Can Tinubu Deliver Nigeria?

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Many Nigerians pray fervently that the Buhari prediction – that Nigerians will miss him greatly after he leaves office – will not come to pass. They have good reason to.  In eight years, Nigerians witnessed one of the most disastrous epochs of her national life. As a matter of fact, just so the same way as Nigerians yearned to be rid of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, so were they eager to dump Buhari in the dustbin of history.

But the signs are already there that his successor, Ahmed Tinubu may be worse. This is why –  first, some Nigerians still carry with them that notion that a president is like a king or a head of state. Because we practice a quasi-federal system of government, the idea of one man who heads all the organs of state, who commands the nation’s armed forces, who presides over the dent of Nigeria, and who heads the party in power is one idea not lost to the absolute powers of our presidents. In that position, expectations are usually high. Nigerians expect a president to provide power, fix roads, schools, hospitals, and provide security. There have been many times when a president is held responsible for issues that local governments should handle.

Yet, year in year out, tenure after tenure, and administration after administration, presidents have come and gone but our sorry buts are still glued to our sorry conditions. These people come in campaigning in poetry but deliver in prose.

Part of what I think is responsible for the failures of the Obasanjo, Yar Ádua, Jonathan and Buhari is that they bit off more than they could chew. They were under the impression that they were kings and lords of a medieval empire, with subjects who would follow them blindly. Take for example the outgone president, Muhammadu Buhari – in addition to being head of state, commander in chief, president, and head of the party in power, he was also petroleum minister. As petroleum minister, Nigeria lost four of her refineries to one man, paid fuel subsidy for 8 years, looked the other way as his cronies and tribesmen stole Nigeria’s crude with reckless abandon, and presided over those awkward petrol queues in Abuja and the rest of Nigeria. As commander in chief and former army general, Nigeria experienced kidnappings, killings and incursions from ‘Fulani bandits’. Statements recently ascribed to him only twenty-four hours after he has served his tenure – that it would be much easier to lead his cows than Nigerians – indicate that he got his fingered really burnt with taking Nigerians for granted.

A president is a head of state, commander in chief, head of the party in power but he needs not be all of those. He does not necessarily have to be – being commander and head of state and all that is the old concept of power which no longer delivers the goods in the long and short terms. Modern trends of power in governance indicate that nobody needs a president to be commander in chief, petroleum minister and head of state. Modern trends in the civilized world indicate that people want somebody to fire them to create wealth. They want an enabling environment built on the tripods of social justice, rule of law and inclusivity.

I listened to the new man’s – Bola Ahmed Tinubu – inauguration’s speech -u as president. Even though my friends who have met and interacted with him say that this is one of the smartest brains they ever met, I have my strong doubts. And even though the man said that he was going to provide power, remove subsidy and make Nigeria an investor’s haven, there was very little in the speech that fired the imagination of the average Nigerian. It was a bit like more of the dryness in Buhari who avoided any form of interaction with Nigerians, preferring for his minnows to do damage control for his many gaffes. From that speech, we have a clue to the direction that Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s presidency would veer. Like Buhari who had no creative imagination and ability to project the resilience of the Nigerian spirit, Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s speech bore holes in my head to the extent that I was forced to leave in disgust. It was from here  I got a hint that not only is he going to be dull, but that he would be dour as well. Bola Tinubu is going to be a ventriloquist – speeching his speeches through marionettes and caricatures.

For now, Nigerians have had enough of dullness, drabness and dourness. Today, they want something fresh, different and what has the potential to revive our spirit and launch us into the orbit of greatness. The eight years of the Buhari regime brought the image and persona of Nigeria very, very low in the comity of nations. Therefore, Nigeria has no need of a head of state or a commander in chief or a leader of the party in power. Nigeria needs a salesman who has locutionary and illocutionary capacity. If not, we may have entered another one chance, and may begin to yearn for Buhari to come back.

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