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When undeclared ambition is a crime: The Tinubu conundrum


Lately, the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC)- Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has been assaulted on all sides because of his perceived ambition to contest the Presidential election in 2023.

Yet, he has not made any public declaration to that effect. He is derided by the Afenifere- the foremost political and cultural association in the South West-ostensibly for crumbling the empire it built in the region, over the decades, which was founded on ‘Awoism’- the political doctrine of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, of blessed memory.

Afenifere is yet to come to terms with how this unwanted tsunami-a supposedly political neophyte, from outside of Awo’s mainstream political thought, within a twinkling of an eye, blew away the well-fortified structure and systems of its impregnable empire into smithereens. It is a massive pain too much for the group to bear.


A number of other political tendencies in the South West are against Asiwaju Tinubu because of his towering height in the evolving political landscape in Nigeria, bearing in mind his ability to identify, nurture and place talents in various positions of responsibilities in which they have performed creditably over time. This set of aggrieved politicians, some of whom benefitted tremendously from his large-heartedness, elaborate political structure and extensive networks, have chosen to betray their benefactor, in the course of time, expecting the discerning and enlightened minds of the South West to reward them for their treachery and rebellion. Unfortunately, they are unmindful of the lessons of history that the good people of the South West do not decorate turncoats and ungrateful lieutenants with gallants of honour.

A section of the South East and South-South elites is against Asiwaju Tinubu not because he has done anything to hurt their interests, deliberately, but because of the role he played in the formation of the APC, culminating in the eventual loss of President Ebele Jonathan in the 2015 Presidential elections. He is, therefore, accused unfairly of bringing a northerner to power. In some parts of northern Nigeria, there are some who believe that he should be cut to size in order to give President Buhari the latitude to run the affairs of the APC, and the government of the day, without any form of distractions from a rival power base. This powerful group within the APC is of the view that according to Asiwaju Tinubu his due respect as the National leader of the party diminishes the President as the undisputed leader of the party, thereby placing Asiwaju in an advantaged position in the race for the 2023 electoral contest.

There are others who criticize him from hearsays or rumours about his stupendous wealth, reasoning that he must have helped himself to the goodies of office while he served as a two-term governor of Lagos State. Without any concrete evidence, some even refer to him as the wealthiest politician, and probably the most corrupt of them all in the country today. Yet, there are others who think the only way Asiwaju can project himself as a progressive is to confront President Buhari and make his administration miserable, thereby distracting the President from delivering on his promises to the Nigerian people.


This cacophony of voices is mostly from powerful individuals and groups from southern Nigeria who, without any objective reasons, hate President Buhari with passion. They expect Asiwaju to join their train to further enlarge and deepen the north-south divide without realizing that it portends grave danger to national security and the continued existence of our beloved nation. To them, Asiwaju Tinubu’s voice must be drowned and silenced because of his loyalty to the President, as well as his alliance with the north.

Undoubtedly, Tinubu may not be the best politician that Nigeria has ever had. In the same vein, he is certainly not the worst politician of this generation. Accordingly, to me, Afenifere’s relentless assault on him is needless. They are, however, free to continue to walk alone along their endless path of casting aspersion on his character -which is neither uninspiring nor dignifying-through their regular spokesperson- Yinka Odumakin, who literarily seems not to have any vacation these days other than to throw invectives at Asiwaju regularly in order to justify his relevance. I believe that the Afeniferes, as elders, should appreciate that there is a better way of managing a family disagreement. It cannot be by encouraging some of its members to be dancing naked in the streets all the time. When it is evident that nobody is listening to the message of the community leader through the town crier, it must be sufficiently concerning to the leader that he or she needs to embark on self-examination in order to ascertain whether he or she is still in touch with the people.


By sticking to a self-defeating singleness of purpose of hurting Asiwaju politically, that is counter-productive, Afenifere has itself to blame for its dwindling fortunes in the political space, not Asiwaju. My thinking is that Afenifere lost its hold in the South West when it became opportunistic and ideologically barren. Unable to forge a common vision, purpose and relevance in politics, arising largely from its grandstanding on sensitive issues of national importance, when moderation is of the essence, its credibility was further eroded because of its division into two camps of unfriendly friends, its acrimonious style of politics and its refusal to tolerate alternative viewpoints. No wonder it became an easy tool for promoting personal vendettas- first, against the person of Late Chief Bola Ige and thereafter against Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

Not discerning the times and seasons, its ambition was to reincarnate Chief Awolowo without realizing that Awo was a rare breed who could not be cloned or repackaged for the new generation in a false colouration. Indeed, the hood does not make the monk. Awo has gone to rest in eternity with his cap, eyeglasses, shoes and political doctrine, especially with the demise of his able lieutenants who kept faith with his governance ideology such as Papa Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Chief Bola Ige, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Alfred Rewane, Chief Gbadamosi, Chief Josiah Olawoyin, all of the blessed memory, to mention a few.

To be continued tomorrow

Mayomi, a retired director in the Federal Civil Service, is a public affairs commentator and analyst.


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