By Steve Osuji
NOT MUCH BETTER THAN BUHARI: What began as a crude joke for Nigerians is beginning to take a life its own: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for President in 2023.
It’s such moments when you are torn between the two extreme emotions of tears and laughter.
Is this how far Nigeria has evolved? You would moan bitterly? Then again you remember that this man could never win a presidential election in Nigeria even if he ran against himself; you would chuckle.
Here are the issues:
First, BAT, as we fondly call him, should he by a long stretch make it to Aso Rock, wouldn’t be much better than our current president, Mohammadu Buhari. He is evidently not in good health and would probably spend half of the time shuttling across the world managing his health. Since nature abhors a vacuum, a coterie of his own little men commonly known as cabal would inevitably seek to run the country. Coupled with his age that’s at best indeterminate, Nigeria would once again be yoked with a weak and woolly presidency. That would be catastrophic!
THIS CAPACITY THING: BETWEEN POLITICS AND POLICY: The bitter truth that BAT acolytes would hate to hear is that their mentor actually lacks the capacity to articulate and drive requisite developmental policies from start to finish. Of course, he’s a master of political gamesmanship but but no society developed by playing games. I was a bank manager, then Editor of a national newspaper during the eight years BAT held sway in Lagos so I was in pole position to analyse his performance as Governor of Lagos State.
Having also witnessed and assessed Lateef Jakande, Buba Marwa and Raji Fashola, in my estimation, BAT is the weak link in this chain.
Contrary to the bogus claims made by his disciples about his impact and legacies in Lagos from 1999 to 2007, BAT’s performance was way below par. There were very few signposts to remember him by especially when things are matched against the enormous IGR of the state.
Ironically, it may be said that BAT’s most remarkable legacy was picking Raji Fashola as his successor. The common story is that BAT drew the plans and made the groundwork for the ACTUALIZER, Fashola.
But who makes plans for an entire eight years? Never has such balderdash been concocted in the annals of governance. Yes, he played the requisite political games to keep his domain, Lagos, from being snatched by the marauding ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; that was as far as it went. It was Fashola who, between 2007 to 2015, delivered a sterling performance in Lagos State that impacted all nooks and cranny of the state.
NEITHER AWO NOR MKO ABIOLA; NEITHER A PHILOSOPHER NOR AN AVID BRIDGE BUILDER: It is not for nothing that Obafemi Awolowo is still held in awe today. Awo brought vision and deep think to bear on governance and his sense of social welfare and public good defined his era and age. The imprints he left in the western region still loom large.
Concerning MKO Abiola, the entire Nigeria was his oyster and he built bridges to the remotest corner of Nigeria, spraying elements of philanthropy like confetti to one and all.
By the time MKO was ready to run for Nigeria, he won the June 12, 1993 presidential election with a Muslim-Muslim ticket. MKO had become had become so phenomenal that he won sufficiently in that election in all zones of Nigeria.
NOT A STATESMAN: It must also be said that over these years, BAT has not managed to morph into a statesman. He has remained the wily politician he has been all his career. But as they say, a politician plays politics while a statesman is more concerned about the survival of man and society.
Let’s illustrate this point further: At a period when the contraption (APC) he midwifed is almost running the country aground, all he thinks of is to begin agitation to be president. Among the cardinal agenda his party promised Nigerians was to restructure the country. That has apparently been discarded.
Nigeria has become a killing field with constituents pulling in different directions; the person who is seen as being responsible for all these troubles surely heaps red hot coal on the people by seeking to continue in power. One would expect him leading initiatives for parleys and constituents conferences.
POWER ROTATION, EQUITY AND FAIRNESS: Historically, there’s a tacit understanding on power rotation among the major ethnic groups in the country. Since 1999, this arrangement has been observed with Southwest taking two terms of eight years (Obasanjo); Southsouth also got about six years even though it may be by default. If the presidency returns to the south, it’s only fair and equitable that southeast should be allowed a go even if we have to adopt some form of doctrine of necessity.
Considering that denying Ndigbo may elicit a reaction which may be inimical to the very existence of Nigeria, one would expect stakeholders in the Nigerian project to work from the conference table and not the soapbox as BAT has already propositioned.
Other lightweight aspirants may be pardoned but BAT getting into the ring betokens an especial insensitivity towards the Igbo nation. If the situation was reversed and Igbo had done a turn of eight years yet seek to snatch another opportunity, all hell would have broken loose.
POWER FOR ITS SAKE? : Why does BAT want to be president? This column wagers that it’s because he merely wants to wear the tag: PRESIDENT.
As has already been noted above, he clearly lacks the capacity or conscience to lead Nigeria; especially at this cataclysmic juncture. His electability quotient is quite low as well. In fact, his guber candidate was on the verge of a spectacular loss in 2015 warranting the famous royal threat on Ndigbo living in Lagos.
Who says you must be a president to enjoy the acclaim of history? Being a president doesn’t confer greatness by itself. Indeed, poor presidents end up being imbued with much odium.
After his stranglehold on Southwest politics since 1999, his power and influence has continued to wane and resentment has become pervasive in his camp.
If perchance, Yoruba would raise a candidate for 2023, shouldn’t younger elements like Raji Fashola who are far more electable carry the flag?
IN SUMMARY: The unspoken gist in town about the BAT’s QUEST is that he is being led to the slaughter, so to speak. The grand design is to separate him from a chunk of his enormous wealth before he is cast down and kept down.
And we ask again: who is leading BAT to the slaughter?
• Osuji is a senior journalist and a newspaper columnist.