By Matthew Adejoh
Is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and self-styled Asiwaju –leader—of the Yoruba race, getting to the end of his political relevance? Going by the way he has handled those positions, and considering his statements in recent times that many adjudge as irresponsible, he may, indeed, be on a fast ride down the precipice of political disaster.
As the saying goes, those whom the gods want to kill, they first make mad. Tinubu may not have gone mad, clinically, but his actions and pronouncements in recent times create the impression he is headed towards something close. Or, how else does one rationalize the rate at which he is picking quarrels with all and sundry, talking down supposed allies and generally denigrating institutions that the society holds sacred?
In the past few weeks alone, the former governor of Lagos state has openly picked quarrels with a serving governor, shouting him down over a suggestion that due democratic process be applied in selecting his successor. In waging this single-minded war -for his narrow, selfish reasons- Tinubu has been unrelentingly in insisting on foisting his choice candidate on the people of Lagos state and his party. Within the same period, he had taken on the leadership of his party, the APC in all manner of issues in which his selfish agenda is opposed.
By far, the most controversial act of arrogance on his part was the open denigration of traditional rulers of the Yoruba race. Two weeks ago, the man who claims to love the Yoruba more than the race loves itself, took on a generation of Yoruba Obas, calling them of all things, worthless. It was not just a show of arrogance; it was insulting to say the least, coming from a man of very questionable origin, but who found home, fame and fortune in a distant Lagos state from where he sprang on the entire race. Humility should have been Tinubu’s second nature, but he chose to be anything but humble.
If Yoruba Obas have been too shell-shocked to fully respond to the Tinubu insult –an insult that has entered the annals of Yoruba, the APC leadership now appears to have found its own voice. Last Tuesday, at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting, the APC governors revolted against their selfish national leader. On one hand was the self-proclaimed kingmaker who believed the party revolved around him; on the other hand were supposed democrats who believed they were in a political party where members stood on equal ground.
At the end of the day, Tinubu who had been scheming to, single-handed, pick the members of the party’s forthcoming National Convention Committee, was routed by the young Turks in the APC. His preferred candidates, Alhaji Kawu Baraje of Kwara state and Senator Ajayi Boroffice of Ondo state were jettisoned as the chairman and secretary of the convention committee. The governors, who opted for two of their own, Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and former governor of Anambra state, Senator Chris Ngige, as the chairman and secretary, respectively, had their way in a voice vote ordered by the party’s interim chairman, Chief Bisi Akande. For the first time, a bloody-nosed Tinubu was forced into a retreat as he stormed out of the meeting held at the party’s secretariat in Abuja.
Tuesday’s (May 20) confrontation was not the first in which the party leaders took on Tinubu for insisting on having his way unduly. The crack in its leadership has become manifest so much that the meeting of the party’s NEC earlier this year nearly ended in fisticuffs. Senator Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno state square-off with Tinubu over his overbearing influence in the party unmasked a glaring division among its leadership and ranks. At issue was the forthcoming national convention and the huge decision about who emerges the National Chairman – a decision that will ultimately influence the decision about who picks its presidential ticket for the 2015 election in which the Lagos kingmaker is manifestly interested.
While the ACN’s winner-takes-all attitude has broken up the APC into factions behind their choice candidates, Tinubu appears to have, single-handed, worked out who would get what, a situation that offends the spirit of oneness and equality which the party has preached since the merger of four parties to give birth to the APC. With the high-handedness which has already pushed the like of Buba Marwa out of the party, the APC is set to enter the 2015 elections as a disunited political family, yet the permutations are that the impending convention may still further polarize its leaders.
The humbling of Tinubu has been long in coming. As a political party peopled by strange bed-fellows with well-stated, often-divergent interests, many people have always seen the APC as a disaster waiting to happen. From day one, it was obvious the party did not hold together all the political tendencies that conveniently find shelter within its fold, though it managed to keep its internal divisions away from the public. Now with Tinubu’s 2015 presidential aspiration as running mate to Muhammadu Buhari, the division will become even more potent.
It will not take long for Nigerians to discover what really is in the tortoise’s intestine, in a manner of speaking. Tinubu’s high-handedness and his provocative utterances may yet prove its undoing.
Matthew Adejoh, a public affairs commentator, sent this piece from Kaduna.