Ondo Election: Why Tinubu May Retire from Politics Soon

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
A former national vice-chairman in the southwest zone of the People’s Democratic Party, Chief Bode George at the inception of the President Muhammadu Buhari's administration described the ruling All Progressives Congress as an 'experimental party' with no taproot. He reiterated that the coalition will not stand the test of time.

It would be recalled that the APC gathered momentum majorly through a political merger between the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC representing the northern part of the country and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN representing the South-western part of Nigeria.
Several political analysts raised eyebrows about the 'laboratory test' of the compatibility between both ethnic groups in a polarized Nigerian system.

A former governor of Lagos State and an All Progressives Congress 'National Party Leader' Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu played a pivotal role in the merger of the CPC and ACN in desperation to unhorse the ruling PDP after 16 years of rulership. The Jagaban of Borgu rebranded, re-packaged, fine-tuned and redesigned the persona of the former military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari and sold him to the Yorubas using diverse languages and strategies until the Buhari gospel as an emblem of hope to the masses was bought and sold out in the region. Reports also have it that Tinubu who is indisputably the most influential king-maker in financial hub of Nigeria, Lagos majorly bank-rolled the Buhari presidency as well as assigning his political foot soldiers with other media machinery to defend the territorial integrity of the Buhari camp.

Being truthful for a second, politics especially in the African setting is driven by the parochial interests of the elites and disguised as the general interests of the impoverished masses who are lured to deliver their votes through bombastic election campaign promises and financial inducements. There is no free food, not even in Freetown. It’s expected for a man born of a woman to expect returns from investments be it in the political or core business sphere. After the political feat of the APC that ousted former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election, the next step was for the major political actors to be strategically positioned in the key corners of the country to "share the spoils of war".
The rhetorical question here is how far Tinubu has "reaped the fruits of his labour?" A big fish like Tinubu who has invested in ‘agriculture’ on a mechanized scale will not want to harvest like a peasant farmer as its being purported.

Tinubu was clearly tired of the 'local champion' politics of the South-west and he felt taking his ministry to the national level for bigger harvests. Installing Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the running-mate of Buhari was a stroll in the park considering the political realities of the 2015 presidential election. Nigeria was adversely divided between ethnic and religious lines. Osinbajo, a pastor in one of the largest religious ministries in Nigeria - The Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG would help give the needed assurances to the Yorubas and Christians that the rumoured islamization agenda is a farce. Another reported notable appointee of Tinubu is the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler.

A cabal within the Buhari government allegedly felt Tinubu's big basket of political harvest was full already, so they tightened up the firewall against any 'Jagabanic' intrusion. Tinubu who must have fantasized about replicating his 16-year grip over Lagos at the central level of government soon started witnessing his streak of political losses.

Hon. Yakubu Dogara who is currently embroiled in a brazen act of budget padding beat one of Tinubu's allies from Lagos, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila to the position of Speakership of the House of Representatives.

In the same vein, a former Governor of Kwara State, Abubakar Bukola Saraki trumped Tinubu's candidate, Senator Ahmed Lawan to the esteemed post of Senate Presidency despite a reported endorsement of Lawan by the leadership of the APC.

When Buhari was assembling his federal ministers, strong rumours emerged Tinubu presented Wale Edun from Ogun State to become the country's Minister of Finance but Governor Ibikunle Amosun beat him to the contest by lobbying for Kemi Adeosun, his former Commissioner for Finance. One also wonders what happened to another Tinubu's close associate, Pat Utomi who was sidelined from the ministerial list despite the strong reports of his ministerial appointment. Professor Utomi has since gone cold on singing the praises of Buhari.

The Kogi State gubernatorial race saga which culminated in the shocking demise of APC's gubernatorial candidate, Abubakar Audu on the day of election thereby positioning Hon. Abiodun James Faleke - his running-mate (another ally of Tinubu) for the governorship mantle is another expository on the waning influence of Jagaban. Even though, the gubernatorial mantle logically should have been handed over to Faleke who painstakingly campaigned with the late Audu in Kogi, it was handed over to the current Governor Yahaya Bello on a platter of gold without apparently labouring for it. And all efforts by Faleke to claim his mandate led to a hat-trick of scathing and expensive losses i.e. at the Election Tribunal, Appellate Court and the Supreme Court. From that point, Tinubu got the hint that his 'menstrual cycle' was close but the day of commencement was frustratingly unspecified.

Finally, the Ondo gubernatorial race provided another opportunity for Tinubu to expand his colony and consolidate his position as a political powerhouse in the South-western part of Nigeria. It would be recalled that Tinubu reportedly played a prominent role in assisting Governor Olusegun Mimiko in reclaiming his mandate from the late former Governor Olusegun Agagu through the court of law in 2009 after a protracted legal tussle.

Rumour mongers could swear at the Ogun shrine that the relationship between Mimiko and Tinubu got sour due to dispute over the 'sharing formula' which forced Mimiko to selfishly abandon the alliance since he was already the governor of Ondo.

The same rumour mongers said Tinubu recruited Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN in 2012 to oust Mimiko who was on a second term bid in office but the Iroko refused to bow to the heavy wind.

Fast-forward to 2016, Tinubu was on the march again to 'vote' in Ondo without his PVC. He pitched his tent with Olusegun Abraham, one of the governorship aspirants under the banner of the APC. He reportedly made subterranean moves to impose Abraham on the party thereby causing furore that led to the postponement of the party's primaries that was contested by 24 aspirants.

This time around, Akeredolu held the 'Abuja power bloc' as purported in the media thereby standing opposite his former principal, Tinubu. In summary, Akeredolu won the controversial primary election of September 3, 2016 that crashed the fragile bond of the party at both the state and national level.

All reconciliatory efforts to bring Tinubu to Akeredolu's side failed woefully. Tinubu swiftly aligned with the 2nd runner-up of the APC primary election, Olusola Oke and reportedly facilitated his defection to the Alliance for Democracy to run for the governorship post. It’s an open secret that Tinubu is also funding the election campaign of Oke who is making a bright career out of cross-carpeting regardless of public perception. Another foot soldier of Tinubu, Bola Ilori defected to the AD to be Oke's campaign manager.
This anti-party activity attracts an outright suspension or expulsion according to the APC constitution but Tinubu appears too massive for any panel to try. Axing Tinubu may end up as a pyrrhic victory. When peace talks with Buhari and members of the upper echelons of the APC failed to yield the advocated better opportunities for Tinubu's men through the rejigging of Buhari's cabinet, Tinubu left Nigeria under the guise of seeking medical attention abroad.

This accounts for the absence of Tinubu at the flag off of Akeredolu's election campaign at the Democracy Park in Akure, Ondo State on Friday, 11th of November, 2016. Tinubu's absence was followed by the non-appearance of the party leader Bisi Akande who also claims to be 'resting' abroad on the instructions of his medical doctor. Governors Akinwunmi Ambode and Rauf Aregbesola as well as others known to be prominent members of Tinubu's political squad are currently having difficulties about declaring support for Akeredolu publicly to prevent a scenario of not standing behind their benefactor during critical times.

There are reports that some South-west lawmakers and governors are "waiting for Tinubu's directive" to defect from the APC to the AD or any other political party due to the assumed ill-treatment of Tinubu by the Fulani/Hausa camp.

The bitter truth is that the agitations of Tinubu are nowhere connected to the economic recession, recent Boko Haram resurgence, unity of the country, menace of corruption, inadequate infrastructural facilities, abject poverty, massive loss of jobs, collapse of businesses, free fall of the naira, Niger Delta militancy or any other national hassles. His advocacy is woven around a lack of equitable 'sharing formula' of the spoils of war.

Akeredolu has survived lack of support from The Nation newspaper of Tinubu which covers and publicizes Oke's campaign progress virtually every day. But notwithstanding, Akeredolu has tremendously progressed with intensive grassroots campaign with a new set of foot soldiers namely Hon. Victor Olabimtan, Engineer Olatunji Light Ariyomo and other goal-getters leaving no stone unturned in amassing political support in Ondo. With the PDP pathetically in tatters due to a deep vacuum in leadership, the election could be a two-horse race between the new Akeredolu and the serial decampee, Oke.

Political pundits have offered divergent views on the essentiality of Tinubu's support in Ondo. Some believe indigenes of the Sunshine State detest Tinubu and any object he endorses while others believe his influence can't be undermined considering the fact that no warrior ventures into war with a divided army as Akeredolu is doing.

The Ondo gubernatorial election on the 26th of November will be a litmus test for the political prowess of Tinubu which the National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie Oyegun through his body language believes he party could win without. If Akeredolu beats Oke, Tinubu's supporters currently disturbing Lagos State with solidarity walks tagged #IStandWithTinubu without knowledge of their actual standing position will be demoralized. The Abuja power bloc Akeredolu is reported to be affiliated to would have cut a major wing of Tinubu ahead of the 2019 presidential election and there could be no much use for the legendary political schemer with enviable records of success.

Akeredolu will be the last person calling for a 'sincere truce' with Tinubu if he pulls of his great feat without him although nothing is impossible in the dirty game of Nigerian politics.

Without the fear of the 'silent majority' that killed Hillary Clinton in the United States of America presidential election, the Ondo governorship race could be a straight win for Akeredolu but it’s not over until it’s over because voters are fickle-minded and unpredictable at times.
What will be the fate of Tinubu in the APC when it’s certain his influence has decimated despicably? Will he sit back and live in past glory at the goalpost like Arsenal's keeper Petr Cech or move with his depleted army to another party?

Can he survive opposing a Buhari government that could be unpredictable with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Directorate of State Security, DSS at his disposal? Tinubu's stupendous wealth has been a blessing but the fact that they have been heavily traced to the State makes him vulnerable to political attacks and witch-hunt.

Can Tinubu bring down a Buhari movement that he helped build from pains and uncertainties in 2015? Is he prepared to stand against the shrewd Fulani political juggernaut?

I suggest Tinubu should dial the phone numbers of some of the indicted judges whose houses were invaded in ‘Gestapo Style’ at ungodly hours of the night by masked men of the DSS and take note of their frightening and demeaning experiences that night.
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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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