Practically reduced to a jester in President Muhammadu Buhari’s power court, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who goes by the honorific “National Leader” of the ruling APC, has taken a stand in the front row as a leading chorister in Buhari’s choir of ignorance. 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 plate of rice, while urging Nigerians to accept him in 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 2019, 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 the most corrupt countries, according global rankings by Transparency International.
Arising from a fundamental lack of understanding of Nigeria’s socio-economic problems, leading to wrong diagnosis resulting in the administering of equally wrong antidotes, the Buhari administration has made worse the bad socio-economic situation it inherited in 2015. The rate of failure of the Buhari administration outpaces the desired effects 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 leading to widespread dissatisfaction among the people and indicating imminent defeat for Buhari’s APC, the desperation of the current political players in this 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 Sani 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 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 Fourth Republic, is most timely. Obasanjo has once again risen to the occasion as a steady voice of courage and truth to power in a nation that suffers the dearth of truth in the public arena. As has become a habitual way of responding to criticisms, agents of the Buhari administration and their badly trained attack dogs are 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 negative motive as a clever decoy to divert attention from his spot-on assessment of Nigeria’s current tragedy of 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, Tinubu reacted 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 rigging of election 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 every administration to the same standard of good governance accountability, 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 that mainly comprise underperforming governors, past looters taking refuge in APC, political prostitutes and corporate undertakers all feeding fat on the public treasury.
Unlike a hypocritical Tinubu who, together with Obasanjo and over 15 million other Nigerians, condemned and rejected a government considered bad in 2015 but commend a worse government while also embracing its failures warmly. Tinubu’s pretentious progressives’ credentials have 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 polity. Tinubu has, unfortunately, failed to redeem himself by his feeble attempt to hoodwink 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 Jonathan government, 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 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 for selfish political reasons. His high level of hypocrisy as seen in his shifting of the goal post to accommodate Buhari’s colossal failure is discernible to those who know as only a survival strategy as 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 ring of power purchase 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 and many other power hostages like him do not exactly like Buhari or his style of leadership, but they are only tolerating him for their own existential exigencies. Similarly, as somebody who has fed fat on the public treasury for about two decades since the return of democracy in 1999, Tinubu has become a sucker for power and has become a hostage of his infatuation with power for self-service as he is reported to be nursing a presidential ambition post-Buhari’s Nigeria. Unlike Obasanjo, who has nothing to fear, gain or lose from the Buhari administration, Tinubu has a lot to lose if he threads 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 who sits at the dining table. 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.