Former Governor of Lagos State, the irrepressible Bola Tinubu, a proper ‘Area Father’ if ever there was one, was in the middle of his transformation into a bona fide Asiwaju (Leader) when his makeover was rudely interrupted and ambushed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The complete lack of respect on display is astonishing. It’s Bode George all over again. But what’s a big man to do?
Tinubu has actually been around the political block for a relative while. He crashed brusquely into the national political scene in 1992 when IBB was pushing his ‘new breed’ doctoring. Depending on the weather, Tinubu’s date of birth could veer anywhere from 1952 to 1954 or even 1956. Also, depending on the weather, his career occupation could swerve from Accountant to Lawyer. Let’s not even talk about certificates; if they are not from here, they are from there. But hey.
As a founding member of NADECO, Tinubu was forced into exile in 1994, only to return to the country after Abacha kicked the bucket in mid 1998. Like the rest of us, the man has his baggage. In fact, he has his aplenty. On top of all of that, Tinubu is particularly fond of the roforofo rough and tumble type of politics. To this day, he is still mulishly collecting his very handsome cut from Lagos State. Like I said, the man is irrepressible.
But his irrepressibility has meant that he would always be at loggerheads with the mighty PDP. Shortly after the presidential election this year, Jonathan invited Tinubu to join him in a government of national unity but Tinubu demurred.
So what followed? The PDP resurrected a file deep in the bowels of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), dusted it off, and dragged Tinubu to the Code of Conduct Tribunal complete with a newly built, finely polished and well swept cage.
To understand why that dock was newly built, we’ll have to look back a little bit. In 2005 when Obasanjo was still emperor, some governors were reported by the CCB as operating foreign bank accounts. These were Ladoja (PDP) of Oyo, Kalu (PDP) of Abia, Turaki (ANPP, then PDP) of Jigawa, and Tinubu (AC). Curiously during that time, only Tinubu’s case was flagged up for follow-up or prosecution by the OBJ government. Back then, Tinubu was locked in a stare-down and test of will with Obasanjo because – among other things, Tinubu had created a few more Local Government Areas in Lagos than Kano State in the north. But eventually nothing was done, things were laid to rest and life continued as we knew it.
A year later, 2006, Obasanjo set up what he called a Joint Task Force to fight corruption which was headed by that Nuhu Ribadu. The Task Force did whatever it did and fingered 15 governors – which included Jonathan by the way – as shady, living above their means and declaring false assets. Of those 15, the Task Force also specifically mentioned the following 6 governors as operating foreign bank accounts: Daniels (PDP), Oyinlola (PDP), Turaki (PDP), Markafi (PDP), Udenwa (PDP) and Tinubu (AC). Again, as in 2005, nothing happened. These people completed their terms and are still living large today. In fact, one or two from the PDP are currently sitting in the Senate as ‘distinguished’ members.
What has changed? Well, Tinubu’s makeover as a true leader, not just in the Southwest but nationally, is dangerously close to being achieved. The PDP with its military bearing apparently simply cannot live with that. That Party is not used to functionally organised opposition. It is used to individualised, selfish, going-no-where kind of opposition as typified by Buhari and, at one time, Atiku. But Tinubu appears to be forging a creditable, disciplined and responsive opposition.
Also, the PDP, Jonathan and Obasanjo still smarts from Tinubu’s influence and deftness in the emergence of Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Obasanjo in particular had wanted another lady in the mold of Patricia Etteh, Mulikat Akande-Adeola of Oyo, as Speaker. Tinubu stepped in, played superior politics and collected another political IOU into his slim dusty pocket.
Furthermore, Tinubu has completely upstaged Obasanjo in the Southwest to the extent that if care is not taken, the road in front of OBJ’s Ota Farm could be renamed Tinubu Way.
So, stung and hurting, the PDP has gone and revived a variation of 1964/65 clumsiness on how to decapitate strong, genuine opposition. But, in my view, Tinubu’s latest persecution is not by extension, or does not equate to the hounding of the Yorubas. The Yorubas should be thanked for the Nation’s good political equilibrium. While securing the Southwest for his latest Party, the Action Congress of Nigeria, Tinubu still ensured (in some small way) that the zone voted Jonathan as President. But the malfeasance and perfidy of the PDP still compels it to view Tinubu as a stumbling block that has to be conquered. Add to that Obasanjo’s legendary revenge streak and Jonathan’s submissive self, you begin to see the scope of Tinubu’s troubles.
In dragging only Tinubu to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the PDP wants no one to be under any illusion as to its objective. The CCB charged Tinubu with operating about eleven foreign bank accounts between himself and his wife whilst he was Governor of Lagos. ACN officials have claimed that approximately £31,000 was found in those accounts. £31,000?! Even I have more than that in my accounts and I have never being a Senator and a Governor!
I don’t know; the whole thing seems crude and ludicrous. It is amateurish. It has the opposite effect out there than I’m sure the government and the PDP intends. It is very quickly elevating Tinubu to the top of the rostrum even as the mascara is yet to set properly on his makeover, and this is gaining him more sympathy and more (if reluctant) support.
I know that the government of the day must go after law breakers and prosecute as appropriate. But if the government thinks that it can secure itself in power by removing the head of an emerging credible opposition, it is mistaken. But this is Jonathan’s government so what’s another mistake. We are still recovering from his single term proposal and the Sermon at the Nadir.
To make matters worse, on the day Tinubu was docked, some ACN members threw a few Naira notes at the police officers securing the route to the venue the way one throws corn at chickens. The men and women in blue dived-in wild eyed, restraining the monies from getting away and stuffing them into their pockets. It was more than pathetic. But giving what we now know, perhaps they should have thrown those monies at the judges.