2023: Why Tinubu may play own Trump card
On Wednesday, I stumbled on a newspaper article written by one Mr. Emameh Gabriel where he highlighted the bottlenecks or rather, the many hurdles the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would face should he throw his hat into the ring for the 2023 presidential race.
He did not just jump to conclusions about how Tinubu may not be best suited for the coveted seat without first embellishing his views about the personage of a man (now) referred to as the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom, a.k.a Lion of Bourdillon. He extolled his prowess at resisting the then powers that be against rigging out the then Action Congress (AC) which had transmuted from the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
He would express further the opinions of some personalities with the resonating voice within the country’s polity like Pa Reuben Fasoranti, former leader of the pan-Yorùbá socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Mr. Elton Onwu, a member of the 2018 APC National Convention Committee and a member of the Screening Sub Committee both canvassing for a Tinubu Presidency.
These, however, did not stop him from expressing his personal opinions based on his viewpoint as well as his understanding of the political permutations rearing their head as the 2023 electioneering draws nearer. True to his worldview, there are several vested interests as Nigeria journeys towards another year of a national election. To capture the entire piece crafted by Mr. Gabriel, this I will summarily put under five subheadings – The Presidency garnished as a northern political force, new alliances from recent decampees, corruption charges, the religious card as well as the Osinbajo candidature.
MR. Gabriel posited that a so-called northern political power bloc arrow-headed (sic) by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai in conjunction with his Kebbi State counterpart, Atiku Bagudu, and some appointees of President Buhari within his kitchen cabinet would be a torn in the political flesh of Tinubu’s Presidency. However, what the writer did not take into consideration is the incontrovertible fact that the north is not made up of only Kebbi, Kaduna, and Yobe states. As a matter of fact, Asiwaju Tinubu has courted more alliances in the north than whatever game people like Malami and his recruited allies would come up with. And for Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the piece further shows there’s little to what the writer knows about the petite governor of Kaduna State. For the records, Tinubu’s camaraderie with the north goes as far as the northeast transcending the whole of north-central and a substantial part of the northwest. For all I’ve come to know about President Muhammadu Buhari, he is no betrayer. If the Jagaban throws in his hat, the Buhari we know we do everything to support his ambition regardless of whatever his appointees may want to scheme. And as for the governors showing some power muscle, when it’s time for the real game, the seedlings will be separated from the chaff.
MR. Gabriel also averred that new decampees from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, the likes of the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade would alter the political game for the 2023 presidency. However, he is quick to forget that the experience of the party, especially of Tinubu with the likes of former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Atiku Abubakar, Senator Dino Melaye, and many others had thought the APC a bitter lesson it would never forget. Politics is not served a là carte. And the coming of the serving governors of the opposition was not to alter any political game, rather it was a calculated attempt at making them relevant at the national politics after their tenures might have expired. And even if it is anything to go by, the idea that the southeast may want to seek a slot for the presidency under the APC, it would be a herculean task judging by what the geopolitical zone has hitherto related with the presidency in the last general elections.
WHEN the mention was made of the (now) frizzled out narrative of corruption charges against the person of Tinubu shortly after the emergence of Mr. Bawa as the new anti-corruption czar, I knew it was a ‘Dead On Arrival’ agenda. It was a momentary howling just to keep his misanthropes busy for a while. And that was exactly what happened. Alluding to a spurious beer parlour gossips about reopening of any case file was the most puerile and jejune innuendo anyone could consider. What case was to be reopened I still cannot fathom. Is it the case that the Code of Conduct Tribunal discarded as having no locus standi that was to be reopened or another new case entirely? I also recall the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC numero uno, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu stated categorically that much as he tried relentlessly to investigate the government of Asíwájú Tinubu as the Lagos State Governor in his two terms, the invitation of the United Kingdom Metropolitan Police and that of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI could not indict Asíwájú in any way, shape or form.
MR. Gabriel feared that the religious card would be deployed and would play a major role. While not waving this possibility, a vast majority of Nigerians, especially the voting populace does not attach so much importance to the religious card during elections. What they worry about is nothing less than democratic deliverables. The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai proved that in the last general election when he flew a Muslim-Muslim ticket and won fair and square. And even in the worst-case scenario, a northern Christian from the minority clique can pair with Asíwájú Bọ́lá Ahmed Tinubu.
IT is an open and shut fact that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has over time proven to be a man of brilliance, a geek, and no less a man of high cerebral intelligence. Having served as a two-term Attorney General of Lagos State with many landmarks credited to him under Asíwájú Tinubu’s political tutelage and his exceptional delivery as the next in command to the president of the Federal Republic suffices to say with all sincerity and without equivocation that the professor of Constitutional Law is eminently qualified to run as a presidential candidate. Osinbajo therefore in the opinion of Mr. Gabriel would be Tinubu’s joker.
Why Tinubu May Play Own Card
NOW, without talking down on the capability of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, of course as opined earlier, he was (and still is) an Asíwájú protege; and he is eminently qualified to run for the race. However, Asíwájú Tinubu remains a master strategist, the architect of modern Nigeria, a political juggernaut, and a man with the blueprint to take it further from wherever the incumbent stops. He has not left anyone in doubt about his clarity of purpose, his vision for a more prosperous and united Nigeria. In recent times, he had made several contributions on how he felt the trajectory of the country should run. Asíwájú Tinubu has the clout, the national networks which the Vice President may not entirely possess. His 8-year tenure as Lagos State Governor took the state from a state that could hardly pay civil servants salaries which usually came in higher than the entire state’s Internally Generated Revenue – IGR of a little above N500m monthly to a state making about N11bn monthly at the twilight of his administration.
Why Tinubu may play his own card is because the country going forward needs a fearless and audacious leader with all the requisite paraphernalia of office to deliver on electoral promises – human capital, technical know-how, and the political gusto to introduce a new world order. Asíwájú Tinubu is a man who leads from the front. He will not only show the way. He equally goes the way. He is a leader who has been there before. He had seen it all, sacrificed a whole lot, and had propped up so many leaders who today call the shots and therefore his time has come to allow his Midas touch on Lagos to extend to national prominence. And like I said in a write up I wrote sometimes in March 2021 wherein I categorically espoused his milestones in Lagos and also described him as the next best candidate to consolidate on President Buhari’s achievements beyond 2023, Asíwájú Tinubu is a pacesetter, a living trailblazer, and a brain box that propels the movement of an idea. His mastery of the political legerdemain is crackerjack. He is an aficionado of Nigerian politics and the only living political strategist in unravelling political debacles.
Why Tinubu may play his own card may not be unconnected with the fact that over the years, he has always sacrificed his ambition for others to thrive in a party he formed. In his party, the north has always benefited the most, especially in flying the presidential ticket. If anyone is in doubt, let them ask Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former EFCC Chairman. Those who doubt his selfless contribution and sacrifice should ask Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President and the presidential flag-bearer of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in the last general election. And more importantly, President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces who incidentally is in his second term in office on a party platform Tinubu mid-wived alongside others who believed in his vision.
Nigeria more than ever needs Asiwaju Tinubu, to build on whatever legacy the Buhari/Osinbajo Government must have laid down.
• Babs writes via Nigeria/United Kingdom Group