After a series of showdowns, with humiliation into the bargain, inevitably, the hierarchy of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) engaged in mutual expression of solidarity, a patch-up to reassure supporters and calm tempers. But it can never be the same again. It is futile to pick who emerged more bruised between the party’s former national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and national leader, Bola Tinubu. But both must be licking their wounds. Except that they were deceiving themselves or at least one group was being led down a blind alley, there was no doubt all along that the party was factionalised.
One other bitter truth is that both the former national chairman and the national leader have lost most of their political proteges either through betrayal or desertion, both of which had been the stock-in-trade of politicians since the exit of military rule in 1999. Otherwise, there was no way Tinubu and Oshiomhole could have been caught off-guard to lose, hopefully, not everything. Even then, whatever remains, if any, won’t be enough to win much for the two men at the coming convention. The two men cannot contest for any post(s). Can they also mentor any candidate only to be betrayed or deserted once again? It is all an irony for the two men who, for almost two decades, bestrode their political domain like some sort of Almighty. In their own case, conquerable Almighty, as it has turned out.
Since he stormed the South-West political scene in 1999, Bola Tinubu had always been successful in his footwork, handwork and body language. The only thing he knew or indeed tasted was winning all the time. It is, however, doubtful if it ever occurred to him that, like the Israelis, he could not afford to lose even once or he might lose all. The irony is that those who betrayed him (in South-West) will not gamble with his return to power or they will be crushed politically. Such are the mutual mistrust and bitterness, perhaps only slightly less than hatred, and so deep-rooted.
Throughout history, no political journey was (and is) ever so smooth, a fact which must have been lost on Bola Tinubu’s admirers who dubbed him Master Strategist for all his remarkable political adventures. Unfortunately, from that seeming height of invincibility, Tinubu was toppled with superior strategy masterminded by jealous rivals and aggrieved lieutenants of yesteryears. In the past, Tinubu stooped for godfathers to attain objectives, mentored subordinates and eventually overwhelmed them, if and when necessary. Others were alarmed by the unbridled exercise of political power and patronage, the same ladder which took them to the top. Hence, the plot of those beneficiaries for self-survival. How Tinubu and Oshiomhole were caught off guard remains a mystery. On the other hand, in Nigerian politics, it is not unusual for mentors, as kingmakers, to be discarded. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Abraham Adesanya, Ayo Adebanjo and now Bola Tinubu.
The irony in the sacking of Oshiomhole as APC’s national chairman was that, after leaving office as Edo’s governor for eight years, he was handy to fill the vacuum created by Tinubu’s forced removal of John Odigie-Oyegun as national chairman of APC over differences on the emergence of APC governorship candidate for Ondo State in 2016. It was an irony that Oshiomhole was not aware of the dangerous precedent his assumption of office as national chairman was setting. In a repeat performance, Oshiomhole, like Oyegun has been forced out through superior strategy. What an irony for Tinubu as the leading hawk in the dismissal of Oyegun, only to watch helplessly (that is, Tinubu) as Oshiomhole was helplessly ditched by a rival set of hawks.
Very exciting is the changing political fortune of Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki. Four years ago, outgoing Governor Oshiomhole, for some unknown reasons, never allowed any other aspirant as his successor except Obaseki, who was handpicked, strictly the Obasanjo style. Today, Oshiomhole and Obaseki are bitter political enemies. Obaseki is contesting the Edo election on the platform of the PDP. An irony. Furthermore, Obaseki left APC partly because of his objection to Oshiomhole’s insistence on direct primary elections. But the same Obaseki took part in direct primary elections to secure the ticket of PDP. The direct primary election, which was wrong in APC, turned out to be right for Obaseki in PDP. Another irony? Still on ironies, unlike in 2016, Osagie Ize-Iyamu has changed platform from PDP to APC, while Obaseki too has changed platform from APC to PDP. Nigerian politicians?
During these dramatic events, former Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, took ill and died from coronavirus. The irony was that he innocently at a stage, like most Nigerians, thought the killer disease was under control and accordingly publicly applauded. It was, therefore, an irony that the man fell a fatal victim of the virus. Those gloating over his death should, please, realise the agony of his family and allow him to rest in peace.
Inevitably, we must return to Bola Tinubu. He must have been so embarrassed by the pace and direction of events in his party to make him deny ever deciding yet on 2023 elections, specifically, the presidential race. The pity is that Tinubu does not seem to understand parables as a kind of figure of speech in politics. A great pity. Assurances were given all along that the presidency would shift to South-West in 2023 unless “…unforeseen circumstances developed.” Who said so? Where? When? To whom was the parable directed? What could such circumstances be to deny shifting the presidency to South-West in 2023?
This irony sef, no go finish. One of such is that the much vaunted Master Strategist could not detect in time that the media-created National Leader was mere designation without power, position, influence, authority or reckoning.
Nigeria’s pride at ICC
This may be a disappointing confession. Until he was billed to appear on a BBC world-acclaimed radio/television interview slot, Hard Talk, I knew virtually nothing about Justice Chile Eboe-Osuji, president of International Criminal Court (ICC). And when such a man was to appear on the slot hosted by its well-known generalissimo, Steven Sackur, the apprehension could only increase. Steven Sackur of BBC? Hardly would any guest be interviewed by him without being shredded. For those who care to know, Steven Sackur is the most piercing interviewer in this business. It is just personal to him. The more prominent (powerful) his guest is, the less the chance of the latter emerging undented, especially when that guest was the president of the controversial International Criminal Court in Hague, Netherlands.
The questions could be predictable without any guarantee of pungent or credible answers. Effectiveness of the Court to justify its existence? What deterrent, if any, to law-breaking nations? If certain powerful nations remain non-signatories to the charter of the Court, why label it World Court? Better still, if the Court’s barking and biting are against only developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, how fair is that? What is the Court’s record of achievement? Is it not an unnecessary risk for the Court to take on non-siganatory nations like the most powerful nation, the United States? How about the charge by a friendly nation, Netherlands, that World Court judges are more concerned about clamouring for fat salaries (at present less than $200,000) than any concrete achievement?
If BBC’s Steven Sackur, as usual, looked forward to an easy prey, Nigeria’s Justice Eboe-Osuji made Nigeria and ICC proud as he convincingly tackled all these and other provocative questions posed by his interviewer. Justice Eboe-Osuji was never ruffled for a second as he exuded such confidence, authority and credibility in his answers and, yet, remained cheerful and friendly throughout to leave his interviewer flat-footed all the time. The crunch came when Steven Sackur, in his famous wounding style, landed what he might have presumed to be the killer punch on the salary issue.
In response, Justice Eboe-Osuji humorously cited the millions of pounds earned by each top BBC presenter, compared to the less than the two hundred thousand dollars salary for ICC judges and then went on to rationalise the agitation as only to be treated like international judges of equal jurisdiction. The reference to the BBC salary structure settled the matter, given the frustration, resignation and a wry smile easily discernible in Steven Sackur’s demeanour. Not a humiliation but an unusual defeat. For once, Steven Sackur met his match, if not his superior.
No wonder Justice Eboe-Osuji is the president of ICC. Surely, it was not without reason that the interview encounter was repeated on the same station the following day at the same time. Justice Eboe-Osuji is the ideal for the Nigerian bench.