In the build up to the epoch making March 28 Presidential elections which dislodged former President Goodluck Jonathan from power, all eyes were on Bola Tinubu a.k.a Jagaban as his support which would automatically translate to south west votes was the much needed deal breaker to spread the appeal of Buhari who had the image of only being a northern apologist. Jagaban had to face the painful reality of not being the running mate as the present realities on ground made the repetition of a Muslim-Muslim ticket unsellable. His acceptance will only further lend credence to the assertion by the then spokesman of the Jonathan campaign team, Femi Fani-Kayode that he left the APC because they had a covet islamization agenda.
He was alleged to have made a plethora of demands. First he got the vice-presidential slot which he conceded to his former commissioner for justice and attorney-general, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN. He was said to have asked for some juicy slots in the incoming cabinet in addition to some oil blocs. Whether these speculations were true or not is what we cannot ascertain but one thing is sure: the murky waters of politics is not a charity ground or a soup kitchen. It is a ruthless horse trading ground where the only permanent thing is interests. Jagaban being a good student of politics since his days in Uncle Sam cannot be an exception to this numero uno rule.
Events that have unfolded seem to suggest that his influence is fast becoming a relic as his attempt to metamorphose into a national leader has ended up in a cul-de-sac. His critics opine that the tag ‘National Leader’ is only ceremonial and largely in effete and a reminder of his impotence in the national scheme of things and the sad reality that he may continue as a local champion for a long time. His brilliant effort in midwifing the merger which upset the apple cart by ensuring the defeat of an incumbent at the federal level for the first time in the nation’s chequered political history seemed to be in vain. To add salt to the injury, his picture was removed from the APC National Secretariat as the party has no time and place for such unconstitutionality. They have never failed to remind him that this is not Lagos where the absurd title of Governor Emeritus is doled out.
Rebellion broke out so early in the day when Saraki and Dogara against the party directive became the leaders of the National Assembly. Saraki didn’t even mind given the deputy slot to the defeated PDP. The wily scion of the Oloye of Kwara politics didn’t leave anything to chance by walking into power while most of his foes were waiting ad infinitum for Buhari to address them at the International Conference Centre. Dogara was more gracious and beat Gbajabiamila fair and square in the fierce contest. The battle line was drawn and Jagaban didn’t take this lying low at all. He railed against the dissidents but his cry was likened to that of the Biblical John the Baptist who declared to his potential followers that he was not the messiah but was only the forerunner. The actions of the duo at the helm of the legislative chambers seemed to suggest that the work of Tinubu was over with the elections and they – the real leaders were the beneficiaries of his struggle.
Buhari has also refused not only to name his cabinet but has kept the party leaders guessing by not even agreeing to appoint the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Chief of Staff which do not need the confirmation from the Senate. Jagaban hardly travels with the President and his adversaries have only confirmed the use and dump nature of the cloak and dagger world of politics especially one in a near failed state. The open romance of Buhari and Fashola who has apparently fallen out of favour with the Lion Of Bourdillon must have irked him further to wonder whether his entire effort was worth it in the first place!
The appointments by Buhari have been coming in trickles and don’t appear to have the imprimatur of Jagaban. It has been a tale of sacks and re-assignments with the fate of the former officials who served under Jonathan still hanging in the balance.
One appointment however must have brought back some ray of hope to Jagaban and that is the appointment of Babatunde William Fowler as the boss of the Federal Inland Revenue Service. It was Jagaban who gave him his first break in 2005 while still the helmsman of the nation’s commercial nerve centre by making him in charge of the Lagos State Inland Revenue Service. He got that appointment against all odds as he had no prior public service experience. Of all the appointments made by PMB so far, this is this the first where the appointee has a close tie with the ‘legendary’ Jagaban. There have been insinuations that Tinubu owns Alpha Beta, a tax consulting company which allegedly receives ten percent of all monthly revenue accruing to the states as consultancy fees. He has not come out to deny or accept this and so we are left at the mercy of peddlers and speculators. Let’s assume this is true and do a quick analysis of the benefit. The revenue base of Lagos state was raised from 600 million to 20 billion naira every month courtesy of the astuteness of this consulting firm. If the ten percent theory is true, that means a cool, whooping two billion goes to Alpha beta for a job well done. With this appointment, they will simply up the ante by becoming consultants to the Federal Government and you can imagine the billions that they will get as the whole country will now be their oyster. Two things are sure in life with all its vagaries – death and taxes and this will ensure not only a steady flow of income but influence as the disposable incomes of millions of workers will now be in the hands of this elite group. All that will be needed to further cement the deal is for a clause for security of tenure to be passed by the National Assembly to give the FIRS Boss the same fixed term enjoyed by the boss of the Central Bank and the roller coaster goes on.
The Punch newspapers reported on August 23 of a visit by Saraki to Tinubu to enlist his support to mend fences with Buhari who has repeatedly refused to see him. This is surprising as the Senate President is alleged to hold Jagaban in contempt and some insiders even pointed to frequent instances when he calls the former by his first name Bola – a cultural aberration as a more than ten year age gap exists between the duo. Tinubu has still not backed down in his stance that the decision of the party which put forward the name of Senator Ahmad Lawan to stand. The eating of the humble pie of Saraki seems to show that the Jagaban’s voice is still booming like an iron gong.
While the nation is still breathless for the constitution of the cabinet, supporters of Jagaban are glad that at last the voice of their mentor has been found as there will be the eagerness to replicate the success story of the tax issue in Lagos nationwide which will guarantee a lot of influence for him as Nigerians may now begin to see the unseen hands of Jagaban when compulsory deductions are made from the salaries as the new Lord of the Manor will most likely made a firm promise to engineer a tax driven administration.