By TUNDE AKANDE
Bola Ahmed Tinubu is fighting the fight of his life. He did promise at the commencement of his campaign for the presidency that he would fight dirty, but nobody expected this high level of dirt that has become a daily engagement between him and his PDP opponent, Atiku Abubakar. Both have thrown ugly allegations of corruption at one another. But in recent weeks it seems that the dirty spat between Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC is not as threatening to his presidency as the current spat between him and the president, Muhammadu Buhari, and some yet-to-be officially unmasked persons at the presidency. Bola Tinubu had maintained that he would continue where Muhammadu Buhari stopped if he wins the presidency despite the danger of such a stand because Buhari is seen by many Nigerian electorates as a failure. Even the wife of the president publicly apologized to Nigerians that her husband has failed them. Bola Tinubu’s move condescending to Buhari is seen in many quarters as political just to satisfy the president who could throw spanners at Tinubu’s ambition.
But lately, Tinubu seeing the real threat in the naira swap and the perennial fuel scarcity that is ravaging the nation for which Buhari has been lackadaisical, Tinubu took to the podium in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun to cry out that the fuel scarcity and naira swap which has literally shut down the economy are ploys by the administration to ensure that he does not win the forthcoming election. He asked his supporters to walk to the polling booths and to damn the naira hoarding to vote for him. He mentioned specifically that there were moles at the presidency who want him defeated. His supporters also went to work battling these moles. Mallam Nasir El- Rufai, diminutive but powerful and cerebral governor of Kaduna State reportedly gave five television interviews in a day crying foul over the scheme to ensure a Tinubu defeat. Nasir said it was not ripe to unmask the moles at the presidency yet, ” what is important now is to defeat them and after the election is won, we are going to unmask them,” he told a TVC interviewer when he was asked to unmask these moles. Nasir said the Tinubu group defeated them during the primaries that got Tinubu nominated and their candidate is Ahmed Lawan who currently heads the Senate.
Fingers have been pointing to unelected personalities around the president, his nephew, Mamman Daura who once argued on the eve of the primaries that Nigeria should jettison the rotational presidency. The rotational presidency is an idea forged by the major political parties to ensure that political power rotated around the south and the north. Mamman Daura is touted to have such a stranglehold on the president that though he is unelected and not in the cabinet, he is said to live within the Aso Rock, the official residence of the president. People say in the early days when the president used to travel abroad for a long time on medical tourism, Daura was the effective president. The president usually was not transmitting power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo. Even the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari has been reported in the press as having engaged in fights with Daura. She once complained that those who were not involved in her husband’s campaign have hijacked the presidency. Daura is mentioned as one of those she referred to.
But some are debunking the involvement of Mamman Daura in the current power game to see Tinubu lose the election. Alwan Hassan, a stalwart of APC from the North told a panel of Channel Television that Mamman Daura is campaigning for Tinubu and that he personally recruited him. He boasted that Daura asked them to campaign for Tinubu. According to him, the person in the current power game is a 34-year-old, Tunde Sabiu Yusuff, said to be a cousin of the president. Alwan Hassan told Channels that Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele went to the president to convince him that a currency redesign and swap will get huge cash out of the hands of bandits. Another opinion said the dummy was sold to Buhari so that Tinubu’s victory will be scuttled. Tunde Sabiu Yusuff, allegedly the man who sees the president first thing in the morning and last thing before the president goes to bed is the most powerful person in the current administration. Some have labelled him the de facto prime minister.
Mamman Daura or Tunde Sabiu Yusuff’s involvement or not, what actually is the role of Buhari in all of these that is putting so much difficulty in the way of Nigerians? Buhari’s nepotism is not news again in Nigeria. What may not have been widely acknowledged is his plain indifference and laissez-faire attitude. His presidency appears to be so personalized that it does not seem that he consults his technocrats. That is revealed in the current confusion. Emefiele gets his approval one on one from the president. There does not seem to be any consultation with other officials of the administration who have to do with the economy. The finance minister once said she knew nothing of the currency redesign issues. There is an Economic Advisory Committee who do not appear to have the ears of the president. Yet the president cannot claim good formal education. Up till today, there is a cloud on his West Africa School Certificate. So how does the president decide on a complex issue such as currency redesign and swap all by himself? He goes to his hometown of Daura and Emefiele pursues him to the town and secures the necessary approval. Buhari is well known for being inflexible and self-righteous. People say he thinks he is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria, he is Mr. Clean and Mr. Know All. So, people are arrogating these slips to the president’s inflexibility and self-righteous attitudes.
It has been felt that beyond inflexibility and self-righteousness, Buhari has a hidden agenda. It cannot be doubted because this was how General Ibrahim Babangida, a military dictator took Nigerians on a journey of political perfidy that ended in his stepping aside from power. It was also how General Sanni Abacha dribbled Nigerians until he got five registered political parties to endorse him as the presidential candidate. There is an apparent connection between the schemes of these military dictators and the current schemes of Buhari. The electoral umpire, INEC has warned that if the election is postponed, it will lead to a constitutional crisis which can promote an interim government. Who knows if INEC is playing the game of Buhari and preparing the nation for what is being planned? In an interim government who will head that government? The way things are going with the likelihood of an economic shutdown or large-scale riot far beyond the scope of the EndSars crisis that saw the death of thousands of Nigerian youths, Buhari might just use that excuse to shut down the constitution and declare an emergency and thus continue his tenure.
Though the smart politicians seem to be outsmarting him at each turn in his scheme, things are still very cloudy. If the intention of Buhari is to ensure that currency is not made available to bribe the electorate at the polls, he must know in these few days of uncertainty, the politicians have stored more than they need already. After all? where are the 500 billion new notes that were released? Why are they not in the public domain? The clear answer is that between Emefiele and the bank chiefs, the huge cash found its way into the homes of the politicians. They will certainly use them during the election and Buhari may use that to annul the election as Ibrahim Babangida did to MKO Abiola’s election. Nobody should think some things are beyond Buhari. He ran a very draconian government at his first coming as a military dictator in 1993. There is nothing he has done in his eight years as a civilian president that is different from what he did in 1993. Unfortunately, the man Ahmed Tinubu who sold him to Nigeria in 2015 as a converted democrat is now at the receiving of his power game and brinkmanship.
Nigerians must be prepared for any eventuality. Atiku Abubakar is insistent on the sad policy of the deadline of February 10 despite the Supreme Court ruling that granted an injunction to three state governors that the deadline should not stand. Atiku must know the policy will not work in his favour. It would rather create a logjam that will create large-scale confusion and riot, which may help scuttle the election.
Tunde Akande is both a journalist and pastor. He obtained a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos