By Emmanuel Yawe
On July 13th 2015, I published this article in my People’s Daily column. Now, almost four years after, history appears to be repeating itself. The Nigerian polity appears heated up by yet another anti Tinubu mob.
The newspapers on 10th July 2015 reported Bode George, the Lagos PDP henchman gloating gleefully over elections at the National Assembly the previous day.
“You know I predicted weeks ago that the APC is just a congregation of strange bedfellows. The most beautiful thing about what has happened is that Bola Tinubu’s political influence in Nigeria is coming to a sunset and it is about five minutes to midnight for him.
“If he cannot see this now, then it will be foolish of him. He brought in the APC national chairman and the vice-president and he thinks Nigeria belongs to him. So, he thought what he did in Lagos was what he could replicate at the national level and they have shown him that he cannot continue to be the lord of the manor.”
It is of course common knowledge that there is no love lost between Bode George and Bola Tinubu. During the Obasanjo years while Tinubu was governor of Lagos State and George was the leader of the PDP in the South West, we heard repeated threats from him that the PDP was going to ‘capture’ Lagos. This almost happened when his party launched a lightening blitzkrieg in the South West against the states controlled by the Alliance for Democracy, AD.
While the other governors were cajoled by Obasanjo’s wily ways to lay down their guards, Tinubu was street wise enough to read the old soldier correctly and survived. Thus began the career of a calculating political actor that has blossomed today into a national government; a career Bode George says is “five minutes to midnight.”
From the one surviving state in 2003, Tinubu has over the past ten years plus built up a formidable political network of great national significance. He recovered most of the states lost to the PDP in the South West in subsequent elections and made significant in-roads into the North and East of the country. The AD, now rechristened ACN was a major partner in the mega alliance that metamorphosed into the APC and led to Buhari’s victory at this year’s polls. To predict whimsically as Bode George did that this man is politically finished because of one set back calls to question his skills in political analysis.
In the march towards the 2015 elections, analysts sympathetic to the PDP predicted that the APC merger could not win a national election because historically the North and the South West on which it was hinged have never travelled together. This was only partially true because in 1992, the North ditched her son Tofa and voted en-mass for Abiola. Those who peddled this theory of ‘no north / south west’ political marriage overlooked this fact maybe because June 12 was not consummated. They hoped that the Yoruba’s for their historic antagonism against the Hausa Fulani would not support Buhari.
This was a complete mis-reading of history. Anybody who has read Alhaji Babatunde Jose’s well informed book – Walking a Tight Rope – will agree with me that in the days preceding Nigeria’s Independence in 1960, the North and the West almost went into an alliance to form a National government. Babatunde Jose who was the Correspondent of the Daily Times in Kaduna, covering the whole North in the 50’s wrote as a well-informed journalist, which he was until his death. He was in a position to know because he was on first name basis with all the major political players from both the north and the west.
Additionally, he wrote that there were cultural and religious grounds to lay a solid foundation for that alliance. The Yoruba’s like the Hausa Fulanis have a well-entrenched cultural tradition of respect for traditional institutions. In terms of religion, they both have a huge Muslim population. That this alliance did not work out in the 50’s does not mean it is an impossibility. It was only a matter of time. And no force can stop an idea whose time has come. The time came in 2015.
But the Olubode George rump of the decimated PDP are not acting alone. They have their spies and collaborators in the APC. He was therefore right when he spoke about the APC as a “congregation of strange bed fellows.” In the dying days of the PDP, the smart alecs like Dr Saraki who saw the Titanic heading towards the iceberg jumped ship. Their body is in the APC but their soul is in the cesspool of humanity otherwise known as the PDP.
The earlier they are sent back home the better for the APC. I read with great interest an interview granted by Buba Galadima to the Sunday Trust yesterday. Saraki and co should be suspended or expelled from the party. In his own words; “it is dangerous going about on the streets with a scorpion in your pocket”.
The anti Tinubu mob do not mean well for the APC or the country. They do not know the significance of the APC victory this year and the heroic role played by Tinubu. What is all this nonsense talk about Tinubu wanting to grab everything? It is too early in the day. Buhari has not even formed a government. If they pluck Tinubu’s wings today, they will go for Buhari’s own tomorrow.
Tinubu’s silence in all this is ominous and eloquent. The South west APC state Chairmen have spoken; Bisi Akande has spoken. With the resurrection of Radio Biafra in the East and Boko Haram pounding the North, Buhari should not go in search of additional enemies. Without the Tinubu group, he is crippled.
The Saraki Janjaweed group must be chased out of town. As Buba Galadima, Buhari’s old friend put it: “It is dangerous going about the streets with a scorpion in your pocket.”