Is Bola Tinubu Really a Master Strategist?

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Bola Ahmed Tinubu

In the days and weeks before Bola Tinubu became president, he had many sobriquets. The sobriquets depended on the side of the aisle that the admirers or the traducers stood. To the Obidients, Tinubu was Balablue, emilokan and an alleged drug lord. But to his admirers and fans, he was the man with the magic wand who with just an abracadabra, had come to take away the heavy burdens that Muhammadu Buhari inflicted on us all. They couched that belief in President Bola Tinubu as a ‘master strategist’. There are many reasons why Bola Tinubu was often referred to as ‘master strategist’.

A very close person had told me that the man is a very good listener, who had a knack for taking notes. He is said to keep a note pad somewhere with which he records sensitive info on which he peruses before taking crucial decisions. Another story said to be responsible for Tinubu’s vaunted deftness is that he has a knack for spotting great talent, and would often discard ethnic, religious and primordial considerations to get at those talents for his own use. Critics of his adoption of this strategy say that he stole the idea of pooling together outstanding talents from MKO Abiola. Before June 12, 1993, MKO Abiola who was criticized for not having any economy or finance background had fired back that as president of Nigeria, he had no need of an economy background if as president he can hire and fire an economist.

In his years as governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu had gone ahead to get as many talented people, Lagosians and non-Lagosians to join him with running the state. They include Mr Yemi Osinbajo SAN, Ben Akabueze, Babatunde Fashola, Rauf Aregbesola at their ilk. It is mostly with the successes recorded with his grooming his lieutenants, and propping them for future leadership that more or less made him to be perceived as a strategic thinker and political tactician. He has also been said to have built a political empire like a behemoth that has a better reach and connection than the tentacles of an octopus.

But one year after being president of Nigeria, is his ‘master strategist’ sobriquet still relevant and strong? Less than one year after being sworn in as president of Nigeria, the master strategist so-called has unleashed suffering so intense on Nigerians. One of the very first things he did was remove fuel subsidy. Said to be a good move not well-thought through, the fuel subsidy removal spiraled and set off a chain reaction of pain and suffering among Nigerians so intense that many Nigerians began to wish for the return of the life and times of Muhammadu Buhari instead of that by Bola Tinubu. A little while after that fuel subsidy removal came a staccato of tax after tax after tax after tax. Those taxes have begun to look very much like the biblical story of a king who told his subjects that while his father flogged his subjects with whips, he would do his own flogging with scorpions. Whilst the rest of Nigerians were carrying these extremely heavy burdens, and were requested to make more and more sacrifices, the ruling elite were having what looks like a field day on a spending spree: members of parliament were getting fantastic monies for state-of the-art vehicles, and the presidency was still junketing here and there with extremely large entourages. It seemed as though there were two Nigerias – the one which hardly pays those taxes, buys its own food, pays those electricity bills but which goes to the same market as those who do.

The questions then are: what happened to the stratagems of the master strategist? With all of his political stratagems, how come the cost of fuel, the exchange rate of the dollar to the naira, cost of transport and cost of living is the highest in Nigeria since independence? If he really is really following in the mold of MKO Abiola, to be able to hire and fire an economist or financial adviser, what in God’s name is holding his thunder, just so that Nigerians may get a feel that he is somewhere at least feeling the fire we all feel? Why is his primary constituency, the North (Bola Tinubu lost the election in Lagos) already dubbing him as OTP – One Term President – in spite of his being a master strategist?

Some people have said that Bola Tinubu is no ‘master strategist’, but one adept at throwing money at problems to get his way. As one of the richest Nigerians alive today, gist in the mill allege that he has a penchant for buying and selling. What sadly makes just buying and selling unworkable in an economy as Nigeria, and indeed in most parts of the world is that to sell, a country must be able to produce something that it then sells. It involves the production of goods and services – it involves leadership in the sacrifices coming from the leadership. That is where we get at the true meaning of strategic thinking, not the sort that the Bola Tinubu administration seems to be doing now.

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