On Buhari I Stand By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, let me reiterate here that I’m a latter day convert to Buharism. Truth is it took me years to see the light. I had resisted the conversion due to an overdose of poison from anti-Buhari elements that litter our socio-political landscape. Those who wish to continue the current charade and wish Nigeria would remain in perpetual servitude would do anything and everything possible to make a Buhari Presidency impossible and unrealisable. However lies can run faster than truth but truth will always catch up especially when lies become predictable.
I have received many reactions, and read many comments, on my mathematical calculations about the 2015 elections, earlier published. I have also followed the interventions of my two great Brothers, Simon Kolawole and Segun Adeniyi. We are all committed to seeing a better and greater Nigeria. I don’t think anyone prays for the personal downfall of President Goodluck Jonathan who has obviously faced too many challenges in the last four years. What I see personally is the sad reality that the present problems have overwhelmed him beyond redemption, and asking him to continue is to extend these tragic times for another four years. When Dr Jonathan became President, he inherited a burden heavier than an elephant. If PDP had managed Nigerian affairs a tiny bit, all the hullabaloo about APC would have been unnecessary. But PDP could not keep its own house in order not to talk of governing well.
The implosion of PDP had long been foretold. It is clear that no political party could ever sustain its level of recklessness and rascality forever. Any serious observer and chronicler of events would have seen and known that a day would come when the rampaging monkey would go to the market and fail to return. Such was the case of PDP which behaved like Nigerians were too docile to react or move against it. Such is the kind of complacency and rudeness that has set Burkina Faso on fire today.
The first sign of trouble came from within during the Nigerian Governors’ Forum election in which Rotimi Amaechi roundly defeated Jonah David Jang the favoured candidate of Mr President. But rather than see the handwriting on the wall that something terrible was about to hit its household, the PDP gladiators chose to dig deeper and engage in unholy wars with whosoever challenged its purported invincibility. Before our very eyes, the Nigerian Governors Forum was dichotomised and decimated in a vindictive manner. Seven PDP Governors rebelled and started a nationwide consultation with different socio-political groups. Eventually, five of them chose to challenge fate and decamped to the new amalgamation of political parties known as APC but two later chickened out for obvious and personal reasons.
The birth of APC was bound to change the political configuration and alter the electoral calculations ahead of the 2015 elections. But again the PDP underrated the influence of the confluence of political parties brought about by the emergence and existence of APC. The arrogant assumption by PDP that its power and glory cannot be challenged by APC is what has become its seeming albatross and possible waterloo.
However, APC still has a long and dangerous bridge to cross. My mathematical calculation did not write off the victory of President Jonathan who controls an awesome arsenal which he seems ready to deploy against his enemies. I only opined that APC has a stronger and better chance than the opposition has ever had if it manages its internal contradictions very well. Let’s now examine the defection of the Speaker House of Representatives, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal from PDP to APC. I will address this controversial move from its genesis to revelation before moving on with my forecast.
There was nothing surprising about Tambuwal’s dramatic elopement, if it could be called that. Tambuwal from Day One had been living with a lover while pretending to be in a marriage elsewhere. What Tambuwal did this week was to boldly come out by openly revealing the love of his life and damning all consequences. It was sweet revenge against PDP, and payback time for APC, after he’d been rejected by the original lover when it mattered most. Tambuwal would not have been made Speaker but for the benevolence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who encouraged members of ACN in the National Assembly to support his candidacy. Since then the Speaker has remained fervently in romance with Tinubu and company.
On the possibility of Tambuwal jumping into the APC Presidential race, my answer is a big NO. That was the thinking once upon a time and I was probably the first columnist to write about it. Two major factors affected and aborted that dream.
Tinubu had hoped to groom Tambuwal for the Presidential race. He was seen as a sellable candidate who by virtue of his position and exalted office would readily have his foot-soldiers in most of the Federal constituencies. A lot of work had been done even to persuade the People’s General, Muhammadu Buhari, to come out and anoint Tambuwal publicly. General Babangida had already endorsed him openly. General Obasanjo, the most vocal of the Generals, had no objection to him as everyone knew him to be humble and likeable.
Let me quickly explain before I continue this enthralling saga. Nigeria is a Mafia nation controlled by four different groups. The political Capos are about ten members including Generals Yakubu Jack Dan-Yumma Gowon (the Head of State who fought to keep Nigeria as one country and most senior Army General around), Olusegun Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Obasanjo (only person to have tasted power as military Head of State and civilian President and has the widest international influence), Muhammadu Buhari (most feared of the lot but closest to the poor people of Nigeria), Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (only military Head of State and military President), Abdulsalami Abubakar (only man who kept his word of serving for only one year without the temptation of elongation), Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (who has never governed Nigeria but is the richest, very cerebral and most taciturn power-house in the country), Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan (who by virtue of his present position is a member of that Mafia even if he looks more like a stranger in the fraternity) and Senator David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark (retired Army General and current Senate President who has worked his way up the Mafioso ladder in Nigeria)… There are of course a couple of others who have been security chiefs at one time or the other.
A few Royal icons are sometimes contacted or consulted by the original Mafia. They include The Sultan of Sokoto, The Ooni of Ife, The Obi of Onitsha, The Alaafin of Oyo, The Emir of Kano, The Emir of Zazzau, The Shehu of Borno, The Lamido of Adamawa, and a few others.
There also exists a super caucus of stupendously wealthy business men who hold the economy of Nigeria together and form the third axis of power in the country. They include Dr Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Isola Adenuga (the enigmatic billionaire who controls substantial interests in oil & gas, telecoms, banking and real estate whose true worth has never been revealed); Alhaji Aliko Dangote (with interests in cement, sugar, rice, salt, refineries, and one of the world’s richest men); Dr Tony Elumelu (Group Chairman UBA, Heirs Holdings and Transcorp Corporation of Nigeria); Mr Jim Ovia (with vast interests in banking, telecoms and hospitality); Mr Femi Otedola (with a firm grip on the diesel market and petroleum products) plus two controllers of wealth, both ladies, Diezani Alison-Madueke (Minister of Petroleum Resources) and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Minister of Finance). These men and women have unfettered access to power. Add to the mix some very influential religious leaders who space constraint and time would not allow me to name and you have a cauldron of intrigues and machinations everywhere. All the above-mentioned interests have to be delicately managed with that of the political operatives in the process of seeking Presidential power in Nigeria even if there are occasional or accidental miracles like that of President Jonathan. Tambuwal had a robust network with most of these interest groups.
But the technical complexities of declaring his interest while retaining the Speakership became too knotty to untie. In the process, the steam of Tambuwal’s ambition slowly and steadily evaporated. Then something unexpected overtook the game. Tinubu came into the picture as a possible Vice Presidential candidate. It is still unclear who sold the idea to Tinubu or whether he had nursed the ambition secretly all along. The decision of Tinubu and his team was that such ambition could only be realised in conjunction with Buhari or Atiku since other Presidential aspirants would be too little in status to him. The small group then decided to amplify Buhari’s candidacy. This was how Buhari was cleverly persuaded into returning to the race at a time he had almost said goodbye to perpetual electioneering.
The next hurdle was how to sell what would naturally become a major combustible element in this season of religious conflagration in Nigeria, the Muslim/Muslim ticket, which I wrote agaist very early as a true friend of Tinubu. In fact, a very influential Yoruba man had called and lambasted me for saying the Muslim/Muslim ticket would not work this time. The man was livid as I tried to let him see reason with me. I was now convinced that many people were misleading Tinubu who ordinarily is a master tactician and strategist. The group again decided that for the Tinubu project to work, they must get a Christian candidate for Lagos as palliative to shut up the Christian groups. This was the main reason the Akinwumi Ambode Governorship project became a spiritual obligation.
The group also became very chummy with their erstwhile foe, General Obasanjo, hoping he would not openly attack the project.
Their worst fear was confirmed when Obasanjo gave a blistering attack against a Muslim/Muslim ticket last week thus forcing even the APC Chairman to promptly react that no such idea was ever contemplated. The plan B is now how to get a Christian within the group to step forward as replacement. Except Tinubu changes his mind today or tomorrow, Buhari or whoever gets the APC Presidential ticket would have to suffer some serious migraine because the group wants the reward of working for APC right here on earth and not in heaven.
They are not willing to let go of that VP slot which they are convinced is rightly theirs. The candidate would have to do one of two things, succumb to pressure from Tinubu’s camp or call their bluff. Neither is going to be easy.
The first is the belief that no one can ignore Tinubu’s electoral value in the South West. Some party members are so scared of stepping on Tinubu’s toes even if they believe his influence has waned drastically in recent months. Tinubu’s camp unfortunately is not able to produce a Christian politician with national appeal at this time. The best candidate for the job would have been the wonder-man of Lagos State, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, but there are problems with him on two fronts. The first is that he is a Muslim like Tinubu. And even if his incredible popularity provides him an automatic waiver, he is locked in a battle of wits with his godfather on the issue of who becomes the next Governor of Lagos.
Tinubu is insisting on Mr Ambode while Fashola prefers his former Attorney-General, Mr Supo Shasore.
About ten aspirants have already picked up nomination forms. Ambode has launched his campaign and so has Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the three-Term Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly and probably the most formidable politician in the race. No one knows how things would pan out.
With Fashola out of the Vice Presidential equation, Tinubu is relying on his friends, the three Musketeers: Yemi Osibajo (a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and former Attorney-General in Lagos); Yemi Cardoso aka Headmaster ( an accountant, banker with a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Management from Havard, served under Governor Tinubu as Commissioner of Economic Planning and Budget); and Olawale Edun (with an exceptionally brilliant background in Economics and great career in Merchant banking, corporate finance and stockbroking; he was a Commissioner of Finance under Governor Tinubu).
There is a fourth personality under consideration, Professor Robert Ajayi Borrofice, a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic from Ondo State who was Director General, National Space Research and Development Agency, with a PhD in Genetics. They are all distinguished and honourable men but many doubt their electoral value in a complicated environment like Nigeria.
Many APC members believe the South West should not produce the Vice President so soon after Obasanjo left power. Their greatest consideration is that the region that lays the golden eggs, the South-South cannot be ignored if peace must reign and President Jonathan is to be pushed aside. The conclusion is that both Governors Adams Oshiomhole and Rotimi Amaechi have the national appeal as well as Executive experience that Buhari would require after so many years out of power.
Amaechi in his case has the additional advantage of legislative exposure as two-Term Speaker of Rivers State while Oshiomhole comes with intimidating Labour credentials.
I will still place my bet on Buhari emerging as the APC Presidential candidate. He’s a safer risk for his Party and one man the other aspirants can unite around. He would now have to be bold enough to take the difficult risk of who becomes his running mate.
I wish him the best of wisdom.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
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