By Muyiwa Adetiba
There are two ways to become a Head of State. It is either by a coup or the ballot box. President Buhari has used both methods. It is a rather sad reflection on his grasp of contending national issues and interests that the euphoria of his ascendancy on both occasions died not too long after his elevation leaving many people disenchanted and frustrated.
It is perhaps even a sadder commentary on his personality as a team leader that the people who risked limbs and lives to put him there are the same people who would risk the same lives and limbs to get rid of him. It happened in 1985. It is looking like it will happen again in 2019. There were no protests from the people in 1985. Instead, some people rejoiced.
It is unlikely that there will be any protest, except a contrived one, in 2019. In other words, his tenure serves neither the narrow interests of the people who, at some costs, put him there nor the wider interests of the general populace who rejoiced at his elevation. Whose interests does he serve in office then? The interest of a small cabal as is often touted, which reaps where it has not sown and gathers what it has not spread? Or have we all been guilty of over expectation?
It is easy to see why he has been eligible on both occasions. He has an image of forthrightness and uprightness; a welcome image for a country in search of heroes. It is therefore not surprising that his promotion to the highest office in the land had come at times when preceding governments had been mired in sleaze and corruption. What is not so easy to discern is why he alienates so quickly, the same people who once rooted for him. Could it be arrogance of power?
Or rigidity of position? Or distrust, an unwillingness to work with people whose ways and ideas are not like his? Or self – righteousness? Or limitations of a man easily held captive by his kitchen cabinet? Or simply a man with a private agenda that is not inclusive of those who struggled and fought to put him there? I have my own pet theory given the way he talked down on politicians after he was sworn in and his eagerness to work outside the party structure. But pet theories are irrelevant at the moment.
APC is in trouble and the cause is largely down to Mr President’s various acts of omission and commission—unforced errors as a famous Professor put it. To be fair, APC was not really a party in 2015. It was a coalition of parties. But in more adroit and skilful hands of a man willing to build, it could have become a formidable party given the fact that it controls the reins of power, influence and largess. Instead, it was largely disowned and orphaned by the centre which has allowed it to splinter along old and even new fault lines.
The man now chosen to put the splintered party together again is the same man who had laboured so hard to forge a party out of disparate parties, ideologies and individuals in the first place. Had he been given a greater post—election role, it is possible that APC would have become a stronger, more cohesive, more virile and more disciplined party. But that would have made him more powerful and relevant within the party and government. His detractors didn’t want that and some of those detractors have the ears of Buhari. They say he is ambitious.
When did that become a crime? In any case, it was this same ambition that made him work tirelessly with others to oust PDP. But now that Humpty Dumpty has fallen off its high wall, he has been given the yeoman’s task of finding the scattered pieces and gluing them together. If anybody can, then that person is Bola Tinubu though that’s not saying it’s not too little, too late.
But what gets to me is the barrage of voices especially among the Yoruba folks urging him not to accept the assignment. They point to how he has been used and dumped. They point to lopsided appointments of government and the herdsmen menace and warn him against helping to foster a northern agenda. They urge him to team up with Obasanjo in giving birth to a third force. But none of these voices belongs to Bola Tinubu. He is the man wearing the shoes and knows how pinched he is.
Besides, if he is as intelligent and strategic in thought as people say he is, then he would not be unaware of what is being alleged. So, if it suits his end game to be used, so be it. As the Yoruba proverb goes: ‘O ye omo ti o nke. O si ye iya e ti o nwo’. (The child knows why it is crying and the mother knows why she is not attentive). Both Buhari and Tinubu understand the game that is going on. Let Tinubu do what he has to do and let the aggrieved and disenfranchised in the country do what they have to do.
On a deeper side, how do you say no when you are given a chance to revive something you gave birth to? How do you walk away from a company or a party you helped in forming and which now needs you? Ekwueme never walked away from PDP despite many humiliating episodes and in the end, ‘it was counted to him as righteousness’ (apologies; the Holy Book).
Tinubu has been given a chance to save a party he helped in giving life to. He has been given a chance to apply oxygen to an asphyxiated baby he helped in conceiving. He has also, albeit indirectly, been given a chance to reshape and retool APC and perhaps, put his imprimatur on it. It’s too good a chance to simply walk away from.
Those who say he should detach himself from APC and help form a third party because they think APC is drowning don’t know the pangs of birthing a baby, a company or a party. They are also blissfully unaware of how near impossible it is for an opposition party to take over government anywhere in Africa.
Besides, people should not confuse APC with Buhari. A party should never be about one man. It is very possible that the outcome of these reconciliatory meetings is that a new, presidential candidate would emerge for APC in 2019. That the interests of the south as a bloc including restructuring, would take the front burner. I wish Asiwaju Bola Tinubu well in his new assignment. Blessed indeed, are the peace makers.