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Tinubu and the sisyphean task


Bola Tinubu

Sisyphus, a king of Corinth and ancestor of Bellerophone, is, according to classical mythology, condemned to roll a huge stone though it always rolls down again.

A “Sisyphean task” demands endless and often fruitless labour. Metaphorically, it stands for the absurdity of life and the futility of man’s endeavours or ambitions.

The recent appointment of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu by President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the searing conflicts within the APC is cast in the mould of the Sisyphean tragedy.


Buoyed by the expectation or popular acclamation of Tinubu as a “miracle worker,” Buhari’s choice of him is not only a brilliant tactical manoeuvre, it is a deft political chess game.

Buhari may have sensed the requirement to latch on to Tinubu’s massive following in the largely-sidelined South-West region particularly in this period of feverish electioneering.

He may also have reasoned the desideratum to rake in the one who has been suggested to have become weary regarding government’s narrow diagnosis of the national question or of the limited remedy it is offering to resolve it.

Tinubu’s worldview of the necessity for an effective mobilisation of ideas through a wider involvement of experienced and knowledgeable persons [not party hacks or blood relations] has hitherto not been shared by Buhari. He has reportedly carried on as if he and his coterie of kindred spirits hold the magic wand for achieving the “Change!” agenda.

Buhari had ridden on the crest of a popular “manifesto” which excitedly brandished an immediate rolling back into great fortunes of a battered economy.

A profound understanding of the country’s economic problems and of the strategies for confronting them were imputed to Buhari and his All Progressives Congress.
But things soon fell apart shortly after the election was won.

Tinubu himself has captured the public sense of angst or frustration following after the party’s victory. Said he recently, “Since we won the election, the expectation was very high and the goodwill was extremely high. But where are we today?…”

Gargantuan as the Tinubu instruction may appear, it is fitfully narrow in scope or contemptibly circumscribed in its operational objective. Even as President Buhari is not included in Tinubu’s brief to be talked out of his yet-to-be declared but silently loud intention to seek a second term, the reconciliation assignment is flawed as it is apparently programmed to achieve a curious pre-determined goal. Opinion is rife that Buhari’s candidature is a hidden item under the table.

His bid for another tenure may however not fly with the electorate granting the popular perception of the poor performance of his government. He has in the public view become the APC’s albatross as his candidature may suffer from an inescapable fact or influence for his poor first term outing.

Tinubu has reasoned a factual situation out of his nebulous assignment. He has conceived of his mission as one for seeking “opinion and advice on the various conflicts … and to resolve them and … move the party forward in a cohesive manner.”

It is noteworthy to observe however that the APC is not a party in the operational sense of that usage. It is an amalgamation of diverse, often conflicting or mutually-exclusive, interests.

Its common aim in 2015 was to bludgeon the weak-kneed Jonathan administration out of office. It hobbled together a loose coalition of bodies comprising the ultra right-wing fundamentalist Congress for Progressive Change [CPC], the rabble-rousing but ideologically “a little to the left” Action Congress of Nigeria [ACN], a fringe faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance [APGA], an asphyxiating all Nigeria Peoples Party [ANPP], and a break-away unit of the “Chop, I chop” mentality of the People’s Democratic Peoples Party [PDP]. These ones may not reasonably be counted upon to act or operate as a party or “in a cohesive manner.”

Fractious debates, fundamental disagreements and deep-seated personality conflicts have dogged the path of APC’s operational thrusts or even of the salutary resolution of the national question.

Tinubu and Buhari themselves proportionately share of this hubris. The duo’s overweening self-confidence or vain pride was witnessed, for instance, in their respective ego flexing concerning the Ondo and Kogi State governorship primary election palaver.

All over the country, particularly in Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Oyo, Kwara, Katsina, Kogi, Bauchi and Adamawa there are bristling conflicts expecting to be resolved with the Tinubu one upmanship managerial skill or magic wand.

It is being canvassed in some usually-authoritative circles that this Tinubu assignment is clearly positioned to “fortuitously” waste or denude the Tinubu political capital of its essence or influence even as the possibility of failure in the achievement of its “objective” is sure to make him lose his primus political stature or prestige, deconstruct his proverbial awesomeness and ultimately turn him into an irrelevant political “has-been”.

All these are possibilities; as all that appears important to those who have tipped him for the job is to exploit his good offices to help pave the way for a popular acceptance of the Buhari candidacy in the impending presidential poll.

The administration’s seeming apathy regarding the larger issues of statecraft, of the national question respecting the smugly-ignored general clamour for the political restructuring of the country, the identified in-adequacy or ineffectiveness of the nation’s security apparatus, the regional slant in public appointments, especially in the security sector, a niggardly economy reportedly emerging from recession, the selective prosecution of the anti-corruption offensive etc. have rendered the prospects of a Buhari return frightening or dreadful.

Tinubu is acutely conscious of the character deficit of the party regarding a catalogue of unfulfilled promises of change and of its trajectory of living in self-denying policy grandstanding.

Being a grassroots politician, he is not unaware of the public anxiety that has attended the failure of traction or of the loss of motion by a party that excited so much hope at the beginning.

The people’s near-infinite expectation of fulfilment and of their own self-actualisation which they foresaw in APC’s “Change!” rhetoric have been dimmed.

The running battle between Tinubu and the National Chairman of the party, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, is a festering sore.

Its suppuration was evident at the hurriedly-called National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Executive Council [NEC] respective meetings of the party the other week.

The tenure of the Council was curiously extended by one year amidst doubts that the bodies have powers to amend the party’s constitution which has prescribed a 2-year term for the NEC organ of the party.

Governor Yari of Zamfara State has wondered aloud if the term elongation is not an unmitigated breach of the party’s aide memoire. He, along with Tinubu, seems to be insisting on the sanctity of the party’s rule book.

Interspersed with the issue of the centrality of the dictates of the constitution is the intractable matter of party supremacy. The way party members, especially governors elected on the platform of the party, have smugly defied the party’s collective decisions underscores the rag-tag nature of its membership composition. The whole atmosphere is confused.

We conclude by saying that the Tinubu reconciliation effort ought to have been directed at the people who have been sorely hurt by APC’s rambling or desultory rule.

A programme of sincere rapprochement for the renewal of relations with a distraught or perplexed electorate will seem to be more effective strategy. It is the people that the party truly needs to reconcile itself with not sulking or brooding party lig wigs.

Rotimi-John, is a lawyer and public affairs commentator.

In this article:
Ahmed Tinubu
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