As the APC administration continues to manifest its lack of agenda and general cluelessness by the day, with a president that junkets aimlessly around the globe as the nation tanks and the increasing resort to blame the past administration and elevate propaganda to a strategy of government. It has become obvious that the APC was more prepared to be in opposition than to be in government. Fundamentally, the APC is a party of opportunists that came together from different political backgrounds to seek power without any real ideological ideal or agenda to change or transform the nation. It’s not an accident that 70 percent of what makes up the APC come from the same PDP that the APC laughably continues to blame for the nations woes. This informs the infighting, confusion, haplessness, hypocrisy, double standards and general inertia that the party has largely displayed in governance. Yet understanding the dilemma the party presently finds itself in will not be complete without examining the paradoxical odyssey of Bola Tinubu who happens to be the single greatest facilitator of the self serving opportunistic alliance that brought the APC to power in a historically bitter and divisive election.
Bola Tinubu means many things to different people. Some see him as the man who did the miracle of unseating an incumbent government through his alliance with Buhari. Some others see him as a sell-out and opportunist who betrayed his own ideal and that of the South for a restructured nation by aligning with Buhari and the most conservative block of Nigerian politics that has vehemently opposed a restructured Nigeria along the lines of true federalism, justice and equity. The empirical fact it seems aligns more with the later. The Tinubu story is Nigeria’s greatest paradox of the 21st century and an ample display of how lack of principles and opportunism by Nigerian politicians has in no small measure stagnated the nation. Tinubu comes from the self styled background of progressive politics that was ideologically committed to a restructured federation, the principles of democracy, respect for the rule of law, fundamental human rights and good governance.
Not much was known of him until the short-lived third republic and June 12 elections when he was elected senator of Lagos west constituency. Following the cancellation of the June 12 elections Tinubu became a founding member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO)—an organisation that was resolute in its campaign for human rights, validation of the June 12 elections, the rule of law and its signature agenda for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) where there will be exhaustive dialogue and the possible restructuring of the nation along the lines of true federalism. Following his vociferous campaigns alongside other members of NADECO and the menace of General Abacha’s goons who increasingly resorted to assassinations, extra-judicial detentions, torture and other human rights violations in its clampdown on opponents and critics of his military dictatorship, Tinubu, like many NADECO members went into exile in 1994 from where he continued his campaign for the restoration of democracy and the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference amongst others.
General Abacha’s sudden death in 1998 lifted the veil and permitted the return of Tinubu and other NADECO members who mostly coalesced into the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the opposition political platform with which he was elected the governor of Lagos state where he served from 1999 to 2007—all the while remaining true to his ideals as an advocate of a national conference and a restructured federation. Things began to change from the 2011 elections when he entered into negotiations with Buhari in an arrangement that would have seen him emerge the running mate—thus demonstrating a willingness to dump his long held ideals on the opportunistic basis of becoming a vice president to an ultra-conservative candidate. The negotiations eventually collapsed ostensibly on the sensitivities of a muslim-muslim ticket with Buhari that already had the baggage of being labelled an Islamist. Buhari eventually picked Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate. Bakare was later to reveal in a video available on YouTube that Tinubu wanted him to sign a resignation letter as a condition for him to use his political platform to campaign for them, the idea being that Bakare would resign after the elections so that Tinubu can then be nominated the vice president by Buhari.
When Bakare bluntly refused such an arrangement, Tinubu withdrew his support and determined that Nigeria didn’t need change because his personal interest was not served. Fast forward to 2015 electoral season: After negotiations and assurances that he would be the running mate, Tinubu threw in his hat and dumped all his ideals for a national conference and restructured federation having entered an alliance with the most conservative candidate in Nigeria. Indeed, when in 2014 the then President Goodluck Jonathan organised a national conference, Tinubu mounted the stiffest opposition to it and refused all entreaties for his party to participate, all in a bid to appease the conservative block he was now allied with. Having secured his personal interests, Tinubu now realised Nigeria needed change and so began the change campaign that gullible Nigerians were sold with all kinds of false promises. Jonathan was effectively demonised while Buhari whom they claimed was now a born again democratic in spite of his antecedents was dressed in a Messiah’s garb.
Unfortunately for Tinubu, strident campaigns against a muslim-muslim ticket put paid to his ambition to become a vice presidential candidate, but it was too late to withdraw for the talons had already been sunk. And so the deceitful campaign of change continued until the gullibility of Nigerians and factors including tribalism gave the APC victory. Almost a year after where are we? All the lofty promises have either been denied or dumped. The economy is nose-diving, the nation is virtually in darkness with the near total collapse of power generation. There is a prolonged fuel scarcity, the naira is in free fall, ethnic divisions have widened more dangerously than ever before, while human rights violations have become the order of the day. The greatest paradox of the 21st century is that Tinubu who was once a victim of an unjust system and an advocate of a sovereign national conference, a restructured federation and respect for the rule of law and fundamental human rights now partly presides over a conservative regime that is violating human rights at a scale that supersedes erstwhile military regimes and that has no plans to implement the 2014 national conference report nor an agenda for a restructured federation.
Opportunistic and self serving leader’s military and civilian who abandon lofty ideals to serve narrow selfish ends have always been the bane of Nigeria. The nation is in dire straits, because change was a scam premised only on the personal interest of Tinubu and sold to a gullible nation.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
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