Tinubu’s inauguration and matters arising

*Shettima, Tinubu

Ime Akpan

“Hello, young man. How do things stand at the moment?”

“Who tells you that I’m still young? Anyway, nothing much is happening. I’m trying to survive. I’m waiting for the inauguration of the president elect, Asiwaju Jagaban Bola Tinubu.”

“You’re always expecting something. Around November last year when I had a chat with you, you said you were waiting for the Christmas celebration. Last January, you told me you were waiting for the budget announcement by the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari. Tell me something. And now, Tinubu’s inauguration. What has the event got to do with you and what are you expecting from it?”

“You don’t seem to know what a new government means. A new administration brings hope, a big break from the past, considering how we fared in the past eight years of the Buhari administration. Insecurity. Bloodshed. Poverty. Nepotism. Maladministration. In short, it has been eight years of the swarming, crawling consuming and chewing locusts.

“We have to be cautiously optimistic here. This is how we overrated and hailed Buhari as the new sheriff in town, with many even betting that his body language would turn the economy around 360 degrees, that when the bloody jihadists in the northeast hear the name Buhari they will run with their tails wagging them, that the southeast will be brought into the mainstream Nigerian politics, that refineries will be rehabilitated so that we bring to an end the era of importing the what we have in abundance. Cautious optimism is the way to go so that one may not be utterly disappointed.

“At least, you have the hope that some things will change, that there’ll be a breath of fresh air, at least. That is the spirit. It’s not as if I’m hoping for an el dorado from Tinubu. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Asiwajagaban will not be provincial in thinking and actions; he’s urbane; he’ll not take six months to appoint a cabinet and I’m certain that as soon as the national assembly s inaugurated on June 6, he’ll submit the list to the lawmakers. He has learnt from the mistakes of his predecessor, I think.

“It won’t be wrong to call you a Tinibuist as from today. During the campaigns you were a BATist. And with the election won and lost I think the nomenclature should change. One more thing. His deputy, Kashim Shettima, has to bridle his tongue. He’s too uncouth for my liking. That aside, I hope you’ll attend the inauguration in Abuja tomorrow?

“For where? I go nowhere.”

“If you don’t go to Abuja, at least you should be at the one holding in Onikan Stadium (I suppose); I mean Sanwo-Olu’s inauguration.”

“You know I can’t stand crowds. So I prefer watching everything, both the events in Lagos and Abuja from the comfort of my home.”

“Comfort of your home! And you are sure those Eko Electricity Distribution Company guys will supply power?”

“Boy, that DisCo has been something else since the beginning of the year. They arbitrarily slap N80000 bill on you at the end of the month and after a few days they come to disconnect your house from power supply. It’s crazy. They will not give you the prepaid meter, even six months after you have applied for it. The unmetered customers are the ones sustaining EKEDC, in fact, all the DisCos in the country. And they deliberately would not make the prepaid meters available. For tomorrow’s event, I have armed myself with IBPMN in the event that the DisCo decides to dance disco and forget that there is work to do.”

“What’s IBPMN?”

“I-better-pass-my-neighbour! Small generating set.”

“You like forming funny acronyms of words. Power is one area I’d like the new administration to look into.”

“We’ll get back to the issue of the DisCos and power some other day.

“Come o, last week I heard some noises about the Tinubu inauguration.

“What noise? This is the problem I have with you. You’re always hearing voices, things which other people don’t hear. I think you a bout of malaria that time.

“Far from it. I mean the noise caused by the call the US secretary of state, Mr. Antony Blinken put through to the president-elect. I heard the Peoples Democratic Congress and the Labour Party bellyaching about the telephone conversation which, according to Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunji Rahman, lasted for about 20 minutes.”

“You see, we politicise everything in Nigeria; we make a mountain from a speck of dust! Why should an ordinary phone call heat up the polity? What I can glean from the hullabaloo is that the PDP and LP do not want the US to recognise Tinubu because of the alleged fraud which characterised the February 25 presidential election. Remember, the two parties have taken the matter to the presidential election petition court. So, the US calling Tinubu, means legitimising him as the president in waiting, as far as the PDP and the LP are concerned.”

“But it’s not President Joe Biden who called the Jagaban.”

“It mustn’t be Biden doing it himself. The secretary of state is an influential person in government; more influential than the vice president. He’s appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the senate, is the president’s chief foreign affairs adviser. Blinken carries executes the president’s foreign policies through the state department and the foreign service of the US. So, his communication with Tinubu carries as much weight as a direct dialogue between Biden and the president-elect.”

“And don’t forget that since Tinubu was necodemously declared the winner of the litigious election on March 1, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has literally been begging foreign governments to congratulate the president-elect. In fact, the party had to hire a crowd in Abuja to protest at foreign embassies which governments were not forthcoming with the congratulatory messages. So, the phone call from Yankee is a plus for the APC, something it has been longing for. Even if the other countries fail to follow suit, they can go to blazes. The one by the US cancels all the others.”

“But that was the height of desperation. Must you force someone to tell you ‘good morning?’ Calling Tinubu, to me, does not translate into doing business with him.”

“Young man, you don’t seem to know how the world system operates. What countries are concerned with, in diplomacy, is what is in it for them. Economic interest, first and foremost. Sudan, Libya, and Somalia are failed states, but countries of the world are still doing business with them. No country is an island, even the ones governed despots. And no brutal despot is an island; he has admirers among rulers of other nations, including democratic countries.

“But despite the protests, the inauguration holds tomorrow. It is a done deal. The US and UK governments have announced their delegations to the event. The Supreme Court has cleared the initial hurdle when it dismissed the PDP’s suit saying the party has no locus standi to challenge Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the presidential election that held on February 25.

“One interesting thing in the US delegation is that someone from my state who japaed to Yankee, Ms Enoh Ebong is a member of the team. She is the director, US trade and development agency. She’s from Abak local government area of Akwa Ibom.”

“The event will be grand. Even in the opposition parties, faction chairmen are falling over themselves to get the invite. One Lamidi Apapa of LP is requesting for a presidential jet to fly him to Abuja tomorrow.”

“The deputy national youth leader of the PDP, Timothy Osadolor said something very interesting when he urged the president-elect not to get carried away by what he described a “mere phone call from a United States official.” He advised the president-elect and co-travellers not be fooled by the phone call from Blinken saying “it is not an endorsement of his person or his hotly contested and smeared purported victory.”

Osadolor contended that the US government “knows the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with the powerhouse of Africa in its current challenge as the world superpower.” With the regional economies Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) at its jugular economically, China at her tail economically, militarily, and technologically and the top spot of world power, Osadolor said it makes sense for the USA to be looking for strategic allies around the globe in the community of nations.”

“But the president-elect is not having it easy with the APC lawmakers because of his attempt to asiwajagabanise the 10th national assembly leadership. He’s stretching his luck too far. And I blame his minders for overrating his political prowess. How on earth would he want to impose principal officers on the two legislative houses by zoning and naming particular persons to occupy the posts? It erodes the principle of separation of powers.”

“See you, you don’t know politics; you want him to be as naïve as ‘Sai Baba’ Buhari was in 2015 when he said he could work with anybody and ended up having the former governor of Kwara State, Dr Bukola Saraki, then of the APC as senate president and a PDP senator, Ike Ekweremadu, as deputy senate president. So I don’t see anything wrong with Tinubu having a hand in who takes what. He wants to ensure that the officers are people he can work with; people who would not pose a threat to his bills.”

“No one says he should stand aloof; but people are saying yes, it is right for the party to zone the offices but you must allow the lawmakers from those geopolitical regions to contest or choose their preferred candidate. And not a situation in which you allocate an office to Zone A for instance and go ahead to name the person for that office. You can still have a person after your heart; all you need to do is to lobby the other lawmakers-elect from that zone to vote for your candidate.

“The president-elect behaves as if Nigeria is Lagos where he has been selecting who gets what. Up to the last election, he chose who becomes what in that state. It’s been like that since he left office as governor in 2007. He picked Fashola and Ambode undemocratically. Only the emergence of Sanwo-Olu had a semblance of democratic selection. He chooses who becomes the governor and deputy, assembly lawmaker, speaker, commissioner, special adviser, local government chairman, iyaloja (market woman leader), oba, supreme commander of touts or tout-in-chief, etc. He attempted to extend his political fiefdom to Ogun State. Recall his famous emi lokan speech in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he referred to Governor Abiodun as gomina eleyin (this one here) stressing that he was instrumental to his emergence as governor. He wanted to do the same in Edo State in 2016 but the igodomigodos told him in unmistaken terms that “Edo no be Lagos.” The lawmakers are ready to resist his hegemonic influence. They say im own don too much.”

“Have you heard what the deputy speaker of the house of representatives, Idris Wase, said on the matter?

“No, unless you tell me.”

“He said one man cannot behave as if they own Nigeria. He said the parliament is a separate arm of government and its members should not kowtow to one man. He said no be fight dem dey do but that it is an aberration for one person to own the institution, one person to own Nigeria, one person to choose leadership for the parliament adding that the arrogance was becoming too much. He also talked about Tambuwalisation of the election in the event that Tinubu insists on his choices. Tambuwalisation is a vague reference to the subterfuge deployed for the outgoing governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal to emerge as speaker of the house in 2011 when Mulikat Akande-Adeola was the preferred candidate of the PDP.

“Wase has a point; one man deciding everything for everybody is undemocratic. Come o, is it not that Wase who said any Nigerian who has japaed has no say in what is happening back home? And he is in the race for the position of a speaker. Hope the Wase guy is wise enough to lead the house.

“Former governor Zamfara State, Mr. Abdulaziz Yari, has also spoken. He said the north owns the APC and the president-elect; that the north gave the party 63 per cent in the 2023 presidential poll while the south contributed a paltry 37 per cent and that the senate president should come from the north. He said the north has the numerical power and threatened that whoever undermines the region will face the music in 2027.”

“How Yari, a woeful non-performer became senator-elect in 2023 baffles me. What is power if you cannot use it to better the lot of your people? He could not fix his state when he was governor for eight years. He spent millions of naira building mosques in a state that has no potable water. Many did not live to worship in the grandiose mosques because they were killed by water borne disease.

When there was an outbreak of meningitis that killed hundreds of people in the state, he said it was God’s punishment for fornication as if the ailment is HIV-AIDS that could be traced to immorality. So, he wants to be senate president, abi? Wonders shall never cease.”

“OUK also said the southeast should produce the senate president and that it is his turn to take the slot.”

“I’m sure you’re talking about the senate chief whip, Orji Uzor Kalu. He’s screaming ourturnisation! Is he not the one who said during the electioneering that the southeast was not ripe to produce Nigeria’s president? So only the senate president’s position is good enough for that geopolitical region and he is the most qualified? He’s simply limping between the southeast struggle and his political relevance.

“The APC had better be careful otherwise the coalition of political parties which calls itself ‘Greater Majority’ will wrest power it, especially in the house of representatives. The coalition is made up of PDP, LP, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA), Social Democratic Party (SDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), and Young Progressives Party (YPP) and together they have 182 seats in the parliament whereas the APC has 178. And they have strategised to contest for the principal positions of the house. And going by the tradition of the house, the party which wins majority seats usually produces the speaker, deputy speaker, house leader and majority whip.

So, buoyed by its superior numerical strength in the house, the Greater Majority has resolved to go for the top positions. And this is a serious threat to the ruling party.”

“This is the beauty of it all, although I don’t see the coalition going far.

“The other aspect of the story is that some APC aspirants for the post of speaker have resolved to present a consensus candidate to challenge the anointed one, Abbas.”

“Are you sure? Because you always hear things which others don’t.”

“Of course, I am. I follow the trend. It was reported that all the APC aspirants have come together as the Coalition of Progressive Speakership Aspirants (COPSA) to contest against Abbas. The coalition includes Wase, Muktar Betara, Sada Soli, Aminu Jaji, Yusuf Gagdi and Miriam Onuoha.”

“This APC lawmakers-elect get strong head. So no more party supremacy in their manner of thinking? They could be charged with anti-party activities.”

“No, now. They could be accused of insubordination; not respecting a constituted authority like the national working committee.”

“That phrase, constituted authority, again. More headache for the Jagaban.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here