Congratulating Senator Bola Tinubu
Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
It is perhaps as easy to congratulate Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, our suavely combative if controversial President-elect, as it is to disparage his victory in the presidential election and other life-long accomplishments. But as our elders say, the heroic ideal is in the victor not in the man who slumped in the midst of the battle while valiantly combating the enemy. Our elders also query the first born who said that he didn’t know that his father had died and praise the second born who said he had harvested 200 tubers of yam for the funeral. Victory is important. And in politics, especially in our clime, deployment of the fair and the foul in the Macbethian tradition as epitomized by the witches in Shakespeare’s eponymous drama is very much in vogue! Senator Tinubu has won the election! Long live the President!
Tinubu has returned home with garlands and medals of honour after the fierce dog fights and landmines strewn in his way by supposed friends and acknowledged foes. The APC as a ruling party, performed abysmally in the eyes of ordinary Nigerians and it is against all odds that its candidate could carry the day. Perhaps, voters made a distinction between President Buhari and Candidate Tinubu, that the latter had no hand in running the affairs of state with President Buhari imperially lording it over a baffled nation from Abuja.
We have not mentioned the internal wrangling within the party and an attempt by some among his ethnic kin to distant themselves from the Tinubu project. For example, the currency swap was apparently targeted at his deep pocket rumoured to be filled with ill-gotten wads of mammon of unrighteousness. Yet, none of this has been established in any court of law, except the obtuse reference to a deal with the American law enforcement establishment on drugs. The news headlines from other climes after he won the elections were uncomplimentary, and we wait till the appointed time when he as Head of State, would visit such countries. Would they receive the ‘billionaire drug lord’ as their newspapers have described him?
He was attacked and vilified for seeking the presidency despite his ill health, occasionally resulting in speech defects and unsteady gait. The lyrical composition of Pyrates Confraternity lustily danced to by some of its members seized the national imagination as becoming of a people who at first instance don’t wish their rulers well and would dwell on their health challenges as deeply as possible.
As I said to close people while the campaign raged, Tinubu at his worst state of being and intellectual capacities would fare better than the incumbent President whose absentmindedness and poor mental coordination was a source of alarm to compatriots at the commencement of his administration. I shall return to this subject presently in the course of this intervention. At issue also was his age and ancestry which have been the subject of intense, if bitter debates and vituperations. In all of this, the man remained calm, at least externally, though his well-heeled and efficient ‘attack dogs’ have not slept a wink.
Suffice it to say that those viciously-conceived videos filled with bile and opprobrium were enough for the fainthearted to ask: is this nonsense hate-filled reaction worth my reputation and the rest of my life? But the over-riding drive was for Tinubu to achieve the dream of becoming a popularly elected President of Nigeria. This he has achieved. And we must say kudos to his tenacity, his capacity to build bridges in time of war and to call them up during hostilities. And somebody in the upper echelon of society recently exultingly referred to him a viral video as ‘the last man standing!
The ‘last man standing! This is a befitting description of the attritive battle which the nation has just concluded. To be sure, the war rages, this time in the law courts, where Tinubu and his legal team must defend the results of the February election conducted by INEC. INEC is on trial in the public court. Lack of faith in our public officials and institutions is at the root of most of the hue and cry.
Whatever it is, Tinubu’s victory carries a moral and national baggage which he must deal with as soon as possible. It may not be possible to wash off the image of dirty or unexplained wealth. But he certainly can make a difference in policy formation and implementation. This is where the capacity to appoint persons other than those he knows will come to play.
A good leader does not throw himself into the roles of subordinates. He appoints persons who will be able to drive his passion, if passion he has. This Tinubu did successfully in his days as governor of Lagos State. Tinubu will and should excel in this. He will be a modern leader, a politician who knows how to make deals with the different stakeholders in the country. He will not connive with the CBN ambush Nigerians by redesigning the national currency overnight. He will not allow Yoruba traders to muscle out other traders from Lagos state or allow them to terrorise the other ethnic groups. He will govern by consensus. He will employ men of ideas and let the ideas run the land. He will lead the charge in creating State Police. He will devolve power to the constituent parts of the federation. He will focus on developing the economy and steer the nation from a mono-economy product to a broad base economy. He will remove local governments from the exclusive list and allow states to create the number of LGs that they need and can maintain. He will ensure that ASUU does not go on strike anymore. One of his first steps will be to pay academic staff their arrears from the last strike.
But some say he will be shuttling between London and Lagos to look after his health as his predecessor did; that he is likely to make personal business out of state business, blowing his nose while blowing the national horn as he did in Lagos and create a national Alpha Beta. Some also say that there will be no pretense to fighting corruption because it will be a way of life under his administration. That he will make sure his cronies make hay while the sun shines. We are no prophets to tell whether these will come to pass.
The truth is that we need someone to turn the nation into a production factory. This may have accounted for the surge in Peter Obi’s popularity in the country. We need someone to rally the youths and make them see Nigeria as home, that Nigeria can work. Tinubu’s antecedents do not suggest that he will be a sectarian leader. He has the intellect to engage people from all backgrounds. He has formed alliances across the country the way Chief MKO Abiola did, what the great Chief Obafemi Awolowo could not do in spite of brilliant ideas on governance.
Senator Tinubu is our President-elect, whether by fair or foul means, whether by fair and foul means. Until proven otherwise, I congratulate him as the declared winner of the contest. There is hardly any election that has been devoid of magomago in Nigeria. When the Supreme Court pronounced a school teacher winner of the 1979 presidential elections, the cerebral Chief Awolowo appealed to God and let the matter rest. We must avoid anarchy. Let the courts decide the winner before May 29th. If INEC has played a dubious role by ensuring or stage managing our President-elect’s victory, history will not be kind to them. And we must forge ahead in nation-building.
So, congratulations Sir. You have an opportunity to make a difference in the nation’s faltering history. This is a nation waiting, looking for a real leader to lead her to the proverbial Promised Land. For the first time, we have a man who worked for, prepared for, cried for, maneuvered for, danced for, struck alliances for, outplayed for, spent money to achieve his life-long ambition- to be the President of Nigeria. It is just possible that a Daniel has come to judgment! Time shall tell! Congratulations Mr. President Sir!
Prof Eghagha teaches Literature at the University of Lagos.
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