While focusing on Obasanjo’s personality, Tinubu and his cheerleaders fail to appreciate the grim reality of the slide of Buhari’s Nigeria into a totalitarian and autocratic state comparable only to the Abacha military junta in the history of Nigeria. Those who feed the tiger with hopes of taming it usually end up in its belly.
Practically reduced in significance in President Muhammadu Buhari’s power court, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who goes by the honorific of “national leader” of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has taken a stand in the front row as a leading chorister in Buhari’s deplorable choir. Whereas Tinubu openly condemned, as well as asked Nigerians to reject Goodluck Jonathan’s sandy plate of rice in 2015, he now commends Buhari’s pebble-laden bowl of food, while urging Nigerians to accept more of this going forward from 2019. That Tinubu, who worked tirelessly to change an administration, which despite its shortcomings, sustained a growing economy, contained emerging security challenges and modestly tackled corruption in 2015, is now working even harder to return an administration in 2009, under whose watch Nigeria has degenerated into a sorry state of the poverty capital of the world, third most terrorised country on earth and one of the most corrupt countries, according to global ranking by Transparency International is quite unfortunate,.
Arising from a fundamental lack of understanding of Nigeria’s socio-economic problems, leading to wrong diagnosis and resulting in the administration of equally wrong antidotes, the Buhari government has made the bad socioeconomic situation it inherited in 2015 worse. The rate of failure of the administration outpaces the desired effect of its carefully choreographed propaganda that is deployed with fascist precision. With the 2019 elections fast approaching and little or no yield of the promised dividends of improved governance in sight, leading to widespread dissatisfaction among the people and indicating an imminent defeat for Buhari’s APC, the desperation of the current political players in the current administration may drive them to carry out a grand election rigging scheme to maintain their hold on power.
Not a few people share this concern over the suspected plot of agents of the Buhari administration to compromise the electoral process to achieve a predetermined outcome of returning President Buhari to power in 2019 against the popular wish of the people. This fear was clearly expressed in a statement, “Points for Concern and Action” by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. While likening the Buhari administration to the Abacha military junta, Obasanjo said, “It is the sole reason he has blatantly refused to sign the revised electoral bill into law. His henchmen are working round the clock in cahoots with security and election officials to perfect their plan by computing results right from the ward to local government, state and national levels to allot him what will look like a landslide victory irrespective of the true situation for a candidate who might have carried out by proxy presidential debate and campaigns.”
For a man who has emerged as Nigeria’s foremost statesman who tells truth to power, even at the risk of his life, this latest intervention in what can best be described as the nation’s most trying times since the beginning of the Fourth Republic, is most timely. Obasanjo has once again risen to the occasion as a steady voice of courage in a nation that suffers the dearth of truth in the public arena. As it has become a habitual way of responding to criticisms, agents of the Buhari administration and their badly trained attack dogs have been let loose on the messenger to deflate the message. By deploying the ingenious use of ad hominem, attempts have been made to puncture the message of Obasanjo by attacking his personality and impugning a negative motive to it, as a clever decoy to divert attention from his spot-on assessment on Nigeria’s current tragedy of the failure of leadership. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has once more emerged at the head of the effort to cover up Obasanjo’s truth with falsehood. Despite the fact that Obasanjo has never credited himself with presiding over the conduct of the best of elections in Nigeria, Tinubu reacted to this by describing him as “an election rigger without peer”, who stands on no moral ground to task President Buhari on the need to preside over the conduct a credible election.
Tinubu’s questioning of Obasanjo’s moral right to speak out against the possible rigging of elections is akin to saying a prostitute mother has no moral justification to guide her children against habitual sexual promiscuity. First, as a free citizen of Nigeria and a statesman who has consistently told truth to power throughout his public service career by holding successive administrations to the same standard of accountability to good governance. Obasanjo’s assertion about plans to rig the forthcoming elections is an open secret that is frequently disclosed as a way of intimidating the opposition into submission by Buhari’s hatchet men, who mainly comprise underperforming governors, past looters presently taking refuge in the APC, political prostitutes and corporate undertakers, who are all alleged to be feeding fat on the public treasury.
A pretend Tinubu who, together with Obasanjo and over 15 million other Nigerians, condemned and rejected a government considered bad in 2015, is now commending a worse government, while also embracing its failures warmly. Tinubu’s pretentious credentials of a progressive has now been shredded, exposing him to be an integral part of the problems of Nigeria, with his hands and feet deep in the malfeasance that has characterised the Nigerian situation. Tinubu has unfortunately failed to redeem himself by his current feeble attempt at hoodwinking Nigerians into reinforcing Buhari’s colossal failure beyond 2019. As a matter of fact, Tinubu and his clique of APC power-mongers rode on the back of Obasanjo’s courageous voice of condemnation of the Goodluck Jonathan regime, which helped to rally the Nigerian people around the then opposition movement in sufficient numbers to achieve electoral victory. While describing him as the “navigator” of the change movement, Tinubu consulted with Obasanjo when he was stuck between the choice of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to guide him, stating then that “both of them were his boys who served under him.”
Tinubu’s fervent support for Buhari’s re-election has nothing to do with a patriotic commitment to a better Nigeria but is for selfish political reasons. His high level of sanctimony as been revealed in his shifting of the goal post to accommodate Buhari’s colossal failure is discernible to those who can perceive this, as only a survival strategy, since Tinubu has become a hostage to Buhari’s ruthless use of state power, in addition to being a hostage to his own excessive love of power for self-service. As a hostage to Buhari’s power, Tinubu who is the master of perhaps Nigeria’s most sophisticated power-grab syndicate, which has kept Lagos State permanently deformed in the past 20 years, has a lot of skeletons in his cupboard and is scared stiff of the current administration’s use of state power to suffocate political opponents on the pretext of fighting corruption. Tinubu, like many other power hostages like him, doesn’t exactly like Buhari or his style of leadership but is only tolerating this for his own existential exigency. Similarly, as one who has become hooked on the privileges of the public space for about two decades since the return of democracy in 1999, Tinubu has become a sucker for power and a hostage of his infatuation with power for self-service, as he is reported to be nursing a presidential ambition in a post-Buhari Nigeria. Unlike Obasanjo who has nothing to fear, gain or lose from the Buhari administration, Tinubu has a lot to lose if he treads the path of truth.
Like palace servants, Tinubu and his co-hostages have become the Biblical Gibeonites that are “Hewers of wood and drawers of water” in the effort to return Buhari to power, while the Power Princes are having their siesta waiting to feast on the next ready-made meal, while also deciding on who will subsequently sit at the dining table. While focusing on Obasanjo’s personality, Tinubu and his cheerleaders fail to appreciate the grim reality of the slide of Buhari’s Nigeria into a totalitarian and autocratic state comparable only to the Abacha military junta in the history of Nigeria. Those who feed the tiger with hopes of taming it usually end up in its belly.
Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.