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Some Useful Lessons For Tinubu

BALA DAN ABU e-mail: bala.danabu@theunion.com.ng

Tinubu’s ambition to have everything in APC going his way is a big problem and unsuited for politics in a coalition

The storm is over for now. Respite has come for both Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, the men at the centre of the cloud of controversy that engulfed the country following their election as senate president and Speaker, House of Representatives, respectively. The story of the events leading to their election is very well known and needs no repetition here. But that election badly injured the large and still growing political ego of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who goes by the title of leader of the APC.

He had positioned his anointed men for the two biggest jobs at the National Assembly but some people who felt he deserved to be taught some new lessons in politics pulled the rug off his feet. The party has now very reluctantly reconciled itself with the reality of the situation at the National Assembly and withdrawn its threat to sanction the winners and other APC legislators who supported them. But there are people who believe as I do that this may not be the party’s last word on the incident.

What is prevailing in the party is peace of the graveyard. I say so knowing that politicians to be generally very unforgiving. I believe in what most people are suspecting – that Tinubu and other angry members of the party have only just retreated in the face of their obvious defeat, to have the opportunity of laying political landmines unsuspected for these prodigal children of the party.

But I was also reminded by a friend I shared a thought with on this subject that it is not impossible that compromise, the name of the most popular game in politics, may do the trick of easing all the frayed and cracking nerves sooner than I think. And that I shouldn’t be surprised to see party leaders including Tinubu laying the red carpet to celebrate these prodigal children of the party.

Now, what does the entire development say about APC and some key leaders of the party? That is the main theme of this column this week. In the heat of the controversy, Tinubu, for example, exhibited an attitude which suggested that he did not realise that there is a difference between APC and his Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, one of the three main political parties in the coalition that has produced the present government at the federal level.

In the now defunct ACN, everybody that became a political somebody did so only with Tinubu’s blessing. This, certainly, cannot be the style in the coalition that is now APC. The party, unlike ACN, is not Tinubu’s political parastatal. That is lesson number one.

Tinubu’s ambition to have everything in APC going his way is a big problem and unsuited for politics in a coalition. I don’t want to believe that he did not know so. I think he was merely trying his luck with the other partners in the coalition to see if they will be naive enough to swallow it.

It exploded on his face and to the joy of those who were already very unhappy that Tinubu was asking for too much. It is a fact very widely known that Professor Yemi Osinbajo who became the country’s number two political personality was his anointed candidate. The National Chairman of the party, Chief Odigie Oyegun, was also his nominee.

That being the case, will it not be unfair to the other partners in the coalition to let his anointed men take the seats of the third and fourth most prominent political personalities in the country? If his wish and desire had prevailed, the second, third and fourth most prominent political personalities in Nigeria would been his anointed associates. Yes, he alone. Tinubu, in his anger and frustration, forgot completely to seek advice on the legality of the election of the National Assembly leaders before rejecting it.

President Buhari did and then followed it up with a very mature statement. In it he said it was unfortunate that the winners were not the party’s preferred candidate but the election would stand because they were done in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

That was what eventually weakened the position of Tinubu and his co-travellers in the party. Tinubu’s position and reaction were informed by his uninformed belief that the election couldn’t possibly be proper since the legislators failed to wait for him to perfect his game plan for the victory of his candidates.

What this means is that he still has a lot of lessons to learn in order to survive and profit from the complex politics at the national level. At the geo-political level, Tinubu was a super star political tactician. The party he single-handedly founded and ran from his bedroom developed into a regional octopus, wining all the major elections.

He successfully neutralised the impact of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the South West and turned the ACN not only into the party of choice in the zone but one that controlled the political destiny of the region. But at the national level, the political formula is far more complex, particularly in a coalition.

It is a complex aggregate of interests, all of which must be accommodated in the political space. Politics of imposition must give way to political consensus and accommodation. Some party chieftains may have their way some of the times but certainly not all of the time. This is one basic political reality which politicians must not scoff at.

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