By Uche Chris
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos and national leader of APC, will be the biggest issue in the run up to the 2023 general elections. He has not hidden his ambition to govern the country, and this informed the cobbling of the different parties that formed the All Progressive Congress, APC, in 2014 that eventually ousted President Jonathan and the People Democratic Party, PDP, from power in 2015.
Tinubu had led his then Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN into the merger with the other three parties as the biggest partner controlling four states, but conceded the presidential ticket to Buhari of CPC, which had only two states, because of his popularity and dominance in the north.
But he was to run with him as his vice, a proposition that would have produced a Muslim-Muslim ticket, which was scuttled by the likes of Dr. Bukola Saraki and Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, among others, who brought in former president Obasanjo to seal his fate.
Removing Tinubu from the APC ticket was the first major test for the survival of the fledgling party; for several days the country waited in anticipation, as Tinubu weighed his options. After three days, he buckled and nominated Prof. Osinbajo to replace him. This was his second greatest political mistake; the first mistake, of course, is the idea of APC itself and foisting Buhari of Nigeria.
In hindsight, Tinubu missed a golden opportunity to save Nigeria from Fulani hegemony, and to preserve his ambition. But having balked at such historic choice, he advertently sacrificed his ambition. It is never known that a kingmaker ever becomes a king. And Buhari’s abject performance is his worst undoing.
It is not likely that Tinubu will win any fair and free election in Nigeria on the platform of APC shortly after the bungling of Buhari,’s presidency, who many Nigerians believe he was instrumental to making president.
APC won in 2015 because of the betrayals in PDP, the leadership failures of Jonathan, and the surprise element, which APC deployed to hoodwink Nigerians to vote for it. All these conditions no longer exist, and the past eight years of Buhari have done for Nigerians what all the political campaigns in the world could never have accomplished by making Nigerians wiser and more conscious of the dynamics of tribal and religious politics.
So, it is sheer impudence and braggadocio for the Director General of Tinubu Support Group for the presidency, Mr. Abdulmumin Jubril, a former House of Reps member and now a director at Federal Housing Authority, FHA, to remotely insinuate that Nigerians, after what has happened under Buhari, will gladly endorse a Muslim-Muslim or Christian- Christian ticket for the presidency.
Of course, it was a veiled response to the position of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, warning against a Muslim-Muslim ticket, which a Tunubu candidacy would invariably produce. But he failed to mention why such has become imperative give heightened religious sensibilities.
According him, “If you bring a Christian/Christian or Muslim/Muslim ticket presidency, it doesn’t matter; people just want a choice of someone who will come and improve on what’s already on the ground and revamp the economy…”
This is mere red-hireling and political nonsense. Before the 2015 election, APC and the north had mounted a concerted argument for a strong president, as a basis to elect Buhari. In last week interview with NTA, Buhari was pleading to be allowed to go home, when somebody like Obasanjo who is five years older than him, could easily rule the country at 84.
Tinubu’s candidacy presents a particularly complex situation that will not only pose serious danger to the corporate existence of Nigeria, but also diminishes him politically. It is a no-win situation for him and Nigeria. His running will do him and Nigeria more harm than good.
First, Buhari has opened wide the religious fault lines in the country by his bigoted policies and appointments, which have convinced even the most liberal Christians of the need for religious balance and equity. Today under Buhai, all the three arms of government are headed by Muslims, which has never happened before in Nigeria’s history.
All the heads of security agencies apart from the largely sinecure Chief of Defence staff, are held by northern Muslims. Also all the majors government institutions, except the CBN, are headed by Muslims, mostly from the north. The insecurity in Kaduna and Plateau states is religious in nature although with ethnic connotation.
The plain truth is that a Christian/Christian ticket in this country is dead on arrival and would never be accepted by the north; if that is so, why then should a Muslim/Muslim have a fleeting chance, because it favours the north? It is sheer sophistry and deceit.
Nigeria has been built on the basis of ethnic and religious balancing, which Buhari has gleefully discarded. So, it is a convenient and self-preserving truth to advocate a Muslim/Muslim by a northern Muslim to consolidate on their political gains and entrench its dominance.
Indeed, this proposition has become inevitable for Tinubu because the north would not accept a Christian to run with him. There are high profile Christians in the north such Yakubu Dogara, a former speaker House of Reps, who could be chosen, but it is not convenient to northern religious and political sentiment to have a southern Muslim and a northern Christian ticket.
Beside religion, Tinubu’s ticket will be most divisive and controversial. His running may likely deny the south the presidency in 2023, because he is not going to win. He has too much negative baggage that his candidacy will divide even his own party. All the documented cases of corruption against him, which were published in 2015 are still in the public domain; how will defend them?
His running will also deny other young and better candidates in the party from the south the opportunity to contest. Nigeria does not need the Tinubus of this world; our experience with Buhari has brought that to the fore. We need a generational change and younger people from the current governors’ class should be given the chance. Without a generational shift, there may never be a political and economic change.
Tinubu made Buhari president, for whatever it is worth now, and created an historic precedent of defeating an incumbent in an election, which never happened before. He can go further to consolidate on that and cement his place in history as the father of a new Nigeria by making a Southeastern president.
This is the greatest challenge of his political career, because it is at variance with his personal ambition, which may never be realized. If he runs, he will lose and the north may take the position. But if he concedes to the southeast, the north will be forced to go along. The two major parties would be compelled to field a southeastern, as happened in 1999 for the southwest.
Obviously, this is the role of a statesman, but unfortunately, Nigerian politicians are hardly in the mold. They are usually driven by inordinate ambition because political power attracts huge economic rewards and privileges. Tinubu has all the money he needs in the world and still counting; so it cannot be for profit. As a former governor he has tasted power; so what is it?
He must resist such temptation as he has little or no options to immortalize himself in our history if he runs; Buhari has already brought him down from his previous pantheon height. To run is to fall from grace to grace; and will mark the end of his political dynasty, especially with the rumblings in his house – Lagos.