Skip to main content

The House Tinubu Built

January 18, 2011

For well informed Yorubas and ardent students of history, the name “Tinubu” should readily call to mind the commendable exploits of one of West Africa’s greatest women liberators: Madam Efunroye Tinubu.

For well informed Yorubas and ardent students of history, the name “Tinubu” should readily call to mind the commendable exploits of one of West Africa’s greatest women liberators: Madam Efunroye Tinubu.

Though she set out as a trader in domestic slavery, she eventually fought for the liberation of slaves when she encountered the great human tragedy that slavery is. She fought European slave traders for the freedom of slaves sold and bought in Lagos and environs. An Egba by birth, Madam Tinubu sacrificed for a better Lagos. And banishment to Abeokuta from Lagos was her punishment.

Hers was a case of a beneficiary of a condemnable system who saw the evil in it and fought against it. Today, Tinubu Square in Lagos Island attests to her bravery.

Lagos, and by extension Nigeria, has abundance of people of good will. Only that they are not of Madam Tinubu’s make.

A hundred and twenty three years after the death of that icon, another Tinubu is generating nationwide interest. This time, he is supposedly fighting a different form of slavery: political enslavement.

In the years prior to the fourth republic, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, alongside his fellow progressives saw the need to engage the military in a bull fight. And after ruling Lagos State for eight years, Tinubu has assumed the role of matador-in-chief in another political bull fight.

Fact is that Nigerians seek a liberator from the den of killers and thieves they have been sold into.

But the question is: is Tinubu our Moses?

What in Tinubu and his party elicit confidence in their ability to free Nigerians from the stranglehold of the impostor-leaders? While I do not intend to revisit the political history of what has become Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), its make up and political ideology call for close scrutiny.

Why should we care? How many Nigerians even belong to a political party?

Truth is the realization of our destiny, as Nigerians, is tied, in part, to the emergence of a formidable opponent to the behemoth, PDP. As long as Nigeria’s constitution and electoral law do not permit independent candidacy, the president that you and I steadfastly pray for will only emerge from within the ranks of one of the nationally spread parties, albeit with an entrenched rigging machinery.

Methinks ACN is enjoying the limelight presently, owing partly to its successes in the South West and partly to the near- demise of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Which is why in challenging the PDP to a fight, one expects the ACN to avoid what led to the fall of PDP’s previous number one challenger.

The moment ANPP chose to welcome every “Tom, Dick and Harry” from the PDP into its fold, without professing allegiance to the party’s ideology, it became an extension of the much vilified cluster of evil-doers it claims to oppose.

Isn’t it funny that once one losses a ticket in PDP, he runs into the waiting arms of ANPP to pick up that party’s ticket only to reverse ninety degrees into PDP upon winning the election? Shouldn’t the case of Alphonsus Igbeke, an ANPP senator from Anambra State who decamped to PDP just weeks after being declared the winner by the court, provide tell tale signs?

Why should a party that waits for its main challenger to hold primaries so that disgruntled aspirants of the latter could race into its waiting arms deserve to rule Nigeria? The demise of the ANPP had its root in its composition.

Sadly, the house Tinubu built sits on a shaky foundation.

Some instances will do: At Babatunde Fashola’s emergence as ACN’s Lagos gubernatorial flag bearer in 2007, some aspirants to the office complained of Tinubu’s high handedness in ensuring Fashola’s victory during the primaries. If four years of Fashola’s re-launching of Lagos have stifled internal party bickering over the 2007 incident, that Fashola emerged again for the 2011 elections without primaries belies the very progressive ideology of ACN.

Where, in ACN, is the internal democracy we accuse the PDP of lacking when Remi, Tinubu’s wife, has been awarded a senatorial ticket without party primaries? Didn’t Nigerians complain when Maryam, Ahmadu Ali’s wife, got a PDP senatorial ticket in Delta State without due process while he was PDP chairman and Iyabo Obasanjo became a senator straight from her office as Ogun State commissioner for health?   

In the past week, the media was replete with stories of that typical “he is our son; give him the ticket” Alliance for Democracy’s (AD) style of choosing candidates without primaries rearing its ugly head in Tinubu’s house of sand. Whereas in PDP, electoral “wuruwuru” does the trick during primaries, in ACN primaries rarely hold.

Where primaries held, violence and complaints attended the exercise. Edo State came first in these categories. The secretary to the government sought and won nomination ticket for the lower chamber against the state’s commissioner for information who told the whole world that money exchanged hands. At the last count, at least two persons had died during the last ACN primaries in Edo State.

To make matters worse, Nuhu Ribadu wasn’t afforded an opportunity to test his popularity in his own party before presidential elections! Now that he emerged ACN’s presidential candidate via acclamation, will he also take over Aso Rock via acclamation? If he does win, what will be left of his conscience, which he may have mortgaged to his acclaimers, will make sense to him only.

Fashola’s many battles with his king maker Tinubu ought to alert us that the engineer of this seeming house of refuge shortchanged us when sourcing materials for the project. 

Party flag bearers had been selected by “baba isales” (god fathers) before primaries were held. Weren’t we told that’s the trademark of PDP? Since ACN has acquired the right to use that trademark, can the kettle call the pot black? 
How can we take Tinubu’s party serious when Hosea Ehinlanwo, an outgoing PDP senator who lost in the primaries, ran overnight, literally, to ACN to contest for a ticket to the senate? That ACN sold him nomination form, just minutes after joining the party, shows that the difference between ACN and PDP is tenuous, at best.

How is ACN a better alternative to PDP when its political ideology, manifestos and action plans to reorder the polity remain unknown?

When sweeping low lives off the public place, ACN, using broom as its symbol, drags the dirt into its courtyard. If PDP is a den of killers, then ACN is steadily becoming a retirement home for discarded killers.

The dirge sung for ANPP is still fresh on the lips of the undertakers. A second wife should seek to know the fate of the one she’s replacing lest the cane with which the latter was beaten will lash the former.

In all of this, Nigerians will be worse for it. The man who gifted the other a nomination ticket owns the fellow’s allegiance. It’s not surprising therefore that no Nigerian can accost an elected official to demand for accountability. Your vote didn’t get them into office. One god father had secured that position long before you voted!

In this project to reclaim Nigeria, we are regarded as spectators, not stakeholders; as subjects, not kingmakers and as voters not electors.

This is why these visible cracks in Tinubu’s house should concern all of us on the receiving end of their inanity.

Clearly, our messiah is not at hand. Harsh, but it’s true.