“Banana peels” were words that were prominent during Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration between 1999 and 2007.
The words were used particularly to describe the wheeling and dealing that transpired in the National Assembly of that era.
The “banana peels” were intentional obstacles placed before the Senate Presidents to make them stumble and in the process, a welter of propaganda was unleashed in the public against such officers.
A number of Senate Presidents tripped off after unknowingly stepping on those banana peels.
Some also because they were not very careful, they were brought down by the peels.
Chuba Okadigbo, after he was removed from office, warned his successor, Anyim Pius Anyim, to beware of the proverbial banana peel around the office of the nation’s chief legislator which ensures he falls from grace.
Adolphus Wabara also fell after he stepped on the peels following the Education Ministry bribery scandal.
David Mark, the longest-serving Senate president since 1999, spoke about how he avoided banana peels for eight years.
Following the emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President in 2015 against the wish and calculations of his then party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), a lot of banana peels were dropped for him on the floor of the Senate, but he skilfully dodged them.
Today, although President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not in the Senate, and needs not to look over his shoulders to see who drops any banana peel for him; he nonetheless needs to avoid some banana peels he may have inadvertently dropped for himself or that were dropped for him by other party faithful, by way of wrong pieces of advice.
Tinubu, in the estimation of many observers, has begun well with some good reforms that must be followed through to yield the desired outcomes.
The immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari was said to be a disaster and laid terrible precedents, which many Nigerians have warned Tinubu not to sustain.
“Those precedents must be avoided like plagues by Tinubu if he must succeed,” observers said.
Buhari’s nepotistic behaviour was not hidden. He glamourised it and those around him cheered him on. This was evident in his manner of appointments.
In an investigative story written and published by BusinessDay Sunday in 2017 titled “81 of Buhari’s 100 appointees are Northerners.”
The story showed how divisive the appointments were and why they were dangerous.
Sadly though, corrections were not made, rather Buhari continued in that faulty governance style till he left office. By the time he exited office on May 29, 2023 the country had been balkanised along ethnic and religious lines.
Ayo Opadokun, a former ally of the then President had deplored the level of President’s insensitivity during an exclusive interview with BusinessDay when he said he was shocked that all the Service Chiefs appointed by Buhari in a democracy were from one part of the country and spoke the same dialect.
Last Monday, President Tinubu announced a list of new Service Chiefs, Police IG, special advisers and other aides.
Since the list became public, there have been variegated reactions.
While some observers noted that the appointments reflected Buhari’s nepotistic behavioral pattern, in that it leaned more towards a geopolitical zone; some justifying the list said those who got one slot should even be happy they got something at all.
Analysts are of the opinion that if the new administration is really serious and truthful with the promise to carry everyone and every part of the country along, and if its mantra of inclusive government truly comes from the inside, it must first reflect in appointments.
It is their opinion that to make comments to suggest that the appointment of an aide from some particular parts of the country was an exhibition of favour to such a zone may not help the inclusivity claim of the government.
Atedo Peterside, an investment banker and economist, succinctly captured this when he tweeted that: “If you are being fair and running an inclusive government, it will be evident and you will not have to stick your finger in someone’s eye by shouting: ‘…See you guys are lucky, I actually appointed one human being from your geopolitical zone’, after appointing ten from my own zone.”
Alfred Nwanza, a lecturer with a tertiary institution in the country, expressed shock that the new government was sustaining Buhari’s nepotistic precedents.
“I thought they are saying that people should move on now that elections are over? Does it mean they have not moved on? What I see happening is that some people are still looking at others as enemies. A nation cannot develop this way. What I should think President Tinubu should do is to look at those reasons for agitations and address them and not to worsen the situation with further marginalisation. It may seem like the era of Buhari is not yet over,” Nwanza said.