By Bola Bolawole
The hullaballoo that attended the election of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the vicious agitation that has trailed it ever since have kept me wondering whether there is anything to the Tinubu election that was absent in the elections before it.
When they allege rigging, previous elections have been rigged; even more scandalously, more blatantly and more brazenly. For instance, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was forthright enough to admit, publicly, that the election that brought him to power was tainted. How did Olusegun Obasanjo, as sitting President, captured all but one (Lagos) defunct Alliance for Democracy, AD, states in 2003; and how did another sitting President, Muhammadu Buhari, “win” re-election in 2019? Still, the roof was not brought down over our heads!
When they say “Muslim-Muslim” ticket, we have a precedent in the Muslim-Muslim ticket of MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe. Like MKO, Tinubu is from the South-West and like Kingibe, the vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima, is from the North-East. When they speak of #EndSARSNow or human rights violations, former President Obasanjo and the outgoing President Buhari, both military Heads of State, before they were elected civilian president – or were deemed to have been so elected – command worse human rights violation records.
When they talk of corruption, remember the shenanigans of Operation Feed the Nation of the Obasanjo regime, and the $US 2.8 billion oil money, reported missing when Buhari was the oil minister. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, the self-styled “evil genius,” is widely regarded as the master of the “settlement” syndrome in Nigeria. What of the $US12.8 billion Gulf War oil windfall that went down the drains under his watch?
After his alleged Third Term agenda failed, OBJ was described by some senators as the “father of corruption in Nigeria!” Was it not because of widespread and run-away corruption that Nigerians booted out former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2015? And after eight years in office, is anyone in doubt that Buhari’s is the most corrupt administration this country has ever had?
Tinubu’s opponents have carried on as if they themselves are saints – one was enmeshed in the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, scandal; he supervised the sale of our common patrimony to his cronies at give-away prices, was named in trillion-dollar global corruption cases; and the other one’s name was conspicuous in the Pandora Papers of corruption.
But both have not only carried on as if they are clean, but have also the temerity to point accusing fingers at someone else! True, then, is the saying that when the hypocrite points an accusing finger at someone else, the remaining four point in his own direction!
One desperado presidential candidate sees the last presidential election as his last and final clear opportunity to become President, while the other sees it as his best chance to make it to the seat of power under the prevailing circumstances. So, for both, it is do-or-die; it is now or never! Their rats must eat the beans; otherwise, they spills it by fire, by force, as they say!
So, accepting defeat becomes difficult, if not impossible. It is like, in losing an election, their world has crumpled around them. Not surprising, such is the fate of a life lived on lies, falsehood and cheap propaganda. Their story is told in 1 Kings 3:16-28:
“Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. And the one woman said, ‘O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear. And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son…and the king said…divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it…”
“I either have it or we both lose it!” They do not mind if, in so doing, they set the country back or set it on fire, triggering a chain of reactions whose end no one, including themselves, can predict. When the election won by MKO Abiola was scuttled in 1993, the political impasse or logjam that followed lasted till 1999. In the final analysis, the whole country had to assuage the feelings of the Yoruba by leaving the field wide open for them to produce, well, another Yoruba as President in 1999. Failing to learn from history, like George Santayana has posited, some elements are on the same perilous course again!
Adolf Hitler must then be right; not only is human memory very short, hordes of Nigerians, especially, are so gullible that they allow themselves to be led by the nose again and again. Reasonable Nigerians must note, however, and act on the inimitable words of one-time US President Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all people some of the time and some people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Now, mark my words: Like the Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, told the Biafran leader, Odumegwwu Ojukwu, in particular and Nigerians in general, while the sage was trying to stave off the civil war of 1967 – 1970: if by any error of omission or commission, we toe the perilous path being advocated by the opponents of inauguration, the rage last time may be a child’s play, compared to what we shall bring upon ourselves this time around.
For sure, I am for credible elections, but the truth is: elections are not perfect anywhere. Here, we have made appreciable improvement on previous elections, and we should keep going forward. Throwing the baby away with the bath water, as some are mindlessly advocating, is an ill-wind that will not blow anyone any good. Besides, none of the options put forward by the advocates of “no inauguration on May 29” appears reasonable and workable. In contrast, they are as laughable as they are irresponsible and unfortunate.
One: That Buhari should stay in office – and continue to amass debt upon debt? The same Buhari who has said repeatedly that he is tired and eager to get away to Daura or Niger Republic? That the rubber stamp Senate President, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, be sworn in as acting president? Some have even called for an interim government, unmindful of the catastrophe that the ING of Ernest Shonekan brought upon us! Yet, some have agitated for a return of the military! They should ask those of us who fought the military to a standstill, and were fortunate enough to escape in one piece! In none of the previous elections that were glaringly worse than the last one was inauguration stopped; why should the case be different this time around?
Another reason for the intransigence of the losers is the cold comfort and false hope being given to them by some hireling prophets, babalawos and marabouts. They still expect someone to fall down and die before inauguration day! They expect fire, hails and brimstones to rain down from their own imagined heaven, and not the real heaven, which is the throne of the living God! It is sickening listening to these men and women of the garb feed fact on the gullibility of a people neck-deep in religion, but miserably short in faith in God and an understanding of His principles.
Didn’t the Apostle Paul say that we know in part and prophesy in part? Why then, are some people speaking as if they are the Oracle? Didn’t Paul also say that prophecies will fail? And didn’t we see examples of this again and again in the Bible? There is time and season – and a modus operandi – for all things, prophecies inclusive. Hence, Daniel asked for time and season; hence also, the Virgin Mary asked for “How?” If you run faster than prophecy or apply human wisdom and miss it – au revoir!
The pastor, who was Buhari’s running mate in 2011 (and why not also in 2015?), who kept saying he is Number 16 – Buhari is Number 15 – might have seen visions, or heard something, but he seems to me to have come four years ahead of time. In like manner, the Atiku Abubakar/Peter Obi partnership that we saw in 2019 also came four years ahead of its manifest destiny. Had it tarried a while till 2023, no Jupiter would have been able to stop it, ceteris paribus!
God makes no mistakes; only humans do! Buhari fought tooth and nail to become President. He came in a hail of glory, but is departing on an inglorious note, from grace to grass. If only he had known! Tinubu, on the other hand, will start out, God willing, on a note of controversy, but only God can say how he will end.
Ecclesiastes 7: 8 says: “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof…” Thereby my hope is renewed! How about you?
•Bolawole, former Editor of the PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, was also the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune; and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.