By Tunde Akande
Tunde Bakare, pastor of the Citadel Global Community Church in Lagos and a contender in the presidential primaries of the APC has a way with words and given to a fluency that is uncommon among the educated Yoruba for his Yoruba language and his Egba dialect; one of the few elites that can speak flawless Yoruba. One of his popular refrains, when I was a member of that Church, is this Yoruba proverb he turned to a song: “eran to’de o pa o ni gbo fere o. Eleti apande o ni gbo o”. Usually, he employed this song in his heydays of iconic conflicts with repressive military regimes in Nigeria until Muhammadu Buhari by deceptions and subtlety, reminiscent of his military era shut him down for a few years. I got my friend who is adept in Yoruba to translate this song for me: “a game (bush meat) that is destined to end in a hunter’s pot wouldn’t heed the whistle of the hunter. A stiff-necked (an obdurate or obstinate person) wouldn’t listen to good advice no matter how one tries to persuade him.”
Were Bakare to still be in his element, he would be singing this proverb to President Muhammadu Buhari as he sang it to different military regimes. Each time he sang it to the regimes they had refused to heed his wise counsel and had always fallen into calamity. Buhari as an ex-military leader had warnings from Bakare. Nigerians rejected him three times when he sought to rule the country as a civilian president in a democratic dispensation. But Tinubu, the current presidential candidate of the APC in his calculations for a future shot at the presidency, organized a coalition of some political parties into the APC. In 2015, Tinubu dragged the Southwest into an alliance with the North, something they had never done since the nation’s independence, and Buhari won the presidency. But Buhari who seem to have a different agenda sidelined Tinubu immediately after he assumed power. He kept him at a distance only relating with him when he had a disagreement with Yemi Osinbajo his deputy. Buhari assembled his cabal from members of his immediate family and cousins and nephews.
Still, Tinubu thought he had to placate Buhari despite being schemed out of the power loop. Tinubu would keep mute or support even the most unreasonable of Buhari’s policies. When the administration sent soldiers to kill Nigerian youths at the Lekki Toll gate in Lagos for asking the government to call the police who had developed a special hatred for them to order, Tinubu first ran away. When he came back, he challenged the youth who had suffered deprivations and deaths to tell him what they were doing at Lekki Toll gate.
Even the southwest region of Tinubu did not get his attention. He lavished his humongous wealth on the North, the region of Buhari from which he hoped to get maximum votes to get his dream presidency. When the daughter of Chief Reuben Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere, the apex Yoruba cultural and political pressure group was killed by a group of Fulani herders, Tinubu still did not take sides with his people. He had asked while Yoruba mourned this daughter of their illustrious leader, “where are the cows?” The more Buhari became nepotic and filled his government with mostly people from his own section of the country, the North, the more he took most of the facilities and infrastructures to the north, and the more Tinubu warmed himself to him. Also, Buhari’s seeming disdain for the Igbo did not attract Tinubu’s opprobrium.
Thus, Buhari like he always wants to be became a tin god. His word is law in the APC, he was sought out for everything in the nation. He became irresistible not because he could not be resisted but because of those who could look at the other side helplessly. He became irresistible not because he could not be resisted but because of those who looked at the other side helplessly. While Bakare lost his voice, Tinubu’s ambition padlocked his mouth, while the press became bribed into subservience, Obasanjo, a former president took the gauntlet and in many open letters spoke the truth to Buhari. Obasanjo was still writing a few weeks ago when he mobilized the youths of the nation against Buhari, against Tinubu, the APC candidate in the forthcoming presidential election, and against Atiku, the PDP contender, rather he endorsed the newcomer, Peter Obi, from the southeast.
All this while, Buhari had become a power unto himself. He failed woefully, especially on security; the insecurity perpetrated mostly by some criminal elements among the Fulani herdsmen whose activities he turned a blind eye to despite the fact this group engaged in killing, maiming, and kidnapping of Nigerians in their homestead, demanding and obtaining millions of naira as ransom. And despite that failure, Buhari continued to congratulate himself for a job well done at every turn not caring about the insult it means to the intelligence of Nigerians.
Buhari became so intransigent that he with the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele planned a currency redesign that is no more than a change of colour. An unachievable deadline of 31 January was fixed for all of Nigeria even the ones in the rural areas where there are no banks to have their currency swapped. A few days before that deadline, millions of Nigerians had not set their eyes on the new notes.
Emefiele, accused of alleged corruption of a humongous number of naira in stamp duties, was arrested by the directorate of security services, DSS. He was given an administrative bail to attend to his health and ran to Buhari in Daura, his hometown in Katsina State which now appears to be the administrative headquarters of his government in a way. Buhari assured him most arrogantly and in defiance of other arms of government to go back and continue his job “fearing nobody.” Thus encouraged, Emefiele has continued to defy the two arms of the National Assembly who have been asking him to appear before them. Buhari took him along on a visit to America ostensibly to shield him from arrest and when they returned Emefiele went to America giving a health check excuse. He has since returned to his duty post.
Forty days ahead of the elections, Nigerians remain very angry, faced with worsening poverty from their inability to swap their currency and food crisis that has no precedence in the country’s history. Tinubu saw clearly that a deliberate obstacle is being mounted in his way, he dreads he might lose the election. He chooses Abeokuta, an ancient Yoruba city, for the second time, to fire his shot at Buhari. Before the APC primaries when it became a reality that Buhari in cahoots with his cabal was moving against Tinubu, Abeokuta was Tinubu’s choice to fight back. At a delegate meeting, he enumerated his help that got Buhari the presidency adding that it was his turn to be president. He spoke in Yoruba and “Emilokan”, (it is my turn) which he said has become the slogan for his campaign and that of other APC contestants. Now again that Buhari has slammed a currency swap in Nigeria that is threatening the economy together with a rise in gasoline price which Tinubu saw as a threat to his victory, Tinubu has again run to Abeokuta. Why is Tinubu throwing his shots from Abeokuta?
One analyst said he was making a statement, one that has historical and metaphysical dimensions. Abeokuta is a well-fortified ancient Yoruba city that has the reputation of never for once conquered in the history of the very fierce and long Yoruba internecine civil wars. The Olumo Rock in Abeokuta provided a great fortification for the city’s warriors. The analyst thinks Tinubu is telling the powers that be that no matter how they throw obstacles in his way he can never like Abeokuta be conquered. Meanwhile, Tinubu’s use of the metaphor of extracting the palm kernel from its nut is another statement that he made in Abeokuta, and which has a prophetic implication.
For the second time, Tinubu confronted Buhari and his government frontally. A PDP stalwart in Ibadan thinks while it is right for Tinubu to have felt the way he did, politicians don’t confront their enemies frontally. Another analyst drew attention to the fact that Buhari was literally begged to join the Tinubu campaign, saying that Buhari did not like Tinubu to succeed him. Neither does Buhari like Atiku, a man he sees as vindictive even as they are both of the Fulani stock, says another analyst. Who then is the choice of Buhari? The rising profile of Kwankwaso among the Muslims in Jos, the city of this analyst may point to him as the preference of Buhari for a successor.
Tinubu said to extract the palm kernel from its very hard nut requires a flat stone upon which the nut is placed and another stone with which the nut is cracked by force, thereby forcing the nut out. Many think the palm kernel may represent power in Nigeria while the hard nut may be Buhari who has become hard to break and may have to be broken by some force. Joined to an earlier poetic denouncement by Tinubu of the obstacles of fuel scarcity and the hoarding of new naira notes which the government of the party he is contesting on its platform has placed before Nigerians just a few days to the election, Tinubu’s metaphor of the palm kernel keeps Nigerians worried as to the direction Buhari is taking Nigeria. Citizens are fed up with Buhari while he and his media aides continue to give him a pass mark in the face of untold suffering by long-suffering Nigerians, there are palpable worries by Nigerians that Buhari might drag the nation down with himself. An analyst posit that Buhari may be impeached by his north considering the way the government of Kano State and the power blocks in that fiery state rejected his recent visit to the ancient city of Kano.
According to a news report, citizens of Kano went about their duties as if the president was not there. Earlier, two serving senators from APC, Barau Jibrin, Kabiru Gaya, 20 members of the House of Representatives, 30 members of the state House of Assembly, and members of the academia and the business community according to a press release by the government of Kano state had joined the governor to request that the president postpone his visit because they could not guarantee a hitch-free visit because of the hardship the people of Kano are suffering, as a result of the currency swap and the fuel scarcity.
Buhari did not postpone the visit but rather agreed with Emefiele who visited him in his Daura home town which is fast becoming his administrative headquarters, to extend the deadline for the currency swap to February 10, a move which is seen by many as a continuation of his intransigence and stubbornness which is likely as some think to provide fuel to trigger a revolution which might throw up somebody that will rescue helpless and hapless Nigerians from pervasive bad leadership.
Tunde Akande is both a journalist and a pastor. He earned a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos