By Sulaiman Salawudeen
Clairvoyance does not always have to be a preserve of presumably spirit-filled(!) fortune/misfortune tellers, or the glib-tongued hounds that annoy in their effervescent, even if often boisterous, drools. Humans become being attracted into waxing predictions and drawing conclusions upon premises in situations of tangled cliffhanger, which often manifest in fervid cause-effect prognosis – famine as consequent upon drought, death a result of illness, success deriving from good preparation, devastating crash attending slovenly/sloppy preparation. But variables unforeseen may supervene either to nullify/reverse or dilute expectations – providential third factor(s) commonly captured as luck/ill-luck which do occasion outcomes unrelated to preparation/hopes! The possibility and/or eventual compromise of the pairing of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, South-westerner, compulsive optimist, former governor of Lagos and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Prof Babagana Zulum, North-easterner, university teacher and substantive governor of Borno state, in a presidential duel against opposition parties strikes as quite more compelling, even predictable than should be left much longer to stretch/stress imaginations and subject mortals to extra-cogitable ratiocinations.
This conclusion – against other possible, but not really passable, juggles – considered in light of emerging imperatives of oppositional strengths – comes round as both logical, complementary proposition upon earlier submissions on the issue of the desirability of a Tinubu presidency, and as balancing measure against subsisting run of north/south pair. Factually, given patent attractiveness of a Tinubu presidency, far beyond fielding him just as the APC candidate for the 2023 presidential balloting exercise, scheming him into a joint ticket with Zulum is pairing technocracy/expertise and transparency/focus.
Can APC really avoid this specific cooperation in the emerging theatrics? If the two have proven success in their stewardships to commendable degrees: if Tinubu had been astounding, not just in preparing Lagos as foundation to support the current goal, aside his being critically responsible for engineering yet subsisting run of progressive politics on the national scape, and if Zulum, a successful academic, who himself has been wowing both supporters and detractors alike in quality of his current stewardship in a beleaguered Borno, pairing them to rework Nigeria’s manifest destiny – this was not the sense of the original import of the expression, please – seems much like a desideratum for long-desired collective forward march. Such tantalising materialisation of fate and obvious positioning for advantage seems unrivalled in the country’s entire history!
But, the proposal goes beyond the task of simply reworking inexcusably bloodied trajectory of an otherwise blessed enclave, to one of political expediency that asserts its desirability, partly from factors extraneous to the APC as a party! Except we must discard undiscardable fact of a two-party state the country has become, emergence of Atiku Abubakar, veteran presidential contestant and stupendously cash-full former vice president, as Peoples Democratic Party candidate compels needs to think two times before the Tinubu opportunity slips APC by. Who among the present run of contenders for APC ticket posseses the weight to confront Atiku in a presidential electoral duel is a question that must be answered with keen nationalistic, rather than merely partisan, candour! Considering the list of genuinely serious individuals who so far have shown interest in the contest – please, never mind the ones who thought they could fool anyone, just by joining long queue of purchasers of needlessly costly nomination forms, the best measure against allowing essentially a pre-election task from cogging APC’s chances in retaining the country’s leadership beyond 2023, is to go full-blast revolutionary, although, the kind that smack a tinge of morality and method, both of which politics field in Nigeria seems long bereaved.
Apparently, against the fact the truly serious four or five of the 20 plus contenders for the slot have commenced lobbying preparatory to the primaries, the current assignment on prognosis indeed looks somehow troubling. Top contenders for the ticket, aside Tinubu, include Rotimi Amaechi, former governor, former speaker, Rivers State, who recently resigned as minister of transportation; Dr. Kayode Fayemi, outgoing two-term Ekiti state governor and respected war scholar; the melifluous, first rate orator, Yemi Osinbajo; and Yahaya Bello of Kogi state. Admittedly, highest ranks of the party leadership are reportedly vacillating between allowing full-blown primaries in which the contest field is sufficiently leveled for contestants, and getting a middle ground or happy medium of a candidate. Both have the up and the down sides. For APC to choose the primaries is to be democratic, and democracy seems a deal fair and peaceable enough in a world in which fascist tendencies run deep quite commonly.
So far, the odds of the primary seem to favour Tinubu, despite countervailing seriousness of his brethren, including Osinbajo and Fayemi, and despite having just 12 of the 22 APC governors endorse his nomination. But, can consensus be dismissed as entirely bad when it has served the interest of the party at a time, and favoured an individual and his clan, in some way? Many leaders of the party are insisting on Tinubu as right and fit beneficiary of consensus, but, in politics, there are no certainties until eventualities.
Again, while Tinubu has gone full blast into campaigns, stumping government houses and kings’ palaces for supports, Zulum has dismissed rife rumour concerning plans to vice anyone, declaring he is content with the Borno redemption task. Zulum’s position is an advantage, only to the extent that no one as yet seems to spare much worries for the weight of the office and who occupies same. But there is danger in his believing he has more role as governor and less as vice president. The extremeness of the task of redemption of Nigeria, far beyond the higher rank of VP’s office over that of a state governor, appears to give value to reconsidering declared hardlines and accepting possible overtures for the task, if such is offered him! Can Nigeria avoid the intervention of a Zulum at such a time and phase like this?
However, while many of Tinubu’s co-contenders are burdened with rucksacks that mortally threaten their chances, Tinubu remains apparently above board. Despite his brilliance, Osinbajo, wears the toga of one who has betrayed a benefactor; Amaechi has of late been in and out of the courts upon issues of graft; Fayemi, a serving governor, is seen as being too inexperienced to undertake quite intimidating assignment of remedying extremely troubled country; and Yahaya Bello is dismissed as a neophyte who with his premature lust for power simply belittles the presidency office!
But Buhari himself has been somehow opaque regarding where his interest lies in the fray. Of the individuals jostling to represent the party however, only his siding with Tinubu would seem to come with certain undeniable credits. These include being the first time ever the north would willingly allow a southerner the freedom to mount the saddle without doctoring the process whatever way. Obasanjo was a compromise offered by north and grudgingly admitted by south; It will be the first time agreements would work out as laid down at the commencement of time; it will also be the first time an outgoing president would prove statesmanness in a way to disappoint pundits, by acting, even for once, to rubbish allegations of north-centricism which they had predicted long before now; and lastly, it will be the first time a really competent hand would seek the presidential post and would be given.
The question, in the final analysis, would boil down to what is right and/or wrong, although deciding which way to sway is essentially a business of which side of the coin one chooses to belong! But, is it not abusive, even nauseating, immorality to imagine sheer abnormality of former president Goodluck Jonathan’s appearance supervening within APC(!) to upset/nullify calculations of a Tinubu presidency? As moralists engage latter-day/end-time pragmatists in a duel over the soul of a party and a nation, and as morality becomes the catchword in discusses, even among outright villains, it remains to be seen what lessons to be taught the children in regard to how a craving for power and lust for dominion have pushed the lesson givers towards vitiating timeless essence of their own messages – the essential Africanness which urge respect for order, truth and decency, all currently being rubbished in a rush for just a mess of scum.
Salawudeen, writer/freelance journalist, writes via firstname.lastname@example.org