By Emmanuel Aziken

The release of a video,  earlier this week, in which the prospective First Lady of Nigeria, Senator Remi Tinubu was seen heckling the Igbo, chastising them for always failing to follow the political mainstream in Lagos was particularly distressing.

It was particularly so for some of us who have hailed her activities as a three-term senator. In that position she been able to lift many area boys and girls out of indolence into becoming productive enablers of the Lagos economy.

Mrs Remi Tinubu is also a generous woman to some of those who come across her,  with reports of her going out of her way to cater for those who work for her. 

In public, she is also known to be very respectful to her husband’s associates, genuflecting in greeting to even male juniors despite her status.

As First Lady of Lagos State she also left legacies, memorably, with her Spellingbee competition that stirred excellence among school pupils.

Like all human beings she is also not perfect and hence that momentary burst of ethnic prejudice that was seen in that video.

It is particularly wrenching given her role as a pastor in one of Nigeria’s leading Pentecostal congregations.

Mrs Tinubu who has written about faith in a booklet, apparently had a wrong fate on her when she burst into that ethnic slur against a major tribe in the country.

Those who would see that burst as an exception would remember that some of the first winners of her Spellingbee competition were even Igbo.

However, there is something of an enigma in the relationship between the Tinubus and the Igbo in Nigeria.

All through his campaign for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, it is reported that Tinubu did not make conscious visits to the Southeast to campaign for the votes of the Southeast delegates.

One Igbo APC chief told your correspondent that when he wanted to meet them he asked that they should come and meet him in Abuja!

With one distress or the other blighting the Southeast region, Tinubu has rarely made an evocation of interest, but these days if there is a flood or anything in the North, you are bound to hear Tinubu donating N50 million.

At the national convention of the APC last June, your correspondent remembers going through the stands of the various states and seeing the joviality among several of the delegates who had been dollarized by several of the presidential aspirants including allegedly agents of the National Leader.

However, among the Southeast delegates there was a particular sense of gloom. In one particular Southeast state, delegates regaled your correspondent about the news they were hearing of the dollar windfall from agents of Asiwaju Tinubu but they said they were yet to get.

It subsequently emerged that Asiwaju did not forsake the Igbo delegates as in Anambra State for example, the goodies were channeled through a controversial former senator who is alleged to have diverted the dollars to his own purpose.

The use of such wrong men and women by outsiders to influence Ndigbo has been one of the particular problems of Ndigbo.

One case of this ethnic paradox is the case of Mr Joe Igbokwe who has gone the length to deride Ndigbo in his crusades for Tinubu.

It is, however, lamentable for Ndigbo that after rising to the position of spokesman of the APC in Lagos that the same Mr Joe Igbokwe has now been brought down to the position of adviser in charge of gutters and drainage.

It is no shock to these Ndigbo that when he embarks on his crusades against Ndigbo that he does not mind swimming in the gutter to pledge loyalty to his Lagos masters.

So, when Mrs Tinubu upbraided the Igbo in Lagos for not walking in the mainstream she may have meant that many of them were not behaving like Joe Igbokwe!

How many Joe Igbokwes can Tinubu find to achieve his life ambition, one may ask?

It was considered not long ago that the Tinubu political machine would regard the emergence of the Peter Obi phenomenon as a godsend that would further that life ambition in 2023. 

That is, given the easy belief that Obi is generally regarded to be more damaging  to Atiku Abubakar and the PDP than to the APC.

However, with what happened in Osun State where the APC lost to the PDP and the continuing indignation against the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the APC, the pressure your correspondent understands, is nearing home to the Tinubu machine.

Every threat, including from Obidient Nigerians must not be taken lightly.

The threat that the Tinubu machine faces is not just in the fact that many Igbo will vote for Obi, it is the fact that many Nigerians are appraising the three major candidates and some are going beyond ethnic hues to narrow to make their choices.

Your correspondent is aware that some of those driving the Obidient machine are even non-Igbo, and many of them like Dr Doyin Okupe are operating from within Lagos.

It is in this regard that Senator Remi Tinubu would find it better to inject herself more into her husband’s campaign and give it that kind of dose that made her the darling of the area boys and girls in Lagos West.

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