By Abiodun Ladepo
There is absolutely no way Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu can be happy with how President Muhammadu Buhari is running the country right now. Nor can he be exhilarated with the way the APC is being run either. Yes, for Photo-Op, he can stand before the media and the rank-and-file party members to preach the gospel of APC and total support for PMB. Deep down in his heart though, he is a psychologically broken man. He is hurting badly. At least, that’s what some in his inner sanctum have told some of us outside of it.
How could he be happy? Not too long ago, BAT was the kingmaker in the southwest. He was the doyen of the “progressives”, the posterboy for excellence in governance. If you wanted to be successful politically and you didn’t visit Bourdillon to pay homage, you didn’t get very far. He was the lynchpin of the grand design to unseat PDP. He was the one that corralled the southwest Governors and other political heavyweights into the alliance with PMB’s CPC. He was the “Leader of APC”.
Or so he thought. The so-called Master Strategist did not know that the Master Conman was doing a huge number on him. PMB had tried and failed three previous times to win the presidency with his CPC. He figured he had to reach down, south of the Niger, for the oomph that would push him over the threshold. He found in BAT the desire to become President of Nigeria. How about if he talked BAT into supporting him and he would return the favor in the future?
The idea worked like magic! You had BAT crisscrossing the length and breadth of Nigeria, holding daylight and nocturnal meetings with all sorts of characters as the APC patchwork was being formed. BAT met with a lot of good people. He also sat with a lot of political scoundrels. How much physical work could PMB do? He was already a Septuagenarian – a Septuagenarian with an unbridled, inordinate desire to rule Nigeria. But the conman was always a conman. No sooner had he won the election than he began to play his cards without really showing his hand. We all blamed him for watching helplessly as another inordinately ambitious guy (Saraki) got himself in a position to throw spanners in the wheels of the fledgling administration. But imagine this scenario: You are PMB; you know that BAT and Saraki have questions to answer about how they got so stupendously rich; you encourage them to deliver their political organizations to you, after which you turn on them. What can they do? I hate to use this analogy, but it is most apt right now: no matter how big and strong a man is, if you have his testicles in your hand…even if it is just one of them that you have in your hand…you can make that man do anything you want, including cussing out his own mother. Or why do you think American women always threaten men with “I’ll kick you in the nuts”? It’s because it hurts!
BAT thought it was by his grace that Oyegun became the party Chair and so had to listen to the nominal APC Leader. Wrong. Oyegun’s allegiance was to Aso Rock, through agents that were yet to identify themselves. When Saraki and Dogara “stole” the NASS leadership titles, the loser was not so much PMB. It was BAT, for without the ability to deliver plum positions to his followers, what use was BAT to them? What use was BAT to Fashola? What use was he to Fayemi? What use was he to Amosun? If BAT wanted to boast that he spent money to elect PMB, so could the trio just mentioned. The only strong folks still tethered to BAT’s umbilical cord were Ajimobi and Aregbesola. And they were lame duck governors. So, without control of the NASS, the party and even the southwest, BAT was effectively marginalized. And if BAT wanted to raise hell and start criticizing PMB in public, this viscerally vindictive and selective anti-corruption President could easily rough-handle those testicles.
Which is what it appears he is trying to do with OBJ now by sending the EFCC to probe monies the government of OBJ spent on power. All these three years that PMB has been in office, his EFCC is just now remembering to probe OBJ. How conveniently fortuitous! The man starts to criticize PMB yesterday, and today, the EFCC is knocking on his door. Does he have OBJ’s testicles too?
Like he conned BAT, candidate Buhari managed to take his gangling and frail frame to Ota to pay homage to private citizen but influential Obasanjo, and conned him into supporting his candidacy. Now that his feces are soft, PMB thinks he can silence OBJ with the threat of a probe. If you ever wondered why a man who prides himself as the epitome of impeccable integrity is surrounded by so many people of questionable characters, wonder no more. You want to rubbish OBJ because he criticized you most deservedly? Pray that you have enough gullible people to buy your yarn.
PMB can capitalize on our collective amnesia and successfully label OBJ as a bad guy, and get away with it. After all, we all forgot in 2015 that he was a brutish soldier who cowardly overthrew an elected government. We forgot that during his reign as a dictator, he jailed people without trial, placed politicians (Shagari) from his ethno-religious enclave in mansions that he called “house rrests” while those from other parts of the country (Ekwueme) were in the worst cells you could find in the country. We forgot that he slammed two journalists in jail for writing a true report. General Buhari flexed his muscles against hapless civilians. But when a military coup was raised against him, he folded and capitulated like a wimp. IBB waited until the real strongman of that regime (Idiagbon) was out of the country before walking over him.
Contrast that with OBJ who risked his life during the civil war and helped end that carnage that took the lives of thousands of Nigerians. OBJ joined Muritala Muhammed in 1975 to overthrow the military government of Gowon mainly because Gowon reneged on his promise to conduct elections and hand over to civilians. Did you notice the difference? Buhari staged a coup against an elected, hapless civilian…hardly a life-risking but an ignoble venture…while OBJ risked his life in a noble coup against a military government in order to re-install democracy. And once he stabilized the country, he conducted elections and pulled the military out of government and back to the barracks. It was this same born-to-rule Buhari that came to overthrow that civilian government mentioned above.
Then OBJ came back as President in 1999 after duly contesting and winning. He met a nation with about $50b debt and a depleted foreign reserve. He met an undisciplined coup-prone military. OBJ paid down most of the debt and got the Paris and London Clubs to forgive about $18b. He reorganized, professionalized and reoriented the armed forces. Thanks largely to him, coups are no longer easy to carry out in Nigeria and they are no longer fashionable. OBJ set up the EFCC and the ICPC and they truly fought corruption. Without making corruption fight the centerpiece of his administration, OBJ’s EFCC went after corrupt officials, starting with his own party members, friends and kinsmen. One of the first people to face the wrath of the EFCC under OBJ was IGP Tafa Balogun, the man who superintended the rigging of OBJ and PDP into power in 1999. The EFCC went after Internal Affairs Minister Sunday Afolabi, now late. Fayose had no peace. Ibori and Alamieyeseigha were under the EFCC gun. He got three Senate Presidents removed for corruption and turned VP Atiku into mere furniture in Aso Rock.
When OBJ was criticizing IBB’s government over SAP, where was Buhari? Where was Buhari when OBJ was boldly challenging Abacha? After he was sacked by IBB in 1985, what did Buhari do to improve himself? Did he further his education…get a West African School Certificate (WAEC) O’Level at least? Did he write a book? Did he read a book? Did he mentor military officers? Did he set up a business and hire Nigerians? Did he set up a real farm? He did none of that. At 40-something, he just loafed around, angling for another opportunity to govern Nigeria. And in the interim, he was going to Ibadan to threaten late Governor Lam Adesina for not allowing Fulani herdsmen to continue the pillaging and plundering of farmlands.
OBJ came out of Abacha’s gulag with a spiked diabetes and hypertension. Who knows what other ailments he had? But he never once traveled outside Nigeria for medical care, whether at his own cost or at the expense of taxpayers. In fact, I know one medical doctor in Ibadan – Dr. Bella – who had been OBJ’s doctor before becoming president and remained his doctor throughout his presidency. And this is the person that our Abobaku Buharideens want to put on a higher pedestal than OBJ? Mtcheeew.
Now, PMB has turned on Saraki. I didn’t think there would ever be a time that I would write or say anything remotely in defense of Saraki. In one breath, I want to say whatever happens to him serves him right. But all right-thinking Nigerians must condemn the selective use of the apparatuses of power. What did Buhari do with all those appointees of his who have been mentioned in corruption scandals? How long has he known that Saraki is not clean? And of all the alleged corruption cases against the obviously villainous Saraki, PMB and his goons couldn’t find one or two for which he could be successfully prosecuted except this crude and ridiculous accusation of arming armed robbers? What a debasement of the office of President! So infantile! When PMB lost to GEJ in 2011 and gave that “blood of baboons and dogs will flow” speech, after which hoodlums supporting him killed many southerners, would it have been appropriate to accuse him of complicity then? Would it be alright to accuse him of aiding those Fulani herdsmen for whom he is providing cover and comfort as they go from village to village killing people?
Mehn, after OBJ, Nigeria’s presidency depreciated in stock. Look at them – Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and then Buhari. If you thought you had the worst, the one that comes after upstages his predecessor. But let Fashola, Fayemi, Amaechi, Okorocha, Amosun and others take heed; the day they cross PMB will be the day they smell themselves. He has everybody’s testicles in his hands. They all better tread softly, stay in line and be obedient servants.
Ibadan, Oyo State