Posted on Tue 25 Sep 2018, 08:12 PM

"But recent action of the colossus himself smells of a man who got frustrated by his 'successes' to the extent that he became desperate to destroy his own house."  

This write-up was first published on the 28th of September, 2016. Two years after, the morals seem to have missed the target. Bear in mind that this writer is a huge admirer of Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu's political brilliance, deftness and charisma. But the reality demands a step backwards and reappraisal of goings-on.

Please read.

What the former Governor of Lagos state and the leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, should not forget is that there is an end to every reign. A smart politician that he is should be in tune with the time and not insist on living yesterday's life today.

Anyone who lives under the thought that Senator Bola Tinubu is in any way deficient in political strategy is dwelling in self deceit, and that is putting it mildly.  This is an individual that does not just understand the value in territorial relevance and control, but goes deep in enshrining the principle in his life as a politician. I will not be economical with stating this fact that Bola Tinubu is a political institution, not by inheritance but by sheer, brilliance, hard work and determination to build a lasting structure.

But, a careful review of events in the APC as concerns the leader of the party suggests that Tinubu is struggling with the challenge of transforming his regional political dream and approach to the status of a National Leader.  The days when he could unilaterally determine who 'lives and who dies' in his political party seems to be sliding into the horizon. The days when the boundaries of his political influence spoke in one tongue.  Those were the days when as the sun sets, the strength of his political might reverberates accross the region.

Failure to speedily reconcile with the stark reality that time has changed may have led the master strategist into some avoidable defeats.  

Except for those who are hiding behind the wall of parochial sentiments, the James Faleke tussle for the governorship of Kogi state and his legal battle of nothingness was an unchallenged affront on the party driven by Tinubu's quest to extend political control beyond the traditional borders.  Make no mistake about it, falling back on Yahaya Bello as a replacement for deceased Abubakar Audu was the safest option for the APC.  But the National Leader of the party chose to place the expansion of his political  empire above the interest of the party. 

The more worrisome part of it all is that the pursuit of this goal defied good reasoning and democratic uprightness.  For example, how can one person have two constituencies at the same time. James Faleke as at the time he was named the deputy governorship candidate in Kogi state, was representing the Ikeja federal constituency of Lagos state, in the House of Representatives.   Throughout the campaign, election proper and the legal experiment in Kogi, he remained a member of the House of Representatives, receiving salaries and allowances and enjoyed all the perks of office as one from Lagos. 

Now to Ondo elections which triggered the latest rift.  I will not delve into the merits or otherwise of the allegation of malpractice in the APC primaries simply because, there is hardly any primary of a political party that did not leave some people disenchanted.  The concern expressed by some analyst  which I identify with is that once an individual becomes the National Leader of a party, he loses the rights to be an individual. He becomes the father of all and so should not publicly support an aspirant in a governorship primary. Because once that neutrality is violated, there is no longer a level playing ground for all.   Therefore, assuming without conceding that the Ondo state primaries was flawed, the National Leader of the Party should not be leading the protest or seen to be taking side with any aggrieved aspirant. 

This applies only in an ideal situation though, and not in an environment where imposition of candidate has been the order.  

Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu should realise that time can alter everything. General Ibrahim Babangida was at some point the  most influential Nigerian; not just as military ruler, but as a politician. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo couldn't have become President in 1999, without a strong endorsement by the man called IBB.  Many will still remember how Obasanjo was freed from prison at the death of the maximum ruler, General Sani Abacha.  He was granted state pardon to enable the powers that be, led by IBB, to install him as president.  

Between 2003 and 2011, IBB, twice made moves to actualise his dream of becoming a civilian President. First attempt, he bought the PDP nomination form but did not return it after reading the hand writings on the wall. Second attempt, in 2011, he sought to become consensus candidate of the north but failed. By 2015, IBB knew that time has taken away some of his vibes and retired to his home in Minna.  Even if he wanted to do more, staying healthy has become a more pressing need. 

Two ideas that failed my objective analysis:  First, I do not belong to the school of thought that Bola Tinubu has been badly treated by the administration of Mohammadu Buhari. Yes, he certainly did not get all he desired simply because he couldn't have gotten them.  I have read references made to the appointment of ministers. I believe that a more realistic review would show that the constitutional provision that all the states will be represented  in the federal executive, robbed party leaders like Tinubu of their desire because if there is only one slot for a state and the governor is also a strong member of the party, it will be unfair to deny him of the privilege of nominating someone, if we accept that  as the norm.  

In any case, we cannot be talking about appointments based on political settlement,  at the same time, concerned about competence and performance. That sounds like hypocrisy to me.

Secondly, Bola Tinubu cannot be taken for granted; no, not by anyone who understands the country's  latest democratic voyage.  

During the 2003 elections, it was only Lagos state, where Bola Tinubu served as governor that resisted and survived the PDP sweeping wind and so, remained in the hands of the opposition.  Out of the six states in the South West previously controlled by the AD, at the return of democracy in 1999, the then ruling party took over  five others but could not march Tinubu's political strength in Lagos, despite having the federal might as was lavishly utilised then at its disposal.

A study of why and how the AD metamorphosed through other labels into ACN, the party that joined the coalition in forming the APC is a classic appraisal of Tinubu's political philosophy which leans towards a continuous progression guided by focus on total control.

Through this period, there is no doubt that the man called Ashiwaju was fully incharge particularly in his Lagos his stronghold. A simple illustration is that any of his loyalists who strays off line gets punished and thrown into the wilderness of political irrelevance.  Senator Musiliu Obanikoro is a living evidence of this.  Despite his grassroots flair and Abuja backing, Obanikoro has continued to struggle in finding his feet in Lagos politics. 

It took the intervention of almost everyone and the conspiracy of the gods  to save former Governor Babatunde Fashola.  Very loud whispers say that Fashola fell out with his godfather prior to the 2011 election when he was due for re-election and was rejected by the Jagaban.  Those who follow Lagos politics have an understanding of what happened in 2014 while the selection of Gov. Fashola's successor was the issue.  People say that the bad blood created by that political tussle is not lost on Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode though the major characters are temporarily contented with public hugs and kisses. 

I must add that the Lagos of today is a product of the blue print developed during the governorship of Bola Tinubu.  The city mass transit (BRT) and how it was set out  and gradually expanded,  turnaround of the Lekki-Epe axis, urban renewal master plan which produced the opening -up of Oshodi and other areas, the metro-rail project with the huge expansion of the Lagos-Bagagry route  and the massive reform in the revenue generation strategy. These are some of determinants of today's Lagos but were mere plans left on the table by Tinubu while leaving office as governor.  

Time and space will not permit me to say much about how the formation of the APC was a response by the Tinubu political school to the need for a bigger platform that can unseat the PDP. The first attempt before the 2011 election failed because of wrong timing. So as soon as the election was over, talks began. The final outcome was what happened in the 2015 polls.

But recent action of the colossus himself smells of a man who got frustrated by his 'successes' to the extent that he became desperate to destroy his own house.  The over-riding consequence of this is that if care is not taken, more states and political mini-blocs would be emboldened by the Ondo experience. We are likely going to see the Asiwaju being challenged more and more even within the traditional area of dominance. 

Uzonna Ononye is the Head of News and Political Editor at Silverbird Television, Lagos

 

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