Sunday, 3rd December 2023

X-raying Tinubu’s semiotics and pragmatism in government

By Danladi Bako
13 August 2023   |   4:05 am
Semiotics according to philosophers, especially the old Greco-roman civilization, is defined as the use of symbolic communication focusing on the interpretation of gestures, signs and movement as intended messaging from one person to another or even to a larger society.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has come under criticism for his over bloated cabinet

Semiotics according to philosophers, especially the old Greco-roman civilization, is defined as the use of symbolic communication focusing on the interpretation of gestures, signs and movement as intended messaging from one person to another or even to a larger society.

Closely related to the subject interpretation and meaning of symbolic messaging is the theory of “deconstruction” as propounded by such great scholars like Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, all related to the reading of the symbols and signs of the message source or that of the messenger and the perception created by the symbols. 

For President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is so easy to stretch our minds back to January 2022 when word went round about his desire to become Nigeria’s next chief helmsman and the vitriol that followed from certain quarters. Indeed while refusing to acknowledge his wonderful and productive eight-year reign as governor of Lagos State, some of them totally vilified Asiwaju at that time and pronounced him as ill, unhealthy and incapable of cohesive thinking and elocution. Even while he tended to his knee challenges and other mild natural health issues, he was written off as totally inebriated. At some point, some announced that he was dead. 

Tinubu’s body language posits him as a meek, mild, unobtrusive and passive person, a facade which Nigerians are now discovering to be deceptive and misdirected. If anything, that seeming weakness and harmlessness is his greatest strength. Under that placid look of tranquility and modesty, lies an intensely sagacious politician who’s masterful strategies have obliterated his opponents at every battle in the past. The June 2022 All Progressives Congress primary election was a clear example of the Tinubu machinery at work. He blacked out all and sundry.

As they say, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The overall actions taken by the Tinubu administration has been fast and furious, and according to Minister-designate, Ajiroba Dele Alake, one of the President’s friends and ally, “there is still more to come as well as significant gangantuan reforms ahead.”

He knows what he is talking about. For the first time, subsidy on fuel has been removed. This is a major reform, considering that for close to 40 years, it had drained our economy with its negative impact on our foreign exchange status, our debt servicing capacity and creating the opportunity for smugglers to take our petrol across the border and make huge profits through the differentials in retail pump price. All of a sudden Nigeria’s daily consumption dropped by about 40million litres. So, who has been smuggling at least 30 million litres out to neighbouring countries daily?

On the wrong perception of a frail-looking President, it is now obvious to his critics that he has incredible staying power to stay awake till 2am daily and yet wake up at 5am to say his fajr prayers. In between, he has found time to receive Presidents of other countries, attend ECOWAS meetings, received all types of delegations, including the World Bank and Google, met with traditional rulers, constitute a cabinet after long tedious consultations with stakeholders and even found time to attend engagements in Paris and London. 

What has changed? Some years back when President Buhari increased the pump price of petrol, labour tolerated the first one and a few folks on the street said if it was a Southerner President that increased petrol pump price, it would have been greeted with riots by northerners.

Again Tinubu allowed the increase as a consequence of removal of the subsidy on petroleum. But being an astute politician, he managed the fallout excellently by engaging the labour unions personally rather than the “Ngige on behalf of President Buhari” strategy. Ngige’s semiotics were not at anytime fancied by labour, so negotiations broke down even before they kicked off. If anyone had said in January 2023 that we will be buying petrol at 600 naira per litre in August 2023, millions of Nigerians would have sworn that there will be unrest and upheavals in the country. Tinubu’s demeanour and persona made us all misread him and underrate his clear focus and doggedness in pursuing his vision.

Contrary to impressions created in the past about him being autocratic, it is heartwarming to see him delegate Vice President Kashim Shettima to represent him at the Africa Summit in Russia.

Even more heart-warming is his more deliberate and now measured response to the Niger debacle as Chair of the forum and President of the super-power of the sub-region. It is painful to realise that we allowed the re-emergence of military take-overs of West African states to fester till it got to our backyard. Some of us are caught in between supporting drastic action against the coupists as well as ensuring the protection of the lives of our relatives and in-laws in Dosso, Maradi, Tillabery and Birnin kwanni in Niger Republic.

As we approach the first 100 days in office of the Tinubu administration, it is obvious the Federal allocation to states and local councils, which has increased by about 40 percent will be used to improve the quality of lives of Nigerian masses through palliatives, salary increases and lowering of prices of foodstuff. 2027 might seem faraway, but in reality it is just three years ten months away. 

What all past administrations since 1999 could not do by appointing a Gbagyi person as a Minister from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), President Tinubu has done. Quietly too. So, Gbagyis must not only celebrate President Tinubu but also get all Gbagyis all over, even in diaspora to vote for him in the next Presidential election.

If any one still thinks President Tinubu’s demeanour is a yardstick to measure his intentions, actions and vision, that person needs a rethink because from all indicators used as templates for assessing deliverables, it is as clear as daylight that Tinubu has proved his critics and the opposition wrong with his performance and good governance.