For Tinubu, when it rains, it pours. In the last couple of weeks, the Asiwaju has seen his personality wrapped in many political victories demystified and his political fortunes substantially dwindle. Political calculations are unusually not going according to plans and this has accounted to why the kingmaker is in serious agonies taking stock. EMMA ALOZIE looks at how the once mythical political dynasty of Tinubu is crumbling before him.
Soon after the 2007 election when former President Olusegun Obasanjo successfully installed the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, he was asked what would be his relationship with the then new president. He replied that in the part of the country where he (Obasanjo) comes from, the kingmaker is always the first victim of the king and therefore any wise kingmaker would distance himself from the king soon after.
Perhaps Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos governor and the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC though from the same part of the country with Obasanjo wanted to test his might against this wise saying, the ensuing result shows that it has not only backfired, it has imploded.
No matter what anybody may want to say, Tinubu staked out his neck, invested his time and huge resources to see APC to victory. But the reality on ground is that he is in deep sorrows. He is being hounded perhaps for his perceived influence and vice grip on the party, which many fear if left unchecked, he may extend to President Muhammadu Buhari and use it to encircle him.
News filtered out last week that the banners eulogising Tinubu for his contributions to APC’s victory, which used to adorn the Abuja national secretariat of the party had disappeared and nobody can explain why. His supporters believe that this is one in the series of many campaigns launched against Tinubu aimed at straining the relationship between him and President Buhari.
Even Tinubu has come out to say that there are those working round the clock to soil the relationship between him and the president. Reacting to the allegation that he accused President Buhari of being behind the humiliation he (Tinubu) suffered during the National Assembly leadership tussle, the media aide to Asiwaju, Sunday Dare dismissed such allegations and described it as the handiwork of naysayers who would stop at nothing to put a wedge between Tinubu and the president.
“Tinubu has not spoken about the Senate election. This story is a perverse fiction. Not journalism.
“He has never said these lies so wrongly attributed to him. There is no chance he will ever utter such words against President Buhari, a man he worked very hard for to become President, along with millions of Nigerians who voted. Tinubu would not accuse the President of plotting his own injury. If anything, he is alarmed by how this may impair the government’s substantive reform agenda.
“It is a mischievous attempt to drive a wedge between Tinubu and Buhari. There is no need to try to put words in Tinubu’s mouth. He will talk when and if it is necessary. His major preoccupation now is how Nigerians can support President Buhari and his administration to achieve the reform and change promised during the election,” Dare said.
However no matter how the two leaders and their aides try to paper over the rift, it is becoming obvious by the day and the crack is widening. For instance, a ‘thank you’ dinner organsied by the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari for APC women and other women support groups saw many prominent APC women in attendance, but Tinubu’s wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu neither showed up nor sent a word of excuses. Curious political observers have counted that as an ominous sign in the deepening rift.
Similarly, a group that identifies itself as Northern Youth Movement, recently came down hard on Tinubu accusing him of using a faceless group known as ‘PDP Media Watchdog’ to call for President Buhari’s resignation. According to the protem chairman of the group, Mallam Ishaya Jato the press statement credited to the PDP Media Watchdog actually emanated from Tinubu’s media office in Lagos.
“The comment made in South Africa by President Buhari, regarding his age was deliberately hyped by Tinubu’s hatchet men in the media and the call for the President’s registration was aimed at gauging the reaction of Nigerians.
“Also, we are aware that Tinubu’s camp is working on the possibility of President Buhari not completing his term, either due to failing health or death. However, we youths in the North are aware of his (Tinubu) plot against the North and we wish to tell him that we are watching.
“He has failed in his attempt to hijack the National Assembly and use it to impeach President Buhari and we want to assure Tinubu and his cronies that President Buhari will not only complete his tenure, he will go for second term,” the northern youth group alleged.
Tinubu seems to be sliding from one controversy to another and he is always fingered in every battle concerning the current crisis in the party. The gradual but consistent call for the resignation of the National Working Committee, NWC members of the party is principally targeted at wrenching the party structure away from his grip. The party structure is probably the only strength the Asiwaju has in the party, at least for now. Those calling for the sack of the NWC have blamed the crisis rocking the party on him. They believe he manipulated the party’s mock election that threw the party into this avoidable turmoil.
His sorrows and agonies are piling up and those close to him are talking in low tones that it is weighing the man popularly known as the ‘Lion of Bourdillon’ down. Wherever his opponents smell his interest, they pounce. For instance, after losing out at the National Assembly leadership, he quickly readjusted and started making demands for his loyalists to occupy the positions of leader and deputy leader of the senate and leader of the House of Representatives as a condition for peace to reign. But that also seems to have hit the brick wall as the opponents of Asiwaju are kicking with every conceivable ferocity.
While the pro-Lawan group who are loyalists of Tinubu favour a situation where the party hierarchy should decide who gets the senate leader position and its deputy, the pro-Saraki group argues that it is the duty of zonal caucuses of the party to determine.
Senator Sani Yerima, former governor of Zamfara state and a pro-Saraki senator argues, “There can never be imposition of candidates on the chamber by the party leadership. As far as I’m concerned, the party cannot impose leadership on us. It is unconstitutional and against the rules of the Senate. The Senate Majority Leader; Deputy Majority Leader; Senate Chief Whip; Deputy Chief Whip were elected by their zonal caucuses in the Seventh Senate and the case of the Eighth Senate cannot be different. The best thing the party can do, given the circumstances, is to give us directives. Any attempt to impose will be resisted and this will further divide the party.”
On the other hand, Senator Kabir Marafa (APC, Zamfara) and pro-Lawan group senator counters the argument saying “It is not possible for the executive of the party at the zonal levels to determine who will be made the Senate Leader, the Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip, and the Deputy Chief Whip. It has never happened and it won’t happen this time around. The party executive must determine all the occupants of the four principal offices. The party will write the Senate President. That is the tradition. It cannot be done at the zonal level. We must follow due process.”
As it is in the senate for Tinubu’s loyalists, it is also in the House of Representatives where moves to get Hon Femi Gbajabiamila to be the House Leader has met with even stiffer resistance. It is believed that the pro-Dogara lawmakers are arguing that as long as the House leadership is concerned, the South West where Hon Gbajabiamila comes from has had its fair share as the deputy speaker, Hon Yusuf Lasun is from Osun state.
For Tinubu, the expression that when it rains, it pours cannot be more apt as the battle for the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of the party has started in earnest. Many party loyalists see this as another source of potential crisis for the party. With the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar having thrown his hat into the ring and Tinubu said to be backing Bisi Akande former Osun state governor and former interim national chairman of the party, it is going to be more explosive that anybody would have envisaged. The reasons for this are not far-fetched. Tinubu is still smarting from the crushing defeat in the National Assembly leadership battle and the role Atiku was said to have played in the tussle did not go down well with Tinubu’s camp.
The battle is going to be feisty because it is going to involve ego. To Tinubu’s loyalists, it is one battle that if Tinubu comes out of it bruised, he may well begin to take stock of his huge investments in the APC enterprise and to Atiku’s loyalists, it is one fight Atiku must win to send signals of his political superiority to Tinubu and prepare grounds for further political ambitions ahead of 2019.
Whichever way the battle goes, the soul of the party is at stake as political watchers and party insiders alike are of the view that the times ahead for APC are indeed ominous.