The identity crisis surrounding the person of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has grave implications. The question regarding who Bola Ahmed Tinubu truly is remains one that will not go away until truth cures it. This question is overarching and encompassing. It is related to all aspects of the man’s identity and personality that have been shrouded in mystery and secrecy; his ancestry, parentage, education (in early and later life), as well as his private and public life such as his actual legacies as Lagos state governor.
Tinubu is like a bat growing amorphous by the day. The bat can pass for a mammal or a bird. After all, just like us, bats as mammals feed their pups plenty of breast milk when they come back to their roosts. Bats also fly like the birds characteristically do. That is the feeling one gets when thinking of Tinubu. He is neither here nor there, very shifty.
As one who aspires to be the President of the country Nigeria, Nigerians deserve to know. It does matter; the actual Tinubu needs to be unveiled so Nigerians may meet him. Even if he is found unworthy and still gets elected President, Nigerians need to know who their would-be president is. It is neither out of place nor too much to ask. Full disclosure is critical in recruiting the president of any country.
In the civilized world the life of public officials, both the incumbents and past/ aspiring ones, is an open book, and open to close and public scrutiny. The current British Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak, was born to Indian parents; the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was born to Pakistani parents. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both former presidents of the United States, modified their original names and Americans are aware. These noblemen are proud of their backgrounds and ancestries. So, why is Tinubu hiding behind his finger? There is no justification for shrouding one’s past life in mystery and secrecy. As they say, ‘if you don’t want heat, don’t enter the kitchen.’
In Nigeria, some spin doctors of candidates and rented guns would not allow such close scrutiny. They do not care if the nation hires a cripple as a driver to drive the bus of the state to its ruin and damnation as long as the figures of their bank accounts keep shifting.
To date, President Muhammadu Buhari’s health remains a mystery. Yet, his treatments and all the other associated costs are borne by Nigerians who are told that the President’s health is none of their business. This cannot happen in a civilized country where leadership is accountable to the people. In Nigeria, the opposite is the case. Here, leaders are masters and run the country like private estates and treat the nation’s resources as their own. That is precisely the same thing the spinners want Nigerians to continue with Tinubu as president despite the consequences that are in plain sight.
The three top contenders for the office of the president of Nigeria all have very good chances of winning. So, ignoring Tinubu whose party, the APC, controls 22 states of the federation is rather too perilous. Though BVAS promises to keep the usual interference by governors in our elections minimal, the sheer large number of APC governors is a source of strength to the candidate, Tinubu.
Let’s limit the interrogation to ancestry. The Amoda Ogunlere from Osun state has been mentioned to be the same as Bola Ahmed Tinubu even in one or two cases before the courts. A group within the All Progressive Congress, the Gaskiya Youth Movement, told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, is not an indigene of the state. The group led by Umar Iliyasu, Suleiman Baba, and Abubakar Adamu, claimed that the discrepancies in his age, state of origin, and educational qualifications were questionable. As such, they asked the court to bar Tinubu from participating in the June 7 Presidential Primary of the APC.
The APC Presidential Primary has come and gone without these questions being resolved. A newspaper investigative report noted way back in 2011 that the two children of Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji (assumed mother of Tinubu) are Rafatu Biodun and Sakirat Modupe. The usually reliable sources insist that Tinubu is originally from Iragbiji in Osun State. And there is no record that Abibatu Mogaji was married to a Tinubu. So, why is Tinubu bearing Tinubu instead of Mogaji?
If this theory is true given its plausibility, it helps to explain why Tinubu did not attach his primary and secondary school certificates when he returned his INEC nomination forms. He instead chose to attach only his university degree since the name would be different and raise eyebrows.
It appears Tinubu is hiding something about his ancestry, education, and actual age. Many who insist that Tinubu is not Tinubu are eminent Yorubas, claiming that the new Tinubu is from Osun state and originally named Amoda Ogunlere who had gone to live with the Tinubus in Lagos. Amoda was said to have traveled to the United States on a scholarship offered to the original Bola Ahmed Tinubu and necessarily had to answer the name. Why Amoda didn’t change back to his name on returning to Nigeria could also be because his past offered little promise whereas his adopted family had everything going for it and had also accepted him as one of them.
There is nothing wrong with this rather beautiful story of ‘from grass to grace’. What is wrong is burying such a humble beginning that would have given God the glory and the adoptive family some credit. It is like ascribing the great work of God to the devil, which the Bible says is a sin against the Holy Spirit and the only unforgivable sin. So, why is Tinubu trying so hard to keep his beautiful past buried forever?
In his affidavit in support of his nomination form for the office of the president, Tinubu had said he “went on self-exile from October 1994 to October 1998 (and) when I returned and discovered that my property including all the documents relating to my qualification and my certificates in respect of paragraph 3 above were looted by unknown persons.” But how come his decree certificate was not looted as well or eaten by termites?
Beyond this, the story raises a serious question of integrity, which is the most important requirement in good leadership, more important than competence since wise leaders with integrity can always surround themselves with competent persons. Whereas a leader without integrity is incurably defective since he cannot be trusted even when supremely competent. Nations including Nigeria owe their worst records to leaders who are integrity-challenged.
One listened to the APC presidential spokesman laboriously trying to explain the anomaly away. He told the nation that Tinubu was self-educated at the primary and secondary level, a mark of genius for which the gifted were reputed in those good old days. Yes, in those days some men read from home and passed into Cambridge to pursue degrees. Some were also allowed to sit for external exams and left for tertiary institutions without bothering to sit for their Standard Six exams. But such does not appear to be the case with Tinubu.
Personality is a big issue in leadership recruitment because it is the synthesis of behaviours, cognitions, and emotions that makes each person unique and predict future behaviour. Both healthy personality and personality disorders have defined patterns that can be predicted from the past. Although our personalities allow others to predict and anticipate our responses to situations, a person with a healthy personality demonstrates a range of coping responses and styles. Trust is an essential component of a healthy personality since it is the anchor of integrity. That is what is at stake here and not whether Tinubu, like Obafemi Awolowo, studied at home.
Nigerians need to know the top candidates regardless of what their spin doctors are saying. A leader whose personality is not open to scrutiny may end a highly successful conman. Atiku Abubakar we know; Peter Obi we know; Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who exactly is he?
Put differently, should Nigerians hand over their country to a mystery man, a case raising a red flag and integrity questions?
· Dr Law Mefor is a senior fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought; Tel.: +234- 905 642 4375; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on Twitter:@LawMefor1.