What Asiwaju Bola Tinubu – the president-elect – just pulled off is a miracle but the merchants of miracles in our midst are not shouting hallelujah. They are still querulous. Rather than see a divine halo in the man’s march to his hallowed dream, they were trying to choreograph the divine poise.
They did not see his seesaw of obstacles and how he scaled one after the other. And, also, how gifts fell on his lap. First, it was in his party, the APC. Once the 2019 polls were over, some elements in Aso Rock as well as opponents in the party ganged up. First step, sack Adams Oshiomhole as chairman. He was seen as Asiwaju Tinubu’s man in the party’s inner sanctum. They did, and then one of the coupists, Akpan Udo-Edehe, announced that they wanted a consensus candidate. In other words, a not-Tinubu as flagbearer for president. It was even decreed that no court suit should ensue. Udo-Edehe limped in his run for APC ticket in Akwa Ibom. He sulked into NNPP.
That was not enough for self-confidence. All eyes focused on the primaries. First, they advanced the idea of an open one. Then they balked. Tinubu had a way with the crowds. The sweepstakes may creep out of their hands into the Jagaban’s web. After all, he was the chief proponent of open primaries. So, let’s make it delegate-driven. It buzzed until they saw again trap falls of disaster. The only feline path to tear him apart was to get the president to appoint a successor in the mould of how Abdullahi Adamu emerged as party chairman. It did not happen from Buhari’s end.
Then, they came with a magic. They wanted a narrow count that disenfranchised lawmakers and many party leaders. Their frustration was that a primary had to happen. Before that, they orchestrated a machine of lies. He did not go to Chicago. A media outfit called Chicago State University to wrest a denial. Rather the school said he was not just a student but a distinguished one. They brought drug hobgoblin even after a U.S. government’s denial. They said he was not fit enough. He beat all contestants hopping from state to state. He even beat his chest over his peripatetic prowess when he met Niger State delegates. His opponents were waiting for him to faint and fly out in a medical craft. Nature failed their malice.
On primary day, some party men rallied behind Senate president as the anointed pick. But it floundered. In fact, some Villa elements wanted Buhari to change his mind at the last moment. One of them asked the service chiefs to see Buhari for a last-minute order. One of the chiefs insisted the president already gave them a go-ahead to conduct a fair primary. But a cabal insider insisted all three should see him. They did. They met an irritated boss who asked them to proceed to the stadium to conduct a fair poll.
He did not only win but handily, flummoxing all those who predicted his Nunc dimittis. He had before then enriched our political language with Emilokan. Some called it outburst. But it busted the cabal. As the campaign wore on, he became a source of immense derision. They mocked his body fluid, his height, his walk, his sitting, his standing, his words, his accent, his language, his faith, his paternity and maternity, his roots. But they were mocking his maker. And God said, God is mocked. If he had lost, a newspaper was waiting to appropriate O lule for him. But they wouldn’t employ it for their dazed candidate.
Weeks to the polls, they saw an inevitability, and they devised a new obstacle. Fuel and cash. They would blame his party for putting Nigerians through the crucible. Tinubu will pay for them. The elements in the villa were accused but they had no shame. They persisted. Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar loved the cynical play because they expected the scarcity to knock out the Jagaban. We experienced in Tinubu on this matter what political scientists call loyal opposition, when he spoke under warrior Lisabi’s shadow in Abeokuta about those who wanted him to fail. El Rufai encountered later.
But in the divine strain must be seen a few factors. One, the APC northern governors, who were this essayist’s personal pick for persons of the year in 2022, insisted the next president must come from the south. Two, Obi came in as a gift by wiping out Atiku’s southern entitlements in Lagos, Southeast and south-south. Three, Wike and the G-5 factor. The forces were aligning. For the LP man even the APC did not hide the permutation that he was a gift for Tinubu. Yet, PDP and Labour Party in their mutual obstinacy united for Tinubu. Kwankwaso, the Kano landlord, also left PDP. They broke into three. How could pieces make mincemeat of a whole? The APC left them alone according to the words of Napoleon: “Never interrupt your enemies when they are making a mistake.”
The Obidient movement was like Asahel in the scripture who, like Fela’s joro jaro joro, ran but looked neither left nor right with no weapon and plunged straight into a sword. It is a movement without eyes or ears but legs of a flailing antelope. Like flies following the sweet scent of death in a corpse, they buzzed into their own electoral oblivion.
Buoyed by false prophets and ethnic bigotry, it believed it could force a victory on a diverse nation. They forget that southwest and North coalition gave Buhari his victory. They didn’t have that heft. Christians and southeast alone is a narrow coalition. If the Atiku votes up north of Muslims with the southwest were in contention with the Obidients, a shellacking would have drowned Labour. Having shaved Atiku in the southeast and southsouth, Atiku relied only on the north for big numbers. Obi’s cynical move gave us no ideology. If it did, it romped in a narrow radius.
The United States has a religious and white coalition. But it falls short. They align with business with the concept of low taxes and small government. Nixon enunciated the Christian and cultural nexus into what he called the southern strategy. It is exhibited in the G’s: God, gays and guns.
The prophets hoodwinked their followers, acting like God’s spokesmen. I asked on TVC Breakfast Show, if that were the case, what happened with Father Hyacinth Alia of Benue State who supported APC and triumphed for Tinubu? Did it mean the holy spirit was at war with itself? God forbid. As Jeremiah wrote, they were speaking from their imaginations. He said, “A wonderful and terrible thing is committed in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely and the priests bear rule by their means. And my people love to have it so.”
Men like that are a disgrace to the word of God. They are spiritual hustlers who want to fill their halls and build gigantic buildings as though the truth of God relies on marble palaces made with hands. Just as we no longer rely on physical circumcision but the foreskin of the heart, the love of God is in the heart, not in the ululations of false prophets. Their entrance does not bring light, but lights-out. For all who prophesied, Paul said, “though there be prophecies, they shall fail.” And of course, their tongues shall cease.
The Bible says let the wheat and tares dwell together, not duel together. When the polls results started trickling in, the Obidients were exulting because they were cherry-picking areas where they were doing well. The polls were credible then. They forgot the big picture. They were happy to hear that Lagos fell, that a sort of partial domino fall was dawning: Buhari lost Katsina, Ayade lost in Cross River, Lalong in Plateau, Adamu in Nasarawa, El Rufai in Kaduna, et al. Translation: a credible proceeding. Twenty governors lost their states. But when Obidients lost the full count, they say no sir, it was rigged. Of course, it was no perfect poll. A man like hoary Obasanjo was sulking like an anarchist. The problem with the Obidients is that where they lost, they didn’t lose. Where they won, they didn’t win enough. Maybe they want to win 150 percent of southeastern states.
As for some of my eastern brethren, they thought it was all right that a Tinubu had zero percent in one state and one percent in two states there. They have to understand that democracy is about building bridges and not erecting bubbles of bluster.
It is the sort of puffy air they are bringing to Lagos. A territorial braggadocio does not make peace in another person’s patrimony. Many of them work here in peace, but a swagger of proprietary assertion by a good number of them does not make for peace.
The LP man was an interesting candidate. He was a man who did not rely on his track record or vision. His followers did not watch him except his old wristwatch. When he lied, it was an act of human grace. When Tinubu erred, it was a big, unforgivable gaffe. His statistical illusions made the LP candidate a wizard. All those who hated Tinubu channeled their anger for the LP man. He did not have to be a saint. They canonised him and gave him the holy scent, including our pastors who loved the holy spirit so much that they did not see what was coming.
Some writers and commentators went abroad to make claims for which they have no evidence. One of them was writer Chimamanda Adichie who wrote a New York Times piece out of rage rather than method. She turned anecdotes into a pattern, history into tendentious material, bigotry into grace. She probably thought she was writing a novel. But facts, even when fictionalized, have their place. She is often quick to toady up to the west for affirmation. She is entitled to her servitude, but she should not replace research with sentiment. As in her New York Times effusions. She needed to know that we had only a fraction of the polling stations with problems. And every polling station had result sheets signed by party agents at various levels. We need to ascertain whether some people are wailing because they did not have the chance to hack the server. Writing as though her Half of A Yellow Sun, she whipped up a spectre of refugees going to America. No bloodshed here, please.
The polls may not be perfect; hence the law speaks of substantial compliance, a point the Nigerian Bar Association President noted in his assessment. At long last, we shall accept that elections, like this one, tumble social hierarchies by affirming the royalty of the citizen. In the words of the boisterous American statesman Huey Long, “every man a king but no one wears a crown.” The coronation belongs to the Nigerian people.
When he said, emilokan, Tinubu turned out to be more prophetic than any prophet in the land. It was an act of faith as novelist Dostoyevsky wrote, “In a realist, faith does not spring from miracle but miracle out of faith.” Tinubu was the man of faith.
– Culled from The Nation Newspaper