ‘give the devil his due’.
I should say, for the records, that I believed and I still do- that Tinubu deserved that tribute which I paid to him; that I still think him worthy of all the sentiments contained therein and that I still feel proud that I wrote that piece. Tinubu has fathered a peaceful political revolution in Nigeria which has not only moved our democracy beyond a notch by its shattering of the myth of the invincibility of incumbency, but it has saved the nation from the malignance of a ruinous era of political impunity which was bent on balkanising our country.
And let me say that if Tinubu, afterwards should, for any reason lend the instrumentation of his time, his prowess and his resources in the promotion of any contrary ideal odious or antithetical to the noble one of growing our democracy and developing our nation, I should also, with a measure of antipathy equal to the enthusiasm with which I had praised him, deploy the venom of my pen to harangue and to dis-approbate him.
But come to think of it, if you ask me whether I think Tinubu is ‘evil’ politically, I should answer as much with the affirmative ‘yes’ as with the negative ‘no’. For as ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’, logically-speaking I think, so should ‘ugliness’ be also ‘in the eyes of the beholder’. And so to a bitter PDP whose defeat the Asiwaju’s deft, adept and adroit politics had caused, Tinubu is most definitely ‘evil’; and thus in the subjective eyes of members of PDP, Tinubu is uglier than the mythical Gorgon. But to the APC whose political fortunes Tinubu’s (even if) neo-Machiavellic master-tactic has now raised from ‘nothing’ to ‘everything’, the Jagaban is most definitely no ‘evil’ but ‘good’ and thus in the objective eyes of sincere members of APC, Tinubu should be the personification of beauty itself politically that is.
Alas, as we see presently in the treacherous hustle and jostle for political positions, this is not so with the hawks and vultures in the APC who now masquerade as altruistic progressive change-agents of the Buhari government. To these neo-conservative opportunists, all of a sudden, ‘Asiwaju’ ‘The Leader’ is now simply Tinubu ‘The meddlesome interloper’! He is as they now claim ‘unnecessarily interfering with our democratic processes’ and must thus be cut to size. And on this you cannot but have a sense of the poignantly disgusting and the de ja vu, especially if you recall what the then Rhodesia’s oppressive head Colonist Ian Smith said to the anti-colonial world of the 70s about Zimbabweans: “These blacks are spoiling my democracy!” ‘My democracy indeed!’
Or maybe if you have some appreciable knowledge of the UPN’s Second Republic politics when the then ‘Adedibu’ of that era’s Ibadan politics, Adelabu Adegoke, after a resounding UPN victory achieved through the instrumentation of Adelabu’s political enfant terrible, was told plainly by Awo that since he had no western education, he could not be a commissioner!
Though academics is not the basis of this comparison, Adelabu’s reply aptly typifies, today, the mentality of those who have contributed next to nothing to the birth and ascendancy of APC, but whose hubris is now questioning the leadership of the man who almost singlehandedly formed, midwifed and nurtured it to power. Adelabu was said to have asked rhetorically in Yoruba: “Adiye da lori iresi, sugbon ko da n kpalo?”, meaning: ‘So cooked chicken is good sitting atop a bowl of rice, but a live one is not good to grace the hallow of the parlor?’
They said that the Asiwaju wants to install surrogate leaders for the legislature so he can remote-control them. And I say: ‘assuming, without conceding, that this is true, to what end, if we may ask, would Tinubu want to remote-control the NASS?’ Is it to prevent it from passing good progressive bills that will give effect to the promise of ‘change’ by Buhari? Or is it to egg the NASS on to anti-Buhari tantrums so that the General’s government cannot effectively function? I really don’t get it!
And I even wonder more: did they not invest Tinubu with all the sobriquets and appellations of a ‘Leader’? Did they not say that he was the courageous ‘Jagaban,’ the one who led from the front? And did Tinubu not lead them from the front, selflessly giving his time, his energy and his resources? Did he not put his life on the line of a hysterically dangerous incumbency desperately angling to keep power by hook or crook? Did they not say that Tinubu’s was a goal-oriented and decisively go-getting ‘Leadership’?
And need one also ask: did we not, to the occasional rousing applause of Nigerians, see them severally winning one political battle after another under the leadership of the Jagaban? From when Tinubu fought to win series of judicial victories to restore the political control of the South West into the hands of the progressives; a feat which gave the earliest fillip to the initiative for the formation of a formidable coalition of opposition political parties?
Did we not see the series of political mutations afterwards initiated and set in motion from the pre-natal stages, the singular efforts of one man to corral several ideological eggs into one political embryo, so as to give life to a new all-embracing political Party around which both progressives and even repentant fascists could congregate to make practicable what was thought well-nigh impossible, namely enacting the parting of the political Red Sea to say to the behemoth PDP ‘let my people go!’
But maybe what we were seeing from aloof was different from what exactly was happening within! But I thought that we all saw Tinubu burning the political candle through nights and nights of vigils to disprove all the known theories of war which posit that more than one battle cannot be fought at a time; I thought we saw the Asiwaju take on both INEC and government in a proxy war with surrogate usurpers of the baptismal of the new political ideology, the A-P-C! -and which he won!
We thought that we saw Tinubu walk the miles from the North West to the North East; from North Central to the South East and from the South West to the South-South to build strong bridges of geo-ethnic and geo-political consensus; planning and strategising to form alliances, to create leagues of political amity and to search out for men and women of weight and of mettle; political and non-political actors with diverse gifts and varying competences, to man the many points of the opposition’s political rudder.
These efforts were rewarded with successes in the creation of the first ever successful merger, the formation of the first ever peoples Party, the conduct of one of the most transparent Party Primaries, the emergence of the most popular presidential candidate, the running of the most competitive presidential electioneering campaigns, and the first ever defeat of incumbency by an opposition party in one of the most transparent presidential elections.
But now that the political dinner table is set, surrounded, unfortunately, by opportunistic political vultures and hyenas, they are telling us that although Tinubu is an excellent political cook, he is not as good in the culinary art of dishing. That the Party Leader must stay away from the Party’s First Political Supper! In fact, like Caesar, they accused the Asiwaju of ambition. The same Tinubu who had publicly announced that Buhari had offered him a chance to be on the presidential ticket an offer which he said he politely declined.
Tinubu does not deserve this kind of treatment. The Asiwaju as the Party Leader and the party are the veritable taproots of Mr. President. If they who care about Mr. President’s success are left at the mercy of the Party’s vultures and hyenas who only care about the spoils of politics, sooner or later the shrub of the presidency and its blooming foliage will feel the wilt. It is both morally and politically expedient that Buhari steps in to restore rank discipline and to assure the Asiwaju and the party hierarchy that he has ‘got their back’; just like they, through thick and thin, had always had Mr. President’s back.