By Muhammed Adamu
IT was French neoclassical architect, Jean Laurent Legeay who said “In politics, as in business, you must always ask for thirty pieces of silver even though you have more than enough”. Now whether this statement more aptly defines ‘greed’ than it does politics, is an entirely different matter. Anti-Tinubus have always asked, -often self-righteously- ‘What does Tinubu want?’
Or often they have used the more indictive, pidginised version of it: ‘Wetin Tinubu want sef?’ If you think that anti-Tinubus are merely using an irritably rhetorical piece of ‘question’ to make a wickedly unsolicited piece of ‘revelation’, you are right. Because what they are alleging by that question is that Tinubu is asking for ‘thirty pieces silver’ even though Tinubu has more than enough already.
But again ‘Wetin Tinubu want sef?’ may also insinuate the claim that the Jagaban is demanding for more than his ‘fair share’ of the ‘legitimate spoils of politics’. As if our non-provident brand of ‘politics’ panders only to the definitional essence of ‘who gets what, when and how’ among stakeholders, and not about ‘what gets to be done, where and when?’ among needy folks and their neglected communities.
But maybe these anti-Tinubus are right after all; we should ask especially the Jagaban to tell us ‘how much silver he wants again after the much silver he has already taken? Because even I do not know what Tinubu has already taken? Notwithstanding that the claim everywhere is that Tinubu has been recompensed in due measure. It is the reason that many are saying he should quit playing Oliver Twist and ‘let us hear word!’
But if, contrary to popular opinion even the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was not Tinubu’s nominee; if , in spite of earlier claims to the contrary, Fashola and Fayemi got into Buhari’s Cabinet on their own self recognition and not by Tinubu’s recommendation; if it is also true, as it had been touted before that none of the Ministers from the South West were nominated by Tinubu, the question then to ask is not ‘Wetin Tinubu want sef?’ but rather ‘Wetin dem give Tinubu sef?’
Because if in our political calculus, it is a ‘given’ that any who renders a ‘measure’ of ‘service’ in aid of his Party’s victory, has a right to draw an equal ‘measure’ of ‘reward’, then to claim that Tinubu has already gotten his due desert is to suggest that what has been rendered to Tinubu equals the ‘measure’ of service Tinubu has rendered to the Party. It also to suggest that all beneficiaries of the APC victory from the President himself to the Senate President, Speaker, Governors, ministers and all other elected or appointed party members, are where they are today strictly in recompense of their individual contributions to the victory of the Party.
By the way, many non-political actors too there are –ranging from statesmen, leaders of thought, traditional rulers and such other spiritual or temporal influence peddlers- who, without any contribution to the Party’s victory, or maybe even in spite of their rejection of the Party, have also recommended high ranking nominees for appointment. And which goes to prove that although it may be theoretically true that politics is about ‘who gets what?’ from the common purse, it is not necessarily about ‘who has given what’ to the common political struggle.
Lest we forget, Tinubu is not just ‘one of’ the ‘benefactors’ of the APC. In fact, in the measure of contribution to the Party, he alone stands in a class all by himself. Many -including some of the high ranking beneficiaries of the APC victory- were neither there during the delicate pre-natal challenges of the formation of the APC; nor were they there at the trying ante-natal stages of uncertain expectation; nor were they around to share in the excruciating pangs of the very labour that occasioned the eventual birth of APC. Most of the beneficiaries of the APC victory had come as desperate suitors only after the beautiful lassie had been nourished to what the Hausas would say ‘son kowa, qin wanda ya rasa’-anyone’s fair game.
But Tinubu was not just the father of it all; nor was he merely the revolution’s first rag-tag foot soldier; Tinubu was in fact the lone political actor –long even before the declaration of action- who had laid both the geo-political and the ideological infrastructure for the effective expression of the very ‘idea’ that had given birth to the revolution. Whereas his 8-years as Governor of Lagos State provided the ideological basis for a renaissance of progressive-governance, his one-man-army’s legal battle against the reactionary forces of electoral gerrymandering which re-claimed the South West, provided the geo-political launch-pad required for a pan-Nigerian initiative to liberate the country.
If the measure of what members had contributed to the Party’s victory is the measure of what they may take from the Party, most of those occupying elective or appointive offices today will not merit election as counselors or appointment as S.A.s to a Local Government Chairman. By the same token if the measure of what members had contributed to the Party’s victory is the measure of what they may take from the Party, Tinubu alone qualifies for a ‘blank cheque’ to draw to his heart’s content. A blank cheque is the closest I can get to conjuring metaphoric value to Tinubu’s invaluable contribution not just to APC’s victory but to saving Nigeria’s democracy.
Those who ask ‘what does Tinubu want?’ cannot claim not to know that the Jagaban has always wanted this: namely to bring the progressives into power, who in turn should bring about ‘good governance’. We have always sat back lamely and often praised notorious political godfathers imposing on us their surrogate political godsons for their own personal aggrandizement , but whenever politicians with altruistic motive attempt in any way to re-order our affairs, in a chorus we all yell and scream ‘John Wayne rides again!’
If Tinubu wanted to influence the election of NASS leadership so he could control the legislature –as they had alleged, the question will then arise ‘to what end would he have desired to do that’? Was it to subvert the government that he has dedicated the greater part of his political life to bring about? Or was it to do so in aid of it? Well then although Tinubu did not succeed in controlling the legislature, nonetheless the legislature has still fallen into the grip of two upstarts who have still managed to find their way to pull the trigger on us all. if we do not deal with a meddlesome Tinubu, we’ll have to deal with the duo of Saraki and Dogara.
And what did Lagos State lose or what did democracy in that State suffer, merely because out-going Governor Tinubu had influenced the election of his successor Fashola? Or that he played an active part in the election of Ambode, Fashola’s successor? If Tinubu has the democratic ‘Midas touch’ and can be trusted to put square and round pegs into their respective holes, what in the hell is wrong with that? Consensus, as they say, is not the enemy of democracy.
Tinubu has earned a democratic ‘right of first refusal’ and can be consulted not only on all key appointments of government but on all crucial matters of governance. Tinubu has earned and should be accorded the respect that his status deserves –at least if not in deference to his epic role as the pathfinder to the revolution, then maybe in recognition of his Leadership of the Party.
Am I suggesting that Tinubu is without sin? No! But so is no Nigerian politician, including Buhari, not without sin. But should we give up on leadership because there are no angels in our midst to lead our affairs? No! If it took men laden with the yoke of sin to bring us to this rot, it can also take men who had fallen from the yoke of sin and have risen up again, to partake in the rescue mission.
Tinubu has fathered a peaceful political revolution in Nigeria which has not only moved our democracy beyond a notch by its shattering of the myth of the invincibility of incumbency, but it has saved the nation from the malignance of a ruinous era of political impunity which was bent on balkanizing our country.
Political things in APC are fast getting out of hand; President Buhari needs to look to the Party even as he worries about the health of the economy. To be forewarned is to be forearmed!The Hausas say ‘Ba ‘a neman kare ranar farauta’ –‘You do not wait until the day of hunt, to search for your dog of hunt’
Postscript: The following is an excerpt from a previous piece ‘Tinubu and parable of the First Supper ‘.
“…..Asiwaju’ ‘The Leader’ is now simply Tinubu ‘The meddlesome interloper’! He is as they now claim ‘unnecessarily interfering with our democratic processes’ and must thus be cut to size. But did they not invest Tinubu with all the sobriquets and appellations of a ‘Leader’? Did they not say that he was the courageous ‘Jagaban’; the one who led from the front? And did Tinubu not lead them from the front? Selflessly giving his time, his energy and his resources? Did he not put his life on the line of a hysterically dangerous incumbency (Jonathan’s) desperately angling to keep power by hook or crook?
Did we not see –during the struggle to form the APC- the singular efforts of one man (Tinubu) who had corralled several ideological eggs into one political embryo, so as to give life to a new all-embracing political Party around which both progressives and even repentant fascists could congregate to make practicable what was thought well-nigh impossible, namely the enacting of the parting of the political Red Sea to say to a behemoth PDP ‘let my people go!’
We thought that we saw Tinubu walk the miles from the North West to the North East; from North Central to the South East and from the South West to the South-South to build strong bridges of geo-ethnic and geo-political consensus; planning and strategizing to form alliances, to create leagues of political amity and to search out for men and women of weight and of mettle; political and non-political actors with diverse gifts and varying competences, to man the many points of the opposition’s political rudder.
These efforts were rewarded with successes in the creation of the first ever successful merger, the formation of the first ever peoples Party, the conduct of one of the most transparent Party Primaries, the emergence of the most popular presidential candidate, the running of the most competitive Presidential electioneering campaigns, and the first ever defeat of incumbency by an opposition party in one of the most transparent Presidential elections.
But now that the political dinner table is set, surrounded, unfortunately, by opportunistic political vultures and hyenas, they are telling us that although Tinubu is an excellent political cook, he is not as good in the culinary art of dishing. That (he) must stay away from the Party’s First Political Supper! In fact, like Caesar they accused the Asiwaju of ambition. The same Tinubu who had publicly announced he declined a Buhari offer for Vice President.
Tinubu does not deserve this kind of treatment. The Asiwaju as the Party Leader and the Party are the veritable taproots of Mr. President. If they who care about Mr. President’s success are left at the mercy of the Party’s vultures and hyenas, sooner or later the shrub of the Presidency and its blooming foliage will feel the wilt. It is both morally and politically expedient that Buhari steps in to restore rank discipline and to assure the Asiwaju and the Party hierarchy he has their back’; just like they, through thick and thin, have always had Mr. President’s back.