Before commencing the writing of this piece, it is essential that one joins one’s particle-weight voice to the heaps of condolences that have been shoveled into the Bourdillon, Lagos home of Leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. His first son, Jide Tinubu, suddenly and mysteriously slumped during the week. And died. Anyone who knows the emotional, financial and other investments parents make in the journey to adulthood of a 40+ child would feel the lacerating pain of the Tinubus at the moment. May God, who alone understands this uncanny loss, comfort the famous political family this hour. Coincidentally, the messenger of death came knocking while Tinubu was exchanging exhilarating laughter with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa and attending APC congress meeting on Monday and Tuesday.
Immediately he emerged from the Villa, reporters had besieged the former governor of Lagos State. Except he did at nocturnes, Tinubu had been absent from the seat of power for a while now, amid speculations that he and the President were estranged. At some point some months ago, Tinubu began to fight the greatest battle of his political life. It was a battle that had the potentials of determining the compass of his political future and the colour of his politics in years to come. Since his ascendancy on the front row of political discourse as governor of Lagos State in 1999, few battles had this potentiality of taking him out of the front burner as that battle. Granted, the certificate scandal he was embroiled in, in the early months of his governorship in 2000, had the same debilitating credential, Asiwaju’s battle with unseen political forces, presumably domiciled in the Buhari government, was far more coordinated, far more calculated and far more corrosive than the previous battles of his political career.
What made Asiwaju’s two major battles – the 1999’s and then – potentially corrosive was the nature of his traducers. They transcended the flesh and blood of Lagos or South West Afenifere elders whom he fought to a standstill, to a combine of spiritual wickedness of federal forces in high and low places, who fired military artilleries from all cylinders. It is to his credit that Asiwaju fought the 1999 battle so gallantly as he threw all into the fray, vanquishing all his political foes in the process.
The battle was primed to destroy him. A seemingly innocuous piece had appeared in the Sun newspaper’s back page about this time detailing how Vladimir Putin rode on the head of those who sponsored him into office to sanitize Russia. In the piece, Putin was said to have collected the money from drug czars and allied malefactors and in spite of that, moved against them. The piece also detailed all the alleged Tinubu’s foibles, both personal and public, including his alleged ownership of estates and more than half of Lagos State. It was evident that the sponsors of that piece were burrowing a path for the presidency of Buhari to tread in decimating Tinubu, known to be one of those who shouldered his frail frame into the gates of Aso Rock.
The battle was the battle of the life of Tinubu because it was more cohesive, more troublous. In 1999, the combine of the Tinubu traducers was superintended over by Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired General who wore the infamous military epaulettes of mowing down those who do him good. Obasanjo deployed a combination of his military tactics and native intelligence to fight frail-bodied Tinubu. But in the battle fought against him by apparent friends and sympathizers of the Villa, from flakes that hovered in the air, it was rumoured to be a combination of military generalissimos deploying the highly burnished Fulani political savvy, infamous for its very lethal and clinical wrenching of its enemies.
When the calculation to dethrone Goodluck Jonathan and install another president for 2015 became an Asiwaju project, it was obvious that history was not in the bespectacled former governor’s favour. In virtually all previous attempts in history by his Yoruba political forebears to engage in same project, they had always burned their fingers. Yoruba’s recent ancestor, Obafemi Awolowo, had found this out to his chagrin. Ditto MKO Abiola, who was a lawful captive in his wily priming against kinsman, Awolowo. The cesspit assignment was for MKO to neutralize Awo under the pretentious goading that he would succeed chain-smoking erstwhile Grade 11 teacher, Shehu Shagari. By the time MKO finished the dirty job and was waiting to be rewarded with the presidency of Nigeria, he was aghast when told that the presidency was not for sale to the highest bidder.
Asiwaju apparently didn’t learn from the destructive and corrosive politics of the Hausa/Fulani. Like many Yoruba, he was blown off his feet by that apparently unfounded and peremptory reading of the Hausa/Fulani. The reading came in the form of an age-long Yoruba aphorism which locates a problem in distinguishing which is dumber between the Fulani and his maalu (cow). The Fulani (who was often conflated with the Hausa) was taken to be bereft of savvy and sophistication. How wrong they were! The Yoruba learnt the hard truth about the power sophistication and savvy of the Fulani too late and to their peril. Asiwaju has also learnt this since 2015.
Having failed to worst Asiwaju in the above-painted deadly campaign, another lever of revanchism was embarked upon by apparent apostles of the Buhari political group. The inane narrative was, who actually nominated Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for the vice presidency? As infantile and idiotic as it was, it gained currency for a while. The symbolism of its spread was to destroy the last whiff of power that was attributable to Asiwaju in the Buhari government. What destroyed the thesis was the simple question: Granted that Osinbajo is/was a brilliant law teacher, aren’t there a thousand and one of such roaming citadels of learning in Nigeria today? So who doesn’t know that the ultimate choice of the vice presidential candidate was Buhari’s but the imprimatur of that nomination to Buhari was Tinubu’s?
This writer states that President Buhari began to lose one of the hallmarks of his persona, part of which made Yoruba people to vote for him, from those destructive attempts made on Tinubu. Trying to neutralize the former Lagos governor by a combination of wiles and concocted history was considered by the Yoruba as very puerile and could not fly in Yorubaland. In spite of the damaging effects of modernisation and even post-modernism, Yoruba still can’t stand traitors. Thus, the attempt to treacherously sideline Tinubu ultimately boomeranged. Tinubu, there and then, began to get the empathy and sympathy of his kinsmen who saw his travails at the hands of the Fulani people he helped to the top as an act of treachery against their race. Only a fool will claim that he did not understand the yeoman effort of Tinubu in rallying round his Yoruba people to vote in Buhari. Lately in the campaign to put Tinubu down, society was even inundated with several obtuse theories, one of which was how Kano could have neutralised the votes of Lagos and how, if the South West had not voted in Buhari, he still would have been president. These latter-day rationalisations forget to factor in the fact that, granted that it is true – even for argument’s sake – the South West’s herd effect for Buhari, which was largely Tinubu’s brainchild, would not have come if he was not on their train. No matter what personal limitations that can be attributed to the Asiwaju, what you cannot take away from him is his being the only power dinosaur of the Yoruba political equation at the moment. Getting the people to rebel against those ganging against Asiwaju may just be a fait accompli.
With the above as background, Tinubu’s visit to Buhari on Monday, except if it was one of the manifestations of a typical Janus-face political strategist, was a disappointing riposte. He had told reporters not to ask him about the mounting calls on Buhari to run for a second term. “Don’t discuss that with me,” he had fired. When asked whether he had been sidelined and was angry at the system, he had said, “Fake news. I have confidence in the President.”
While not speaking for Tinubu, this writer puts it to him that his people, whom he literally forcefully pulled to the polls to queue behind Buhari in 2015, have no confidence in the President. While hunger which wracks the bellies of the people is a national affliction from the presidential inertia in office, Tinubu’s South West people cannot point at anything concrete which the Buhari government has done in their lives since 2015, except for the vacuous mantra of anti-corruption. Tinubu further worsened the already sour brew when he argued against a cabal having immobilised him. “What is cabal? It is a myth…” he had fired.
Excuse me while I laugh! Again, except Tinubu was playing politics with that statement, it was a total miss. Since he asked for the definition of a cabal, this writer will volunteer one. The Buhari cabal is that lethal combine that has fought in the last two years to castrate Tinbu’s political manhood, a maneuver that failed due to providence’s intervention. If Tinubu knows what is good for him, he should discuss Buhari’s 2019 bid with his people. Or else, if he mounts any rostrum with that baritone voice of his to ask for a repeat of this waterloo, he would find that the crowd before him is a hallucinating assemblage only in his dream.
Pebbles in Buhari’s grains of wheat
Are there psycho-analysts in the Buhari government at all? If there are, one would expect that they are by now conducting a psychological analysis of this predictable pattern of memo leakage at the presidency. You will recall that it began from the leakage to the media of the memo written by the Minister of State, Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, to President Muhammadu Buhari on an alleged $25 billion contract allegedly single-handedly awarded by Maikanti Baru, the GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). It was followed by the leakage of the serpentine manner in which President Buhari attempted to bring back the menace of Abulrasheed Maina which was also leaked to the media. The latest is a copy of the report of the Head of Service Oyo-Ita to Buhari which also donned the pages of Nigerian newspapers.
A psychological appraisal of the consistency of these leakages will reveal one of two things. One, that the governmental apparatchik in Aso Rock was pissed off by the public face it advertises to the world which is in contradistinction to the private presidential face of the Buhari government within the Villa and was thus persuaded to reveal its Janus to the world. Second, it could also well be that the system is fighting a nihilistic battle of self-destruction which the fighters do not mind its resultant effects. For even during the Goodluck Jonathan government which was notorious for its divisiveness due to the colossal heist that was available for plundering, there was no such internal contradiction as this. The converse of this argument, which could dud my argument, is that, the present government is so straightforward that its apparatchik could not but throw open to the world the pebbles that infiltrated these governmental grains of wheat.
Ondo’s shuttle to Golgotha
It was a great relief hearing from the current Ondo State government that it does not intend to stop the tuition-free system of state responsibility which it inherited. Sponsoring the education of secondary school students in the state is a social intervention that has been long in time, even from the days of the Adekunle Ajasin government. The world had been stupefied at the earlier story that the current government was ready to spike the laudable exercise as a result of a stakeholders’ meeting which recommended it for stoppage.
Come to think of it, what manner of an assemblage of stakeholders would recommend in the first instance that an already heavy-laden people of Ondo should be relieved of the state’s major, even if token, intervention in their lives?
The Ondo State government should know that such elitist gathering is a conduit through which enemies of the downtrodden people of the state, and by that very fact the government, wanted to sidle in to destroy it. Even Olusegun Mimiko, who pioneered that debasing fad among South West governments of erecting Five Star hotel schools which he called Model Schools – which had pupils/students therein seldom, with no corresponding training and retraining of the teachers, nor a deliberate governmental catering for the teachers’ welfare – couldn’t face the people to announce to them that he was abridging that privilege bequeathed to the people from the Ajasin days, of free education. Anyway, thank God for the reversal of the shuttle towards Golgotha.