Nigeria: Heightened effort to tame the Jagaban ahead 2023 election
By Kings UBA
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, nicknamed the Asiwaju (leader in Yoruba language) and Jagaban (strong, unshakable man in Hausa language) of the Nigerian politics is in his trying times as he inches closer to his political denouement, perhaps in 2023. The outcome of next election in Nigeria will either make Tinubu stronger or weaken him permanently.
Mr. Tinubu, who started life as an accountant and later energetically switched into full-time politics has saturated the Nigerian political arena, and indeed West African, like cooking salt. In one of his latest public utterances, he narrated how he gave opportunities to politicians who ordinarily would not have had opportunities. He bragged about the number of political allies he had built. He talked about working tirelessly for the success of the ruling party in both its debut 2015 presidential victory and its re-election in 2019. He bragged about that publicly and no politician in the country, from the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari to his Ministers and Governors and Local Government Chairmen has been able to look him in the face and say, no or fault Tinubu’s comment. Tinubu has made a lot politicians both in the current and past governments. In the current government, he made the President as well as the Vice President. He made the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He has a high stake at the Senate. He made 90 percent of the South-West Governors, six of them. He made a lot governors and ministers, public office holders from North to South. Like we noted earlier, he has saturated the Nigerian political arena like cooking salt.
But his ambition to succeed President Buhari in 2023 is putting him through trying times. Some of the politicians he made now have negative testimonies about him: Tinubu is domineering. Tinubu does not listen. Tinubu is a man in his own world. Tinubu is Moslem. Tinubu is old and sick. He is corrupt. Tinubu smokes weed and kpanaa and so on and so forth. And the same people who ate his bread have lifted up their heels against him. While he feels that he is the most competent person to rule Nigeria in 2023, his friends who have turned adversaries feel that Nigeria deserves a better president than Tinubu. That is the crux of the matter.
However, it is not a simple game to push the Jagaban to the back seat. He has been around for a long time and he has built strong structures which is hard to demolish at any comer’s will. His political career began in 1992, when he joined the Social Democratic Party where he was a member of the Peoples Front faction led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and made up of other politicians such as Umaru Yar’Adua, Atiku Abubakar and Baba Gana Kingibe. He was elected to the Senate, representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic.
After the results of the 12 June 1993 presidential elections were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition, a group which mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of Moshood Abiola as winner of the 12 June election. Following the seizure of power as military head of state of General Sani Abacha, he went into exile in 1994 and returned to the country in 1998 after the death of the military dictator, which ushered in the transition to the Fourth Nigerian Republic.
In the run-up to the 1999 elections, Bola Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He went on to win the AD primaries for the Lagos State governorship elections in defeating Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing. In January 1999, he stood for the position of Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket and was elected governor. And ever since he left the seat of the Lagos Governor, he has continued to grow his political base from Lagos to every nook and cranny of the South West.
So, it is not easy to stop him by mere wishful thinking. It must take a lot of political scheming to that. He must be tamed. He must be caged. His wings must be clipped. If these are not done, he is ready to spring a surprise.
To tame Tinubu is also not easy. But it has to be done if power could be wrestled from him. Part of the scheming to tame him is to weaken his political base. His contemporaries would be engineered to contest against him; to divide his support base and give his opponents brighter chances of winning. That is where the game is. That is the crux of the matter.
The constitution gives every eligible Nigerian the right to vote and be voted for. Everyone eligible person has the right to aspire to any position of authority. So, one cannot hold it against anyone for aspiring. So, in the South, where Tinubu comes from, more than 25 other persons have declared their intention to run. The North has barely seven presidential aspirants. The leaders of thought in the south of Nigeria have described this proliferation as a threat to the chance of any southerner, clinching the seat in 2023. It is a political scheme to tame the Asiwaju of Lagos, the Jagaban of Borgu. And the game is on.
Kings UBA is the Political Editor of Discover Africa News