Tony Ademiluyi: The Beginning of The End For Jagaban?

In 1990, Bola Ahmed Tinubu did the unthinkable by resigning his job as a treasurer in Mobil now Exxon Mobil in his bid to join the murky waters of Nigerian politics. In an interview he granted to the News Magazine, he wanted to go beyond backing the gubernatorial ambition of Chief Dapo Sarumi to playing an active part in the policy. He saw the Senate as a platform to contribute his quota towards national development. Some of his bosses tried to talk some sense into the then young man as he stood a good chance of being a future leader in the American multinational. If you consider at the time that exile to the west was gradually creeping in as a national norm, that decision was indeed not for the faint of heart.

In 2014, he took another gargantuan risk by facilitating a merger of different political parties to form the All Progressive Congress to wrestle power from Goodluck Jonathan. Many pundits were miffed at the decision of Tinubu to amalgamate many strange bedfellows who were not guided by any known political ideology. His acceptance of Buhari was also curious because this was a man who was the beneficiary of a coup and in a decent clime could have been punished for treason. Why would Tinubu who nearly lost his life to the military goons, had his residence firebombed by Abacha agents, lived in forced exile for four years shuttling between the UK and the US be comfortable with fighting for a Buhari Presidency? Could he have forgotten the past so soon, was it mere political expediency or did he just want power from behind the scenes for its mere sake? Pundits were indeed curious to see how the rather macabre dance would play itself out.

History was made and the foreign media praised his dexterity to the high Heavens in making the victory of the opposition possible in a country where the power of incumbency played a decisive role in electoral contests. Rumours abound of his pact with Buhari to nominate his minions to plum cabinet positions and watchers kept a beady eye on whether he could emergence on the national scene as a reincarnation of the decimated Chief Tony Anenih who at the height of his influence was revered as the Mr. Fix It.

As expected in the use and dump game of the ruthless world of politics, none of his acolytes got a cabinet position. He was also outwitted by Saraki and Dogara which ensured that none of his disciples were in charge of the National Assembly. With the passage of time, he has been reduced to an effete leader with his foes mocking his title of National Leader which has no official party recognition.

In his piece titled ‘Bola Ahmed Tinubu and those who want him dead’ by former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, he mentioned Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola as a man who would never betray him no matter what. The overriding philosophy in politics is that it is a game of interests with no permanent friends or adversaries. Ogbeni’s open celebration with Fayose may be a subtle way of reading the signs of the times and thinking of smart ways to realign especially when the current loyalty to a dying leader is no longer a politically smart move. What do you make out of the parting of ways by Fashola, Fayemi, Amosun, Akeredolu etc? Being an open protégé of Jagaban may threaten the buttered bread so it may be best to send him to the hangman. What do you make out of Dr. Segun Abraham’s losing of the Ondo State primaries to Akeredolu? Jagaban also surprisingly cried out against the ‘rebellion’ of the National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun. If his powers were still intact, shouldn’t the first Edo State Governor get quietly eased out? Alas the former NADECO Chieftain may have been reduced to a minuscule cry baby!

The final nail in the coffin is the recent revelation by Professor John Paden who wrote Buhari’s biography on the fact that Jagaban actually opposed Osinbajo’s vice-presidential nomination. This is surprising because one got the impression that the Lion of Bourdillon gave it up as it would have been difficult to fly a Muslim-Muslim ticket. This new revelation is indicative of the fact that he actually wanted a rehash of what happened in 1993 when Abiola and Kingibe ran on a Muslim-Muslim ticket. The biographer contended that Tinubu actually piled a lot of pressure on Buhari not to accept Osinbajo who served him as Attorney-General for eight years. Wonders shall never cease! We heartily await a response by Tinubu or his media team as this latest revelation will be a very interesting topic for the chroniclers of history.

Empires rise and fall; trends evolve. His decline was expected because of the unpopularity of godfatherism. Not like the concept is a bad one as there from time immemorial, there have always been leaders of thought and public opinion moulders which have punctured the holes of the ruse of ‘one man, one vote.’ However, the practice in Nigeria has been inimical to the interests of the Man on the Clapham Omnibus. It was no amazement that the concept of change would be used against one of the initial purveyors by swiftly relegating him to the background after his services post-election clearly had no relevance. In Robert Greene’s ’33 Strategies for War’, the book opened up with a soldier who led his people to victory and rather than crown him King, they led him to the guillotine where his head was impaled. That seems to be Tinubu’s current fate.

What are the options for Tinubu? Wage a war to bounce back to relevance? On what grounds would that be as the tide doesn’t favour ruling from behind the scenes. The betrayal and treachery would only multiply. Should he seek elective office once more? What mileage would he possibly get from that as if things stay this way, that wouldn’t bolster his status in 2019?

Maybe it’s time to try something new. After conquered the worlds of accounting and politics, perhaps it’s a sign to move on to something else. He may not have heeded Shakespeare’s call in quitting when the ovation was loudest but it’s never too late. What more does he want? Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Tony Ademiluyi, Lagos

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