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Many monuments have been built in honour of the man
Bola Tinubu. He is acclaimed as the political genius of our times who not only
engineered the taming of the PDP juggernaut, he caged it and confined it to the
backwaters of Otuoke. Since the APC defeat of the PDP in the presidential
election, Tinubu the tactician has been feted, celebrated and praised to high
heavens. But all these encomiums have proved to be highly exaggerated.
The truth of the matter is that Tinubu, the
veritable Jagaban of Borgu, is a master of political illusion. He is remarkable
for the distinction of characteristically pulling defeat out of the jaws of
putative victory. He mid-wifed the birth of the APC, only to be shut out of its
vice-presidential sweepstakes. He engineered APC victory at the centre, only to
see his arch-enemies take over the posts of Speaker and Senate President in the
Natiuonal Assembly. He piggy-backed Buhari to the presidency, only to be shut
out of a say in the president’s cabinet nominees.
Tinubu is called the National Leader of the APC
when there is no such post in the party’s Constitution. When a critical meeting
of APC bigwigs was called to address the party’s imbroglio in the National
Assembly, the “National Leader” could not attend because, in actual fact, he is
not even a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.
Sowing and reaping
In 2011, Tinubu was hailed for cutting his nose to
spite his face. The PDP nominated his kinswoman, Mulikat Akande, as Speaker of
the National Assembly. However, Tinubu conspired with recalcitrant PDP
party-members to frustrate the plans of their party for his South-West homestead.
Instead, he engineered the election of Sokoto’s Aminu Tambuwal, an APC wolf in
PDP sheep’s clothing, as Speaker.
In 2015, Tinubu received payback for these
shenanigans again to the detriment of his native South-West. The same Aminu
Tambuwal of Sokoto he schemed into the position of Speaker in 2011, repaid
Tinubu by frustrating his efforts to install his Lagos acolyte, Femi
Gbajabiamila, as Speaker in 2015. Taking a leaf straight out of Tinubu’s 2011
playbook, Tambuwal conspired with opposition PDP members to install another
Northern PDP turncoat, Yakubu Dogara, as Speaker.
Tinubu’s comeuppance here is particularly savage
because it was actually Gbajabiamila who reportedly convinced Tinubu that
Tambuwal would readily act as traitor to his PDP party in 2011. It is therefore
veritable poetic justice that the same Tambuwal became an equally ready tool of
the PDP in the frustration of Gbajabiamila’s ambition and the interests of
Tinubu and the APC in 2015.
Moreover, Tinubu was repaid for his 2011
manipulations with interest. The same treachery employed to Tinubu’s political
disadvantage in the House was also duplicated in the Senate. Bukola Saraki,
another PDP turncoat, refused to abide by the dictates of APC Central, firmly
controlled by Tinubu’s ACN. He snatched the position of Senate President
without official APC approval, but with the support of the opposition PDP. So
doing, he sidelined both Tinubu’s first-choice of George Akume, as well as his
second-choice of Ahmed Lawan.
Crumbled cookie
Just as Tinubu was licking his wounds at the denial
of his “rightful inheritance” in the National Assembly after the APC victory at
the polls, the news came that his political cookie had equally crumbled at Aso
Rock. It had been popularly alleged that Tinubu’s portion in Buhari’s
presidency would not be limited to the appointment of his political godson as
vice-president, but would also include the allocation of no less than nine
choice ministerial nominees to the discretion of the Jagaban of Borgu.
But by the time Buhari unfurled his ministerial
list two weeks ago, the alleged dedicated slots had shrunk to zero. Many of us
had warned in the heady days of the formation of the APC that those insistent
that power must return to the North would be determined to checkmate Tinubu if
and when the election was won. We warned Tinubu that even as he cannot
conceivably be accepted nationally to rule Nigeria as president, even so can he
not rule Nigeria by proxy. We warned him that the North would never allow
Buhari to be his Man Friday in Aso Rock.
However, Tinubu was too far gone to listen. It
would now appear that he even failed to take out insurance policies against
such probable eventualities.
But once elected, Buhari started a romance with
Babatunde Fashola and Kayode Fayemi designed clearly to sideline the Jagaban.
While these former governors were previously members of Tinubu’s inner-circle,
they had since run out of patience with the heavy handedness of their boss.
Therefore, during the election campaign, both of them campaigned for Buhari
above and beyond the call of party duty.
Fashola, in particular, was clearly fed up with
being under Tinubu’s political shadow. In the struggle for who would be the APC
gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, Tinubu did not allow Fashola to choose
his successor, in the ignoble tradition of Nigerian governors. While Fashola
favoured Supo Shasore, the former Attorney General of Lagos State, Tinubu
railroaded in Akinwunmi Ambode as the APC candidate.
While again, in the ignoble tradition of Nigerian politics,
governors promptly transform themselves into Senators when their term as
governor ends, this option was closed off to Fashola because Tinubu had already
installed his wife as the Senator from Fashola’s constitutency. The only option
left for Fashola politically was a presidential ministerial appointment and,
even there, Tinubu had put up a road block against him.
Tinubu prefers to nominate political nonentities
for higher office in the South-West, so that he would be the only Iroko tree in
the forests of the region. Therefore his candidates for ministerial appointment
from Lagos were his little nationally-known former commissioners, Wale Edun and
Yemi Cardoso, who could pose no threats whatsoever to his ascribed South-West
political supremacy.
Alarm bells
But when Fashola and Fayemi accompanied Buhari to
the G7 meeting in Germany in June 2015, alarm bells started ringing in Tinubu’s
Bourdillon Road mansion in Lagos. This was clearly a signial that these former
governors were intent on by-passing the official godfather of the South-West by
applying to be member of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet on their own recognisance.
The Tinubu brigade would have none of this.
Therefore, a campaign of calumny was launched to cut Fashola in particular to
dimunitive size. Suddenly, the “memo” was sent out implying the former governor
had developed political leprosy. When two books were launched simultaneously
celebrating his achievements as governor, none of his APC colleagues from Lagos
dared to attend for fear of entering the bad books of the dreaded Jagaban.
In order to nail the coffin on Fashola’s
ministerial aspirations, it was leaked to the press that a whopping 78 million
naira of public money was spent on the construction of his personal website.
139 million naira was also alleged to have been spent on two boreholes
constructed in Government House, Lagos during his tenure. The intention here
was to ensure that Fashola becomes ineligible for ministerial consideration on
grounds that he would not pass Buhari’s anti-corruption integrity test.
However, Buhari was apparently unimpressed by these
political shenanigans. When his list of ministerial nominees were unfurled,
Fashola and Fayemi featured prominently among Buhari’s “first eleven.” None of
Tinubu’s nominees made the list. Other nominees from the South-West were
precisely the kind of people Tinubu did not want in Buhari’s team; people who
would not be indebted to Tinubu but to Buhari.
While Buhari completely ignored Tinubu’s
candidates, he included that of another South-West bigwig. Obasanjo’s favourite
son, Prince Olagusoye Oyinlola, former governor of Osun State, was included in
Buhari’s list. Thereby, the president asserted the saliency of Obasanjo’s
South-West influence in Aso Rock over that of the Jagaban. He even pointedly
appointed Obasanjo as his special envoy to Guinea-Bissau.
This is certainly not what Tinubu bargained for
when he decided to pitch his tent with Buhari and the APC. If he were to be
furthermore overlooked in the appointment of BOT chairman of the APC, the
marginalisation of the Jagaban in the post-election APC would be complete.
Some of us saw this coming. In the heady early days
of the APC coalition, we warned that Tinubu would be used and dumped. But we
were labelled as PDP lapdogs and charlatans. That is why I say today: let no
one cry for Bola Tinubu.
Anyone who hears Tinubu’s recent vicious attack on
Saraki would realise these are the tokens of a frustrated man. Tinubu could not
attack the President, therefore he poured all his venom on the Senate
President. He accused him of indiscipline and disloyalty; the very things he
celebrated in the PDP rebels who joined forces with him against their party in
The recent declaration that Buhari appointed
Babachir Lawal as Secretary to the Government of the Federation at the instance
of Tinubu is a face-saving device. The Tinubu camp forgot to tell us this until
now. At the time of new SGF’s appointment, all the uproar was about the
Northern lopsidedness in Buhari’s choices.
Observing the sidelining of Tinubu by Buhari,
Senator Femi Okunroumu said: “I am having a good laugh. This is what I
expected. In any case, Tinubu is stretching his luck too far as he wants to
dictate who will rule Nigeria. Tinubu’s wings need to be clipped. With the ministerial
list, Tinubu has been dumped. He should not just be dumped, he should be
On his part, Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo
Adebanjo, said: “APC is not a party; it is a gang of people whose sole aim was
to remove Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as president. In a real party, you share the
spoils of office before elections not after elections. This is what is
happening in APC. We warned our people, but they failed to listen.”
In the new politics of today’s APC, it is better to
be the enemy of Bola Tinubu than to be his friend. The enemies of Tinubu become
Senate presidents; they become Speakers of the House of Representatives; they
become ministers of the Federal government. But the friends of Tinubu are sent
to Siberia.
The Jagaban of Borgu himself has been slain
politically upon his high places. How are the mighty fallen!