2023 Presidential Election: Where Has Bola Tinubu Gone Wrong?

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, popularly called BAT, is a master strategist, generalissimo, who has dominated the politics of Nigeria’s commercial capital for over two decades, Tinubu, has long been overdue and expected to make a run for the country’s top job–his formidable political network, propensity for deal-making and substantial personal wealth give him a head start over many other contenders. In the 2023 presidential elections, Tinubu has been coquettish. Though, it seems that there were some rumpuses in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), because of the political ambition of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, mind you, he mocked those pundits who purported to know his political intentions, especially after touring and declaration of his interest for the Ogun State traditional rulers.

 

The schisms in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), have led to the formation of at least two different camps: Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State and Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport on one side; and Tinubu, the national leader of the APC and deposed Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, on the other. Other factions within the party include senior party people such as Kebbi State governor Atiku Bagudu, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Works Minister Babatunde Fashola. For now they are discreet about their ambitions but many have their eyes on the succession in 2023. Mind you, Tinubu is a former two-time Governor of Lagos State and he retains the mass support till date, with crowds of people gathering outside his mansion on Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, on a daily basis. They credit him with the social and economic progress seen in Lagos over the past two decades. They add that he has also ensured that progressive Governors run the state since he left the post.

 

Some of Tinubu’s notable achievements as Governor then include; improving the state’s waste management system and better incentives for civil servants (salary increases and better quality of working environments). His successor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, was responsible for the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lite System, which ferries passengers in high-capacity buses on dedicated bus lanes. Also, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the immediate past Governor, was shut out when he tried to move away from Tinubu and his desires and instead of allowing him to run on the APC ticket for the second term, he was replaced by Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Governor Sanwo-Olu, the current Governor, another one of Tinubu’s picks, has been praised for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country’s most densely populated state.

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Under Tinubu’s tenure as governor of Lagos State, Alpha Beta Consulting was awarded the contract to collect taxes for the state on the recommendation of a committee whose members included the state’s then Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo SAN (now Vice President), then Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Edun and former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Yemi Cardoso. But, all attempts by journalists using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to discover the terms of Alpha Beta’s contract with the Lagos government and its beneficial owners have been blocked by the State Government officials, arguing that the freedom of information only applies to the Federal Government. It is imperative to highlight Tinubu’s influence amongst the Area Boys–loosely organized gangs of street youth who roam the streets of Lagos. He is held up as a man of the people, often giving out free food to poorer Lagosians.

 

But, falling out of the good graces of both the people of Lagos State and the kingmaker of Lagos politics resulted in Ambode’s going from being the Governor of the country’s most thriving State to being hunted down by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in just six months he was replaced on the APC ticket for the gubernatorial elections by another Tinubu loyalist, current Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Tinubu’s current role is the national leader of the APC, a title that, although an honorific, gives him power and influence within the party structures. It is of note that Tinubu holds two chieftaincy titles: Asiwaju of Lagos and Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom in Niger State, in a country where traditional leaders are still widely respected, these Chieftaincy titles enhance his power and reach. Many younger politicians owe the success of their careers to Tinubu, notably Fashola, and Vice-President Osinbajo. His model has always been to encourage the younger generation.

 

Although the Nigerian political system is meant to work in a way that the presidency rotates between a Southerner and Northerner in power–implying that Buhari the Northerner should be succeeded by a Southerner –the question of whether the APC’s next candidate will be a Northerner or Southerner looks far from resolved. Tinubu cannot succeed with support only from the South-west; he needs Northern votes as well. Will the eight million strong voters block that Buhari tapped into to stay with the APC, regardless of candidate, or will they go to a Northern candidate, regardless of party? For example, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the North-East state of Adamawa is likely to contest again for the PDP and fight for those eight million Northern votes. The collaboration between Buhari and Tinubu in 2015 involved the latter being tasked with bringing in the South-West votes and providing a Southern technocrat as the Vice-Presidential Candidate. When the APC vote count from the South-West for Buhari slipped, it seemed that Tinubu had become less important for him.

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It must not become a taboo to mention the man by name. No one should intimidate the other, hurt the other or curse at the other over mentioning the man’s name. We should not be afraid of having to encounter a reprise for openly supporting a man we believe in. Your opinion on the character of the man doesn’t have to tally up with mine but, you must be fair. All of us have become unrealizingly intimidated by the rhetorics generated around this figure. The political pillar.

 

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a fantastic human being, he is a good man. This political activist and a die hard democrat, indeed, has paid his price in the public service. One of the reasons for which I adore the man is his quick admission of not being PERFECT. Who is there without a fault? Who is there who does not have a past? And who is there who can claim to have everyone in his/her pocket forever? Only a fool would believe that his/her grip on lives of many will hold forever. Do not accuse Asiwaju Tinubu for these things, mostly based on rumor, he is a gift to a people. A gifted player amidst gifted sportmen.

 

According to a Yoruba adage! Ti a ba je’ko, a da’ri j’ewe ni o. Meaning that one is only expected to eat the corn meal, not the leaves in which it is wrapped. You must caution to absorb the goodness and greatness in this man. Those who are not Yoruba know close to nothing about Tinubu but through your self destructive characteristics, they lay unfounded claims against the man. Ko daa o. Tinubu is a strong hope of the Southwest. A genuine Hope. National politics is deadlier and complicated than many know or want to believe. It takes skill and experience, money and audacity, intelligence and street smartness for one to have a chance. BAT is a need.

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To the Lagosians, forgive your son, work with him and I am sure we will reach consensus. Internal cooperation is key and that is what other ethnic groups which constitute Nigeria do. We must support each other, unconditionally, now, henceforth and forevermore. It is a requirement for the sensitive time. Yorùbá, be alert, be smarter, be conscientious. And we will get there. A ti gb’omo lowo ekuro mu ise dani o. To extract the nut from palm kernel takes some effort.

 

May our communal blessings sustain. The spirit of our unique oneness shall remain intact. The name you give to your child is to instruct others of what to call the child and ultimately, that will represent what you stand for.

 

O d’owo o yin o.

 

Òrúnbon, an opinion writer, poet, journalist and public affairs analyst, writes in from Federal Housing Estate, Olomore, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

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