BOLA TINUBU: The Pains of a Godfather
For the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) LLC, these are trying times. These times are sour and very discomforting. The times are painful and full of regrets. The “greatest political strategist of our generation” as his employees and ardent supporters would like to refer to him is reeling from debilitating political injuries.
There is gnashing of teeth and mopping of lips in the ABAT LLC. Even, for those who are not fans of the mercantilist made for profit political outfit called ABAT LLC, the garish groans oozing out of Bourdillon has been eliciting pores of pity and chasms of empathy.
The Chairman and the CEO of ABAT LLC is no other person than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu himself. He has been a lonely man in recent days. No place could be lonelier than a wilderness, especially political wilderness for someone who lives and breathes politics. From the look of things, the “greatest political strategist of our generation,” has strategized himself out of relevance and serious contention in the political dynamics of the All Progressive Congress, a political party that was his brainchild to a very great extent.
Through over confidence, carelessness, naivety, contempt of and for history, disrespect of elders and odious knack for cold blooded acts of political perfidies, he has strategized himself into trouble waters. The trouble waters do not seem to be ordinary, they are hot trouble waters. And because they are hot trouble waters, they burn and hurt very badly. To his credit, he is bearing his cross very silently and stoically. He is taking the hand that fate has dealt him. He is licking his wounds in secrecy while putting up appearances of a satisfied and satiated political godfather. He is pretending that all is well when all is out of sync. He has become emblematic of the good old saying, “Not all that glitters is gold!”
The present administration led by President Mohammadu Buhari would never have seen the light of the day if not for Asiwaju Tinubu. His contributions in so many ways are public secrets. It is not something one should dwell over again in this piece. One is just giving this a mention because it is very telling when someone of Tinubu’s caliber, a political godfather of no small means, one who has made and unmade many political careers and ambitions, has been reduced to political invalid. And from the feelers that are out there, like the Americans would often say, “he ain’t seen nothing yet!” The extent of humiliation that Asiwaju Tinubu has been subjected to by the Buhari Presidency he empowered could only be fathomed when it is realized that Tinubu could not boast of any candidate in the cabinet of President Buhari.
From Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, one of the sworn enemies of Tinubu was appointed to his chagrin. He could not stop it despite all his efforts. In Ogun State, Anambra born Yoruba retired General Olusegun Obasanjo – Onyejekwe, nominated the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun. From Oyo State, President Buhari chose the gubernatorial candidate of his political Party, CPC, in the previous election, Alhaji Bayo Shitu as Minister. From Ekiti State, former governor Kayode Fayemi, the man with a conundrum of fraud allegations around his neck and ankles, who was another beneficiary of Tinubu’s godfatherism went behind him to ingratiate himself with Buhari to get a Ministerial appointment, again to the chagrin of Tinubu.
In Osun State, when Raufu Aregbesola’s second term election was on the ropes, Tinubu went to prostrate to former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola to get support for his protégé. The promise given to Oyinlola was to give him the Ministerial slot of Osun State. And indeed his name was sent to Aso Rock. This was until another powerful politician from Osun State who had stones to grind with Oyinlola went there behind Tinubu to complain to President Buhari. President Buhari then asked the powerful politician to bring in substitution and the rest is history. Ondo State has never been under the influence of Tinubu and he had no say whatsoever on who was nominated. Mr. Claudius Daramola used his Northern connections from his school days in Sokoto, Zaria and Jos to gain the confidence of President Buhari.
The power base of Tinubu is supposedly the Southwest States. For the untutored and the gullible, Tinubu is still the most powerful politician in this hemisphere. But for those who understand the dynamics of politics, Tinubu is fast becoming what the Yoruba calls “agbunrin esi.” While things might still take a new turn, which indicators are at variance with, it is evident that the once stronghold of Tinubuism is fast dissipating if it has not already dissipated. What is currently subsisting is a star that is gradually dimming as a result of uncouth politicking inebriated with absence of etiquette and basic values that civilized humanity has come to hold dear.
But this is not an unexpected outcome for a for-money/profit mercantilist organization like ABAT LLC dubiously appareled in political garb. An organization that is founded on the sole principle of money making through the appropriation of political power for individual ends as opposed to the peoples’ interests and the advancement of the society. The individualism that forms the basic tenet of Tinubuism and the operational philosophy of ABAT LLC is functionally related to the series of treacheries that define its character and form the seeds of its destruction that is presently unraveling.
The apogee of Tinubuism was 2012. In the years leading to that point, Tinubuism was riding the waves. It had displaced and replaced the original Afenifere leadership and branched out to sponsor and control Afenifere Renewal Group. Tinubu had undercut the Alliance of Democracy, betraying those who paved the path to Lagos governorship victory for him and became the godfather of Action Congress. He deceived the former Vice President Abubakar Atiku and dangled the AC presidential ticket in his face only to sell him out at the last minute. He repeated the same perfidy with Nuhu Ribadu who became so frustrated he had to go and join PDP.
Before that time he had faced down the political vampire called Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Obasanjo-Onyejekwe. Tinubu fought Obasanjo-Onyejekwe to a standstill and refused to be bullied. He was the lone survivor of all the AD governors during the reelection of 2003. With his AC and control of Lagos, he had strategically conquered Osun State, followed by Ekiti State. Oyo and Ogun were later to be added to the price. The success was pulsating. He imposed governors and senators across the land. He imposed members of Federal House of Representatives. He disregarded the grassroots and the feelings of the voters who did not seem to have a better alternative to the PDP as he forced a lot of unpleasant candidates down the throats of the Yoruba voters.
He began to feel his own sense of invulnerability. He began to see himself as something other than ordinary. He felt and began to act like a god. His confidence became imbued with ebullience to the point that he publicly insulted all the Yoruba Obas calling them unprintable names. He was walking in the clouds when he liked and walked on water when he preferred. He was riding high beyond his own expectations. He has found himself where he did not expect to be. Tinubuism became the domineering philosophy on the political landscape of Yorubaland with pockets of spineless opposition here and there.
When Ondo State resisted the advance of Tinubuism with the help of Dr. Segun “Iroko” Mimiko, in 2012, Tinubuism in the Southwest started receding like a jaded and fading “Ankara cloth.” From that year, cracks in Tinubuism began to show for those perspicacious enough. At that point in time, the crises between him and Kayode Fayemi had begun to fester to where Tinubu decided to raise a protest candidate against him for re-election. The crisis led to the weakening of the APC that Governor Ayodele Fayose came to exploit to kick the party out of Ekiti State.
Tinubu’s woes became metastasized by Aregbesola’s messing up of Osun State to the best of his ability. He did everything to please his godfather. He even destroyed historical schools allegedly to pave way for the ever expanding business of his mentor in defiance to the crying and wailing of the people of Osun State. Governor Abiola Ajimobi was glad to be part of the ACN but did his best to maintain his independence. He refused to lick the boots of Tinubu and was not enthused about paying homage at Bourdillon. Governor Ibikunle Amosun also did not seem to enjoy bootlicking. He maintained his dignified distance from Tinubuism while working diplomatically with Tinubuists. Fashola was getting into trouble in Lagos for trying to be his own man. It was the same thing that got Fayemi into trouble in Ekiti.
This was the point at which the need to get rid of the hapless President Goodluck Jonathan became imperative. The “greatest political strategist of our generation” had the legitimate ambition to become Vice President. He could not trust former Vice President Abubakar Atiku as the flag bearer of the APC. The fact that Tinubu had previously betrayed Atiku after Atiku had done him the biggest favor of his career was scary to him. He was afraid of payback. But Atiku was not and still is not that kind of a man. In spite of all his failings, Atiku has a big heart. Regardless, the sinner would always run when no one is in pursuit. So in Buhari lies Tinubu’s alternative. Buhari too had some hard feelings. The hard feelings had been about alleged act of treachery on the part of Tinubu. But Buhari was willing to be patient to get what he wanted.
Tinubu schemed. Buhari too schemed. As soon as Buhari got elected, he declared “he belong to everybody and belong to nobody.” He courted all those who disliked Tinubu and made them his close friends. He sidelined Tinubu and turned him into a spectator as the administration took off. When Rotimi Amaechi insulted Tinubu at one of their meetings, Buhari did not dissuade him. He allowed him to do so without let or hindrance. Though, Nasir El-Rufai brought Amaechi to Lagos to prostrate and apologize to Tinubu in Bourdillon, it was to ensure the Southwest votes and the victory of Buhari.
Buhari, without engaging in public fight with Tinubu reduced Tinubu to a spectator without any influence in this administration. Not only did Tinubuists lose the Senate Presidency, they also lost the Speakership of the Federal House of Representatives along with some principal offices. The Tinubuists have no one in the cabinet. The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo nominated by Tinubu has been turned to ordinary passenger by the Buhari handlers. He is an outside insider in the administration. Osinbajo has been locked out of security meetings and made to understand that he does not belong. Though, this has been denied to save Osinbajo, and by implication, Tinubu his mentor, any embarrassment. But the truth is Osinbajo was actually locked out.
When Tinubu nominated Mr. Femi Falana for the position of Attorney General of the Federation, there was a groundswell of opposition not just from Tinubu’s enemies in the Southwest but also his detractors from across other regions. This was not because Falana had so many enemies or was unqualified, but it was simply because he was nominated by Tinubu. If Falana had pursued that office on his own without the albatross called Tinubu around his neck, he might have succeeded. Everything Tinubu touched became ashes. Everyone he supported became a loser. It became a big problem for ambitious politicians to publicly identify with Tinubu at the national level. Everyone began to be diplomatic in the manner and way they distance themselves from the god of Bourdillon.
Across the Southwest, the only governor still faithful to Tinubu is the man called Aregbesola. Yet he has more than anyone inflamed hatred for Tinubu in Yorubaland because of his incompetence and mismanagement of Osun State. Already, Governor Akin Ambode is complaining in private. Hopefully the bubble would not burst into the open. A mention of Tinubu’s name now is met with hisses. And some curses in most places. Now with the existential crises facing Nigerians across the country, Buhari has become unpopular. For every minute that Nigerians remain in darkness because of lack of electricity they rain curses on Buhari. For every additional naira they have to pay for petrol they rain curses on Buhari. For every additional naira Nigerians have to pay for a “congo” of gaari, rice, beans or dawa, they rain curses on Buhari. This is more especially so when majority of Nigerian workers have not received salaries for several months. As for the people of Southwest, every time they rain curses on Buhari, they have never forgotten to rain curses on Tinubu and all those who helped him to impose Buhari on Nigeria.
In the crannies of Bourdillon, there is bounteous regrets and moping. There is gnashing of teeth, mopping of lips and zapping of noses. There is finger biting and sweat wiping. There is a nagging disbelief that all this could happen. There is a lot of pinching to nudge themselves into reality if this is a dream. But all this could have been prevented if they had listened to advice; if they had taken history more seriously and learnt from it. It is evident that the Tinubuists have miscalculated. They have not only miscalculated, they have been inflicted with double jeopardy. The first jeopardy is that they lost out on everything and have no substantive post in this administration. The second jeopardy is that Buhari is not performing and this has made Tinubuists objects of passionate anger, deep disgust and rueful curses from amongst the people.
Some have insisted that no one should grudge all those who benefited from Tinubu only to betray him. They pointed out that the old guard Afenifere who paved the path to Alausa government house for Tinubu was betrayed by him too. It was noted that other than the betrayal of the old guard Afenifere who have been subjected to serious campaign of malice from Tinubuists, Tinubu also betrayed a lot of others for his own personal benefit. Victims of Tinubu’s political treachery were said to include former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, President Goodluck Jonathan (from whom he allegedly got so many sweet business deals), President Obasanjo-Onyejekwe (himself a born-again traitor), and President Buhari himself among several others. All these are being contextualized in the aphorism “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” By implication, “He who lives by treachery dies by treachery.”
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”
- John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961
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