There must be something about Abeokuta that makes the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to wait until his visit there to literally spit fire, like the legendary dragon. It was in Abeokuta on June 3, 2022 that Tinubu made his now famous emilokan cry.
Before the June 3 outburst last year, Tinubu had survived a surreptitious plot to deny him the shot at the presidency in spite of his gentleman’s agreement with President Buhari before the 2015 presidential elections. An unwritten agreement which guaranteed that in the principle of one-turn-deserves-another, Tinubu had rallied his men and resources to ensure that Buhari, who had failed three times previously, was successful at the fourth time of asking.
And as it is common with people who have no scruples with going back on their promises, the Abdullahi Adamu-led APC did not mind returning a northerner in the person of the senate President, Ahmad Lawal, rather than allow the Asiwaju get the ticket. The argument was that Buhari being from North West, Lawan’s North East has also not produced a president.
Tinubu, who does not take prisoners, simply bulldozed his way and snatched the ticket against the wish of the party hierarchy. Still smarting from the Abuja convention of March 27, he went to Abeokuta demanding that it was his turn to become president. The emilokan cry has now become a refrain and jingle for skit makers and stand up comedians alike.
Last Wednesday, Tinubu was again in Abeokuta. This time he carpeted Buhari for planning to scuttle his ambition, saying the perennial fuel scarcity and the recent redesigning of some currencies were aimed at weakening his chances at the polls.
Of course there have been rumours that these policies are aimed at reducing the influence of money during the polls. The president himself said in an interview that there will be no going back on those policies and that he plans to bequeath for Nigerians a credible, free and fair elections, where the influence of money or activities of political thugs will be reduced.
The reaction of the National Assembly has also further heightened the speculation that, indeed, the political class is troubled by these policies.
On Thursday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said he will not hesitate to ask the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to issue an arrest warrant on the Godwin Emefiele to compel the central bank chief to appear before the House.
Mr Gbajabiamila stated this in reaction to the report presented by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Doguwa, who is the chairman of the ad hoc committee set up to interface with the Bankers Committee and the CBN.
Mr Doguwa informed the House that the CBN and Mr Emefiele did not honour the invitation to appear before the committee on Wednesday.
True, one of the trademarks of this administration is its sudden and immediate disposition to policy formulations. This fire-brigade approach to policy implementations leaves lots of Nigerians stranded and avoidable tension and anxiety.
It was under this same administration that hundreds of millions of Nigerians were expected to register for their National Identification Numbers (NIN) in two weeks. The least of the headaches of the Buhari’s regime is the discomfort and avoidable stress they put on the common man with their ill-prepared policies.
Will the president be justified if his intention is to stop the influence of money in our elections? Yes, I think so. Everybody must test their popularity at the ballot and win fair and square. The era where people buy their way into office and visit mayhem on hapless Nigerians in the name of election must be laid to rest and consigned to the dustbins. This is the reason known murderers and robbers are occupying political offices.
But has Buhari treated Tinubu fairly given his commitment to his ambition? I do not think so. Buhari has a nature of not bothering what happens to other people as long as his interests are taken care of. He does not bother if the APC loses the election as long as he is not on the ballots. He had said so several times. It was in the same Abeokuta that the president urged supporters to vote for him and vote for any candidate of any political party of their choice in the 2019 elections. He has also repeated a similar stand in a recent interview.
What loyal and faithful party man will call on the voters to vote for whatever party they wish? That is Buhari for you. It is his interest and his interest alone.
However, we had warned Tinubu in an earlier article on February 7, 2022 entitled: If I were Tinubu, that “For APC, the ruling party, the only way that marriage of strange bedfellows could have taken place between Buhari and Tinubu prior to 2015 would have been on the basis that one good turn deserves another. But because in the murky waters of politics anything goes, the measure you give is not necessarily the measure you receive.
“As things stand now, it is clear that the fate of the late Chief Moshood Abiola awaits Tinubu, if he pushes further his ambition to succeed Buhari. Everything possible and necessary would be done to stop the Jagaban from realizing his agelong dream, as he would put it. Abiola put in all he had hoping to have a just reward but in the end it was a case of betrayal, treachery and failed promises. From all indications, that may be Tinubu’s fate in the APC as far as 2023 is concerned.”
Tinubu’s second outburst in Abeokuta was clearly an expression of frustration and disappointment. It is obvious that eventually, his party leaders would play the ethnic card as they did against Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
To Buhari, promises can be made and broken without hesitation. Tinubu’s attempt the next day (Thursday) in Makurdi where he blamed the PDP as against the Abeokuta outburst of Wednesday was clearly a poor attempt at crisis-management.
Tinubu is justified to feel betrayed. He is human and his outbursts are to be expected. That said, this election means a lot to Nigerians and must be seen as such. Any attempt to deny the electorate their choice at the polls will not be accepted. Power belongs to the people and not the politicians.