The founder of journalism in Nigeria, Reverend Henry Townsend, introduced the profession by publishing the first tabloid ‘Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Ara Egba’ in 1859 in Abeokuta, Ogun state. He probably had no inkling how far his idea would stretch through the decades. However, 164 years down the line, the newspaper, which was established to give Egbas a voice, has completely changed the famous ancient city of Abeokuta to a temple for speaking truth to power and those sabotaging the ambition of the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The famous “emilokan”, meaning it is my own turn, was declared in June 2022 when Tinubu met with the party’s national delegates in Abeokuta few weeks to the party’s convention. It was a dominant discourse on the social media that many of the APC supporters in war of words amidst rumours of endorsement of Senate President Ahmad Muhammad Lawan. The narratives and assertions that he made Muhammadu Buhari president in 2015 greeted many Nigerians with mixed reactions. Political analysts who shared their views mostly agreed that his statements played a significant roles in ensuring that the ruling APC allowed free ,fair and credible presidential primaries where he eventually emerged as the party’s flag bearer.
Six months after, another video surfaced in Abeokuta where Tinubu said the recent naira redesign and the fuel queues that continue unabated are targeted at him. Although, his words are said to have been reported out of context by his allies, the expressions are yet to exonerate him from making the president a subject of discussion and target of his grievances, since Buhari is the petroleum minister while the CBN governor is his appointee. The transliteration of his recent Abeokuta statement reads thus: “Whether they like it or not, we shall wrest power from them. Even if they say there is no fuel, we shall trek and use our PVC”. Like it or not, there is something special about Abeokuta where these declarations are made.
Those who share the perception that the Abeokuta sermon was a message to those in power and not the opposition were vindicated by the Immediate past commissioner for education of Bauchi state Dr. Aliyu U Tilde, now a frontline advocate for the Tinubu presidency. His column titled “Fuel and naira scarcity, a stitch in time, Mr President” drew the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to fasten his belt and campaign for the victory of his party in 2023, citing examples of how former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other governors fought hard to ensure their party won in 2007. Tilde’s submissions may be given different insinuations and interpretations but he wrote in a way that Tinubu deserves every support from the president as his successor.
Did Tinubu make Buhari president?
As a Muslim, only the Almighty Allah gives power to whoever he wishes at his own time because all other powers are limited but his powers are endless. Remember, in the process of achieving one’s dream, key actors come into play directly or indirectly to facilitate the realisation of the dream. This is where Tinubu came into play to complement previous attempts by Buhari to emerge president in 2015. Since Buhari’s foray into politics in 2003, the North has always been a solid ground for him by maintaining an estimated 12m votes in his previous three contests.
Tinubu, tagged a political kingmaker, cannot be contested in argument with anyone having made Professor Yemi Osinbanjo vice president, Raji Fashola, Ambode and Sanwo-Olu governors of Lagos state. Tinubu controls the governors of the South-west states. Many ministers and members of the National Assembly including the Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and James Falake the Secretary of Tinubu/Shettima PCC, among others, are few of the many beneficiaries of his political kingship.
President Buhari has maintained a 12m votes in the core North where he is tagged as “Mai Gaskiya” but failed to clinch the coveted seat after three attempts in 2003, 2007 and 2011. The structures Tinubu built in the South gave the APC an easy ride and path to the presidency in 2015. This may be the reason Tinubu angrily made the popular pronouncement of “EMILOKAN”. Until he speaks further, Nigerians are still throwing stones in the bush on who exactly Tinubu is referring to as a saboteur of his oresidency. Nigerians will be watching keenly as the journey soars higher with just about three weeks to the presidential election.
In the 2007 general elections, Tinubu succeeded in convincing erstwhile Vice President Atiku Abubakar to become the flag bearer of his party, the Action Congress. He was involved in negotiations to bring together the fragmented opposition parties into a “mega-party” capable of challenging the then ruling PDP. He spear-headed the creation of a “mega opposition” party with the merger of Nigeria’s three biggest opposition parties the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the new PDP (nPDP), a faction of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party into the All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, the categories of saboteurs cannot easily be exhausted as they range from economic, political, social to almost every sphere of human activity. The interest at the moment is political saboteurs aimed at ensuring that the ruling APC loses completely the sympathy of Nigerians which may have a consequential effect on the outcome of the general elections. The naira redesign by Godwin Emefele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the long queues in our filling stations call for great concern not only by Tinubu but by the downtrodden as well.
As the kingmaker that he is, this has served Tinubu well. The public does not think too deeply about the many unpalatable issues that have dogged his life mainly because as kingmaker Tinubu is in a relatively safe enough position to operate without much scrutiny. But when he ventures from the relative safety of his present kingmaker role to try to become king, Tinubu should expect not to be spared the harsh scrutiny that such a quest entails. And neither the convenience of partisan sentiments nor the best airbrushing efforts by his army of image launderers can save him in this respect.
I am not here to substantiate whether or not Tinubu’s saboteurs are internal or external, but it is very clear that a ruling party that wants to continue in power must come up boldly to give Nigerians confidence that its presidential candidate has all it takes to sustain the tempo of President Buhari. We are witnesses to how Obasanjo fought for late Umaru Musa Yar’adua in 2007 even though there were insinuations of rigging, which the late president confirmed. This may be why President Buhari keeps off most presidential campaigns and rallies to give other parties confidence of his readiness to leave a legacy of free, fair and credible elections.
The popular Igbo proverb says when a masquerade dances on the road, someone in the bush is beating the drums for it, and when a child is asked by his father to go and steal, he pushes the doors down instead. Be that as it may be, the saboteurs of Tinubu’s presidency are right beside him. The reason is because in 2019, ending fuel queues was one the success stories of the APC government and it should not be different this this time especially when the oresident is the petroleum minister and former governor of Bayelsa state Timipre Sylva, another strong member of APC, is the minister of state for petroleum. The Abeokuta sermon of alleged sabotage by Tinubu calls for great concern and action to end the hardships being experienced by Nigerians.
Therefore, the insinuation that he made Buhari president cannot be over-emphasised, considering the roles Tinubu played in the merger and canvassing support for the success of APC in 2015 and 2019, respectively, for which the President Buhari should reciprocate.
Get your PVC and vote on February 25.
Danaudi, National President of Arewa Youths Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative, writes from Bauchi via [email protected].