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IKE ABONYI
Ike's Column Opinion

Tinubu, APC, and Tsetse Fly Metaphor

I am in the news more because I’m working, Nigerians discuss active men in the field
Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is easily one of the most consistent and improved politicians in this dispensation. Whether or not he is your favourite, you must come to terms with this fact. Since 1999, he has remained relevant in the field, whether as opposition or in a ruling party. Nobody ignores him in any political calculations without paying a price.

He is also one of the most bashed politicians Nigeria has thrown up; yet, he remains standing. His strength is such that attacking him has become the easiest way to be noticed in the political space. All the great and impressive power exhibited by various political interests, including the federal might deployed to snatch Lagos State from him has met a brick wall.

Ahead of 2023, he has cleverly positioned himself as the man to beat. The picture in APC is that President Muhammadu Buhari is handing over to Tinubu in 2023 and if not so there will be trouble. By design, Tinubu has become the heir-apparent and the turmoil in APC today is issues from dubious attempts by some kingmakers to look elsewhere for Buhari’s successor.
The kingmakers’ plan is implementable but not without a high cost.

If you decide to engage a lion or an elephant in a fight, just anticipate that the battleground must suffer. Already, the fear of this consequence has gripped the ruling party.

Since 2015, anti-Tinubu elements in APC have been struggling to dislodge his grasp of the party and it’s not going easy. The exit of Bisi Akande for John Odigie-Oyegun in the National Chair was the first attempt at dismantling Tinubu. Oyegun’s reign was turbulent and he never saw peace until he was finally dethroned by a Tinubu man, former Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

As if in a revenge mission, the anti-Tinubu clique ensured that Oshiomhole never had peace either until he was eased out in a palace coup d’état. The quarrelsome nature of Oshiomhole made the plot easy. His sack on June 25, 2020, alongside members of the National Working Committee, NWC, was a relief to the party. Ever since that incident, the struggle has been how to outfox the Tinubu group and minimize if not wipe off his inevitable stake in the party. But It has not been an easy task.

The controversial membership revalidation of the ruling party was one of the designs aimed at whittling down the larger-than-life Tinubu influence; even that has not been smooth going. The picture is such that the future of APC as a ruling party is dependent on how Tinubu is treated ahead of 2023 and how he reacts to such treatment. All attempts to see whether the unearthing of his not-so-pleasant past will change perceptions has not been effective. Instead, his political prowess continues to loom large.

In APC today, Tinubu has become like the proverbial tsetse fly perching on the balls, you cannot kill it without putting the scrotal sac in harm’s way. A choice to ignore the fly will still cost blood.

President Buhari and his henchmen who had hoped that after benefiting from Tinubu’s money, goodwill and all, they would dump him, citing his skeletons in the cupboard, have realized that it’s not as easy as they thought. The reason politics is science is the highly technical manoeuvring involved.

The Buhari regime itself has become so soiled that it would be the height of hypocrisy to deny anybody something on moral grounds when the key gladiators have dirty fingers in the national pie.

If corruption was a dent in the Buhari circle before 2015, it’s no longer so today. Therefore, the president’s camp already lost the moral right to determine who is holy or not.
They had thought Tinubu could be pushed about on corruption grounds and finally shoo him out. The track record of the regime has weakened that strategy. When Tinubu ruled Lagos as governor and possibly laid the foundation of his stupendous wealth, Nigeria’s corruption index was not as bad as of today at home and abroad. So to keep Tinubu in the cold, somebody needs to think outside the box and come up with something uniquely convincing. Anything else will be tantamount to the kettle calling the pot black.

Meanwhile, while they continue to search for what they would need to get Tinubu out, he is already making inroads into the party across the country, positioning himself for either a rise or for the big fall of the party if he is shabbily treated.

Why is Tinubu the issue in APC? To attempt an answer to the question, we daresay that it’s because he has safely and effectively navigated the turbulent and murky waters of Nigeria’s politics.

However you view it, he has deployed his knack so suitably to keep himself away from the whales and sharks as well as the banana peels of politics.

To do politics in Nigeria for decades and remain afloat, you must have extraordinary and uncommon savvy to meander the slippery grounds where man and mammon hold sway.

However, the ruthless Buhari boys are capable of doing anything and damning the consequences, but bluffing the Jagaban comes at great cost. It would be interesting to see how it will end. When you hear the Presidency say that there is no disharmony between President Buhari and Tinubu even when the opposite is the case, it shows that the options are narrowing.

When the Jagaban goes doling out funds to the victims of a fire incident in Katsina fire, he is just being strategic and reminding Buhari that ‘our friendship could go beyond politics’.

All students of Tinubu style of politics know that he takes no action, whether cultural, religious, and philanthropic, without the political component being factored in.

When Tinubu’s former boy and now challenger, Governor Kayode Fayemi, delivered a lecture in the North last year and was described curiously and lavishly as the adopted Arewa son, pundits knew Tinubu would hit back.

To show the difference between master and servant, while Fayemi delivered a lecture last year, this year, Jagaban chaired the occasion and delivered the keynote address. Unfortunately, the slipping of Tinubu at the occasion, which went viral, dominated the news from the event. This mild accident has been taken up by the anti-Tinubu group who now raises the question of his fitness for the job of president. But is health an issue for a Nigerian President? After Buhari and perhaps Yar’Adua, anybody can rule Nigeria either from sickbed or even in a dementia state . All you need to do is provide good cover for yourself and employ a Lai Mohammed? The Tinubu birthday colloquium for this year was strategically taken to Kano. The noise about his correct age at 69 and slip of 50 million instead of 50,000 are all pressure of 2023 which the Jagaban need to contend with.

While the scheming is going on in search of how to tackle the new headache of the party, political watchers are proffering how best to walk around the Jagaban without hurting him and incurring his wrath and curse. The best way to contain Tinubu and bury his ambition without the party suffering some collateral damage is to anchor the reason for denying him the presidential ticket on justice, equity, and fairness.

Tinubu should be made to shelve his ambition in the larger interest of peace and stability. Such talk may mean nothing to a politician whose ambition is almost inordinate but as a patriot and salacious politician, he would know that it’s the true picture for peace and stability in our polity.
If under this dispensation the South West through Olusegun Obasanjo has ruled for eight years, Goodluck Jonathan of South-South even though accidental ruled for six years and the North by 2023 would have ruled for about eleven years in late Umar Yar’Adua and President Buhari, it sounds logical and sensible to allow the South-East peopled by one of the three leading ethnic groups in the country to have a shot also.

The logic from this angle to Tinubu might make sense, but to deny him a ticket for another South-West or Northern person will not only be provocative but will be seen by his supporters as an affront. If therefore he decides to rebel against such an outcome, the gods will stand for him.
Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, they say. If Tinubu and the ethnic Igbo or the geopolitical region of South-East are victims as it is, the entire tribe or region should be given prime considerations.

So while APC is dancing around in search of an antidote to contain an anticipated Tinubu rebellion, they should just point at justice to the denied region as a defence. It’s perhaps only through this will the gods of the land be calm. After all, we are told by men of conscience that it is better to lose everything you have to keep balance of justice level.

God, help us.

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