December 16, 2022

Daddy Tinubu

By Donu Kogbara

CHATHAM House, an independent policy institute in the heart of London, describes itself as “a trusted forum for debate and dialogue (that has) provided thought leadership on key issues that defined the 20th century.”

Its numerous achievements include crafting the multilateral institutions and mechanisms of global financial stability after the Second World War and giving Africa’s famous Independence leaders a platform throughout the decolonisation era.

It has continued to be immensely influential in the 2lst century and is so popular with the Nigerian political elite that many VIPs here regard an appearance on the Chatham House stage as de rigeur and crucial for credibility enhancement.

Chatham House is fan-friendly and has offered the three main presidential candidates much-prized speaking opportunities.

Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi will appear next month. Tinubu appeared two Mondays ago; and thousands of people, foreigners as well as Nigerians, watched his performance with intense interest and were taken aback when he informed Dr Alex Vines, the British moderator, that his entourage would answer questions on his behalf.

Some viewers found this unorthodox delegation of duties hilarious and have mercilessly mocked Tinubu and his team for their joint efforts…which, if truth be told, were less than impressive.

Other critics have furiously accused Tinubu of appalling con artistry and unforgiveable arrogance. Then there are those who are more concerned than angry because they feel that Tinubu displayed poor judgement.

What do I think?

Strangely for one who is normally scathing about leaders who come across as inadequate, especially in august settings on the international stage, I couldn’t summon up any outrage on this occasion. I just shrugged and shook my head and smiled wryly when Tinubu started to call on subordinates to do the talking for him.

At the risk of trivialising an issue that so many people regard as very serious, he reminded me of typical African parents or employers who expect their children and servants to do everything for them…you know, the mildly tyrannical type of Daddy, Mummy or Boss who will shout for you to come to where they are sitting.

And as you drag yourself from upstairs to obey their call and hotfoot it to where they are sitting, they breezily instruct you to fetch them a bottle of water from a fridge that is only a few feet from where they are sitting! Or to change the TV channel for them, using a remote control that is next to them on the sofa!

Frankly, I myself have reached an age where I behave like this without thinking. The other day, I went to the bank with my personal assistant to make enquiries. Whenever the manager imparted a useful snippet of information or requested various details, I would tell the PA to take notes or provide the details…even though I was perfectly capable of handling these not-arduous tasks myself. 

I do the same thing at home with househelps and my son…who sighs in exasperation whenever my unrepentant laziness rears its head. 

I recently bumped into an APC stalwart who answered a question for Tinubu at Chatham House; and, grinning broadly plus looking for trouble, I asked him how his Dad (Tinubu) was! He was not amused.

On a more serious note, people would be less disparaging about Tinubu’s somewhat imperious modus operandi at Chatham House if they thought it was driven by indolence. But the general view on the streets is that it was driven by lack of capacity…and that Tinubu simply couldn’t answer the questions at all or coherently enough.

And I do wonder why Tinubu won’t just rest.

I am in my early 60s and would retire tomorrow if I could afford to because I am SO tired of the physically, mentally and emotionally draining career treadmill. But, sadly, I don’t have a pension.

Work is so relentless. Most offices are like pressure cookers…full of toxic dramas, difficult individuals and tough practical or intellectual challenges. And I yearn to relax 24/7 and dedicate my existence to civilized leisure pursuits and see more of buddies and family.

Tinubu is clearly exhausted after a long, stressful and eventful life; and he has tons of cash, so why is he pushing himself to the limit?  

I haven’t studied the many allegations that are always being directed at him, so don’t have an opinion regarding his parentage, academic qualifications, alleged criminal past in America, et cetera…except to say that even if Tinubu’s detractors are being unfair, it is unfortunate when there are so many queries about the fundamental authenticity of a man who wants to hold the highest position in the land. 

Anyway, I know people who know him and love him and describe him as having an ebullient and giving spirit. 

Furthermore, even if he’s frail now and given to bouts of slurred speech, nobody can deny that he was born with a big brain and that it is a huge achievement to have politically dominated Lagos and the South-West for two whole decades.

But his best days are clearly behind him; and I don’t understand why the APC didn’t give him a glorious retirement party and politely insist that he hand his baton over to one of his most capable juniors, as in Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Dr Kayode Fayemi or Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.


THE Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, has said that the new framework known as the National Language Policy had been approved for implementation.

The new policy stipulates that children be taught in their mother tongues in primary schools. 

English is Nigeria’s official language and all learning institutions use it as the common language of teaching and learning. But the education minister says that “pupils learn much better” when they are taught in their own mother tongues.

The Education Minister acknowledged that implementing the new policy would be challenging because it would “require a lot of work to develop materials to teach and get the teachers”.

Another challenge is the number of languages spoken in Nigeria – more than 600. 

What I don’t understand is why you would handicap youngsters – many of whom were born socially disadvantaged and need all the help they can get – by taking them backwards in the digital age.

Privileged folks like Mr Education Minister will never deprive their own offspring of English tuition from a young age. and they shouldn’t deprive the children of the less privileged! It may indeed be easier to acquire knowledge that is conveyed in your first language, but easier is definitely not better within this context.

Whether we like it or not, a firm grasp of English gives you an edge globally; and anyone who is trying to prevent Nigerian kids from learning it needs to be told off!