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2023, Tinubu’s posture and Jonathan’s exemplary disposition BY Olufemi Lawson


“The word of the reckless pierces like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” Proverbs 12:18. Self-praise is equally not a leadership virtue.

Let us start by taking a look at the incautious outbursts of the self-acclaimed National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu since he declared his presidential ambition’

These outbursts appear to be slacking off his political fortunes than boosting them. For instance, when he addressed the State House Correspondents immediately after consulting with President Mohammadu Buhari in Aso Rock Villa, he was asked why he wanted to be president instead of maintaining his position as a kingmaker. He declared arrogantly that a kingmaker has a right to become king. This is one goof in my opinion.

In a normal African setting, kingmakers naturally are not meant to be kings. These claims of the kingmaker have drawn a lot of denunciations from analysts.

A northern top shot of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) had said he was amazed to read that the former Lagos State Governor, declared that he was tired of being a kingmaker and that it was time to actualise his dream of presiding over the affairs of this country as president.

He said it bothered on egotism for Tinubu to take pride in being addressed as a kingmaker or leader of the party when he knows that that appellation naturally belongs to the President.

The northerner had said Tinubu could claim to be a kingmaker in his Southwest region where he had been calling the shots but that such a claim was an insult to the person of Mohammad Buhari if he was referring to his emergence as president in 2015.

He said right from 2003 to 2011 when General Buhari contested for president under All Nigerian Peoples Party,(ANPP) and the Nigerian Conscience Party, (CPC) respectively, he had won over twelve million votes.

Recall that the All Progressives Congress was an amalgamation of four political parties, a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) called New PDP led by seven Governors and a sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives, a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) led by Governor Rochas Okorocha, Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN) and the Nigerian Conscience Party,(NCP).

The various factions came with several heavyweights who were influential in their states and constituencies. From the above expression, it is clear but erroneous for anyone to claim to be a kingmaker here because all the four parties came together to form a formidable opposition to unseat the then PDP government.

Buhari won with a total vote of 15,424,921, so if subtracting, 12, 214, 853 from 15,424,921 you can judge for yourself who really is the kingmaker and the National Leader of APC here.

Again, while the claim of being a kingmaker was still causing ripples within the ranks and file of the All Progressives Congress, the Jagaban came up with another mindblower. He was quoted to have said: “If it means fighting dirty, I will fight dirty to realise my ambition”. This bluff has further ignited more disparagements to his presidential ambition as many saw it as a scabrous speech. Senator Tinubu allegedly made the statement during his visit to the Olubadan Elect of Ibadanland, Dr Lekan Balogun.

Recently, a socio-professional organisation, the Yoruba Stakeholders Summit Group, (YSSG) berated Tinubu over the statement. The group also advised Nigerians to be mindful of desperate politicians ahead of the 2023 race.

The group’s leader was quoted as saying “As Yoruba people, especially those with the distinct characters of ‘Omoluabi’, we consider Senator Tinubu’s statement as an act of political desperation, and one which is antithetical to our democracy and backward in modern time.

“The utterance is contrary to the consensus of all
peace-loving Nigerians, who believe that politics should be devoid of desperation and dirty fights, unlike the route which Senator Tinubu, is threatening to thread ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

“Senator Tinubu is free to play his politics the way it suits him but we wish to advise, that he should tread softly in playing games with the lives of Nigerians by making desperate and reckless statements ahead of the crucial election.

Similarly, at the palace of the Ooni of Ife and Owa of Obokun of Ijesha Land, Bola Tinubu was reported to have demanded that General Buhari hand over to him when he leaves office in 2023 saying that he stood with him (Buhari) ahead of the 2015 election when he was contesting to be president.

In Tinubu’s words, “We went around the country in 2015 to campaign for Buhari. Again in 2019, we stood with him and he won.

“He will soon finish his tenure. I am saying they should not just leave the post; they should hand it over to me.

“I am competent, capable and fit to pilot the affairs of the country to greatness”. He boasted.

This again is regarded by many as an attempt to arm-twist President Buhari into handing over power to him by hook or crook.

At another instance where he had to defend his physical strength and health status, Senator Tinubu was quoted to have declared, ” I didn’t apply for a job of a bricklayer. The job I’m applying for requires a brain, I’m not sick. I only repaired my knee. I’m not applying for a relay race and I’m not a horse. I have the quality to serve and make Nigeria great. I want to serve my country “.

A good leader is not just an individual who has a brain but one who has mental capacity and physical strength. It is ironic for Senator Tinubu to assume that only a brain is needed to be a president of the country. I don’t think that Nigeria of today requires only brains to preside over it.

Just last week, he was addressing the youth wing of the All Progressive Congress, (APC) Senator Tinubu realised he misfired in his earlier claim that he needed only a brain to be President in 2023 when he told members of APC youths that he was a youth with bubbling energy to serve the country.

Is it possible for a 69-year-old person who will be 70 years in a couple of months before May 2023 to be called a youth?. The law of the land recognises persons within the ages of 15 and 24 as youths but at 69 our APC presidential hopeful calls himself a youth to soothe the psyche of his audience whose clamour had been the enthronement of younger people into political offices.

All his utterances since he declared his ambition has been streamed with desperation and inconsistencies. Such do not portray a man who is rightly prepared for leadership. Nigerians need not just a brain box but someone who can properly decode the prompting of the brain and be propelled to function rightly. We won’t equally vote for a candidate who claims what he is not. If you claim youth let youthfulness in you be visible.

Contrast this crabby and cantankerous posture of Tinubu with the peaceful disposition of former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in and out of office.

Dr. Jonathan’s popular refrain that his “political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”, has become a hallowed mantra that is now synonymous with good behaviour in politics in the whole of Africa.

While he was being abused and maligned left, right and centre during the twilight days of his Presidency by critics hired by then opposition leaders like Tinubu, Dr. Jonathan chose the path of honour in leadership by letting his works speak for him.

In one of those rare occasions when he stood up to his critics, it was to reassure them that, being a democrat, he views democracy as an important ingredient of governance. He was quoted to have said: “I don’t expect praises now. It’s when you leave that people will begin to compare you with others. I will do my best to address all the challenges we are having. I will do my best so that when I leave, people will compare what I have done and what others before me did. The seat belongs to the country and it is only the country that can decide who occupies it”.

It is this kind of Tinubu’s unprogressive bearing that is pushing Nigerians to remember the good old days of politics under Jonathan. It is what informs the strident and mounting calls for the former President’s return to power.

I hope the former President heeds this call and returns to the presidency because the country, as it stands now with desperate politicians baying for the blood of anyone that would stand in their way, needs a peacemaker and unifier like Jonathan to bring stability and restore confidence in the polity.

Olufemi Lawson is the convener of Yoruba Stakeholders Summit group and is based in Lagos.