This certainly is not best of times for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. A man who is used to unquestionable political loyalty is apparently having his fingers burnt by those he had expected loyalty from and those he had helped to political prominence writes EMMA ALOZIE
Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State is used to political intrigues. He is also used to calling the shorts, dishing orders and receiving unquestioned loyalty. But it seems there is a glaring crack in his empire of loyalists.
Tinubu started out as regional champion. He was able to survive Obasanjo’s onslaught in the South West in 2003 and became the only man standing. After being the governor of Lagos for eight years, he was able to expand his political coast, installing governors and other political office holders in the South West. With good political strategy and his famed generosity, he was able to carve out a political empire for himself in the South West.
Though, it is still hotly debated whether he is the political leader of the South West, but loath him or love him, he is currently the most prominent political leader from the region. This is one truth many of his opponents find difficult to swallow, but the last general elections where he led the South West region into the APC and delivered victory to the party simply attests to the fact that Tinubu is a political leader of the region.
However, Tinubu’s desire to play politics at the centre may be backfiring even before that ambition could have gone half way. Commentators and political analysts are unanimous in saying that he is already having his fingers burnt and if this dangerous water is not baled at this ankles length, it may send him into political obscurity. With the drama at the National Assembly still unfolding and the crisis engulfing the APC still unraveling, many observers have noticed one obvious fact; Tinubu has been betrayed by his new allies and abandoned by his old protégées.
Betrayed by new allies
Tinubu had his eyes focused on playing at the centre soon after the 2011 election. This prompted him to start thinking of aligning with the North in order to snatch power from the Jonathan’s PDP government. To this end, he used Tambuwal as link or bridge to the north. Intelligent and savvy, Tinubu saw in Tambuwal a young man he could rely on for future political dealings in the north. Even at the price of denying the South West the office of the speaker, Tinubu backed Tambuwal to become the speaker.
Sources from knowledgeable quarters said that it was Tinubu who chipped in a word or two to former governor of Sokoto state, Senator Aliyu Wamakko to allow Tambuwal to succeed him. Tinubu was said to have argued that it would be unfair to leave Tambuwal hanging after his travails in the hands of the PDP. Also, the source added it was Tinubu who purchased the N21 million nomination form for Tambuwal to run for the presidency, his thought being that should Buhari decide to step down, Tambuwal would have been drafted in his place.
However, in the tussle for the National Assembly leadership, especially that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tambuwal like Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceaser stabbed Tinubu and left him a gapping political wound he (Tinubu) won’t forget in a hurry. Tambuwal against all expectations supported Dogara ahead of Tinubu’s preferred candidate, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila who even stood by him in all his travails. Tinubu was said to have told Tambuwal in a recent visit by the Sokoto State governor to Tinubu in Abuja that “with what you did to Femi in the House you have severed the umbilical cord joining you with the South West.”
President Muhammadu Buhari may still be playing the ostrich, but the obvious fact is that Tinubu feels roundly betrayed by the president. No matter how the argument is skewed, one truth still stands out; without Tinubu, Buhari may probably not have emerged the president. President Buhari and even his wife Aisha Buhari have been effusive in acknowledging this. But insiders say that Tinubu feels so betrayed by Buhari because of what they describe as Buhari’s hide and seek game in the build up to the National Assembly leadership. While the president publicly declared he had no preferred candidate, he was secretly supporting Ahmed Lawan and this led Tinubu to abandon Senator George Akume whom he had given his word of support before. This is in order not to be seen as going against the president. However, the president’s inability to rally many northerners behind Lawan and Gbajabiamila’s aspirations was seen by Tinubu as the greatest betrayal. To Tinubu’s loyalists, Buhari deliberately stood askance while watching Tinubu humiliated.
Abandoned by old protégés
Curiously, the former governors of Ekiti and Lagos are said to have realigned with those wanting to humiliate Tinubu. The South West states APC chairmen recently described what is happening to Tinubu as a humiliation warning, “those trying either to intimidate or embarrass Tinubu to retrace their steps as the South-West’s response will shock everyone to the foundation.”
Insiders in Tinubu’s camp are feeling very uncomfortable with the closeness of the duo of former Governors Babatunde Fashola and Kayode Fayemi to the Buhari administration when their political benefactor is being humiliated by the same government. Recently, a group known as the Asiwaju Grassroots Foundation, AGF accused some South West APC members of betraying Tinubu. While counting on those APC leaders in the zone that have solidly stood behind Tinubu in this his time of travails, the names of Fayemi and Fashola were conspicuously missing.
The body, which warned some members of the Southwest caucus against being used by desperate politicians against their leader, said since Nigeria’s pre-independence political era, the South West had been known to always submit to leadership.
According to the Tinubu’s group, “The late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo held the political leadership of the zone for decades. This tremendously helped in launching the zone
to reckoning and built a united front through which they successfully fought for their rights despite being in the opposition.
As Yoruba is presently constituted, Asiwaju Tinubu remains the natural leader of the APC in the Southwest and also highly placed among the ranks of respected leaders at the national level. This he had displayed from the time of Alliance for Democracy to Action Congress of Nigeria and to the present APC, when he was the rallying point for the progressives in the zone.
“Asiwaju Tinubu has done so much for the progressives in the Southwest. He has paid his dues and deserves to be protected at all times. History we never forget his role in the making of ex-governor Kayode Fayemi and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the governors of Ekiti and Osun States, respectively.
“His enormous political astuteness and sagacity brought about the reclamations of Ogun and Oyo from the PDP. His role in maintaining the Lagos State for the progressives in spite of the onslaught of the PDP and the inroad the party is making into Ondo State, have also been incredible.
“But we are assuaged by the fact that leaders from the zone like:
Governors Rauf Aregbesola, Ibikunle Amosun, Abiola Ajimobi and Opeyemi Bamidele, Dele Alake, Olorunnibe Mamora, Ikuforiji Adeyemi, and others too numerous to mention are still showing loyalty top this great man of our time.
“We are also assuaged by the fact that not all our leaders in Ekiti have joined this league of ingrates in their shameless trade. Leaders like Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Opeyemi Bamidele, Olusegun Oshikolu, Hon Funminiyi Afuye and others too numerous to mention are still showing loyalty and resting on the fact that power belongs to God and He gives to whoever He likes”.
A look at the names mentioned by the Tinubu’s group shows that both ex-Ekiti and ex-Lagos governors are missing in the roll call. Insiders say the relationship between Tinubu and Fashola has so deteriorated that the systematic dismantling of Fashola’s legacies by the Ambode administration is aimed at humiliating the former governor by Tinubu loyalists.
This may not be the best of times for the Asiwaju, but he has always known how to rise above betrayals and rediscover his magic wand of holding loyalists together and winning new ones.