By Clem Oluwole
The spare tyre is an important component of an automobile which many a motorist hardly pays much attention to, me inclusive. Oftentimes, we would drive to a vulcaniser and ask him to gauge the pressure of the tyres without any attention given to the spare tyres, ever silent where they are kept. Many of us have ignored spare tyres to our own peril.
Yet, we don’t recognise their importance and hardly remember that they exist until the need arises… when we have a flat tyre. Some people don’t also care much about the quality of spare tyres. Most spare tyres have gone past their expiry dates or are even threadbare! When many change their tyres, they don’t carry the spare tyres along. Rather, they would convert one of the old tyres to spare tyres if the spares are not in good shape.
For this ill-treatment, many folks have been punished by spare tyres. Imagine coming out of a function, your office or driving home at night and one or two of your tyres suffer flatness. You reach for the spare only to discover that it has gone flat. You are in a helpless and hopeless situation because vulcanisers have all closed. You are stranded in the dark, mocked by your neglected spare tyre. You are then left with two options: sleep in the car overnight and at the risk of marauders on the prowl or look for a towing van.
We assume, quite often but wrongly, that since the spare tyres remain unused, they should remain pregnant with the air they stomach until they are needed. A normal pregnancy has a circle. Similarly, a pregnant spare tyre can deliver the air it has stored over a period of time due to valve leakage, among other factors.
The neglect of spare tyres nearly cost me my life during a trip to my hometown on an annual vacation. I was cruising along Toto and Abaji road when I had a tyre burst. The explosion was so loud that I almost lost control of the car. I thought I had been bombed! I struggled to keep the car – a fully air-conditioned Peugeot 504 GR which was reigning in the 80s – under control. I had had a flat tyre a few kilometres earlier, caused by a nail. However, the neglected spare tyre had already lost pressure but I fixed it all the same, hoping to drag the car to the nearest village where I could get it re-inflated. But the half inflated spare could not withstand the weight of the car. So it did the expected… it exploded!
But I was fortunate because Abaji was just a short distance away. I flagged down a commercial motorcyclist and pleaded with him to assist me by taking the flat tyre to Abaji and paid him handsomely. I could not go with him for fear that my car could be stolen or vandalised. In the 80s, Peugeot brands were hotcakes for car robbers. Standing by the car in the middle of nowhere was equally risky but it was a lesser risk for the car with me standing by it in the bush. I tried to wear a no-nonsense look to scare away anyone who might nurse funny ideas.
The tyre was fixed and brought back. And I continued with the journey. Nobody reminded me to fix the earlier tyre that went flat when I got to Abaji. I also bought a replacement for the one that exploded. After that experience, I began to pay attention to my spare tyre, however little… occasionally slipping into the old habit of neglecting it.
Now, for the topic of the day: Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as a spare tyre. Spare tyre is a Nigerian parlance for second in command. His boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, is four tyres rolled into one man upon which Nigeria is moving. But barely two years into the four-year journey, one tyre went flat which is the second time in less than six months.
The first time the spare tyre had to be used was last December of thereabouts when Mr. President took off to London on medical vacation and the “Naija” vehicle ran on it for 50 days! It was unprecedented in the annals of our democracy. Ex-presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan never used their spare tyres during their tenures.
As I have stated earlier, many folks have no regard for spare tyres. But PMB (not Private Mail Bag) as Buhari is “abbreviately” referred to, does not reason like most of us. If he did, we would have been in soup momentarily.
In choosing political spare tyres, experience has shown that less dependable ones are picked across the board. This is the reason why most governors don’t cede powers to their spare tyres when going on vacation. They would rather ground the system until they return. It is also the reason why most governors don’t hand over to their deputies after completing their tenure.
The choice of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo or PYO is a huge credit to PMB. In the race to the 2011 presidential joust, PMB picked a spare tyre named Pastor Tunde Bakare or PTB (if you are in love with abbreviations) and ran on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). The late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo or DCO, the fiery Igbo politician, was PMB’s spare tyre during the 2007 presidential race on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP).
The partnership like the one with PTB ran aground, just as his affiliation with the late Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, the Second Republic Speaker, in the 2003 presidential race also on the APP platform could not deliver him to the Aso Rock Villa.
In readiness for the 2015 general elections, the CPC fused into three other parties namely Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to form the tsunami known as the All Progressives Congress (APC).
PMB’s confidence in his spare tyre was demonstrated recently when he bared his fangs at some aides who reportedly ferried files to London for his attention, ordering them to see his spare tyre with the documents for necessary attention. APYO or Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has been doing a great job, managing the affairs of the nation admirably.
Kudos to PMB! If APYO had been a threadbare spare tyre, perhaps the nation would have exploded by now, given the enormity of the current challenges.
Let us wish Buhari a quick recovery and quick return to his duty post and for God to give him and his spare tyre the wisdom not only to steer the ship of state away from the precipice but also the bloodthirsty ethnic and tribal jingoists/opportunists sounding the trumpet(s) of disintegration. I did not hear a loud Amen or Ameen.