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Tinubu’s Hobbesian choice

If I was Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I would wish I was not Bola Ahmed Tinubu at this point in time. Tinubu, the NADECO loyalist and…

If I was Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I would wish I was not Bola Ahmed Tinubu at this point in time. Tinubu, the NADECO loyalist and warrior; Tinubu, the last governor standing when Obasanjo had out-foxed his other colleagues in the Alliance for Democracy; Tinubu, the two-term governor who laid out the template for Londonising Lagos; Tinubu, the underrated game-changer whose alliance with Muhammadu Buhari and other notables shoved PDP out of power. 

Though he’s not a saint himself, like the Phoenix, each time he was written off on account of a daunting challenge, he rose from the ashes of near-defeat to glory. 

However, this time, the master of the political game seems to be confronted with a Hobbesian choice that has the potential of enhancing or marring his reputation and political stature. Almost three years after the Alliance for Progressive Change, APC, clinched victory and was left on auto-pilot for its internal contradictions to fester, President Buhari has finally decided to staunch the haemorrhage – and what better physician than the same Tinubu who appeared to have been consigned to the backwaters of party affairs soon after the 2015 victory.

I have read many uncharitable comments on the development, especially in the social media where anonymity emboldens cynics and opposition elements who are secretly celebrating the dysfunctionality within the APC. The recourse to Tinubu at this time is evidence that President Buhari is as politically wily as they come. 

Tinubu delivered the votes of the Southwest to Buhari in 2015 just as the N-PDP elements and other groups who had defected to APC. Some uncharitable beneficiaries of APC’s victory soon after tried to downplay the contributions of stakeholders with some even warning the president not to allow Tinubu influence his decisions. It was so easy for them to routinely dismiss the hard work and comprehensive rebranding of Buhari which made him such a compellingly sellable candidate in 2015. 

Now, almost three years down the line, it is clear that the coalition that brought Buhari to power is no longer cohesive. Members are still living in their pre-merger closets. Other mini-civil wars are bubbling: Kwankwaso-Ganduje; Shehu Sani-El Rufa’i; Shitu-Ajimobi; Amaechi-Abe; Okorocha-Ararume; Yayi-Amosun; even Tinubu-Oyegun, among several others.

But Tinubu seems unfazed by the challenges like a builder determined to do whatever is necessary to repair defects in his building. Reacting to comments counselling him to reject the offer to be the chief conciliator in APC, Tinubu reportedly said, “You have your right to vote against us (APC) during 2019 election if you want but I remain in the Party because we will re-tool this party, we will re-tool this government. A damage of over 60 years and 16 years of mis-governance by PDP cannot be turned around overnight….”

There you have it: daunting as the task might be, Tinubu is willing to give it a shot. Given his pedigree, he sure knows that his political future is at stake. Trust the Southwest, if they adjudge him as foggy-headed in this matter, they will drop him like hot potato.

Tinubu is probably seeing something other people don’t see. I don’t think he is nursing any presidential ambition. Politics is an art of endless possibilities. While PDP is waiting for the carcass of APC or parts thereof, who can predict that PDP itself will not be shared out again like spoils of war after its potentially bloody nomination battle for the 2019 elections? A cursory glance at the list of presidential contenders in the PDP with massive war chests, shows that a mutually destructive tug of war lies ahead.

There is no guarantee, as long as we continue operating the current parasitic presidential system of government, that the sea and the ocean will not mingle and mix. It is all well and good to pontificate on puritanism, but the raw language of Nigerian politics, sans ideology, is that allies today may be enemies tomorrow; and vice versa.

Therefore, don’t take anything as cast in stone. Buhari is wiser than most of the people urging him to run for another term. He knows that the waters are muddy and that the platform is compromised. Even he, the potential Candidate Buhari, is not in pristine shape and is considered a hard sell in some sections of the country.

Therefore, the questions arise: After the current political engineering, will Buhari still emerge APC presidential candidate for 2019? Supposing the stakeholders, including new allies that may join APC’s rainbow coalition, prefer a younger person without baggage from the North? My take is that Buhari is patriotic enough to accept the decision of the majority when push comes to shove. He can do the math of how regional endorsements add up. 

This time, APGA may pitch its tent one way or the other. 

Without downplaying the possible impact of the Third Force, elements of the newly emerging groupings may also join the coalition frenzy that will characterise the 2019 election as parties shop for new faces to market their brand. Nigerians are tired of the same old faces, including that of Olusegun Obasanjo whose association with the Third Force has made the fledgling body inherit his long list of toxins.

For Tinubu to cut through this maze could be mind-bending. Now, you can understand why I would give anything not to be in his shoes in these dyspeptic times.

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