Is Bola Tinubu The Problem With Nigeria? By Edo Ukpong
These past weeks have not been any different from the past months, Nigeria has been stumbling from one crisis to another, from one killing to another, from one scandal to another from one distasteful act of impunity to more disquieting acts of impunity and so on.
Bola Tinubu In all of these there is no hope that things will quiet down anytime soon or indeed that we have seen/heard the worst. Things happen with such varying degrees of absurdity and at such frenetic pace, that it is not feasible for any ‘breaking news’ to grab our attention for any length of time. The military clampdown on some media organizations and seizure of their newspapers, is distant memory. The infamous tragicomic ‘only you waka come’ rendition has had its screenplay hijacked and adapted only for pure comedy away from the horror show that it so cruelly depicted. The Chibok saga is still in the news thankfully because of the ‘#Bringbackourgirls’ campaign.
Even at that, the fact that Onyeka Onwenu and Kema Chikwe both frontline national women leaders publicly doubted the fact of the chibok abduction is faint memory. The bombings in Abuja have receded from our memory to be replaced for now with the apprehension of where next. The Ekiti election has come and gone and any messages, if at all, drowned out by contrived public commentary which very much mirrors a situation where a commentator watching a football match at Onikan Stadium will be commentating on a basketball match at National Stadium. If the election itself is distant memory, then talk less of the interview, Senator Ayo Arise gave, penultimate day to the election, on national breakfast television where with the typical arrogance of ‘today’s people’ he boasted of certain victory. His deep insights included the fact that the President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan had made money available to the Fayose campaign and so they will outmatch the APC cashwise! That kind of talk has not been worthy of any further analysis, not even in the shortlived post Ekiti debate.
The polarization of the country has obviously fractured every institution and every profession and it takes the deeply discerning to have a fair idea as to what is really going on because in most cases reportage or public discourse is only the end product of serious back room strategy by various interest groups. So when in the past few weeks personal attacks and ‘damaging’ reviews, overviews and opinion pieces started appearing regarding Senator Bola Tinubu, my senses went into auto alert. When the brilliant Rudolf Okonkwo of Sahara Reporters joined the fray I knew the onslaught was akin to the Ekiti election, ‘operation blanket cover’ and like the Ekiti version with seamless execution – no blood, only tears which dry very fast!
Many commentators even blame Tinubu for the APC Ekiti ‘loss’, tracking his overbearing godfatherism as responsible for the revolt of the Ekiti people. The line of argument being that Ekiti people do not want to be ruled from Lagos. Presumably the security cover for the election was provided by proud independent Ekiti people. Also the money referred to by Ayo Arise did not carry any ‘foreign’ stamp. Indeed the argument stretches to cover the proposition that the Ekiti loss is the signpost of APC’s impending death because of an overbearing godfather, which has suddenly become exclusive to Tinubu and a cardinal sin in Nigeria’s politics! What confuses me further, is deciding whether to be persuaded whether Governor Fayemi lost because of Tinubu’s unpopularity or Fayose’s popularity in Ekiti? In my view a marriage of both positions is contradictory and will remain so even in this era of same sex marriage. Still more confusing is the general, albeit grudging admission that Governor Fayemi governed Ekiti conscientiously and prudently and transformed Ekiti State even if not to the level of ‘uncommonality’ but definitely beyond the scope of the states resources. So if Ekiti was being run from Lagos, are we also insinuating that Tinubu should be seen as the non resident architect of that rare example of good governance? At times I wonder what to make of public discourse in Nigeria, it gets too complicated and confusing.
Excuse the digression, but in truth that is what this piece is about. It is about our inability as a people to correctly tune in and stay focused on issues for any length of time, the issues that affect our overall well being as a people. It is so easy to divert our attention and I give it to the strategists of the government, they are getting better at the art. How can we in all good conscience analyse the Ekiti election without analysing the fact of misuse of military power and its bearing on our nascent democracy. So in a boxing match if one boxer is tied to one spot and consequently pummelled to submission by his mobile opponent, we should take the view that the restraint was not important because being smaller in stature and lacking crowd support he would have lost anyway! Or perhaps that his coach was too overbearing! Why do we not surmise rather that the people who put the restraints are not fools and that if victory had been assured they will not have resorted to such absurdity. If Fayose and PDP were so popular and Fayemi, APC and Tinubu so unpopular, why the resort to all manner of crudity?I know Fayose may be rough but is not foolish, PDP may be ‘anything goes’ but is not a stupid party and my dear president Jonathan is clued up on winning elections.
Tinubu has been accused of many things and not having sufficient information, it will be foolhardy for me to attempt any defence. That is also not the objective of this piece. It is a notorious fact that Tinubu is living large today and being a party leader of a formidable party in the Nigerian setting, with the attendant ‘responsibilities’. I will not argue with anybody who takes the view that his stint as governor and now party godfather has conferred other benefits for which many will not mind the attendant sleepless nights!
My view though is that the ruling party sees Tinubu as the single most significant factor that can threaten its continued dominance of power in Nigeria. His energy and organisational ‘never say die’ determination has in their view been allowed to go too far. So time to take him out. Take him out and the opposition will fracture and evaporate. So there is a concerted effort not only to criminalise opposition politics but also rubbish Tinubu the arrowhead and even blame him in crocodile tears fashion for his party’s simulated impending death so as to create doubt and confusion in the ranks of its supporters and other opposition politicians. In Nigeria’s fickle and monetized political culture, it will take genius guile, money, luck and superhuman perseverance to overcome the desperate antics of a party with no qualms about using every trick in its huge divisive bag of tricks.
All the talk of godfatherism and definition of who is or not a progressive is just to goad the opposition to restructure APC into another National Conscience Party, a party populated with only progressives but which is yet to win any election. Of what use are all the progressive ideas in the world and saintliness of operators if the result is not access to the power required to effect those progressive ideas?
What seems to scare the PDP is the realization that APC also understands Realpolitik and that Tinubu a product of the NADECO struggle who survived, Babangida, Abacha and later Obasanjo has a few tricks up his sleeve too and may just lead APC into Aso Rock by road whilst the PDP machinery is deployed at the Airport!
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