To those who believe that they are the first best thing to happen to the world of column writing, yours sincerely has almost nothing to say. The little that he knows about humans and the expression of strong personal opinion would suffice. Column-writing is at its most basic the simple but strong expression of views. And from Genesis days, man has not only always been at liberty to express his opinions; he has always also done so. ‘This surely is the bone of my bones and the flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman,’ our progenitor, Adam, had reportedly quipped. Humbled by this long-ranging genealogical find, yours truly no longer worries over whether what he writes would be completely original. To borrow once again from that most original book: ‘Surely, there is no new thing under the sun.’
And so when the recent tiff between factions of the APC over the election of principal officers of the National Assembly broke last week, he went searching for an explanation in the records of man. And it is here that he was to chance once again on Achebe’s very puzzling one-line explanation about why the tragic anti-hero, Obi Okonkwo condescended so low as to accept a most fatal career-destroying 20 pounds bribe. As the writer’s ruminant voice in that context quizzed the situation: ‘Everybody wondered why he did it?’
By extension, so is it with the principal player in the NASS crisis today, the mercurial Bola Ahmed Tinubu as pundits are looking over themselves, searching for explanations as to why he did not see the very obvious brick wall coming as he kept pushing to have his way in the now tragi-comic Senate leadership saga. Did he not see the outcome before it emerged?
There is power in power and Tinubu of all people should know this. As governor of Lagos, he had used the power he so ebulliently collected in 1999 to begin to politically recast the city-state in his own image and likeness. Even in those early years, there were indeed other contenders for the throne but Tinubu out-paced them and they were soon to fade-out of the grand picture of things. Wahab Dosunmu. Sikiru Shitta Bey. Lanre Razak. Dapo Sarumi. Ganiyu Dawodu. J.K Randle. Yomi Edu. Kofo Bucknor. Funsho Williams. Adesewe Ogunlewe. The list is endless.
But it was a better prepared Tinubu that was entering the scene and he soon shone above them all as a very wily and most combustible power dynamo. Additional help also came in the form of his association with the late Iyaloja of Lagos, Alhaja Abibat Mogaji, the late MKO Abiola and NADECO on the one hand; and ambitious and determined patrons, co-labourers and foot-soldiers like Olatunji Hamzat, Musiliu Obanikoro, Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Babatunde Fashola and Ganiyu Solomon, that were all ready and committed to working with him. He rose to the occasion then; the rest is history. So solid was this coalition of the brave, determined and fighting; and so gracious and covenant-al were they in carrying out their briefs that together, they could take on any storm that emerged. And there were indeed many storms that showed up. Funsho Williams. Chicago-gate. Gani Fawehinmi. LGA funds witholding. Second term. Working together, they bravely weathered the storms.
Even in the recent issues of the emergence of the APC and its initial power fights for factional control, Tinubu and his factional allies, with several of the variables in his favour, won over others in the critical inner fights. Choice of National Chairman. Picking the flagbearer. Choice of Vice Presidential nominee. He was the unbeatable Lord of the Manor.
One reason why Tinubu could win in all of these encounters was because he and his inner circle held the aces in all of the instances. But something happened on March 28 that the Jagaban Borgu did not comprehensively reconcile himself to at first. His adopted son, the strong-willed and long suffering, Muhammadu Buhari, was successfully elected as the nation’s new Number 1 citizen in a country where ultimate power yet flows almost completely from the Presidency. His limited appreciation of the import of that shift is what is presently responsible for the short end of the stick that he is presently holding. As Bessie Head would have written, it is a question of power. And in this world of endless warring, taking hostages can indeed be most costly. They invariably bid their time and break out as soon as that almost inevitable crack shows up. Cheer up Jagaban; it is the least you can do today.