Before commencing the writing of this piece, it is essential that one joins one’s particle-weight voice to the heaps of condolences which have been shoveled into the Bourdillon, Lagos home of Leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. His first son, Jide Tinubu, died during the week. 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 within hours of Tinubu exchanging exhilarating laughter with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa.
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 deadlier 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 and vanquished his political foes in the process.
The battle was primed to destroy him. A seemingly innocuous piece had appeared in the Nigerian Sunnewspaper’s back page about two years ago, 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 been financed by drug czars and allied malefactors but they became the first casualties of his government. The piece also detailed all the alleged Tinubu’s foibles, 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 Buhari to tread in decimating Tinubu, known to be one of those who shouldered his frail frame into the gates of Aso Rock.
In Tinubu’s first battle at Alausa, his traducers were superintended over by Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired General who wore the infamous military epaulettes of mowing down those who do him good. 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 generalissimos who deployed the highly burnished Fulani political raw brunt, infamous for its very lethal and clinical wrenching of 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 burnt 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 Shehu Shagari. By the time MKO finished the dirty job and was waiting to be rewarded with the presidency, he was aghast when told that it was not for sale. Asiwaju too 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 offspring.
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 acceptance of the vice presidential candidate was Buhari’s but the imprimatur of that selection 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 which could not fly in Yorubaland. In spite of the damaging effects of modernization 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 in 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, we were inundated with several obtuse theories, one of which was how Kano could have neutralized the votes of Lagos in 2015 and how, if the South West had not voted for Buhari, he still would have been president. These latter-day rationalizations forget to factor in the fact that, 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 Tinubu, what you cannot take away from him is that he is a power dinosaur in the Yoruba political equation today.
With the above as background, Tinubu’s visit to Buhari on Monday, except if it was typical Janus-face political strategy, 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 borrowed Donald Trump’s infelicity, “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 as a result of the Villa’s economic inertia, Tinubu’s South West people can seldom point at anything concrete which the Buhari government has done in their lives since 2015. Tinubu further worsened the already sour brew when he argued against a cabal having immobilized 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 bassy voice of his to ask for a repeat of the 2015 waterloo, he would find out that the crowd before him is a hallucinating assemblage only in his dream.
Pebbles in Buhari’s grains of wheat
Are there analysts in the Buhari government at all? If there are, one would expect that they are by now conducting a psychological analysis of the predictable pattern of memo leakage in the presidency. You will recall that it began with 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. The latest is a copy of the report of the Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita to Buhari.
A psychological appraisal of the consistency of these leakages will reveal one of two things. One, that the governmental apparatchik in Aso Rock is pissed off by the fake public face advertised to the world which is a contradistinction to the private presidential face of the Buhari government within the Villa and is 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. The converse of this argument, which could dud mine is that, the present government is so straightforward that its apparatchik could not but throw open to the world the pebbles infiltrating Buhari’s grain of wheats.
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 educational system it inherited. Education of secondary school students in the state is a social intervention that has been long in time, even from the days of Adekunle Ajasin. The world had been stupefied by 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 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 that of enemies of the downtrodden people of the state and by that very fact, the government. 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 sparsely, with no corresponding training and retraining of 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.
Hypocrisy in high places
The bailout funds paid to the 36 states of the federation have attracted so many commentaries, as well as provoking salient issues that tug at the core of the Nigerian state. Chief of these are corruption and practice of federalism in Nigeria. Recently, the discourse was further deepened when the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, deplored the Federal Government’s withholding of the remaining $3.4 billion (approximately N1.2 trillion) predicated on the fraud that dogged the earlier release of N522.74 billion.
It is good that Yari now realizes that Nigeria is not practicing true federalism due to the withholding of this fund. Of a truth, in a true practice of federalism, what belongs to the autonomous states/regions should accrue to them without let. However, same Yari should know that states and their runners have turned the bailout funds, as well as every fund that drips into their state coffers, into private patrimony, deploying same for a worldwide saturnalia and unprecedented heist in the history of Nigeria. This has numbed the call for the true practice of federalism as it pertains to these accruing funds. Methinks Nigerians would not mind another violation of the tenets of federalism if the Federal Government tarries awhile in releasing the funds to states, so that due process of conducting due diligence on the funds and monitoring same as they are released to states are embarked upon. Come to think of it, how come Yari is not cross with the violation of federalism which ensures that VAT collected in Lagos is paid to indolent states of the North, a hypocritical denunciation of liquor that breeds the VAT? Talk of hypocrisy in high places.