Tinubu’s hagiography in a situation of objective tension
Rave reviews, ingenious repartee, angry disputations, frenzied denunciation of alleged untruths or mis-statement, contemptuous dismissal of chronological inexactitude and a general paroxysm of passion have expectedly greeted a book that has made saints of gnomes or persons otherwise considered unworthy of the highly eulogistic account of their wondrous deeds.
Akande’s My Participations has participated, albeit as a poor player, in the literary tradition of hagiography or the effusive over praise of a work’s subject matter. In his book, Baba Akande threw darts at different directions and thereby maligned diverse persons. But he exonerated Tinubu for the very reasons he defamed the others. Tinubu is the quintessential manager of men and material. According to Akande, we owe Tinubu a debt of gratitude and generations hereafter owe him a debt beyond their power to repay. Akande will not be understood to underestimate the enormous mental power and inexhaustible generosity of Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu. Whatever suggestions for improvement we make to Tinubu, they can only aid and not supplant, stimulate and nor suppress the intense work of Tinubu’s native intellect. Tinubu is the next best thing to ice cream, we have been alerted.
Akande has been more enamoured of the Tinubu methods than he is appreciative of their ensuing results. The real authority of political practice, Akande has submitted, is to be found in Tinubu’s political pedagogy. The larger strengths and weaknesses in the Tinubu and, to a lesser extent, President Muhammadu Buhari’s methods are really quite similar, Akande concludes. One is struck by the great resistance to change in procedure and practice engendered by the underlying emphasis on both sides respecting fundamentals. The credo of the APC regarding the 2015 general elections was rendered in mellifluous verbiage of “Change!” Many practitioners of politics in Nigeria have come to perceive Tinubu and APC as instinctively opposed to change even as the duo seldom concern themselves about the broad aspects of public policy. In one breath, Tinubu is gamely. However, blinded by political ambition, he is unable to understand the gridlock dynamics, for instance, of a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket in a plural society or in a situation of an upbeat religious division. The conservatism in the upper reaches of the APC has been further revealed as the influence of powerful members (some of them more powerful than the party at convention) over and above the inhibiting or civilising modus of a fellow-feeling ethic, fairness and the imperative of peaceful co-existence in a sorely-divided political milieu.
The many snide or disparaging remarks Akande has recorded in his book concerning perceived adversaries are positioned to paint them in lurid colours in contradistinction to Tinubu’s graceful graciousness or generosity of mind and spirit. But Akande’s panegyric respecting Tinubu is not conveyed in sentences or phrases of majestic eloquence giving fillip to the widely-rumoured spat that the book was frenziedly put together just in time to score a cheap debating point or to take the winds off the sails of certain conscientious objectors to the Tinubu presidential bid. The general editor or publisher of the book may have been put under intense strain or stress just to meet a deadline instead of a lifeline that otherwise could have benefited the book in terms of a considered peroration. Even as Akande is in good company with Tinubu and Buhari, it is doubtful if his conviction by Buhari on corruption charges in 1984 has been relieved or mediated in his own favour. Buhari revealed he could follow Akande into the jungle unreflectingly but he could not vouch for his integrity or could not entrust state coffers to his care as he jailed him for a whopping 44 years behind bars for misappropriation of public funds. Had the Babangida interregnum not occurred, Akande would still have been in prison probably at Gashua with about six years more to regain his freedom. His freedom has however, earned him the opportunity to participate in the many taradiddles that have become the ways and means of the life and times of public men in Nigeria and which are identified in Akande’s My Participations. Akande’s unserved sentence has paradoxically unleashed him to participate in and be part of the activities of the jungle of corruption which Nigeria has become. He has been unleashed to be hand-in-gloves with persons who have sworn as members of a “national family” to dis-entitle or dis-inherit the people.
Baba Akande’s participation in all these has extravagantly earned him the unflattering accolades of persons whose pronouncement concerning him may not be believed on account of a proverbial character or credibility deficit. Tinubu has said of Akande: “Chief Akande is such a person with whom our lives are better because of the selfless public and private contribution he has made to this national family.” This remark is in reference to a family of which 200 million Nigerians are no members or cannot belong to. So Akande’s leadership is sectarian or parochial to the extent that it is selfless and actuated only to the protection of the interests of the “national family.” A bold or intrepid member of the “national family,” Tinubu is easily the most daring of all the ranking members of the family. When some three weeks ago, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria warned that it would not brook a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket respecting the 2023 presidential election, it was reasoned that the group had chanced upon Tinubu’s rumoured decision to pick a fellow Muslim to run with him in the likely event that he secures the APC nomination to run as its flag bearer. Isa Pantami, the roundly-beleaguered Minister of Communication and Digital Economy has been reportedly projected as Tinubu’s running mate. A Sheikh or Islamic clergy, Pantami is reputed to belong to a fire-hitting fundamentalist creed of Islam. But Tinubu is not dismayed by a possible backlash of a decidedly unbalanced scale respecting the Nigerian political firmament. Tinubu appears ready to take on a sea of troubles regarding attitudes or actual challenge of his choice first, of an insensitive political consideration and second, of an utterly controversial mullah as deputy.
Even though Tinubu appears capable of driving himself unmercifully, his professed age belies an ability to do as may be required of an agile presidential hopeful. It is important for Tinubu and, no less for Akande considering this impending race, to pick up the gauntlet thrown by Chief Ayo Adebanjo who responded to the allegation that Tinubu gifted him his Lekki residence by making a public declaration regarding the true position. Further, Adebanjo had called on EFCC to investigate his claim which step he advised Tinubu and Akande to take respecting the property they respectively own. It is hoped that Tinubu and Akande will do like Adebanjo by declaring as he did and subject their property to EFCC investigation. Their moral armament will thereby be strengthened to take on the impending sea of troubles regarding Tinubu’s moral and ethical qualifications for the coveted office of President.
Even as Tinubu has missed the opportunity of a forthwith confirmation or denial of Akande’s claim that he bankrolled the construction of Adebanjo’s house, Tinubu is honour-bound to put the matter to rest by making a public statement to clear the mist in the interest of a confused general public.
• Rotimi-John is a lawyer and public affairs commentator.