Is Buhari The End Of Tinubu Politics? By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

By Ikenga Chronicles September 29, 2016

One of the most astounding surprises of the current political dispensation is the ease with which the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has allowed himself to be convinced that in the event of a General Muhammadu Buhari win in the February 2015 presidential election, that there would still be anything like another “national leader” of the APC aside from Buhari himself.

I have not read the APC constitution, but even if there is a provision in it fueling such a grand assumption, such an office can only exist in name. It would amount to the greatest delusion of the century to imagine that any other “national leader” can co-exist with the President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Resources, and that such a “national leader” would still be able the wield enormous influence and retain the loyalty of the governors, other elected officials and party leaders, even those he anointed and installed who had all along been very loyal to him.

Now, no matter your view about Tinubu, you cannot accuse him of lacking in political shrewdness. One readily remembers what happened during the build-up to the 2003 elections when President Olusegun Obasanjo deployed a very simple, well-worn “we-are-brothers” strategy at the famous meeting with the leaders and “elders” of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Lagos and changed the political equation in the South West in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The only governor who survived that great onslaught which prepared the ground for the untimely death of the AD was Bola Tinubu of Lagos State. And from the rubble of that “earthquake,” Tinubu built what later became the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which surprised many people with the kind of progress it recorded within a very short time.

But as things stand now, would it be safe to describe the APC as Tinubu’s last political gamble? Or is there something the man knows that he is not telling us? Is it likely that his interest might even be in 2019 instead of 2015? Could it be that having failed to persuade Buhari to give up his very problematic ambition, Tinubu has merely agreed to back him fully convinced that he would fail? And since everyone knows that this is Buhari’s “last card,” Tinubu can now persuade him to remain a “father figure” in the APC in order to retain his supporters up-North and then prepare the party for a real electoral contest with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019? Because, it is difficult to imagine that the Tinubu we all know would just open his eyes and enter into an arrangement that would make him lose in a moment the enormous political clout he has worked so hard to accumulate just because he wants to witness a Buhari presidency!

Okay, let us look at the issues involved. No matter how we choose to view it, the APC is nothing but an assemblage of strange bedfellows with clearly conflicting narrow interests held together by the secret hope in each person (or group) to outsmart and use the other to achieve his (or its) own personal agenda. In the APC, we have the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which derived its strength and following from the deep conviction in the North that its leader, Buhari, could be a reliable tool for the gratification of the hard-to-disguise   desperation of the core North to take back “its power”. The defunct New-PDP, the second group that came together with others to form the APC, is, however, very easy to describe.

It emerged from the sentiment fueled at that time by the Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, (who incidentally is still in the PDP and one of President Goodluck Jonathan’s strongest supporters in the North) that it was the time of the North to produce Nigeria’s president. And so it had no other agenda except the realization of a president of Northern extraction. And that is why the unduly loud presence of the Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi in that group (who was reportedly seduced by a “vice presidential carrot” dangled before him by Northern political strategists in order to use him against Jonathan in the Niger Delta to return power to the North) looked (and still looks) quite ridiculous to many people. We, also, have the defunct ACN led by Tinubu which saw in the North’s mad quest for power (as represented by the CPC and the New-PDP) an attractive opportunity to play on the national league – to lead a party whose influence and presence could be felt everywhere across the nation.

On its part, too, the “Bring-Back-Our-Power” groups within and outside the APC easily   saw in Tinubu an opportunity to use the ACN’s South-West’s supporters to realize their undisguised agenda. But to conceal their real, individual interests, these groups found a ready, mutual target in President Jonathan. And as they direct all their energy and focus on Jonathan whom they are attacking relentlessly, each is able to remove attention from its own motive and moves. Everyone is waiting for the right moment to remove his own mask.  That was why it was so easy for the APC to agree that their presidential candidate should come from the core-North. (Forget the suspicious appearance by Rochas Okorocha at the primaries).
That was also why the North could easily concede virtually every important and powerful post in the APC to others once they secured the assurance that the presidential candidate would not just be one of them, but one fully trusted to shun all pretenses and “political correctness” to emerge and act as a truly “Northern president”! And again, that is why no one has raised any objections to Tinubu’s continued reference as the “National Leader” even after the ACN where he firmly held that post had ceased to exist. They know that raising eyebrows now is a needless distraction. The preoccupation now is to put Buhari in Aso  Rock and every other thing will fall in place and every water will find its level.      
What further compounds matters for Tinubu and the South-West he is trying to pull along with him is what Buhari truly represents despite what some pundits are telling us. The Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Ahaji Ibrahim Coomasie, did not mince words when he said I am the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum and we have said it before, but we are reiterating it, that we are going to support the northern candidate. The APC has voted a northern candidate, so we are going to support him 100 per cent. So, Buhari is our candidate for the 2015 presidential election.” 
Northern leaders have never been able to conceal the sole motivation behind their stiff opposition against Jonathan. That is why no matter all he has done in the North all they want is for him to go away and hand over not just to anyone, but a person from the North. And not even a person from the Middle-Belt or a Christian from the North is good enough! That is the truth many people know but would never admit.
Indeed, if this election is about the possession of better ideas and competence, why on earth would any sincere, rational person be presenting Buhari as the alternative to Jonathan? The only coherent thing I have heard from Buhari since he indicated interest to run for president is that “the PDP government has failed.” Of course, anybody can say that – it does not require even a less-than average brain to be able to say it. Then he would start rolling out a catalogue of what he would do if elected president including a promise to “stabilize the oil market”! If I did not hear this myself during a Channels TV interview (still available on youtube), I would not have believed anyone hoping to be taken seriously would say such a thing. But that’s Buhari for you. Is he going to issue another Decree 2 to regulate OPEC activities? Okay, that aside, what are his strategies for achieving all the paradise-on-earth he is promising? No one has heard him utter a single one!

In the interview he granted an online medium, TheCable inOctober 2014, a very simple question was asked Buhari to outline his policy direction, to show how he would do things differently from the current president whom he has been criticizing and recover the country as he has been promising. When he failed to give any coherent answer, the question was rephrased  two more times, yet the Daura General just left what he was asked and continued saying every other thing that entered his head except the answers required from him.

Buhari announced the other day that if elected president, he will gather some other generals together to help him devise a strategy for ending the Boko Haram menace; in other words, right now, he has no idea how to end the security problem for which he and his party has fiercely attacked the present administration and which they have also made the backbone of the Buhari campaign. Given the very ugly developments (and his own pronouncements) in the course of his collection and submission of his N27.5 million naira APC nomination forms which grossly discoloured his so-called anti-graft credentials, and how dollars reportedly competed with naira to buy him delegates at the APC convention in Lagos, how can anyone possibly invest trust in Buhari’s ability to fight corruption given these early signs? Okay, his party has said that all public officers that looted the treasury in the past would not be bothered by a Buhari regime, but only new thieves would be dealt with, is he now saying that all those APC stalwarts (it was reported that a certain Southern governor was his biggest financier) who poured out all those wads of naira, dollars and pounds to generously bribe the APC delegates to vote him would not want to recoup their investments, plus the profits? Can Buhari say in all sincerity that he was not aware that corrupt elected officials and party moneybags deployed huge piles of public and private funds to outspend his co-contestants to purchase him the APC presidential ticket as was widely reported in the media?  Now, assuming he was not aware, when he found out later, what did he do? Did he try to distance himself from the horrendous sleaze? Was this what informed the pledge to not probe past corrupt public officers who had looted the treasure pale?

I do not believe that those pushing Buhari into our faces are just being motivated by an Anything-But-Jonathan mindset. Indeed, they know exactly why they want to foist him on us, and they have not been able  to hide it. It is the army of “brilliant analysts” in the Lagos media that are overstretching their optimism and unduly embellishing very clearly declared intentions to confuse themselves.

If then Buhari proves book makers wrong and wins the presidency, it is difficult to see how the Ango Abdullahi-led Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and other fire-spiting “Bring-Back-Our-Power” warriors who will immediately form a ring around him can tolerate another “national leader” calling the shots out there or the interest of those he is pulling along with him.  One only hopes that this merger which is clearly a bad marriage still held intact by the anticipated realizations of private interests is not a disaster waiting to happen which, perhaps, only the failure of the APC in the February election will save us from?

Also, those who have chosen to relapse into convenient amnesia and are busy celebrating the emergence of Prof Yemi Osibajo as Buhari’s running mate should hasten to recall the kind of vice president Jonathan was for Yar’Adua, how a tiny cabal ruled Nigeria in place of an unconscious president after brutally shutting out the vice president and threatening fire and brimstone against anyone who dared to suggest that their “son” was simply too incapacitated to continue to rule Nigeria. The constitution has not changed on the status of the vice president. He is still a “spare tire,” and would be even more so in a Buhari presidency.

So, could it be that the Asiwaju of Lagos is taking his followers, especially, in the South-West on a road that leads nowhere instead of, perhaps, exercising a little patience to give the ACN a little more time to grow and gather more weight and then really confront the PDP? Is he stretching optimism beyond its malleable limit? Or could it be that he has his own secret plan for beating in their own game those scheming to use, outwit, and relegate him? Indeed, we have interesting times ahead of us.


*Ejinkeonye is a columnist with Daily Independent newspaper where this article was first published. ( Twitter:@ugowrite


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