By Emmanuel Aziken
By the time Yakubu Dogara was finishing his mandatory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC programme in 1994, Bola Ahmed Tinubu had etched a name as an international pro-democracy activist with recognition in the capital cities of many western countries.
Tinubu’s pro-democracy credentials were outstanding given the sacrifices he and his family paid when Gen. Sani Abacha and his collaborators stymied the country’s evolving egalitarian democracy in 1993.
But political stride is neither a matter of age nor is it measured by strides. The race is indeed, not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.
So, when Speaker Dogara on Tuesday, took on Asiwaju, unveiling him in a way that no credible politician in such a high office had ever done, it immediately provoked more profound thoughts on the Tinubu persona. It indeed, stirred the question as to whether Tinubu, the acclaimed pathfinder was still seeing clear paths in the increasingly mazy political set up in the country. Or was he losing his Midas touch?
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Dogara’s missive followed a similar but not as incisive rebuke from Senate President Bukola Saraki to Tinubu’s.
Even though Tinubu had in his Sunday statement poured more vitriolic on Saraki than on Dogara, the Senate President was, however, more restrained in his response. Perhaps it had to do with Yoruba culture.
The All Progressives Congress, APC leader had in his stinging denunciation of the two presiding officers of the National Assembly accused them of frustrating the legislative agenda of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, padding the budget and of seeking to enthrone a leadership of their own on the next National Assembly.
Especially telling was Dogara’s response to the alleged foibles of the 8th National Assembly. He presented the fact that the present Senate and House of Representatives have as Majority Leaders, Senator Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, the two persons being presented by Tinubu to become the presiding officers of the two chambers in the 9th Assembly.
Also touching was the point on the alleged delay in the consideration of the budgets. Dogara in his response affirmed that at no point had the executive branch presented the budget outside the 90-day threshold as stipulated by law. Three of the four budget presentations of Buhari’s were made late in December within days of the end of the financial year.
In taking Tinubu on, Dogara confessed that he used the kind of uncomplimentary language that ordinarily should not be used; but indeed, made no qualms about it. He even touched on issues from the past that Tinubu and beloved associates would prefer remained buried and kept away from further public discourse. It is doubtful that the Media Office of the APC leader would contemplate a response after Dogara’s point by point rebuff of the respected national leader.
But why would a man like Tinubu who attained glory as a pro-democracy activist and laid a template for good governance give himself to be so spoken to by folks like Dogara, Bukola Saraki, and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal? Why?
Or has Tinubu changed?
Indeed, over time his former pro-democracy pet causes such as fiscal federalism, sovereign national conference and such have been buried by his own political party which after four years in government has not made any notable inclination towards the progressives’ agenda. It is revealing that no one from the progressives’ camp has been bold enough to put the issues that pertain to them as a priority for the Buhari administration.
Even more remarkable was the fact that the man that Tinubu was ostensibly pandering to, that is Muhammadu Buhari seemed not to be responding towards him with as much gusto. Buhari did not have time to grace or send a delegated representative to Asiwaju’s birthday celebration which was brought to his doorstep in Abuja last month. But the president had enough time to travel to Lagos to proclaim Tinubu’s errant disciple, Akinwunmi Ambode as a fantastic performer. That is irrespective of the fact that APC Lagos chieftains had not too long ago pronounced the same Ambode a failure!
The revel around the celebrated political leader who is sometimes hailed as the national leader of the ruling party is unquestionably linked to 2023 political permutations.
There is no doubt that Tinubu after his performance in Lagos would make a very good president of Nigeria, age and health allowing. However, for the pathfinder who has since his exit as governor of Lagos State easily laid the path for all his successors, the path to the presidency has turned into a labyrinth that has opened the way for such unwelcome stings from the likes of Dogara and Saraki.
His successes as engraved in his ranking in the pro-democracy hall of fame, stewardship as governor of Lagos State and bringing an opposition party to power should not be stained in the blind quest for the presidency. He should not kowtow to the rules of those who would sully his hard-earned reputation and, in the end, frustrate him.