April 6, 2024

Tough Time For Tinubu’s Strong Men, by Emmanuel Aziken

Tough Time For Tinubu’s Strong Men, by Emmanuel Aziken

With President Bola Tinubu about getting into his stride with the best economic outlook since his presidential advent, contrary winds were this week gathering on the political horizon. 

At least from the camp of some of his most notable political enablers. 

Addressing the business community during the breaking of the Ramadan Fast last Thursday, the president made bold projections concerning the economy that underlined his confidence.

That was coming with the applause his administration has been getting on the policies that have continued to shore the value of the naira in recent weeks.

These added to the bold move by his aviation minister, Festus Keyamo in shunning the blackmail of the aviation cabal within and outside Nigeria that has for decades stifled indigenous carriers from servicing the country’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement, BASA. 

It is a conspiracy that we are now learning is also watered by civil servants within the Ministry of Aviation who have allowed foreign airlines to monopolise the air routes to Nigeria.

At the meeting with the local business chiefs, it is believed that the president and his congregation proffered suggestions to strengthen the economy by pushing forward a Buy Nigeria First Agenda.

Indeed, looking beyond the reoccurring menace of Peter Obi punching and pounding at his policies and actions as expected of the opposition, Tinubu it appears, is on a comfortable cruise towards 2027.

However, two key personalities in his 2023 blitzkrieg of the political arena were this week in serious political distress posing new permutations on their continued relevance.

Mr Nyesom Wike, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP chief who is minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC were this week fighting for their political lives.

Incidentally, the two of them are from heavy-voting states that helped the president to minimize his loss in the two states.

More than the failed script to win the presidential election in Kano, Ganduje was an early strategic partner in the Tinubu presidential bid. He was there to help the president with the Kano delegates in the APC presidential primary.

The strategic partnership of the governor from the highest voting state in the North with Tinubu partly helped to lure other Northern governors into the Tinubu project. While many governors were still pondering their options, Ganduje became the first governor in the North to wear the Asiwaju cap.

There were speculations that for his efforts Ganduje was to be rewarded with the appointment as minister of FCT.

However, at the last minute, it appeared that the president had a change of heart, preferring a reliable man like Ganduje to manage the party for him. 

So, far Ganduje has been faithful in keeping the party at peace for Tinubu.

Rebels like Rotimi Amaechi, Yemi Osinbajo, Salihu Lukman, Governor Mala Buni among many others who were critical of the Tinubu presidency project have been banished. 

Even more, regular consultations by the National Executive Committee, NEC have been replaced with directives from the Presidential Villa.

But, how President Tinubu decided on Ganduje given the unproved dollar bribery saga that has trailed the former Kano governor these past years is simply astounding.

While some assert that the dollar bribery movie may have been a Nollywood or Kannywood production, it was expected that the president should have ensured that the allegations against Ganduje were dismissed before giving him the high-profile position of national chairman of the ruling party.

Now after years of dithering procrastination, the authorities in Kano have formally brought charges related to the dollar bribery saga to court.

The prospect of the national chairman of the APC being brought to court to defend himself of the allegation is bound to be a bad script for the president.

It is, however, no cheer for the PDP given that several past PDP leaders have also been docked over corruption allegations.

Remarkably, the position of FCT minister as allegedly earmarked for Ganduje was what was gifted to Wike.

Beyond the claim that the FCT Minister is breaking down fairly good roads in the Asokoro area and rebuilding them to the neglect of less affluent areas, Wike has fairly done a good work in Abuja.

Contractors who ran away without doing their jobs have run back to site.

However, the political prospects for the minister are daily turning to gloom with his self-appointed successor cutting away at his power base. In the last week, Governor Simi Fubara has openly dared Wike and his allies.

Last Thursday, Wike’s royal father, the Paramount Ruler of Apara Kingdom in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Eze Chike Amadi Worlu Wodo, joined the trail with a solidarity visit to Fubara.

Remarkably, Fubara has continued to pledge loyalty to President Tinubu bringing the prospects of a potential rivalry on who between the incumbent and former governor to best deliver Rivers to Tinubu in 2027

It is even more saddening for Wike that a significant section of the political elite in Rivers State is backing Fubara against him.

Wike got his position as FCT minister simply because he helped Tinubu in Rivers State in 2023. Without a capacity to deliver in 2027, Wike will be best advised to choose his battles henceforth.

It was as such no surprise that when the Igbo billionaire, Chief Linus Ukachukwu went on national television to rant that Wike has no address outside politics that the normally emotive minister has kept mum.

Indeed, with the battles at home, it appears that Wike has taken the wise counsel to choose his battles.