A trending video on social media features Bola Tinubu the President-elect on a visit to the residence of Tony Elumelu who hailed the visitor as the ‘last man standing’, an apparent reference to the recent presidential polls in which the former was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In the video clip, Tinubu could be seen disembarking laboriously from a jeep, and into the waiting embrace of his host Elumelu, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings a Nigerian owned, world class investment company, all be it, with a fraternal disposition by both of them.
In its ordinary usage the phrase the ‘last man standing’ refers to the ultimate winner or survivor in a high stake combat or contest featuring different parties or interests contesting for a single goal. And true to the circumstances that played out around the 2023 presidential polls, Tinubu’s success qualifies as the emergence of a winner in a combat with significantly high stakes. Hence by that appellation, Elumelu has conferred on his guest a poetic measure of supremacy, wittingly or otherwise.
Meanwhile, not a few commentators have raised questions over the status of Tinubu in the context of the ‘last man standing’ as far as the presidential polls are concerned. Many are even striving to accentuate the difference between his declaration by INEC as president-elect, and swearing in come May 29 2023, which is just weeks away.
Understandably, the basis for such misgivings remains the plethora of twists and turns that took place in the course of the polls, and accompanying protests that have trailed what many see within and outside the country as perhaps one of Nigeria’s most scandalously conducted presidential polls. Yet Nigerians should not let the impending swing of the pendulum of ultimate outcome of the polls, distract from the business at hand.
As we wait for the court processes to verify vote counts pursuant to deciding whether Tinubu or someone else is the president, it is even more expedient to return attention to the existential challenges that face the country. It is time to return to the issue of insecurity, especially given that even the bandits and insurgents who seemed to have a respite in their nefarious enterprise, have gone back to their business.
Just as well should the country reassess its disposition to the economy which is yet to recover from the pounding by several factors including the COVID-19 pandemic and the now pending currency exchange crisis. Along with other challenges, they provide the stuff that should visibly bother Tinubu the president-elect as ‘the last man standing’. After all, his follow ‘men standing’ had lined up with him to offer ‘solutions’ to same challenges, but the opportunity to deliver has been thrust upon him eventually. The primary concern of most Nigerians today, is where the country goes now with the president-elect. The urgency of this matter is underscored by the limited time left for the outgoing Buhari administration.
Seen in context, making electoral choices by voters is akin to gambling. The voter chooses a candidate guided only by the expectations built up by various factors, such as the familiarity with candidate and generally what is said about the same. That is why in most instances of voting, the winner may not be the best man. That is where the phrase ‘last man standing’ may not be the ‘best man in the race’.
The challenge for Tinubu now is to meet the expectations of Nigerians to more from just the ‘last man standing’ to the ‘best president Nigeria will ever have’. For there is a wide difference between these two circumstances. The first one relates to the emergence as leader. The second one is meeting the expectation of Nigerians and is more demanding. The first is a matter of wooing people to believe in oneself. The other is to prove oneself to the people. That is what is before Tinubu, and goes beyond the ongoing post-election jamborees.
Put in proper perspective, the expectations from a post-Buhari president of the country, are humongous. For reasons bordering on much of other peoples faults, the Buhari administration may be going into history as a landmark dispensation of a better forgotten span of mis-governance. Not a few Nigerians pray that it may never again be the lot of the country for such a dispensation to visit her territory.
Meanwhile, Tinubu had consistently claimed to build on the legacies of the Buhari administration. To say that such a promise constituted a scare to many Nigerians before the polls, is an understatement. Tinubu needs to appreciate that he has won election into an office with the challenge of clearing a siege mentality for most Nigerians. For the question now he is president-elect is which of the legacies of Buhari is he going to build upon.
Taken in no specific order are some examples – starting with the culture of governance. Not a few of Nigerians lamented the lack of decisiveness that marked the entire run of the administration. It was clear from several indices that Buhari was simply not in charge of his administration. Nigerians are therefore wailtng for Tinubu’s agenda to run an administration where the buck will stop at his table, as the ‘last man standing’.
Under Buhari, insecurity was the order of the day, as several part of the country were turned into killing fields. Even the president’s home state of Katsina was not spared as gun totting bandits operated in public view, and engaged in holding whole communities to ransom. Nigerians were turned against each other simply due to the failure of the government to guarantee peace and security in the nation.
As for the economy, it has been a case of one recession succeeding another due to cluelessness in economic management. The ultimate betrayal of the society was the bungled currency swap policy whose vagaries are escorting the Buhari administration out of office and power into ignominy by May 29, 2023.
Not to be forgotten is the very electoral exercise that ushered in Tinubu’s presidency-in-waiting, with its avalanche of faults and protests. Both in Nigeria and abroad, the processes have been acknowledged as massively flawed. Hence the president-elect is cruising on the crest of a largely condemned mandate in universial terms. Yet he is the ‘last man standing’.
Against the backdrop of the wisdom that a society produces the leaders that match its culture, Tinubu is the true ambassador of Nigeria’s leadership community.
Take it or leave it.