By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
Prior to 2015, Tinubu was desperate. He wanted the PDP and Jonathan dislodged. It had been impossible to forge a formidable alliance in the past. The PDP looked invincible.
So he needed Buhari. Buhari had retired from politics. He was retired by frustration. But everyone knew Buhari was a major political asset. The sort of asset the Tinubu machinery needed to gather votes in the north. And to burnish their law and order credentials. So Tinubu and company literally resurrected Buhari. They knew it was risky. But they knew that losing to the PDP again was perhaps extinction.
The prospect of an energized and oiled Buhari’s ship emboldened dissenters in the PDP. Compromises were traded and they jumped ship. That ship anchored in Aso rock in 2015.
Buhari had sought free hand. He was promised free hand. There were no conditions because his drafters were desperate. After he won, he exercised his prerogatives without addressing his mind to the debt of gratitude he owed Tinubu. So he picked Tinubu’s renegade boys. And left Tinubu’s preferred nominees.
Tinubu sulked. He tried to influence the senate leadership. Buhari opted to remain aloof. He tried to foist his boy on the house or reps. Buhari didn’t stand publicly by him. Buhari’s diffidence meant that neither Buhari nor Tinubu nor the APC determined the leadership of the National Assembly.
Tinubu was worried by Buhari’s elusiveness.
Tinubu must have weighted his options. He thought of contesting the presidency through another platform. After Ondo he threw a tantrum. He thought of shattering the party. Buhari’s illness called for patience. He waited and waited. The cabal ran circles around everybody. Buhari’s wife couldn’t stand the circus.
Buhari returned. They expected action. Nothing.
Then Atiku left. Tinubu’s stock rose. Everyone including the president began to refer to him publicly as the sole leader of the party. Tinubu was not fazed , he knew he was still impotent.
Then Obasanjo and IBB wrote their letters. They tore through Buhari’s clothes and eroded to some extent the legitimacy of his candidature for 2019. Buhari became politically naked and vulnerable.
So Buhari sought Tinubu.
It dawned on Buhari. He needed Tinubu very badly. Not so much for votes. Yes he would need southwest votes. and he would need his machinery. But the authentication of the legitimacy of his candidature was the immediate necessity.
If Tinubu had pronounced Buhari’s tenure a failure and asked him not to contest like the others , Buhari’s candidature would have been fractured. It would have suffered a massive internal hemorrhage.
So the tide has turned big time. Buhari would have needed Tinubu for 2019. But no one knew he would come to need him so desperately even before the elections.
Buhari who has shown political naivety for 3 years has for once played smartly . He is suddenly awake and alert
In handing over the reconciliation of the party to one man rather than a committee, the president has avoided a down the middle split in a fractious party. The president has literally handed enormous powers to Tinubu. These are no ordinary reconciliations.
They are power sharing and suspensions and expulsions.
Tinubu understands the leverage he has. He knows he can mend the party and foster his personal clout within the party in the next few months. He is already at work. People will grumble. But they know when Buhari delegates authority , he delegates it.
Buhari will endorse Tinubu’s peace plans and many aggrieved powerful people ,including governors, will sulk and succumb rather than walk away. But Tinubu will not finish this assignment without extracting a pound of flesh from Buhari. Once beaten twice shy. Tinubu knows he was sidelined by the cabal. Tinubu knows he can be sidelined again. But Tinubu has reached great heights in Nigerias politics because he is a tactician.
He can push shove and stab. He is not an Imam.
Tinubu knows that his legacy will suffer a dent if the APC fails after 2019. I know he will not fail to tie all loose ends meticulously , neatly .
Or rock the boat.
But his opponents are also waiting for him.
I am watching.