Twelve Tricky Questions for Tinubu
June 12, 2022 2:46 am0
BY MAHMUD JEGA
Twelve tricky questions immediately came to my mind arising from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) special convention which ended on Wednesday afternoon with the nomination of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Jagaban Borgu, as its flagbearer in next year’s presidential election.
Was current party leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, happy with the outcome of APC’s convention? Buhari never publicly endorsed Tinubu during the latter’s long campaign to succeed him, but then, nor did he endorse anyone else. The party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu reportedly told members of APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) that Buhari wanted Senate President Ahmad Lawan as flagbearer. The NWC members were said to have immediately rejected the proposition which Buhari later denied. At the convention ground, social media made much of Buhari’s gloomy appearance, even though the president is never known as a jovial politician. We will see how active a role Buhari will play in the upcoming campaign to retain the presidency in APC’s hands next year.
Can any of the losers cause trouble? The man who could cause the most trouble was Tinubu himself, so by nominating him, APC avoided a major split. However, some of the losers demonstrated that they have impressive support. While Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s regionally scattered votes may not cause trouble, the concentrated votes of former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi and those of former Niger Delta Minister, Akpabio could do so. One solution is for Buhari to hurry up and restore Amaechi and Akpabio to their plum cabinet positions.
Can Tinubu stand the rigours of the upcoming campaign? Days before the convention, his mental and political alertness seemed to fail him when he issued an angry tirade against Buhari, for which both the presidency and the party chairman had to respond. His physical state also received some question when Tinubu nearly slipped on the rails at the convention ground, and also when he had trouble turning the page in his written speech. Yet, Tinubu had endured a punishing political and social schedule over the years, attending a myriad of functions. He might well cope with this one.
How will Tinubu as flagbearer relate with his party’s NWC, the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) and most importantly, Abdullahi Adamu? Most NWC members were on the same page with APC governors, that a candidate should come from the South. Not surprising because almost all the NWC members except the chairman were chosen by state governors. Most APC governors, too, supported Tinubu and they should have no problems with him. Besides, he needs their firm support in the race ahead. It is with Adamu that Tinubu may have problems. Adamu is a die-hard Buhari supporter who publicly chastised Tinubu for criticizing the president in his Abeokuta speech and even threatened to sanction him, besides flying the Lawan consensus candidate kite. Still, the two men must cooperate if APC is to run a successful campaign.
Who will Tinubu pick as running mate? This is the trickiest question that Tinubu has to answer within days of his nomination. APC cannot submit his name to INEC without a running mate. Nigeria is usually thought of, especially by foreign writers, as consisting of a “Muslim North” and a “Christian South.” Those of us who live here know that such categorization is an oversimplification. Tinubu is a Southern Muslim. Ordinarily he should pick a Northern Christian as his running mate, but that could antagonize voters in APC’s key Northwest and Northeast bases. Tinubu strategists could think twice since he is running against a Northern Muslim, Atiku Abubakar. If he nominates a Northern Muslim as running mate, it could solidify APC’s base of support but the Christian community would be up in revolt at such a “Muslim/Muslim” ticket. This is trickier than a crossword puzzle.
What will it take to pacify Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who finished a distant third at the APC special convention? First, he must be protected from taunts by Tinubu men, that the defeat confirmed that he betrayed his political godfather. The best way to pacify Osinbajo is for Buhari to resign, say, immediately after next year’s election and allow the VP to complete the lame duck tenure. At least he will be counted among the men who ruled Nigeria, but that is farfetched.
What happens to the many men who “betrayed” Tinubu? In the last 23 years, Asiwaju promoted the political careers of many people and brought them to limelight. Many of them have since deserted his political camp. By withdrawing from the race at the last minute and throwing his weight behind Tinubu, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi made a most dramatic reconciliation. Some other former Tinubu protégés did not stand in his corner during this contest. They include Babatunde Raji Fashola, Rauf Aregbesola and Akinwunmi Ambode. They may become the Buba Galadimas of a President Tinubu tenure.
Who will believe Pastor Tunde Bakare’s prophecies again? Before he quit as General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly in order to pursue his ambition, he prophesied that he would be the 16th President of Nigeria (the count includes military rulers). When he got zero votes at the convention, many people thought he did not see that coming; so probably no one will again go to him for a prophesy.
What booby-traps lie ahead in Tinubu’s path? He has been dogged by many scandals during his political career that has lasted three decades, so opponents and critics will still dig up some things in order to trip him. Someone could produce witness testimony that Tinubu did not attend Government College Ibadan, University of Chicago or even Illinois State University. Someone could “leak” a report on his health status. Someone will allege that he is older than 70. Yet another social media post will question his parentage. Expect someone to dig up old corruption allegations against Asiwaju.
How will Tinubu square up to Atiku Abubakar? For starters, the two men are old political friends but this time, they must fight to the finish since only one person can become president at a time. The two men have very similar personal credentials. Both are within the early 70s age bracket. Both men are very wealthy. Neither of them is seen as an intellectual. Both are seen more as businessmen than as public servants. Both men have held high political office since 1999. Both are liberal minded with respect to ethnicity, region and religion. Both men have been accused of corruption and business-as-usual temperament. And both men have nursed inordinate ambitions to be President.
Will a Tinubu presidency end Yoruba Nation agitation? Right now, his nomination has calmed agitators, especially in the Southwest. It’s now clear that there is no “Northern plot” to retain power, as Afenifere leader Ayo Adebanjo so loudly claimed. But Tinubu still has to win the main election. If he loses to PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, charges of a Northern plot could surface again. If he wins, even a returnee Sunday Igboho will not be able to revive agitation for a “Yoruba Nation.”
Will it correspondingly fire up IPOB agitation? That a Southwesterner grabbed APC’s presidential ticket after Northern APC leaders ceded it to the South is likely to heighten, instead of lessen, Southeastern grief and could accelerate IPOB violence. Some people had earlier called on Yoruba leaders to “emulate Northern gesture” and cede the ticket to the Southeast. A Tinubu presidency could postpone an Igbo presidency by up to 16 years, hence the need for delicate handling.
If anyone can answer these tricky questions, Jagaban Borgu can.
MAHMUD JEGA Following his stint as a lecturer in Biological Sciences at his alma mater, the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, Jega has practiced journalism non-stop for more than three decades. For a total 13 years, he was Managing Editor, Editor, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Board Chairman of Daily Trust Newspapers. Prior to that, Jega was Editor, New Nigerian Newspapers, Editor of The Sentinel magazine, Kaduna and Assistant Editor, Citizen magazine.