For a man who has successfully pinned down his Lagos political rivals to submission, suggestions as to whether President Bola Tinubu could transform Nigeria into his political image is now a matter of debate.
Considering the cavalier surrender of the likes of Chief Bode George, and before then, his former political combatant, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, it is indeed open to question as to whether Tinubu could in the near future have the likes of Nnamdi Kanu, Sule Lamido and wait for it, President Olusegun Obasanjo in his Amen Corner.
Some years ago, Senator Ogunlewe, a close associate of the late Funsho Williams was at the vanguard of the campaign to asphyxiate Tinubu. Indeed, according to the grapevine, he was appointed minister of works by President Obasanjo to empower him square up with Tinubu.
However, earlier this week the video clip of Ogunlewe wearing the Asiwaju cap easily showed how far the once effervescent PDP chief had submitted himself to the one man that he had openly scorned.
Chief George, Ogunlewe and the many former political rivals of Tinubu in Lagos had in the past claimed to have been driven by the genuine concern to free the state from the political grip of Asiwaju who they said was beneath them.
That was because Tinubu, through his political machine, had universal control over appointments, nominations and other privileges in the state.
The likes of Chief George who threatened to go on exile and Senator Ogunlewe who once mobilized against him have now fully retreated after the emergence of Tinubu as president. However, it is not as if Tinubu bruised Bode George, Ogunlewe, Musiliu Obanikoro and many others into submission in popular democratic exercises.
The hold of Tinubu over Lagos as many had always suspected was not built on democratic expression and this fact was clearly shown in the February 25 presidential election when he lost the state to Peter Obi.
However, by wits and political engineering, Tinubu has emerged president of the country and is now running the show. At least, fairly commendably, for now. Far better than the preceding eight years of locust.
Having transformed into the nation’s number one political personality, suggestions as to the possibility of Tinubu having the kind of dominance he expresses over Lagos on Nigeria is now coming up as an issue.
The first example of this is the president’s single handed nomination of Senator Godswill Akpabio as Senate President, Barau Jibrin as Deputy Senate President, Tajudeen Abbas as Speaker and Benjamin Kalu as Deputy Speaker.
Senator-Elect Abdulazziz Yari and many others believe that Tinubu may have overstepped his bounds and showed it with their boycott of last Thursday’s meeting between the president and the senator-elect.
Those who say that Tinubu cannot succeed if he ever desires to foist control over the whole nation is that the tendencies, cultures across the nation differ. They say that it would be foolhardy for him to bring the Lagos formula of ‘Baba has spoken’ or ‘Bourdillion has said’ into a national drill.
It is in this respect that the presidency would be well advised in its approach to the National Assembly leadership election.
Indeed, the caution is especially framed by the fact that the Tinubu presidency marks the first time in the nation’s history that a former legislator is at the helms of government.
Besides the president, his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the vice-president, Senator Kashim Shettima, and the chief of staff, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila are indeed former members of the National Assembly.
This historic intercession of former legislators in the apex of the presidency should ordinarily dovetail into one of the most cordial relationships between the presidency and the National Assembly.
However, should the president go ahead to foist his will on what he envisages to be a rubber stamp legislature, he would have started on the wrong footing.
The history of bellicosity between the legislative and executive arms of government in the Fourth Republic has almost been traced to the decision of the presidency to foist its will on the legislature.
President Obasanjo’s imposition of Senator Evan Enwerem did not last too long. Indeed, before the departing duo of Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, the only two presiding officers of the National Assembly who enjoyed their stint even though they were backed by the executive were Alhaji Aminu Masari and Senator David Mark.
The two survived not because of the prop they got from the presidency, but out of their capacity to carry their members along.
Remarkably, one of the most productive houses was the Aminu Tambuwal led House of Representatives. Tambuwal, we remember came to office as speaker in 2011 against the will of the executive. However, through the levelheaded approach of the liaison officer, Senator Joy Emodi, the famed enmity between Jonathan and the legislators turned into enchanting cordiality.
That is why President Tinubu should bring reason to bear given that once the Turks in the Jonathan administration booted Emodi out of office in 2013, because she was too soft on the lawmakers, the National Assembly became a no-go area for President Jonathan. It was to such an extent that after Emodi’s sack, Jonathan did not again step foot in the National Assembly!
For President Tinubu who has for long desired the office of President of Nigeria, adding the burden of determining the presiding officers of the National Assembly is certainly out of his reach.
Adding that to his already weighty brief would rather do him more bad than good, especially now that the numbers are not promising.