New Telegraph

Looking beyond Asiwaju’s ‘bishops’

There are no desperate situations, there are only desperate people. –Heinz Guderian.

Not a few Nigerians will disagree with the above-quoted German general, Heinz Guderian, because many believe that the Nigerian situation is indeed desperate and requires desperate people to tackle it. Many also believe that desperation is necessary for the radical change that the Nigerian situation needs. Our country’s hopelessness today is going to dictate the people’s political behaviour ahead of the 2023 polls, perhaps, going forward. Already, the February 2023 presidential election is polarised along two generational power blocs, the old divide which desperately sees the election as their last opportunity to retain power, and the younger generation desperate to take its destiny into its own hands.

Both divides need some high levels of inspiration and desperation to realize their varying dreams. From all indications, the desperation appears more pronounced among the older folks. While the two blocs share in their desperation, their motives and goals are opposed. While the old want power desperately to sustain the status quo, believing they cannot live without power, the new bloc is determined to smash the old order and reset the country for progress and development. While the old generation has the experience and the resources for political struggles, the young generation enjoys the energy and unparalleled determination and courage needed for the task. Among the four leading presidential candidates, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC, and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP represent the old order.

Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, represent the new order. The younger generation recently was further boosted by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who urged the younger folks to reject the “leaders of tomorrow” tag and charge for leadership as the corrupt ones are at the point of making tomorrow unavailable. As can be seen from recent events, the only thing perhaps that Asiwaju Tinubu cannot do in his last-ditch effort to make it to the Aso Rock Villa in 2023 is to kill himself. Every other means is possible and on the card because the mission is perceived as do-or-die. Other runners in the race should know the desperation and the political sagacity of the person they are dealing with. Also to note is this: the mistake of taking him for granted in the hope that his baggage, the grimes in his cupboard, will endanger him electorally.

Not with Nigerians! Moral standing and antecedents hardly influence the choice of leaders in this county. Rather, it has always been which tribe, religion, and geography? This has remained the bane of our politics in this clime. When Tinubu said it had come to his turn to be the President of Nigeria, everyone felt provoked. But they could do nothing in his party to match and defeat his sentiment. President Muhammadu Buhari and his henchmen possibly took the entire seven years of the administration planning and strategizing how to stop the Asiwaju from succeeding him. The ‘It’s my turn’ declaration did not just come, it’s con-ceivably in line with the strategy to drive ambition and psychologically intimidate opponents.

You know when you are fighting for what is yours, you can go to any length. When Jagaban told the President that he should not forget who made him, it took the Presidency days before offering a feeble response. Even though the President rightly felt his Presidency was divine and came through the efforts of many people, he watched helplessly as one man appropriated it. The reason is obvious, Tinubu is perhaps the only one who has openly acknowledged investing in the Buhari presidency, his cosponsors couldn’t appear for the fear of answering where they got the funds. While delivering his acceptance speech at the Eagle Square convention after the brave victory that defied the scheming of the Aso Rock cabal, the Jagaban also took a subtle dig at the President: “You have been waiting for long, but we also waited for you,” he said sarcastically.

The failure to stop him at the APC primaries further emboldened Asiwaju who waxed strong while his opponents within the party watched, tail between the legs. This has been seen in his subsequent actions and inactions since that victory. Who again could stand in the way of such a political machine who as an aspirant successfully intimidated an incumbent president and forced him to reconsider his avowed plan to nominate his successor and forced the almighty forum of governors to toe his line unconsciously.

He has become emboldened as a candidate, continuing his intimidation and arrogance even in choosing a running mate. What does it matter to such a person? The reactions of people to the concocting of clerics, real or imagined, to attend the unveiling of his running mate, Kashim Shettima, should be the least of his challenges. His one-faith ticket which came against all advisories is a loud statement that the Presidency could be his without the Christians.

Not finding any Christian competent and capable to be his running mate from the entire 19 states of the region was enough to insult but he still chose to add to the scornful abuse by sewing priestly regalia and giving them to charlatans to wear and impersonate. But beyond the renting of fake bishops, the opponents of Asiwaju will be shocked to their marrow as most APC members are today after the national convention if they take him for granted. Bola Tinubu is a general on the political turf and he just demonstrated that when he outsmarted all the political wizards in his party.

Delegates voting at national conventions are different from voters at general elections. But you never can tell how far a man equipped with all the required battle gear can go. The reason, despite his visible baggage, he was still able to bulldoze his way is because of the gullible nature of our society. Nigerians over time have not factored in lax morals as a hindrance in the choice of their leaders.

They have always behaved like flies that follow human remains, not minding the destination. Moreover, to expect rationality from the mind of a hungry stomach is a huge gamble. Political watchers know that Tinubu more than any other candidate, in this race has far more war chest and he is strategically ready and willing to deploy it.

Yes, the situation is really that Nigerians, especially the youths appear charged more than ever before to take their destiny into their own hands but the fear is still real also that the goat may not be able to resist following the man carrying the palm frond or a dog looking away from a bone thrown at him or even a rat resisting the smell of roasted fish put on a trap. This concern is borne out of an observation made in the recent media appearance of the PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, where he sounded relaxed and overconfident.

A picture that left many pundits wondering if the candidate appreciates the enormity of the hurdles ahead of him. In this game, it’s not over until it’s over, the eventual outcome of this election is going to be the most uncertain in the history of Nigeria polls. Even the Labour Party, easily the trend of the times, should not be carried away by its current fame since the core of its support base is from the poor working class and youths who could easily be swayed by the irresistible and alluring carrots to be displayed. Without these safeguards, the dream and aspirations of fostering a new Nigeria may remain a pipe dream and a fanciful hope. God forbid!

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