It is a kaleidoscope – the pattern keeps mutating. Nigeria’s politics should be among the most unpredictable, intriguing and exhilarating. There are more smokescreens than actual smoke; more pawns than real players; more masquerades than true pipers and more jokers than aces.
But Bola Tinubu, former Lagos governor and APC presidential hopeful, is no joker. As he said during his declaration, it has been his “lifelong ambition’’ to become president. A younger and healthier Tinubu will make a good president.
As I wrote in a previous column, Tinubu as Lagos governor showed his mettle. He worked out a roadmap for the state; had a diverse cabinet; in fact, he is reputed to be one of the few governors who appointed non-natives, including Igbo citizens, in their cabinet at the time. Against a federal government allocation blockade, he governed Lagos with internally-generated revenues and was able to steer the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to dominance in the south-west, and then midwifing a merger with the Congress for Progressive Change and the All Nigeria Peoples Party for the parturition of the All Progressives Congress. We cannot ignore Tinubu. For what it is worth, he has shown an uncanny ability to build consensus and mobilise consciences towards a cause.
The argument for Tinubu by his supporters in the APC is that he has watered many seeds which have burgeoned. He has nursed many fledging political careers to maturity. He has created opportunities for many who were without a compass. He has invested his life and resources in building people. And that he gave oxygen to the APC, machinating the deracination of an incumbent president at a time everyone thought it was impossible.
The arguments for Tinubu are not vacant of verisimilitude. Tinubu has built people. Only an inveterate hater will say otherwise. Jagaban is deserving of a princely reward. But should the presidency of Nigeria be his compensation? I do not think so. Like Kayode Fayemi, another APC presidential hopeful, said, Nigeria’s presidency is not an “inheritance or traditional title’’. It is a critical office that should not be occupied on the basis of political requital. If the supporters of Tinubu are so compelled to want to pay “reparations’’ to him, it should be done outside the delicate office of the president.
However, I believe a Tinubu presidency should have come about 13 or 15 years ago, when he was firmer in body and in mind. It is evident that Jagaban is not of keen mind or of excellent health. This is without prejudice to the transcendent leadership qualities of the APC national leader.
Tinubu will make a good president if the vicissitudes of age and failing health permit him. But it will not be fair on Nigeria to stake a gamble on this. Nigeria has had a history of presidents, who make personal medical vacations quotidian and customary. They need a breather. A fresh start.
I have watched videos of Tinubu speaking and I am overwhelmed by emotions owing to his frailty, inability to focus; lack of articulation and presence of mind, slurred speech and integral disconnection from subject matters. Tinubu presidency should have come 15 years ago.
Anyone who truly loves the Jagaban of Borgu should be honest about these realities. The time of this living designer of Lagos as president is perhaps in the future past.
Some stakeholders of the APC are cognisant of this obvious but gnawing fact. Party insiders say leaders of the APC, including Aso Rock, will prevail on Tinubu to retrieve his gauntlet, considering the very evident encumbrances. A source told me Jagaban will be propitiated by being given the latitude to “anoint’’ any candidate of his choice from a pool of hopefuls to fly the APC flag.
In a report titled, ‘Suspense as APC orders aspirants to sign ‘withdrawal letter’, on Thursday, The Guardian quoted a presidential hopeful as saying the party had asked them to sign a “withdrawal letter.’’
“This is the first time we are seeing this kind of form for aspirants and we see it as an attempt to enforce consensus option through the back door. This is unconstitutional. Signing that letter means the party leaders can impose any candidate and you will not have any right to challenge them in court. Something is fishy and we must be very careful because there are surreptitious moves not to allow delegates to decide the fate of aspirants”, the presidential hopeful said.
Party insiders say there is pressure on Tinubu and a few other presidential hopefuls to step aside. Whether Jagaban will take the noble exit door is a question of time.
***Fredrick Nwabufo; Nwabufo aka Mr OneNigeria is a writer and journalist.