Giving Asiwaju Tinubu His Due, By Utum Eteng
When in Late 2012 there was a rumoured talk about an impending meager between some major opposition parties, not many took the rumour with a pinch of salt. Even the ruling party then, the PDP, in its characteristics manner, dismissed the plan with a wave of the hand.
The evolving scenario in 2013, where the then ACN, CPC, ANPP and a faction of APGA merged to form what was known as a “merge party” however, sounded a note that struck a chord to PDP. Yet, the then ruling party ignored the merger or pretended to do so, carrying on as if the presidency was an inherited stool.
Today, the “rag-tag” parties are now the ones smiling under a broad based umbrella known as the All Progressive Congress (APC) as it has taken over the reign of power at the center. Unfortunately, self-interest has been commonly and randomly displayed and the new party has been unable to settle down effectively because of the orchestrated sponsored crisis in the National Assembly.
It must however, be noted that one person among the few that made the merger and indeed the victory, possible for the APC was Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His decision to first step down his ambition for the Vice Presidential position of the party remains an unparalleled sacrifice till date. Not only that, he deployed the structure of his Defunct ACN to achieve maximum effect and mobilized both human and financial resources to ensure victory always for the party in the South West. But not for Tinubu, the last minute effort by the PDP to take over Lagos would have been a done deal. Even with the meager, the influence of Tinubu in the South West remains on the ascendancy.
Sadly enough today, it is this influence that some political hawks and converted PDP members in APC are doing everything to curtail and possibly extinguished. For instance, the vacant post of the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the party is being contested for when Tinubu is clearly the right person to occupy it in view of his commitments and uncontroverted knowledge of the political direction of the APC. The argument that the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo is his candidate falls below a good sense of judgment because apart from his core supporters, he deserves a key position in the party considering his enormous sacrifices. Though one is not wishing away the contributions by others but suffice it to opine that its common sense that in a comparism of two or more persons, one person or so must have contributed more than others, and that person is Asiwaju Ahmed Bola. It is no gain restating the fact that it is by no means his political sagacity and stratization together with President Buhari that has brought Nigeria to this vintage point today.
The current crises in the National Assembly is another subtle attempt to spite the former Lagos State Governor without taking into account the implications of this attempt. There is no doubting the commitment of Hon. Femi Gbajiamila (now leader) to the evolution and victory of APC even as he gave the same loyalty to his leaders President Buhari and Bola Tinubu. The needless crisis, especially in the House therefore is to whittle down the power of Tinubu and reduce his influence in national politics, antics clearly muted and are being executed by splinters of the PDP. Thanks to the maturity and wisdom displayed by Hon Speaker Dogara in resolving the issue.
It is equally sad that the Tinubu who was courted by all the actors as a bride prior to the 2015 general elections is now being muzzled, all-be-it surreptitiously with a view to put him out of power. Most unfortunate is the fact that beneficiaries of his magnanimity are those who have ganged up against him at a time he should be assured of a place and role in the party. How long this conspiracy against a master strategist like Tinubu by the transducers will last, only time would tell, for Tinubu is known to be a man who sleeps with his two eyes closed.
It is at this point that the president and party chieftains are urged to come to terms with reason. And for reason to prevail, justice must be brought to bear on the current situation. If a man has made so much personal sacrifice to be the nemesis of a sitting government, he deserves respect and not sympathy. Even more deserving is a prime role in an APC government. Playing politics with justice after victory has its allure, but in the long run, the game will assume a dangerous dimension. The leadership of the APC must watch it back.
Asiwaju Tinubu did what was expected of him at a time the party was looking up to him. He defied his health challenges to campaign from one part of the west to another and kept his promise of delivering the west to APC even at a huge cost. The merger that threw up APC revolved principally around him and president Buhari more than anyone else. The resources that oiled the initial campaigns were cultivated mostly from the west where he holds sway. He endured damaging campaigns by the PDP against him and his house was placed under extreme and intensive surveillance just for his commitment to APC. Apart from odious campaigns, Tinubu bore the brunt of PDP chieftains in his region, some of who would have loved to see him completely out of the way at the time.
Thus, the description of President Buhari by the former American Assistant secretary, Mr. Johnnie Carson as “a man of ermous integrity, one that has shown so much faith in democratic process, one that refused to be frustrated even in the face of massively rigged elections and as a man who even when the judicial process was compromised he never gave up” is instructive and a big plus to the APC. It leaves no one in doubt that the urge by Tinubu for the nomination of Gen Buhari as APC president candidate for the March 28, 2015 presidential election was a choice well made. The APC leadership therefore has a heavy responsibility entrusted on them to work closely together if President Buhari is to achieve the noble aspiration of the truly founding members of the party. It is not every APC member that has the true blood of APC flowing inside him. For some, it is an admixture of APC and PDP blood, hence the conspiracy in the National Assembly. It is emphasized that the leader of the APC should note that it is the determination of the opposition to infiltrate their ranks to cause disaffection with a view to strike hard on them. The recent senate betrayal should be fresh in the minds of the APC leadership and should not be forgotten in a hurry.
It is therefore for these and other reasons, that one has to align his assessment of the unfolding drama with Othman Dan Fodio’s saying that “Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it. I believe that President Buhari has the will-power to fight corruption just as he has the conscience to appropriate justice. I believe that the president is not a man who forgets the goodwill and benevolence of people towards him in a hurry. As a disciplinarian, the president should re-analyze the current situation and place fingers on the appropriate spot where he met his benefactors with the view to decorating them with appropriate garlands. The target for the opposition party is to weaken APC base by sponsoring confusion in the APC family to breakup its ranks in anticipation of 2019.
For those who are stifling the political space without reflecting on those who made victory possible, it is important to remind them that the presence of the night does not indicate the elimination of the day. If PDP after sixteen years in power could not survive the onslaught of the APC ably led by Asiwaju Tinubu and President Buhari, then the present attempt will explode in the face of betrayers, sooner than later.
In any case, the party must not sit idly as one of its leap leaders is being tossed about. The party has all the wherewithal to protect Tinubu and his interest and should be seen to do so. The prevailing circumstance may gradually lead to a situation where hawks gather to share in the spoils they had despised and to compel the others to react forcefully. That way, APC would have won the war but lost the battle.
CHIEF (BARR) UTUM ETENG
Private Legal Practitioner,
Human Rights Activist,
And Anti-Corruption Crusader