Friday, 2nd June 2023

Tinubu’s titanic trip to Abuja

By Nsikak Ekanem
22 March 2023   |   3:10 am
The February 25 presidential election, in which Bola Ahmed Tinubu was declared winner, was the first time the former Lagos governor sought elective post to represent a constituency beyond Lagos. He is not among those that have Methuselah years in public offices. So far, he has only been in public office for eight years and 331 days.

President Elect Bola Tinubu

The February 25 presidential election, in which Bola Ahmed Tinubu was declared winner, was the first time the former Lagos governor sought elective post to represent a constituency beyond Lagos. He is not among those that have Methuselah years in public offices. So far, he has only been in public office for eight years and 331 days.

He was a senator representing Lagos West from December 5, 1992 to November 17, 1993. On the return to democracy in 1999 and in the course of his aspiration to be elected governor of Lagos, he was considered “tested and trusted” on account of his unwavering stance in the pursuit of actualization of June 12, 1993 presidential election, won by Moshood Abiola of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, and annulled by Ibrahim Babangida-led military government.

Contrary to the appreciable degree of credibility that gives June 12 a niche in Nigeria’s political calendar and through which Tinubu came to limelight, the governorship primary of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) that he emerged was wrought out with wrongs as foulness was the rule of the game. Funsho Williams and Kofo Bucknor Akerele who were rigged out in the race were expectedly not pleased with the unpleasing power-play. It snowballed in a turbulent relationship between Tinubu and Akerele, his first deputy governor, which eventually saw to the latter exiting the government untimely and unceremoniously.

The controversy also had hands in Williams’ defection to PDP, a platform he used in pursuing his governorship ambition until he was assassinated during the build-up to 2007 General Elections in Lagos. The genesis of cracks in Afenifere, the Yoruba’s mainstream socio-cultural organisation, cannot be well chronicled without inscribing the role of the incredible AD primary. In fact, in some sort of Machiavellian move, the establishment in the Afenifere, who saw Tinubu becoming Lagos governor, was relegated immediately he mounted the saddle of leadership. Till date, the frontiers of the Afenifere are still fraught with remnants effect of that relegation.

Tinubu’s presidential marketization was predicated on his eight years governorship of Lagos between 1999 and 2007.  He is seen by so many as the pathfinder of Lagos progress. Many others take him to pillory for allegedly plundering Lagos potentials and personally profiteering from the perceived plundering. Since government is not pure science, mathematical exactitude of performance or non-performance of any government remains arguable. To worsen matters, vague and misguided parameters are often used in many places in Africa in measuring governance.

Not a few persons are therefore beguiled by ornamental infrastructures and hoodwinked by cheap theatrics. In many instances, indices such as direct bearings to the general welfare of the people, observance of the rule of law, accountability, transparency and due process, which are salient characteristics of an ideal government, do not come into computation in measuring good or bad governance.

Worst still, ascertaining good or bad governance is no mean task because great deals of sifting facts from fictions needs to be done since fallacies are common features in showcasing the dos and don’ts of government in our clime. That is why falsehood such as the saying that Tinubu ran the affairs of Lagos for eight years on zero allocation from the federation account could fly faster than the fact that the Olusegun Obasanjo-led federal government unlawfully withheld only Lagos local government’s funds from April 2004 till the end of Tinubu’s administration in May 2007 following creation of new local governments that were not recognised by the law.

In fact data released from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation indicates that Lagos got N48.62 billion from the federation account in the year 2007 when Tinubu left office.

Whichever, there is no doubt that Tinubu has developed more wings from Lagos and now flies to Abuja where he is perching to the peril of many political gladiators at the national firmament. His celebrity status has less to do with his governorship performances. I can adduce five broad factors accounting for Tinubu’s political clout.

Firstly, the consideration of his being a tested and trusted fellow during the fight for democracy dovetails to his being a beneficiary of spirit of comradeship that often flows with jollification among comrades, hence, with exception of Gani Fawehinmi’s one-man squad, he has been handled with kid gloves by larger segment of the Nigerian civil society movement, including the news media. The comradely solidarity was his saving grace when he was embroiled in scandal bordering on allegations of age and certificate forgery.

Secondly, unlike other parts of southern Nigeria, where republicanism holds sway, the Yorubas of the south-west revel in royalism. The relationship between the led and a leader, especially one with an apparent bend to populism, is predominantly shaped by adoration, obeisance and blind loyalty on the part of the former. This makes Tinubu straddle Lagos like his private fiefdom to the extent of being the sole determinant of who governs Lagos at different times after him.

That is why there is non-craving for distinguishable identity by his successors, no matter how exceptional their works in office have been. Ironically, this factor is repudiation of traits of liberalism and pursuit of intellectualism that distinguishes the south-west from other parts of Nigeria.

Thirdly, the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos as well as its commercial fecundity gives rise to political apathy. So many people opt out of political participation. This is glaringly shown in less than half of registered voters participating in every election in Lagos, including the famous June 12 and the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly Elections. Coupled with the factor of inclination to royalty, political apathy on the part of many Lagosians enhances Tinubu’s firm grip of Lagos.

Another thing that ticks for Tinubu is his hyping in the Nigerian news media. In highlighting him as a high achiever, the giant strides recorded by Tinubu’s predecessors, such as the likes of Lateef Jakande and Buba Marwa are only given footnote recognition, if any, just as his successors’ stellar strides are encapsulated into his. The fact that the foundation for Lagos’s first-among equal in the comity of states in Nigeria was laid by the country’s lopsided federation, which Lagos, as a federal capital for over seven decades was a great beneficiary, is hardly given cognizance.

Fifthly, amidst widespread questioning of the source of his stupendous wealth, Tinubu’s philanthropic gesture, which seems to have Robin Hood’s inspiration, has actually skyrocketed so many from abyss of penury to acme of prosperity, and, therefore, tremendously warmed him to the hearts of many homes, especially from his section of the country.

Notwithstanding the foregoing factors, it must be admitted that Tinubu is a titan in the course of Nigeria’s attainment of democracy, and his titanic image is not a function of fortuitousness but fruitage of bravery and tenacity. Curiously, among over a score of persons that were gunning to be elected Nigeria’s president from the level of intra-party contest, Tinubu was the only one that the emerging power brokers in Abuja did all they could to frustrate.

Tinubu’s surmounting of several mountainous road-blocks mounted on his road to the presidency is a political case study and testimony of tenacity.

Even so, shrewd as Tinubu may be adduced to be in politics, he worked his way through the February 25 presidential election not because of his brinksmanship but as a result of poor marksmanship of the leading opposition parties. They sang in soli when the competition lasted, only to form an orchestra and started to sing in unison shortly after the deeds that undid them had already been done.

Considering Tinubu’s tract in travesties and triumphs in Nigeria’s political trajectory of the last 30 years, indications abound that the former Lagos State governor is better off for the society when he is fighting outside the corridor of power for development of democracy and the people.

As reflected by the majority of Nigerian voters that voted against him on February 25, electing Tinubu an Opposition Leader would have been preferable to his being Nigeria’s President. That is why his victory is eliciting more moaning and less jubilation.
Ekanem sent this piece through

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