2019: Bola Tinubu’s Survival Battles

My father had a common saying, “Òde l’ó ndá omo è l’abò.” I am actually at a loss on how to appropriately translate this aphorism without making it losing its substantive meaning. But my best shot is as follows: “An incorrigible child would be taught a lesson from outside.” The current manifestations on Nigeria’s political landscape have lent credence to the truism of the above aphorism, in relation to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It is no longer a secret that things are not going well between President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu. Things are “no longer at ease” between them and their followers.  The battle line between Aso Rock and Bourdillon is drawn. Things have fallen apart, apology to Chinua Achebe. The road to 2019 suddenly has become more interesting; for those who are invested in our politics, grab your popcorn and get ready for a buster of a movie.

After series of insults, slights and snubs from Aso Rock, Bourdillon has finally had it. It could no longer pretend that things are okay. It could no longer hide its frustrations. Asiwaju Tinubu and his followers are no longer able to tolerate the disdain and disrespect with which they are being treated. President Buhari, on his own, is acting as the Pharaoh King that knew not Joseph. The president is not enthusiastic at coming to the defence of Asiwaju Tinubu. He is prepared to sacrifice him to achieve whatever goal he has in mind. Evidentially, President Buhari has consciously encouraged the undermining of Asiwaju Tinubu’s political fortunes across the country, especially in the Southwest.

The betrayal of Asiwaju Tinubu by the Chairman of the All Progress Congress, (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun who has gone to every length, including crooked means, to undermine his former benefactor, seems to be the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Before then, there has been a conscious effort to sweep every humiliation of Bourdillon by Aso Rock under the carpet by the Bourdillon faithful.

The need for this arose from the obvious concomitant shame deriving from painful regrets of the unmitigated support deployed to bringing President Buhari to power. From being the “greatest political strategists of our time” to the “greatest political simpletons of our time”, the Bourdillon faithful are now scrambling for existential survival and political relevance, not just across Nigeria in general, but particularly in Southwest.

To this extent, competent sources have confirmed to this writer that Chief Bisi Akande is presently working “day and night” to bring back to the fold, the rebellious former members of the Bourdillon Group, particularly former governors Babatunde Fashola and Kayode Fayemi. The need for them to come back home has been seen as the next step in rescuing the downward spiral of Asiwaju Tinubu’s political fortunes stemming from the deadly blows being dealt to him by President Buhari and the cabal that has taken control in Aso Rock.

A prominent Yoruba leader to whom the two former governors of Lagos and Ekiti states could not but defer to has been given this assignment. This writer has also been able to confirm that a meeting to this effect has been held in Lagos just recently to ensure the success of this effort. Prior to this development, this writer was affirmatively informed that one of the duo spent his entire Sallah holiday at Bourdillon to review the subsisting situation, heal old wounds and strategize for the future.

This is a follow up to a meeting that was held in the Bourdillon Residence of former Governor Segun Osoba of Ogun State. The meeting which was held at the instance of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, according to media reports was also attended by Chief Bisi Akande and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the current governor of Osun State. The purpose of the meeting was to plead with Aremo Osoba to come back into the fold of APC and forget the hurt that has been inflicted on him which drove him to creating another political party in Ogun State.

Competent sources, close to the former governor of Ogun State informed this writer that Aremo Osoba who had been under intense pressure from Asiwaju Tinubu to “come back home”, did not intend to be stubborn, and decided to agree to the meeting. It was underscored that the former governor however was not “completely happy” with the efforts of Asiwaju Tinubu who has not been able to normalize the relationship between Aremo Osoba and the current governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun. Asiwaju Tinubu is believed to have been the cause of friction between Governor Amosun and Aremo Osoba because of the roles he played in the months leading to the 2015 elections and ought to know how to rectify the situation.

Meanwhile, Governor Amosun has become more intractable for Asiwaju Tinubu. Governor Amosun’s direct linkage with President Buhari, a product of previous relationship has irked Asiwaju Tinubu. Asiwaju Tinubu seemed to see this Amosun’s relationship with President Buhari as an act of disloyalty and has not taken kindly to it. This attitude on the part of Asiwaju has complicated his rapprochement efforts with Aremo Osoba because Governor Amosun appeared not ready to kowtow to Asiwaju’s expectations. Or give due deference to the elder statesman and former governor of his state in Aremo Segun Osoba.

Asiwaju Tinubu has followed up his rapprochement with Aremo Osoba with the re-cultivation of the old Afenifere Guard that he had relentlessly disrespected, insulted and denigrated. Chiefs Ayo Adebanjo, Olanihun Ajayi, Ayo Fasoranti and others of their ilk have been at the receiving end of these ignominous acts from Tinubu and his henchmen despite being the ones that paved the road to Alausa, Ikeja for him. Tinubu had let loose his goons in a conscious effort to discredit these heroes of the Yoruba Nation in an effort to make him the numero uno and the de facto leader in the politics of Yoruba land. He constantly had his goons attack and calls them names. Now that he has got burnt politically, he is seeking their help to get rehabilitated. He had gone to plead with them for forgiveness and sought their cooperation in building unity in Yorubaland. The media reports have confirmed that a couple of meetings have been held to this end.

Asiwaju is still having difficulties with the Gani Adams leadership of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress. The leadership of Gani Adams believes that it has been subjected to unfair propaganda from Asiwaju Tinubu’s operatives. The feelings in the camp are as visceral as the ones within the Old Afenifere Guard. There is a lot of bitterness by the followers of Gani Adams towards Asiwaju Tinubu who is deemed to have made repeated efforts to destroy their leader through chicanery, blackmail, subterfuge and funding of disloyal members within the group. Despite the detestation of Gani Adams by Bourdillon, a lot of Yoruba leaders that Asiwaju Tinubu is currently courting their cooperation who spoke with this writer expressed serious and solid confidence in Adams leadership of OPC.

Asiwaju Tinubu has also been making frantic efforts to make up with other political powerhouses in the APC. This writer could confirm that he has held meetings with some leaders within the APC in the North and in the East who are also very disenchanted with not only the way President Buhari has been allegedly “messing up” the country but more importantly, for having turned them to outsiders in the house they built.

Some of these groups include the Attahiru Bafarawa group from the Northwest; a coalition of Middlebelt leaders which include his arch-detractor in the sitting Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki who believes, rightly and wrongly, he has been victimized by the cabal in Aso Rock. The nPDP under the leadership of  Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje which abandoned President Goodluck Jonathan to join with Buhari and APC to win the last elections are also on their way out of the APC. Though, the nPDP seemed currently divided since some of its members are strong cabinet members in President Buhari’s administration, but majority of them are really dissatisfied with the APC.

There is also the Abubakar Atiku bloc of the APC which is considered the most formidable of all the blocs because of its national spread. From the feelers coming in, all eyes are on this bloc as the possible anchor for a new direction towards 2019. Many disaffected blocs in the APC (including many from the factionalized PDP) who though, do not dislike Bourdillon, are expressing more trust and confidence in the anchorage of Atiku Abubakar bloc. Sources at Bourdillon confirmed that Asiwaju Tinubu would not mind to work with Abubakar Atiku in the months to come for possible new realignment. Another source from Atiku bloc noted that Chief Oyegun has destroyed the APC.

Despite the vilifications of Asiwaju Tinubu by his detractors, it is evident that he still has a lot of support from the North of the country. Some Northerners believe he has been given a short end of the stick and has been treated unfairly. This writer is aware that a number of Governors from the Northwest have secretly visited the Southwest in the last couple of weeks to plead for rapprochement with Asiwaju Tinubu through third parties who are powerful Yoruba leaders. Some of these governors could not approach Asiwaju directly for reasons presently unclear. Some of the meetings to this effect have taken place in some innocuous cities/towns in the Southwest where it had been difficult to draw any serious attention.

Presently, majority of the APC governors are already coalescing for a new political outfit. They are upset with President Buhari’s handling of the country and are particularly irked that consultations are never made on critical issues. Some governors are very upset that many advice given to the president have been ignored despite the fact that things are degenerating. While some of the governors are open to working with Bourdillon, they are concerned about Asiwaju Tinubu’s notoriety in backsliding on agreed terms and his big ego at dominating others who are considered his peers.  Some of these governors are also being courted by other power blocs in the party towards forming a new alignment of equal partners ahead  of 2019.

For those who are paying attention to the unfolding events, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti is already working with Asiwaju Tinubu on the platform of ensuring Yoruba unity. He seems to have become a new damsel to the suitors of Bourdillon. There is a working relationship between Bourdillon and Ado-Ekiti government house. The visceral attacks that used to come from the APC operatives in Ekiti state and elsewhere would soon become an aberration. How this would pan out remains to be seen.

Former AD Governor ‘Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti State has maintained a dignified mien in all this. A very decent and quiet personality, he appears unwilling to lick anyone’s boot. He seems guided by the primary interest of the Yoruba Nation. He is ready and willing to work with any one or group of persons to elevate and advance the interest of the Yoruba Nation as well as the country called Nigeria. He comes across as a man not desperate to be anything. This seemed to have created a challenge for Asiwaju Tinubu to work with him because he does not seem to have any price. An authentic Ekiti man, he is reported not to be averse to Bourdillon, but he is unwilling to compromise his independence, dignity and self respect.

Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has not proved difficult to convince to remain cooperative with Bourdillon. Though, he has been very “slippery” and his loyalty difficult to pin down, his reported respect for Chief Akande has ensured a working relationship with Bourdillon. Governor Ajimobi’s alleged “slippery” streak has been a source of friction with Asiwaju Tinubu. He is also believed to hold the grudge that his increasing unpopularity in Oyo State has something to do with the machinations of Asiwaju Tinubu. But political operatives in Oyo State consider this view as “balderdash.” “Ajimobi is sleeping on the bed he has laid for himself,” a political operative insisted. On the whole, Ajimobi is considered not antagonistic to Bourdillon.

There are reported plans in Aso Rock of letting loose the EFCC on Asiwaju Tinubu. And with the reputation of all our politicians, none of them is a saint. Something, somehow, someway could be found against anyone. The reported plan, according to some Aso Rock inside sources, is aimed at destabilizing Asiwaju Tinubu in order to take him out of politicking for 2019. As far as Aso Rock is concerned, President Buhari would be going for another four years in 2019 and there are indications that they have lost Asiwaju Tinubu. “If he won’t be for us, he can’t be for anyone else,” the source reiterated, insisting “It is politics 101.” Asiwaju himself is reported to be aware of the “sinister’ plans and is reported to be ready for the battles ahead. It is being speculated in some quarters that his frantic efforts at rapprochement to bring the Yoruba Nation together is aimed at consolidating and becoming more formidable in case Aso Rock comes through with its plans to humiliate him.

One major good news report for Bourdillon is that several power blocs within the APC share its disgust for Chairman Oyegun. They think he is “too cheap” and does not have as much integrity as he has been invested. All the major power blocks within the APC consider him a weakling that could not be trusted with a serious task. Chief Oyegun is being blamed for weakening the party organization and as a result destroying its virility. Even, some forces within the CPC bloc of APC, where he still seems to have little support still view him with suspicion. Those who currently place a modicum of value on him from this bloc are those described by the First Lady Aisha Buhari as having no voters’ cards. They have no electoral value within the party or from their home base.

Though, Asiwaju Tinubu is not exactly a darling of other power blocs in Yoruba land right now, President Buhari had better be careful in making any moves against him. Buhari is being advised not to make the mistake that Ibrahim Babangida made about the assumed unpopularity of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola. This is because of the Yoruba belief that “Olómo burúkú kò le fi fun ékùn pa je,” literally meaning “Parent of a bad child will not feed him to the tiger.” The feeling across Southwest right now is that Asiwaju is a victim of an ungrateful Aso Rock and President Buhari. Despite his assumed unpopularity right now, the Yoruba would rally round and defend Asiwaju Tinubu regardless of party affiliation. Signs of this are already manifesting.

Some political analysts are trying to link the recent complaints of the First Lady Aisha Buhari to the grumblings from Bourdillon. But there is no evidence that there is a working relationship between the First Lady and the Bourdillon bloc of the APC. But there is no denying the fact that there are complaints from several blocs – Northwest, North Central, Southwest, Southsouth, Southeast and Northeast against the politics and governance of President Buhari – and the First Lady seemed to be acutely aware that things are falling apart. Sources close to Bourdillon informed that Asiwaju Tinubu is set to appropriate the disaffections to his own advantage.

However, the challenges of Asiwaju Tinubu in making a success of his efforts remain daunting. The first challenge is Asiwaju Tinubu himself. How he has to save himself from himself is a major task. His need to be a “god” or the only “decision maker” for the political process in Yoruba Nation is a serious impediment. His lack of intellectual understanding of the way and manner the average distinguished Yoruba man approaches politics remain his Achilles’ heel. This challenge is extended to the national level where he has to see others as partners rather than protégés.

Asiwaju’s moral challenge coupled with inability to consult with others before making pronouncements remains a consistent source of injury to his acceptability. His lack of belief in collegiate leadership and collective responsibility is unacceptable to many others who would be inclined to work with him. His fear that he would not be able to call the shots the way he wants when he wants has been the force driving a wedge between him and his ability to be a truly acceptable leader, despite his several shortcomings.

A powerful traditional ruler in Southwest very close to Asiwaju Tinubu informed this writer that if Tinubu could be saved from himself, he has the prospect of being the leader he so much wants to be. The traditional ruler pointed out that if Asiwaju could moderate his ambition, recognize the worth and contribution of others, accept the fact that his views would not always be taken hook, line and sinker, desist from “backsliding” from the deals he reaches with others, check his arrogance and accept the limits of money in Yoruba politics by recognizing that not everyone has a price, thing could improve for him.

As our forefathers contended, “Alátise l’o nmo àtise ara re.” A word, they say, is enough for the wise.

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”

John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

Please, follow me on Twitter: @OyeyemiRemi


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