Memo to a Tinubu

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Dear Mr Tinubu, there are many very-well placed people around me who often express confidence in your ability to rescue Nigeria from the Buhari catastrophe. I will technically identify two of them without a mention of their names. Let me start with a certain former student of mine. In 2015 just before you made president Muhammadu Buhari president, this student of mine would often swear on his mother’s grave that President Buhari was going to outperform, out-maneuver and outdo all presidents who have ever run Nigeria. This young chap often cited Buhari’s oft-vaunted reputation as a no-nonsense dictator who had at some times past had barged into our collective consciousness as head of state. All my efforts to identify Muhammadu Buhari to this fellow as a tyrant whose only credentials towards being president was the leanness of his frame rather than on any solid personal achievements or capacity failed. At that time as well, I suggested to the many who unnecessarily indulged in those annoying arguments with me, that Muhammadu Buhari is a leopard unable to change his spots. Very early on though, as Muhammadu Buhari began to unleash his full relevance and import as an incompetent leader on all Nigerians, this young chap boarded the jappa train and ran like a frightened rabbit off to the UK. I was to find out in addition, that his support for Buhari was not a support for Buhari per se but a support for the ethnic considerations of the number two Buhari man, Yemi Osinbajo. From where he ran to in the UK, I have often seen him again rallying support for you, in his belief in your capacity to lift Nigeria from the dregs of human existence that characterize Nigeria.

Another one of your ardent supporters identifies you as the Lion of Bourdillon.  He enthusiastically reminisces on your ability to have taken on the Olusegun Obasanjo behemoth when you were Lagos State governor, that is, how you ran Lagos ‘successfully’ after Olusegun Obasanjo stopped allocation to your state Lagos. Beside the other things that this supporter of yours talks about, is your human capital development ability, in that you seem to have been the one governor among your contemporaries who has built the capacity of your subordinates to be able to take over from you. He has often ignored the many embarrassing stories concerning your person, and expresses strong conviction that you will deliver.

But I have no such conviction in you to deliver Nigeria from the mess and the miasma of despondence that the man you put there in 2015 put us. I have no conviction in the others as well – Atiku, Kwakwanso and Obi. I know you all to be regular politicians. What I know of you and your ilk is what my father told me before he passed on – that whenever a politician greets you, and says ‘Good morning’, know surely that its already midnight. The learned people in America say that politicians always have two mouths – in that they campaign in poetry and govern in prose. I remember all of the things you said that Buhari would do when you were all campaigning together in 2014 – all of which he has either denied saying outrightly or repudiated.  From what politicians like yourself have put us through, I have learnt to be the eternal sceptic, and the ultimate Thomas the Biblical doubter. The people who stuck their necks out for Buhari, those who have trekked and drank mud water for him all squirm now whenever the name Buhari is mentioned.

I am drafting this memo to you to kind of place you on notice. Let me explain: you say that you are emilokan, that is, it is something of your manifest destiny to rule or run Nigeria. In the King’s English, that lingo translates to a sense of entitlement, something completely and avowedly antithetical to the rule of law and the tenets of democracy.  Your argument often has been that you have prepared to run or rule Nigeria over a span of thirty years. To get to this point, you have said that you have built bridges across the length and breadth of Nigeria. You claim that you have the structures, structures that failed you woefully at the February 35th 2023 Presidential elections.

In reading Jeffrey Sachs’s The End of Poverty, I find that there are parameters that people expect a candidate for an election to meet, and discuss whenever they meet the electorate. Rather than ‘structures’, or the entitlement disposition that you projected all through the campaigns, Sachs says that you should have discussed how to raise the level of our human capital (health, nutrition, and skills); then there are matters of business capital, infrastructure (roads, power especially, water and sanitation, airports and seaports, and telecoms systems), public institutional capital (the laws that guide commerce and the judicial systems, government services and policing), and knowledge capital (the scientific and tech knowhow to raise business output and stem the brain drain syndrome).

These are the issues that town hall meetings throw up, and which you could have taken on. However, you shunned all of these town hall debates, insisting in that your famous gaffe that a ‘town hall, different from Balablue, Bulabo’. I have not joined the rabble to mock this gaffe, and have wondered that this is the one true thing you did very right, what with the right pronunciation, and the deployment of the right stresses to project your idea of disdain for these kinds of fora.

To conclude, let us be clear: we do not believe that you can deliver on the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians. You do not appear to be well enough to withstand the strain and rigour of running a country. You were the person who foisted the Buhari catastrophe on us, and even the very elections that brought you in as president-elect turned the rules upside down – the BVAS were switched off, did not work, and you allegedly did not win 25% in Abuja. How you’re going to surmount all of these is entirely your bucket to carry. Carry it, but if you disappoint, we will come for you. That’s a promise.

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