The North must not foist a Tinubu presidency on Nigeria
In the end, my view may not matter. In the end, most Nigerians may not see what I see. In the end, they may elect Bola Tinubu as the next president this month. But this is a patriotic stance and I’ll be on record for making it; for saying unequivocally, even vociferously, that a Tinubu presidency would be cataclysmic for Nigeria; that it would bring Nigeria utter embarrassment globally; and that no one who truly loves this country would want Tinubu as its president. Well, with just about three weeks before the presidential election on February 25, I want to continue that advocacy by appealing to the good sense and patriotism of a critical part of this country: the North!
Last week, I took President Muhammadu Buhari to task over his “unquestionable” support for Tinubu. Each time a prominent Tinubu supporter questioned Buhari’s loyalty, as Alhaji Tanko Yakasai did recently, the president was always quick to profess his unflinching commitment to Tinubu’s victory. Surely, those calling for Buhari’s muscular support for Tinubu believe that only with such strong backing would he harvest enough votes in the North to win the election. Tinubu’s entire calculations are based on replicating the electoral pact between the core North (with Buhari’s fabled “12m bloc votes”) and the South-West (Tinubu’s base) that won Buhari the presidency in 2015 and 2019.
Indeed, in one interview, Alhaji Yakasai, a chieftain of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, propounded a “winning formula” for Tinubu. He said: “With the South-West, all Tinubu needs is for him to get about 45 to 50 percent of the North’s votes to win the presidency.” That permutation suggests that even if majority of South-East and South-South voters shun Tinubu, as they might, he could still breast the tape in the presidential race if he scraped enough votes from the North and secured massive votes from the South-West. The North is thus the ultimate kingmaker and could make Tinubu Nigeria’s next president.
Would the North’s founding fathers have wanted someone as fatally flawed morally and ethically as Tinubu to be Nigeria’s president? Again, the answer is no
Well, that’s scary. But why would the North foist a Tinubu presidency on Nigeria? Why would Northerners inflict such a monumental calamity on a country they presumably love? Sadly, some Northern politicians say: “The North is indebted to Tinubu, and it’s payback time.” Really? Indebted for what? Well, they say Tinubu helped Buhari to become president. Indeed, Tinubu himself famously said: “I made Buhari president,” adding that “without me, Buhari won’t be president.”
But what an utter insult on the collective intelligence of Northerners to say that because Tinubu opportunistically helped Buhari to gain power, the North is indebted to him! Was Buhari’s personal ambition synonymous with the North’s enlightened self-interest? Is the North better off today because of Buhari’s presidency? Surely, not with over 20m out-of-school children, not with 86m (65%) multidimensionally poor people, compared to the South’s 47m (35%), and not with several thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced due to chronic and acute insecurity. Truth is, the North is today a world-class developmental basket case!
So, why does the North owe Tinubu a debt for helping Buhari to become president? Only those Northerners who rode on Buhari’s coattails to political power or public appointments would say the North should be indebted to Tinubu for “making” Buhari president. Tinubu himself did so not for Nigeria’s sake or the North’s or even Buhari’s, but purely his own. He rubbed Buhari’s back, so to say, in the expectation that Buhari would rub his. It was purely opportunistic and self-serving; there was no love lost between them, and there still isn’t!
In his book My Participations, Chief Bisi Akande, former Osun State governor, wrote that after Buhari refused to make Tinubu his running mate in the 2015 presidential election, following opposition by “the Northern Interest Group” to a Muslim-Muslim ticket, Tinubu said: “I don’t trust Buhari.” That distrust has endured and deepened, and led to Tinubu’s bad-tempered Abeokuta outbursts against Buhari, and recent attacks on his government’s policies, because he suspects Buhari is acting treacherously towards him.
Truth is, beyond the imperatives of political expediency, requiring some perfunctory niceties, Tinubu does not like Buhari; and if he became president, he would, sooner or later, show undisguised animosity towards Buhari and his acolytes, who he believes are working against his political interests. He would certainly have his revenge on the APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, who tried to impose Ahmed Lawan, the senate president, as a consensus candidate in an attempt to stop him from getting the APC’s presidential ticket. Well, as we know, the APC’s Northern governors came to Tinubu’s rescue.
Of course, several disaffected APC leaders, such as Naja’atu Muhammed, who recently resigned from Tinubu’s presidential campaign council and from APC, Rotimi Amaechi, former transport minister, and Chukwuemeka Nwajuba, former minister of state for education, have publicly said that Tinubu “bribed” APC governors, delegates, and fellow aspirants to clinch the party’s ticket. Hardly anyone would doubt those allegations of vote buying, given Tinubu’s deep pockets and his notoriety for money politics. But let’s leave that aside and stick to the public reason the APC Northern governors gave for supporting him.
Nasir el-Rufai, the Kaduna State governor, said that in deciding that power should shift to the South, APC’s Northern governors asked themselves what their founding fathers – Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa or Aminu Kano – would have done in the circumstance. Of course, they would have supported a power shift to the South after eight years in the North in the national interest. But would they have supported a Muslim-Muslim ticket? No, because they valued not only Nigeria’s ethnic diversity but also its religious diversity. “Unity in diversity”, Sir Ahmadu Bello proclaimed!
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Yet, while the “Northern Interest Group” rejected a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2015, doing what the North’s founding fathers would have done, APC’s Northern governors support it now. They also ignore the fact that if Tinubu became president and did eight years, followed by a two-term Northern-Muslim president, Nigeria would have had a Muslim president for 24 consecutive years by 2039, counting from Buhari in 2015. The North’s founding fathers wouldn’t have wanted one religion to control Nigeria’s presidency for 24 consecutive years.
And would the North’s founding fathers have wanted someone as fatally flawed morally and ethically as Tinubu to be Nigeria’s president? Again, the answer is no, because the Ahmadu Bellos, Tafawa Balewas and Aminu Kanos had moral courage and high ethical standards. Think about it. If Tinubu became president, he would be the first Nigerian president with a drug-related criminal forfeiture against him in a foreign country; the first multibillionaire president, with private jets, yet with no known legitimate source of his stupendous wealth; the first president whose pedigree is shrouded in utter dubiety; the first president with the worst character and integrity deficits. Would the North’s founding fathers have wanted him to be Nigeria’s president? Certainly not. Sadly, their descendants have no such reservations.
El Rufai once said: “I’m not Tinubu’s man; we have differences!” But now, he’s Tinubu’s Man Friday. He also said: “It’s time to end godfatherism in Lagos,” a reference to Tinubu’s absolute dominance over politics and governance in Lagos State nearly two decades after leaving office as governor. The term “state capture” best describes Tinubu’s control over Lagos. His politics is utterly bereft of integrity, transparency and accountability. Yet. that’s the person the APC’s Northern governors want to govern Nigeria.
Well, my plea is to the entire North: You are critical to choosing Nigeria’s next president this month. Act patriotically in the national interest. Don’t foist a Tinubu presidency on Nigeria!