If I Were Tinubu

Charles Okoh

Charles Okoh

The die is cast. The countdown to 2023 has begun. Who would be Nigeria’s next president? Who will succeed Muhammadu Buhari come May 29, 2023. To be sure, the task before the next president would not be a child’s play and will be a herculean and daunting task to surmount. This is clearly because the nation is barely held together by a thread and the way things are now it can snap at the least pressure.

The Aso Rock villa is a Mecca of sorts for aspiring presidential hopefuls. Visiting Minna to see the Maradona himself, or if you like the evil genius, Ibrahim Babangida, is a must for those who seek office come 2023 and who are desirous in ascertaining what  the pulse of the real owners of Nigeria is. If you are one of those who ever believed that the votes of the man on the streets amount to anything in determining who rules this country, then this must serve as an eye opener to you. You must by now have known that while you queued on the streets exposed to the elements and vicissitude of the weather, the fate of the electorate had been long determined before the polling booths were erected.

The last time I checked, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Senator Bukola Saraki as well as the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, had embarked on a pilgrimage to those electoral holy lands. Anyim Pius Anyim; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu; Kingsley Moghalu; Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu; Doyin Okupe; Rochas Okorocha as well as the never-say-die old war horse, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, have all either openly declared their intention to become the next president or are still consulting. Some names have also been thrown in the mix but they have neither denied nor admitted it. In this category would be Governor Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Amaechi and of course, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

If power is given as of a right and owing to one’s investment and contribution to the making of that office, then you can argue that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would be the sure candidate for his party, the All Progressives Congress. But, these things do not work that way. Tinubu’s contribution cannot be dismissed in the making of the presidency of Buhari. Not only did he provide the necessary national spread to birth the Buhari Presidency, he also literally unleashed his war chest to financially bulldoze Buhari’s path to the coveted position of which he had earlier made three unsuccessful bids.

However, if you seek fairness, faithfulness, loyalty and commitments to bonds and agreements, and you are in the political vicinity then you have missed your way. In politics it is dog eat dog. It is a place where treachery and back-stabbing, scheming and downright malice are component parts of its core values. That is the reason it is called a dirty game. In this world there are no permanent enemies or friends but permanent interests.

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 hoped 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.

While Prof. Osinbajo has remained silent on his ambition, it is an open secret that he is being prodded to check his benefactor, Tinubu, so much so that, even though he has not declared his interests, there has been an orchestrated widespread rooting for him across the country as the favoured candidate to succeed Buhari. In this plot, while he has kept his ambition under wraps, his political structure is being built preparing for the ultimate showdown.

There couldn’t have been an Osinbajo without a Tinubu, but because in politics everything is possible, Osinbajo has since assumed a life of his own and having been on the corridors of power, it would be hard for him to ignore all the allure, attraction and power that come with that position. Add this to the fact that those who benefitted from Tinubu to assume power in 2015 are not likely to keep their gentleman’s agreement with him; you would understand why this proposition is not far-fetched.

Would Tinubu tread this way to Golgotha or would he just read the handwriting on the wall and re-strategise and avoid what is clearly a booby trap?

When asked after his meeting with the president on January 10 to comment on his chances if he runs against the duo of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Yayaha Bello of Kogi State, who has since declared his intention to run for president at the party primary, Tinubu evaded the question but instead stated that he hopes to replicate his feats in Lagos as a governor and also build on the infrastructural achievements of the current administration.

“About the cap of the kingmaker, I’ve never seen the cap of a kingmaker before. That is the truth. And I’ve never seen where it is written in the rule book anywhere in any country that a kingmaker cannot be a king unless you commit murder.

“So, whatever is your attribute is your own opinion. I want to pursue my ambition without the title of a kingmaker. You can write your literature and your story based upon your own perception,” Tinubu had said.

As former Lagos governor and a revered member of the ruling party, as kingmaker, it would be best for the former governor of Lagos to avoid the prospect of clashing with his protégé, the vice president. It will not be a matter of Osinbajo against his benefactor, but a battle between Tinubu and the forces that may not be too comfortable with him becoming the president of the country. This again, draws parallels between the lives of Tinubu and Abiola.

The Osinbajo project is such that the forces urging him on, even though they are selfish, would be too difficult to resist and it can only lead to one possible outcome, a clash between the duo. That Osinbajo has not openly declared an interest in the race is also a result of the Tinubu factor.

Already, by just indicating his interest to run for the office, the discussions around his ambition is not about his competence, ability or the quality he possess but about his personal life and questions about his age and educational background and state of origin.

Will Tinubu be prepared to sit back and urge Osinbajo on or would he be poised to confront the forces that are behind the vice president. Will Tinubu also be prepared to get dirty with those who are ready to reduce his influence in the party or just continue to enjoy his role as a father of all? Only time will tell. But if I were Tinubu I would settle for the latter.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe


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