By Hassan Gimba
There is something about Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Jagaba of Borgu and the presidential candidate of the All Peoples Congress (APC), and Abeokuta.
Whenever he feels threatened or that things are not going the way he wants them to, he goes to Abeokuta and delivers what we can term a declaration – in Yoruba. Appealing to the sentiments of the Yoruba, he plays the victim of a conspiracy. True or false, it somehow pays for him. Agreed declarations are not legally binding but they show certain aspirations.
That he finds solace in making what we could term declarations in the town founded in 1830 by fleeing settlers may be symbolic. Shodeke, a hunter and leader of the Egba refugees who had fled from the disintegrating Oyo Empire, founded it that year. Abeokuta, from the Yoruba phrase “Abé òkúta” means under the rocks or refuge among the rocks because of the presence of giant rocks, most notable being the Olumo Rock. It signifies the protection the Olumo Rock offered the refugees from potential attacks.
Tinubu has always been the man to beat in the run-up to the APC presidential primary. And so it was that when he felt his party’s ticket may slip away from his grasp, with conflicting signals emerging and the national chairman of his party endorsing someone else, he went to Abeokuta a week before the primary election and sought the sanctuary the Olumo Rock could offer.
There he declared it was “Emi lo kan,” meaning “it is my turn,” that is, it is now his turn to be president. Going down memory lane, he said, “If not for me that led the war front, Buhari won’t have emerged as president. He tried the first time, he failed, the second time, he failed, the third, he failed, he even wept on national television and vowed never to contest again but I went to meet him in Kaduna and told him he will run again, I will stand by you and you will win, but you must not joke with Yorubas and he agreed.”
He then added that he had benefitted nothing from the Buhari government and, therefore, it is the turn of the Yoruba and even among the Yoruba, the turn is his: “Since he became the president, I have never got ministerial slots. I didn’t collect any contract. I have never begged for anything from him, not soup, not even fura. It is the turn of Yoruba. It is my turn.”
Though a front-runner, that outburst helped by stifling plans against his ambition, assuming there were any, and he won with a very wide margin.
Then came Wednesday 25th January, once more at a campaign rally in Abeokuta, where he played the victim of the long lingering fuel queue and the naira redesign with its attendant scarcity. He said, “Even if they said there is no fuel, we will trek to vote. They have a lot of mischiefs; they could say there is no fuel. They have been scheming to create a fuel crisis, but forget about it.”
Visibly angry during the rally, the APC presidential candidate declared that anti-party activities by a cabal at the presidency working secretly with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is going on but that the Tinubu/Shettima combination will win the presidential election.
Assuring the people, he said, “Relax, I, Asiwaju, have told you that the issue of fuel supply will be permanently addressed. Whoever wants to eat the honey embedded in a mountain won’t worry about the axe. Is that not so? And if you want to eat palm kernel, you would bring stone and use it to break it, then the kernel will come out.
“Let them increase the price of fuel and hoard it; let them hoard money, the naira. We will go and vote and we will win. Even if they change the ink on naira notes; whatever their plans, it will come to nought. We are going to win. Those in the PDP will lose (won ma lule).
“I am a homeboy. I have come here. You will not be put to shame; we will take over the government from them, the traitors who wanted to contest with us. They had no experience,” Tinubu added.
This raises the issue of equity and turns, which have become a vapid subject. Assuming it is a “turn by turn” affair between the North and South, then we can say the North “did” it for ten years and the South for fourteen. Then who is in deficit and, therefore, who ought to produce again?
Conversely, if one insists on turns between divides, then if the presidency goes South, which of the geopolitical zones there has not tasted it? Is there fairness for a zone to be there twice while there is another in the same divide that has not? You see, there are many issues around this “turn by turn” thing, but equity must reign. We must be fair to ourselves and our nation because that is the only way we can get it right.
But then, this world, or rather Nigeria and Nigerians, is most of the time not about justice or fairness. We place ourselves and our interests above all else. I now agree with Dale Carnegie who, over a hundred years ago, observed that “when dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”
Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.