Rumours are rumours! But, if, indeed, there is any substance or element of truth in the rumoured presidential ambition of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, then, he will have to take some serious steps for it to become a reality.
Charity, they say, begins at home! For him to be sellable to the majority of Nigerians, Tinubu must metamorphose into that political leader and presidential candidate with the most intense national outlook, farthest outreach, and most acceptable leadership character! He has to start working on the homogeneity of the Yoruba aspirations for a start. And there is only one thing that can unite the race, which the late MKO Abiola got right! MKO, as he was fondly called, was able to reach out to the people through objective philanthropism; objective, because he has research fellows who did the subtle underground job for him! That the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader is a cheerful giver, who helps a lot, has never been in doubt! However, the notorious truth is that Tinubu funnels lots of money through channels which may not percolate to the nitty gritty of the people as anticipated! Of course, that’s an avoidable error! Any distribution mechanism adopted by a campaign organization must be pragmatic, driven and assertive! For affective effects, the core-but-voiceless Yoruba people must be reached, and their burden alleviated. Limitation of reach, the concomitant loss of confidence in government, and frustration of the mass of the people may be veritable reasons why a section of the race seems unimpressed by his philanthropy.
To make the job easier for Tinubu, the Southwest has to be one; and behind him. Impliedly, he has to come as the true Asiwaju of Yorubaland by going above all the structures to reach the core of the Yoruba race, reconciling factions, without necessarily relying on his long-known-but-now-not-so-effective approach. Impliedly, the former Lagos State governor needs image makers and people who can do scientific survey explorations that can help him take decisions that will be hard to fault. Yes, Tinubu remains a visionary and master planner who can come out with amazing things. However, he also has to showcase that true leadership quality and assurances that he can deliver to the people. On this, he has Lagos State to use as an example. As its Chief Executive for eight years, he didn’t construct or commission bridges or stadia while his tenure lasted but he laid the plans for a new Lagos. Today, the ‘Centre of Excellence’ is a megacity to behold.
In 2019, the margin of victory between APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the Southwest zone of the country was just 51% of the margin of victory between the former and the latter, incidentally, Nigeria’s main opposition party, in Jigawa State; and 28% in Katsina State. In 2015, it was much better: 82% and 49% respectively! This goes to show that Tinubu has a lot of work to do, first, in Yorubaland – which currently looks like a battleground – before going to other zones. For the party to make any meaningful impact in the 2023, APC, to which Tinubu subscribes, must embark on sincere internal cleansing. It must ‘conquer itself from itself’ in order to accommodate today’s realities and dynamics.
That the ruling party currently behaves as if it has exclusive rights over Nigeria; and as if it is the only party which has solutions to Nigeria’s leadership-inflicted problems is no longer news. This is not only troubling, it is also capable of threatening this once-in-a-lifetime dream. Yes, Nigeria might have had leaders who became presidents without home support. However, with a man like Tinubu and what he has done for humanity in and outside the zone, a loss at home will not only demean his status, it will also cast a negative political slur on the collective negotiating capacity of the Yoruba race.
The truth of the matter is that all politics is local and political practice in this part of the world is a game for the highest bidder; which, again, boils down to prebendal politics currently threatening Nigeria’s fledgling democracy. The ruling party must rise above the rumblings and the grumblings currently troubling its Israel, with a view to becoming focused, cohesive and well-integrated. It is then that it can speak with one voice from the Southwest and negotiate with other regions on its choice of candidate. Otherwise, the party will not do well because structural problems and internal frictions within it could ruin everything!
For Tinubu himself to make waves, he must also have a firm grip on few of his trusted confidants, or kitchen cabinet. These men of honour must be willing and ready to work for him and in his interest. A system that carelessly empowers wrong hands and cronies who only end up as political liabilities and traitors is not only politically counterproductive, it is also suicidal. Incidentally, those who knew nothing about the struggle, or were even perhaps against the progressives when the struggle for the soul of Nigeria was hot and scorching, have, like a chameleon, worn the garment of the progressives and are now using our hard-earned democracy as identity vehicle to traumatize, even, demonize the real guys. And that’s why it can never be real because they were never progressives.
All said, Asiwaju’s rumoured presidential bid, if there is any meat in it, requires tact and diligent planning. It requires ability to do things right and do the right things. It demands being efficient and being effective. In this wise, the Jagaban of Borgu must consider an urgent need for a comprehensive Research Centre that has international standard. Nigerians will no longer tolerate leaders who are bereft of ideas and credible facts; one who cannotmarshal relevant information at their disposal. In this digital age, our president can no longer afford to be moving around with Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) or those aged, jaded, third-party statistics that have no bearing on current trends. That is why, many a time, the projections of our policies are wrong because they are from a faulty premise. The same reason Nigeria’s president will have to get to Chatham House in London before making policy pronouncements on Nigeria. Of course, that is why a man, who is going to lose an election tomorrow, will be fantasizing on how he would be inaugurated as president of the country.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
Abiodun KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria