When last February President Muhammadu Buhari saddled the former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, with the task of reconciling all aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country, I scoffed at the idea and stated then that it was a futile exercise. The reasons were not far-fetched: Buhari by his actions had no genuine desire at reconciling the party members; with Tinubu as the chief aggrieved member, leading such efforts was a misnomer because he needed to be reconciled with some of the party members. I predicted that by the end of his brief, the party would be more divided than before.
Barely two weeks after Tinubu’s peace committee was inaugurated, crisis rocking the Kaduna State chapter of the APC, took a turn for the worse after a building located in the heart of Kaduna city, belonging to a leader of one of the two factions, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, was demolished by the state government. Tinubu’s committee said nothing publicly about such intolerant behaviour on the part of the state governor. That it happened after Tinubu’s supposed reconciliation committee was set up showed the disregard party members had for it.
Nearly six months after he embarked on that mission impossible, not much has been heard of the progress he has made with the reconciliation exercise. What is clear to all watchers of political developments in the country is that Tinubu has failed in his given task. In the last few weeks, a lot has happened that has further aggravated tensions, exacerbated divisions, and created more aggrieved members than the pre-Tinubu committee.
Twenty state chapters of the party have various cases at the courts – a fallout of the ward, local and state congresses that were held recently. With more infighting, the APC is facing a far more uncertain future by the day despite controlling the levers of power, going by the activities of the splinter group, the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC) and the looming mass defections from the party. This does not include the attempt by the APC to conduct fresh congresses in Imo State to ensure that the party structures in the state remain under the control of Governor Rochas Okorocha. Nor does it take into consideration the attempt by Tinubu to compel Minister Rotimi Amaechi to relinquish his post as campaign director general of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, effectively creating more divisions in the ruling party.
It appears no one even remembers Tinubu’s committee or when they do, it may well be as a memoriam to its last act in search of an illusory peace. I doubt whether Tinubu himself still pretends to be reconciling anybody.
The man who gave Tinubu the job may have even forgotten about it or may be chuckling in his corner knowing it was never going to succeed. At least no one would blame him for not trying to bring the party together. He can now point the finger at Tinubu and say he failed in the assignment he (Buhari) gave him. As the various interests groups position to tear the APC apart, it is obvious the centre can no longer hold. Come to think of it, Tinubu’s opening act on his reconciliation mission was to launch a savage attack on the then chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun. In a letter dripping with entitlement, arrogance of power, laced with malice but cleverly disguised as a fight to entrench democracy, he accused Oyegun of sabotaging his “presidential assignment”. It was hardly the right way to begin a reconciliation exercise.
Now, one is tempted to ask Tinubu what he has achieved beyond the fruitless travels, photo opportunity and the false sense of relevance after he was brought back from the cold. Since then, he has been eager to impress his master, making grandiose speeches of their heroic exploits. Tinubu has been talking too much lately, criticising opposition figures in what appears to be a total denial of reality. He has been waxing lyrical and pontificating about his party’s uncommon success and commitment to Buhari’s re-election bid. In his most recent statement published June 25, he strangely, accused “elements of the PDP” of frustrating and hindering the implementation of his party’s progressive agenda. “I must mention something of high concern; our progressive agenda has been hampered because elements of the PDP remain embedded in many agencies and ministries so crucial to daily governance. They have been fifth columnists, undermining our policies at every turn. While impeding reform, they also plot the comeback of their reactionary brethren to power. This is something we should no longer abide. Our party teams with competent, reform-minded people who would perform admirably in these positions. It is time we swept out the PDP remnants and put in position, people who actually care about the citizens,” he stated.
Tinubu continued his assault on our sensibilities and reality: “They wanted to see the end of us and our pursuit of good governance for Nigeria. You should not forget, as I shall never forget, the strong efforts they made to stop us in the courts. There were 12 cases brought trying to stop us from merging, from registering the new party, then attempting to bar our candidate from the election. With their schemes foiled, those who tried to destroy us must bear witness to the destruction of their edifice of corrupt governance and their dreams of unjust domination of our nation. While they planned a lifetime of greedy enrichment by looting the people’s resources and the public treasury for 60 years, we moved to reform the economy to bring development and aid to the poor.”
A lifetime of greedy enrichment by looting the people’s resources? That line particularly struck me. Does Tinubu’s suffocating stranglehold on Lagos mean anything to anyone reading? I really don’t know why people condemn things in others, they are manifestly guilty of. I have called the attention of behavioural scientists to explain why people behave like this. They are yet to get back to me.
It appeared nobody told Tinubu that his APC-led government is a lawless one that does not respect court orders and employs every tactic to constrain the political space which had been liberalised by the immediate-past administration.
Tinubu says the courts refused to be used to bar Buhari. The irony here must be emphasised for all to see: the orders of the very same court that cleared the way for Tinubu’s candidate, Buhari to contest the 2015 election are now being treated with utmost contempt once they are deemed unfavourable to the interests of the powers that be by the same Buhari now as president. The court system and other institutions of the state are also brazenly being manipulated and abused to achieve regime’s selfish objectives, chief of which is stay in power beyond 2019. The EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu now wears Buhari’s re-election lapel on his chest as open demonstration of partisanship – jarringly similar to what happened during Abacha’s transmutation plan in 1998. Does Tinubu even reflect on all these? We have never had it so bad. Imagine for a moment that it was under the last regime, these transgressions were taking place with Tinubu in the opposition.
By the way, which agenda was he talking about? An agenda that does not include the restructuring of the country and the enthronement of true fiscal federalism? He used to be a chief advocate of fiscal federalism and restructuring when he was in the opposition. Today, as a high-profile member of the ruling party, Tinubu is no longer enthusiastic about restructuring, instead he has retreated from it. How can he be enthusiastic about it, when his party is now in control at the federal level?
When he was the governor of Lagos State, he defiled the federal government by creating local governments all in pursuit of his belief that it was not the business of the federal government to create local government areas. What has happened to this man who cut his political teeth by championing the restructuring of the country? Now, which reform was Tinubu talking about? Can anyone articulate that agenda or reform to me? Because the only agenda I have seen so far is the wanton killing of Nigerians by herdsmen with the complicity of the Buhari government and the APC, with the latter maintaining a disturbing silence on the issue.
While Tinubu condemned the last government over Boko Haram attacks as an opposition figure, he is silent on the activities of Fulani herdsmen. He is blind to the atrocities being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen who are forcefully seizing farmlands and burning down communities or occupying them. He has never condemned the brazen audacity of Miyetti Allah which has consistently defended the indefensible killing of human beings as revenge for the killing of cows. It is a shame that he sees nothing wrong with the ongoing genocide. As a matter of fact, he is doing everything he can to distract the public from focusing on the failure of the government to stop the killings.
The truth here is that Tinubu is helping to normalise the atrocities and crimes against humanity by his silence. We must not allow him to succeed in his posturing this time. We must call him out now before it is too late. This man is determined to continue the false narrative of change. He is deceiving Nigerians that this government is better than the previous one and that there is no looting going on. This is a lie and we must challenge it. At every turn, he praises Buhari to the heavens; a Commander-in-Chief who has told the whole world that he can only pray for the killings to stop and will put more pressure on the security agencies to stop the killings. Do these people really think we are dummies or what? Tinubu continues to tell us Buhari is doing a good job and should continue on the part of doing good. Well, there is a saying in the land of my fathers that “any man who claims to have caught a frog by its tail is being economical with the truth”. Any man with conscience and respect for truth would tell you the president is not doing a good job by failing to secure the lives and properties of Nigerians.
On looting and corruption, Tinubu should ask Maikanti Baru, chief executive of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), how the consumption of petrol jumped from 30-35 million litres to 60-65 million litres a day in less than a year. If he claims this is a transparent government, then he should ask Baru and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Buhari, how contracts worth $25 billion were awarded without due process and the approval of the board.
As Tinubu continues to negotiate the facts, Nigeria is in the worst shape ever. In three years of the APC government, the country has been declared the poverty capital of the world. This came on the heels of another report declaring it as one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth (169th) with the fourth-worst maternal mortality rate in the world ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad. Bill Gates told this government the grim truth not long ago and they were not happy.
In the latest annual ranking of the safest and least safe countries by Gallup, Nigeria placed 116th out of 142 countries, with violence-ridden Libya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, CAR, Niger ranked safer than Nigeria under Buhari’s APC government.
With all these, Tinubu still claimed that we are “making steady, sustainable progress”. He was not worried by these grim statistics. Maybe his APC agenda is not to right the situation but to win the election for Buhari in 2019.
In the good old days, it was easy to situate Tinubu and where he stood on burning national issues. Not anymore! The man has evolved and his views have morphed into a caricature of what he used to represent. Buhari’s “parochial” views on restructuring and federalism are antithetical to what defined Tinubu in the past. Tinubu, on other hand, has maintained a deafening silence on the issue of restructuring. He now wears a dark veil and pretends the current structure serves the country well. The once-upon-a-time champion of the Sovereign National Conference (SNC) that was supposed to restructure Nigeria is now a willing accomplice to all efforts that undermine it. He has become an object of mockery and humour among many reform-minded Nigerians. Perhaps, he has assimilated Buhari’s stand, or how else would one rationalise his silence?
One final thing: when APC leaves power someday, will Tinubu ever latch onto restructuring and fiscal federalism again? It is not impossible that he will revert to it as a way to reinvent himself, but we must not allow him get away with it. This man’s hypocrisy is simply breathtaking.