I had the rare opportunity in year 2000 to be among contributors who made presentations at a conference held for the publication of General Ibrahim Banbagida former Military President of Nigeria in Jos, Plateau State. During the conference for the Book titled NIGERIA: IBB AND THE RE-ENGINEERING OF NIGERIA, the former Military President made a profound statement that is so useful to the four political gladiators that am about to write about.
During the conference, he said and I paraphrase “ For any politician to remain relevant in the affairs of Nigeria, such politician must remain undefeated, he/she must know when to fight and not to fight. For as long as a politician remain undefeated he will continue to enjoy the myth around him/ herself”
General Babangida demonstrated this when he wanted to contest for presidency towards the end of tenure of President Obasanjo. Babangida had obtained the form and have started the campaign only for him to realize that President Obasanjo has given his support to Yar Adua. Despite Banbagida being the person that installed Obasanjo as the President in 1999 he did not enter into a fight that he will loose and so today he remain a factor for any one seeking the position of a president in Nigeria.
Let’s come to present times.
After the loss of senatorial seat by Saraki “Oloye”. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu was predicted to fall. The 9th of March 2019 was the gubernatorial election in Nigeria and as the result of the election came rolling in it’s was obvious that Asiwaju will not go in the way of others. At the final count of result for Lagos state election the victory for APC in Lagos was overwhelming.
It is therefore important that we examine the staying power of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. To say that the victory came easy is to be naïve. I can confirm that towards the Election Day, Asiwaju never like before was worried especially after the announcement of the presidential election. Very few times has he been worried like this occasion but as a leader he will put up a bold face to forge ahead.
AS ASIWAJU UNLIKE SARAKI
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki picked the wrong fight. He did not notice nor sense a coup against his kingship. He was deliberately distracted and did not know that he has become disconnected from his subjects. He did not take their concerns as a threat because he should not have taken the job of a D.G for the Atiku Campaign. If every politics is local then Saraki should have concentrated 100% in Kwara for him to avert the loss.
The strategic reason for Saraki’s loss was based on his fundamentals that were flawed without him going back the extent that strong believes became assumptions. For example, the same people that he has always known to defeat have worked out a strategy that was unknown to him. The grassroots he depended on have shifted base without him knowing. Only if he had doubled checked he could have found a solution before it became so late.
He announced his strategy to the opponent so early that gave them time to respond with a counter. You will ask how? In an interview on channels television station, Saraki was confident to say that, PDP will win in the South –East and South – South, PDP will lock down North Central, PDP will share votes in the North – East, North – west and South – West. He said, “ Buhari does not have the numbers to win the election. This gave the opponent a recipe to work on. At the end of the day, the stronghold of PDP was restrained from putting out the figures of 2015 while Buhari maintain a better figure from 2015 from the North, the rest is history.
Finally, Saraki has never been in opposition expect the short time opposition in 2014 to 2015 unlike Asiwaju that has been in opposition since 1993 therefore winning comes naturally to Saraki and this beclouded him from a re-think.
The truth is that the Buhari government like Saraki also slighted Asiwaju but the burden of going back to opposition was his staying power.
AS ASIWAJU AND UNLIKE AKPABIO
Mr. Godswill Akpabio like Asiwaju have installed the sitting Governor and Like how Asiwaju had issues with Fashola a former governor of Lagos state installed by Asiwaju, Akpabio has problem with Udom Emmanuel. Asiwaju was adamant to remove Fashola in 2011 but having considered the possibility of loosing the battle he retreated to support him in order to remain a champion because Asiwaju saw the overwhelming public sympathy towards him. The same can be said about Akpabio and Governor Udom Emmanuel of AKWA Ibom State. Akpabio did not suspect there will be public sympathy and did not know he was over stretching his influence. Secondly, unlike Asiwaju, Akpabio was not in control of the house of assembly, he tried to be in control but he failed.
Unlike Asiwaju, Akpabio left his party to fight from outside which created a big disadvantage. He also was on the ticket thereby putting himself in the fight instead of a proxy. His fall has become a final fall that can only be resurrected from the court of the Land. Asiwaju also lost some elections but it was not pronounced because he did not come out boldly to endorse the candidate.
AS ASIWAJU AND UNLIKE AMOSU
Senator Ibikunle Amosu the Executive Governor of Ogun State has thought his unhindered access to Mr. President makes him fit for the leadership of Yoruba Land. His role in the victory of Ondo and Ekiti governorship election also reinforced this dream and it came to peak during a town hall meeting in Abeokuta when he announced that all is now set to retire the leadership of Lagos state.
This boldness pushed him to unilaterally announce the governorship aspirant for Ogun state without carrying stakeholders along like the present Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo and Aremo Osoba former Governor of Ogun State. Amosu did not learn from the stories of persons that were close to the President and never gave consideration to the Vice President until the table changed. Amosu was on his way to claim the leadership of Yoruba land if he had won the governorship election of Ogun state through his candidate Hon. Akinlade. He was set to retire Asiwaju. It is worthy to note that despite all the campaign tantrums thrown at Asiwaju and the Vice President they maintained their cool but Asiwaju nearly lost it at the Presidential rally at Abeokuta when the podium was pelted thanks to the persons that calmed him down at home.
Amosu was beaten in a game he has come to know too well, a terrain he has traverse for 20 year, he was so confident about victory little did he know that a shocker awaits him. The victory came from unexpected quarters, from a friend Governor Elect Prince Dapo Abiodun who was promised same ticket by Amosu and all of a sudden they became sworn enemies but he found help in an Asiwaju that never had interest in him not until let they say “ Amosu began to show himself” less I forget Asiwaju in 2011 gave the governorship ticket to Amosu on a platter of gold in opposition to the then leadership of CAN which led to Aremo Osoba leaving the party.
In 2003, Asiwaju as Governor of Lagos suspected that a coup was in the offering by the then President Obasanjo who became a latter day friend of AC (i.e. Action Congress) and by this he survived as the only governor to be re- elected for a second term in the entire south west.
Asiwaju was to be the Vice President with President Buhari but he understood the need to win the election. For this singular purpose he stepped down for the present Vice President. Again, in the last 3 and half years he has been sidelined but he maintained his cool but today he has won all the election from top to bottom vowing never to lead an opposition government again.
People have taught ‘’otogelagos’’ was the tsunami that will carry him away but yet again he came out with a resounding victory. If there is anything to learn is that Asiwaju does not engage in what is called “fight to finish” if there is need tomorrow to win an election and Amosu holds the key, Asiwaju will form an alliance with him same as we saw with Senator Omisore and Former Governor Gbenga Daniels.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has become the only “Governor Emeritus raise to power 3” (i.e. A former Governor that has installed 3 persons as Governor 3 times) Chief Ibori is second and the likes of Saraki, Peter Obi, Orji Kalu could only do it once.
Finally, to stay relevant is to value winning, opposition is cumbersome, hectic and tiring. . My take.
Lai Omotola is a renowned Public Affairs Analyst and the publisher of politico.ng