For Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the proof of the pudding is no more in the eating. It is now in the cooking. Nigeria’s presidential election is yet to take place, but this presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is already moving with the swagger of a President. Last week, after about 12 days of reportedly resting in London, Tinubu returned to Nigeria with pomp. Short of sounding the vuvuzela, some of his campaign managers and party chieftains lined up at the airport in Abuja to receive him. Like the late Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the Central African Republic, he greeted his subjects with an air of triumph. I sighted the former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, grinning from ear to ear. The atmosphere was akin to that of a child welcoming his absentee dad with a chant of “daddy oyoyo, daddy oyoyo, daddy oyoyooo!”
Tinubu’s entry into Lagos after his party’s primary election in Abuja last June was even more triumphant. As soon as his plane touched down at the presidential wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, his long convoy took over the roads. People were held for hours in the resultant traffic jam that crippled different parts of Lagos that day. Not a few people wondered if this was a foretaste of what to expect if he becomes president.
Nevertheless, while he was in London, speculations were rife that he was in the hospital. To dispel that rumour and show that he was healthy, his handlers released a picture where he was on an exercise bike.
Incidentally, this was how the campaign for the election of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua started in 2007. He was not healthy at the time. But the then powers that be wanted him to be the President at all cost. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo literally became his campaign manager. At a point, Yar’Adua was in a German hospital at the heat of the campaigns, but rumours were rife that he was dead. In a dramatic display, Obasanjo called him on phone during one of the campaign rallies and yelled, “Umaru, are you dead?” To prove that he was healthy, Yar’Adua had even challenged his critics to a game of squash. After all said and done, he became president. Three years after, he died.
Hence, Nigerians don’t want a repeat of this Yar’Adua phenomenon. The question remains, is Tinubu mentally and physically fit to assume the onerous task of ruling a country like Nigeria? He alone can answer this question through his actions during the campaign period. Nigerians would want to know if he could engage in healthy debates with other presidential candidates for hours. They want to see how he stands on a podium to address them without anybody stylishly staying beside him to prevent him from shaking or stumbling. They want to see him articulate his views in a clear voice.
Obviously, the job of a President is not a tea party. It demands full mental and physical abilities from whoever occupies the position. President Muhammadu Buhari can attest to this. A few years after becoming the President of Nigeria, stress knocked him down. He once lamented that he wished he had become President at a younger age. At some point, he became a regular medical tourist to London. His health challenges have seriously affected governance in the country.
No doubt, electing Buhari is a political mistake most Nigerians wouldn’t want to repeat in 2023. That is why those who want to take over from him must show beyond reasonable doubt that they are as fit as a fiddle. This goes beyond displaying photographs of a workout. It goes beyond campaign managers and supporters descending to the use of gutter language against opponents.
The other day, a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, known for being garrulous and ill-mannered, spewed out some inanities against the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi. He was quoted to have variously described Obi, among others, as a mannerless (sic) dunce with low self-esteem, a strange sounding little man, a charlatan, and a modern-day walking disaster and far too low down the ladder. He further vomited, “Who the hell is he and what does he know about anything other than misleading his gullible followers on social media and selling Tomato puree, Bournvita and toothpaste?”
To think that this type of character was a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria beats the imagination. For his information, Obi has a known address. His age, schools attended and other qualifications are well known. He is a billionaire given to philanthropy without necessarily trying to show off. He is also very humble and not known to be frivolous with public funds as has been attested to and widely acknowledged during his years as Anambra State governor.
The question should rather be: who the hell is Femi Fani-Kayode? His stock-in-trade is taking his loyalty to where his stomach leads him to? Here is someone who said all sorts of unprintable things against the APC and Buhari. He even vowed never to have anything to do with the party again. Now that they have thrown a few crumbs on his table, he is back to the party doing what he knows how best to do – raining insults on his superiors.
Well, let’s not waste much time on someone who does not matter as far as 2023 election is concerned. He is simply following the dictates of his stomach. Our concern should be for smooth and rancour-free campaigns. Good enough, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued code of conduct or guidelines for the campaigns. Parties and their supporters are expected to adhere strictly to these guidelines.
According to some of the guidelines, there should be no abusive language or hate speech capable of injuring religious, ethnic or sectional feelings in political messages, campaigns or slogans; no insinuations or innuendoes likely to provoke a violent reaction; and no physical attacks on supporters of one party by another. Judging from this code of conduct, have Fani-Kayode and co. not fallen foul of some of the campaign rules? INEC should get serious and should not hesitate to sanction any breach of these guidelines.
Now that Tinubu is back, can he advise his campaign managers and supporters to embrace issue-based campaign as against their proclivity for hate speech and ethnic profiling? Can he direct them to answer every question Nigerians may be asking concerning his age, educational qualifications and origin? Can he instruct some of his supporters to stop beating or forcing people, as has been variously reported, to join in their rallies? Above all, can he tell Nigerians what he will do differently from the present government which he is largely part of? In other words, can we expect robust campaigns from him and also from the other candidates? Meanwhile, welcome back to Nigeria, Asiwaju. We expect to hear from you soon.
Re: Divine confusion in APC and PDP
While in school, our lecturer had demonstrated some very funny examples of verbal, situational and dramatic ironies which outcomes actually depict the opposites. For a situational irony as in the instant time of Nigeria’s forthcoming election, he played up the drama of how student A worked so hard for his exams while student B was indolent. But the exams outcome showed the opposite where the indolent student made it and the hard-working student failed. What is certain is the fact that the Labour Party, PDP and APC are the front runners of the 2023 Nigeria’s presidential race. But no one can predict with clarity what 2023 actually holds in store for Nigeria. What we are faced with is a potpourri of confounding puzzle that makes uncertainty as the only card that is certain. No doubt that confusion has, indeed, hit both the APC and PDP. But for the Labour Party’s principal to assume Nigeria’s presidential seat in 2023,his ‘Obidient’ followers should not be all noise and signifying no action: they must go all out and actualise their voters’ cards on the election day and also ensure that their votes count.
-Edet Essien Esq. Cal South, 0803 795 2470
Dear Casmir, the vision for a true Nigerian president is about materialising as the rejected stone is fast becoming the builder’s cornerstone. A thousand shall fall by Peter’s right and ten thousand by his left. Let God arise and his enemies be scattered.
– Cletus Frenchman Enugu, +234 909 538 5215
Mr. Igbokwe, you’re gifted in picking and discussing topical issues: a la: Divine confusion in APC and PDP. The biblical tower of Babel, as enacted by King Nebuchadnezzar, is playing in real time, in the present situation in Nigeria. Watch out, something is about to happen.
-Barry in Ogoniland, +234 803 435 6380
Dear Casy, PDP and APC sowed with the wind and are currently reaping both the whirlwind and hurricane. PDP under Obasanjo ruined our democracy with the evil manipulation of 2003 and 2007 general elections which the late Yar’Adua told the world that he benefited from. PDP and APC are like Siamese twins. The two parties have ruined Nigeria. I appeal to other Nigerians to vote for Peter Obi. He is currently the best politician. His record speaks for him.
-Eze Chima C. Lagos, +234 703 622 5495
Dear Casy, he who covets what is not rightly his, attracts to himself curses, damnation and eventual mortal misfortune. Hence, the instability in APC and PDP which increases in twists and turns each day. Rewinding the pages of memory, recall that while the standard-bearer of one of the parties under reference threw his overbearing influence upon his party such that, in attempts to pander to his whims and caprices, the party began to ‘speak in tongues’ on the party’s zoning principle and, along the line, denied the rightful zone, in the political equation, their deserved place, the standard-bearer of the other party, on noticing the intrigues in the power-play within their party, retorted publicly that it was his own turn and, desperately, ”dollarised” his way to victory at the party’s primaries! In both scenarios, the standard-bearers and their parties remained unabashed about the reality of coveting another zone’s deserved place in a country with the claim of the cliché of, ‘one nation, one destiny’! Hence, the Divine confusion, if not instability in their parties! God is not man. He sees the pains, the pang, the wailings of, especially, the hoi polloi and acts and reacts accordingly.
-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.
Casmir, that ‘the spirit of error & confusion’ is synonymous with both PDP and APC is an understatement! APC is guiltier than PDP in this macabre dance of error! While PDP’s ‘spirit of error’ can still be tamed via compromise, genuine forgiveness and love for the party, that of APC has gone beyond redemption! The dog (APC) that has missed its way, will not hear the whistle of the hunter! It all began with their decision to jettison or treat with levity, the conventional practise of a Christian president succeeding his Muslim counterpart and vice versa. APC took it a notch worse by going for a Muslim-Muslim joint ticket thereby disrespectfully disregarding Christians and by extension, putting our unity in jeopardy. The explanation of being ‘politically correct’ holds no water, unfathomable, incredulous and illogical. Simply put, ‘this Tinubu’ has ‘no respect and regard for Christians’! He doesn’t have enough political clout/presence in the north to beat Atiku.
-Mike, Mushin Lagos, +234 816 111 4572
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, October 10, 2022