By ETIM ETIM
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is steadily carrying out his threat to ‘’fight dirty’’ and his targets have been well marked out: President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
He has deployed most of the writers in his newspaper, The Nation, as his fighters. Day after day, they rain abuses and insults on Yemi Osinbajo and the President. Their grouse is that the VP has dared to run for President and Buhari is tacitly supporting him and at the same time unsympathetic towards Asiwaju. There is no way the VP would have had the audacity to challenge Asiwaju if he didn’t have the backing of the President, one of the writers told me last week.
The Chairman of the newspaper’s Editorial Board and its lead columnist, Sam Omatseye, made the same point in an essay titled ‘The king’s meat.’ The piece drips with anger, malice and nastiness and aims at both the President and Vice President. Its central theme is that Osinbajo should not have declared to run because Tinubu has been eyeing the job since 1999. Even after he decided to run, Omatseye wonders why the VP did not even travel to Lagos to take permission from Tinubu before the announcement, concluding the full-page essay by calling Buhari a plagiarist for the ‘I am for everybody’ line in his 2015 inaugural speech.
The essay is the clearest evidence yet that the Tinubu camp is frustrated and bitter that President Buhari is not willing to hand over the Presidency to the former Lagos governor. Tinubu and his supporters have not hidden their anger at the President for not publicly declaring his support for him, and they are venting their anger on Osinbajo for taking what they think rightfully belongs the APC leader.
I understand that these writers and the newly recruited ones have been instructed to pour the kitchen sink, “in full measure,” on Buhari and Osinbanjo between now and when the convention holds at the end of this month. But how effective is that as a strategy to win the primary?
I have made the point in my previous interventions that this approach is flawed. By resorting to constantly harassing and intimidating the VP, Tinubu is giving the impression that he is a ruthless and brutal contender who can mow down whoever is on his way. You can now see why President Buhari said in a TV interview that he was not ready to reveal his choice for President because “they would eliminate him.” The constant assault and visceral attacks against the VP since he declared his intention is akin to elimination. Thank God, Prof Osinbajo will never be another Funso Williams.
Tinubu’s quest for power and control is insatiable. The former governor has made Lagos his conquered territory. Its politics, treasury and every decision, ranging from who collects garbage from the streets to who becomes the governor is under Tinubu’s control. Apparently not satisfied, he wants the whole country under his belt. We can only imagine what will happen to the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria Customs Service, Niger Delta Development Commission, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, Petroleum Trust Development Fund and other cash cows if he succeeds.
Tinubu’s self-accreditation as the Grand Deity of Nigerian Politics who must be worshipped and adored, and his sense of entitlement to power is the single most dangerous development in the polity since the annulment of June 12 election. President Buhari cannot afford to hand Nigeria back to another set of bandits that has raped the country for eons.
Yemi Osinbajo has the right, like every Nigerian, to aspire to any office he wishes to occupy. The VP does not owe Tinubu any apology or permission to pursue his dreams. Osinbajo will be a very good presidential candidate for our party. He represents the best of Nigeria and the best in all of us. His wide acceptability nationwide across party lines, ethnic divides and religious boundaries makes him a natural choice as our presidential candidate.
On the contrary, Asiwaju Tinubu has a huge baggage hanging on his neck, the least of which is the dubious sources of his stupendous wealth. Tinubu has taken so much from the system that he should be grateful to the country and its leaders who have condoned him for this long. He ought to realise that he would be the biggest casualty if, God forbid, APC loses the governorship election in Lagos or the presidential election next year. There are people who hate his guts and are ready to throw him into jail if they come to power.
One of the major weaknesses of the Nigerian nation is the possibility of some corrupt politicians becoming too big to control. They are rather in control of the state. They are almost as powerful and dreadful as Mexican drug lords who control some cities, recommend judges for appointment, murder those they don’t like, intimidate and harass the citizens. These bullion van politicians, who call themselves ‘democrats’ are very powerful, demand obeisance from citizens, order elected officials around and confiscate government property and amass wealth with reckless abandon. They have a large collection of minions who exercise derived authority and exert their own influence. The Nation’s writers represent the echo chamber for their master. They know what the boss wants and they put it across in fine prose.
I called up Sam Omatseye after reading his piece and asked him: “What’s the strategy behind your essay? Since you want the President’s support for Tinubu’s ambition, do you think this would help?” I will keep the details of our conversation private, but it is clear that Tinubu and his people have come to the full realisation that Buhari cannot be cowed and the VP will never bow out.
Tinubu’s insistence that the VP must constantly defer to him and publicly sing his praises is just a sign of megalomania. The man is a psychological egotist with delusions of grandeur and obsession with power. He deserves our sympathy and consolation.