Screeching on television in February 2018, Remi Tinubu, wife of Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu, let out a bellow. She said her husband was ”trashed” (her word) after the 2015 election. Her wailing: “I was hurt [by] what they did to my husband after the campaign …he didn’t say a thing. We were running three campaigns in my house and for him to be trashed like that…”
Really, Tinubu has had it coming. The All Progressives Congress (APC) he co-founded has largely been weaned of his influence. In the heat of the tumult in the APC in 2018, he wrote a missive, excoriating John Oyegun, the national chairman of the party at the time and his undisputed nemesis.
He accused the former national chairman of scuttling the reconciliatory undertaking in the party. In the scathing letter, dated February 21, 2018, the former governor of Lagos state said “disappointment greeted me when I discovered that you had swiftly acted in contravention of the spirit of our discussions. Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of APC.”
Tinubu had his way. Oyegun was removed, and Adams Oshiomhole, Jagaban’s flunkey, entered. I think it was convenient logic for the ‘squadron of interest’ to assuage Tinubu so as to retain his loyalty by destoolling Oyegun at the time because the second-term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari was a going enterprise.
And with the second term secured and the 2023 election in the offing, ‘the squadron of interest’ now squares against the interest of Tinubu whose presidential ambition is not unobtrusive. The current leadership crisis in the APC is largely a tussle over who holds the ace of the party in 2023.
Also, with Oshiomhole removed — tactically eviscerating Jagaban’s influence — interest groups have aligned and unaligned in the battle to secure the leadership of the APC ahead of 2023. While the Abiola Ajimobi-led national working committee (NWC) of the APC maintains the vestiges of Tinubu’s sway, Victor Gaidom’s faction chaperoned by the trio of Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi and Nasir el-Rufai, seek the internment of the last imprints of the former Lagos governor in the party.
The plot now ossified as Buhari openly endorsed the faction of Gaidom as the authentic leadership of the APC – effectively deracinating Tinubu and acolytes. The president’s support for Giadom, who declared himself national chairman and who the ‘Ajimobi-NWC’ expelled from the party, put the seal to whatever is left of Tinubu’s ragged hold in the party.
In protest, the ‘Ajimobi NWC’ accused the president of supporting illegality and threatened to boycott the national executive committee (NEC) meeting of the party scheduled for Thursday. In their words, the president’s action is tantamount to “embracing illegalities and turning a blind eye to the infractions on the constitution of the party”. Startling!
As a matter of fact, the probability of Buhari consigning Jagaban to a space of irrelevance when he is re-elected like he did after the 2015 elections was high. Tinubu was an expendable baggage and a heavy moral cargo on the anti-corruption war of the president. But he was needed for the political capital he brought to the table. The whispers at the presidential villa have been that he is unfit to walk in the footsteps of Buhari. He is considered more as a mob boss needed for the dirty department of electioneering than as a leadership candidate with commitment to fighting corruption.
In retrospect, in the early days of the APC triumph, Tinubu carried on lost in the awe of his own power. I recall that I warned Jagaban deserved a bit of cautioning. His empire had gained so much vastness, vulgarity and glamour like Babylon that he now thought himself God. He practically erected a tower “subbing” Babel, and now played “Bruce Almighty”.
The inexorable reality is that every empire has a date with a fall. And often, like in the days of history told, empires crash after their potentates betray a fatal flaw – hubris. Why does the picture of Xerxes, in the movie “300”, come to my mind?
The fortunes of Tinubu in the APC have vaporised. The dragon has been tamed. But can he rise like the phoenix from this?
*** Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist / Twitter: @FredrickNwabufo