It just did not add up to the characteristic and characterization of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu: what the embattled senate president, Dr Abubakar Olubukola Saraki, said of the Asiwaju in his response to the open letter said to have been written by the Asiwaju, pinning his reasons for the defection of Senator Saraki from the All Progressive Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is faulty. It is evidential that Senator Saraki has not fully learnt, neither has he imbibed enough of the history of the Asiwaju’s democratic struggles for Nigerians.
His (Saraki’s) continued stay upon a false, uninformed and ill perceived ground in the notion that Asiwaju Tinubu is after him for his (Saraki’s) contribution to the Asiwaju forgoing his Vice Presidential ambition is quite beggarly of popular sympathy, which only the helpless of societies donate freely, being vulnerable in quick militant reasoning. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was never forced to nominated Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Vice Presidential candidate for President Buhari in 2014 to warrant Saraki’s thinking.
The Asiwaju conceded to the sacrifice demanded of him by his party men, lest the so much “change” envisaged by his party may not collapse on the alter of his self glorification – that much should be made clear. It was not the first time Asiwaju Bola Tinubu would be asked to relinquish his ambition and nominate his replacement – he is a veteran of political sacrifice. In the face of this historical fact, it is clear that Senator Saraki is, by the target of his response, forgetting history badly. This is bad and unfortunate for , and in any category of leadership recruitment.
It is therefore wrong for Senator Bukola Saraki to cast the Asiwaju in his own mold. Senator Saraki assumes, repeatedly, that the Asiwaju is after him because he joined others to stop his (Asiwaju’s) Vice Presidential ambition. What Senator Saraki forgot to remember was that the Asiwaju, in Nigeria’s political framework, is the most tasked, denied, and sacrificial politician in Nigeria today.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu willingly relinquished his mandate as the running mate personally nominated, and stuck to by President Muhammadu Buhari, on the night of his nomination as the presidential flag bearer of the APC in 2014. It was already an agreement reached between Tinubu and Buhari, and only Buhari had the powers to nominate his running mate and he did and left it there – this is the picture of the Asiwaju’s sacrifice. He did not run away from dialogue to “steal” any mandate.
First, let it be proven to Senator Saraki that his opposition to the Asiwaju’s vice presidential ambition was not because he was fighting for democracy. The man was fighting to sustain and nourish his personal interest in becoming the senate president. The way and manner Senator Saraki ascended the senate presidency makes it absolutely clear that the seat was on his mind when he was opposing Asiwaju Tinubu’s vice presidential bid. It is dodgy for him (Saraki) to attempt the use his opposition to the Asiwaju’s ambition in 2014 as a ladder to ascend his justifying the pursuit of his presidential ambition, acting sneakily as if he is fighting for democracy – democrats are known when seen.
There was nothing wrong with the Muslim/Muslim, Buhari/Tinubu joint presidential ticket originally intended by the APC – it was not unlawful, it was constitutional and meets acceptable universal standard for personal and findamental rights. For Nigerians, it was “lets change the PDP” after 16 years, and not even a Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket would have stopped the APC’s victory. The Legacy Parties (ACN, CPC, ANPP, and part APGA) had accepted the ticket already. It was only the nPDP members that opposed the Asiwaju’s emergence as vice presidential candidate to President Buhari when they made it into the APC and on the night of the national convention – a crafty bunch indeed.
Saraki/Dogara machinations towards taking over the leadership of the 8th Assembly was an enlarged nPDP project. At the time the nPDP joined the APC, there was no time to hold any meaningful talks. So naturally, as a bargaining chip to get things heading on, the Asiwaju willingly gave up his ambition to accommodate the views of the “new” PDP members he graciously accommodated. Truth can only be denied, it cannot be shielded.
Senator Saraki’s heart knew that Nigerian politicians will not tolerate a Muslim president, a Muslim vice president, and a Muslim senate president together in one government if he thinks that Nigerians would not tolerate a Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket – this was Senator Saraki’s faulty assumption that led him to his treachery against the “spirit” of the APC. Today, he has been made, by the same “spirit”, to sing a strange and an outdated song monotonously.
It is certain that if “tenure elongation” for the former NWC members of the APC had succeeded, people like Senator Saraki would have engineered defections into the APC to outsmart President Buhari at the presidential race – he should remember the act of “cutting Tinubu to size” and now he is running away from a “cut” Tinubu and spiritualizing in a frenzy. No one can hide under his shadow. It is important to point it out to the senate president that he is sounding like a broken record – eardrums are aching instead of itching.
Let Senator Saraki showcase himself competitively against Senator Tinubu’s Democratic credentials. Tinubu gave up his senate presidential ambition in 1991 under the SDP and nominated Dr Iyorchia Ayu as a replacement, and he did same for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo: let Bukola Saraki tell Nigerians what he has forgone in his life as a democrat. Bola Tinubu holds onto Lagos, while Bukola Saraki holds onto Kwara: the difference is clearly in the fact that no robbery has been traced to “Alausa”.
Lagos enjoys a continuous leadership advancement and economic development, standing as a role model of succeeding progressive governance with expansive human and material developments amongst the States of the federation – who
would deny this? The difference is in long term governance planning, geared towards modernizing the society.
Where was Senator Saraki during the Sani Abacha years of political terror? Tinubu was facilitating NADECO and Radio Kudirat. The pressure he exerted from his self exile drove Abacha to his grave. Where was Senator Saraki when the Asiwaju was deepening our democracy by founding and refounding political parties until he gained a ruling party upon which he is senate president?
The answer is in the fact that though Bukola Saraki has a Yoruba man’s outlook, he loves the nomadic nature of the Fulanis. Here lies the conflict between “Abubakar” and “Olubukola”. When a man has a clippy identity and is sneaky about his ambitious, which, to a large extent, is inordinate, then error must be made on the side of caution.
It is a danger to listen to people who forget history. Democratic struggles go beyond mere talking. Talk is cheap and affordable. Defection is easy, go…found a political party, nurture it under so many grievous battle of survival, and come out with a ruling party where a greedy politician can sneak in to take the senate presidency, then seek and embrace him happily at the end – Mr Democrat. It is not amala, gbegiri and assorted meat. It is interesting to watch anyone eat that deliciously.
This is the picture of who political party defectors are: gluttonous diners on ready made tables. Senator Bukola Saraki can never be a democrat. Period!
Ini Akpan Morgan is the Convener of the APC Patriots Grouping (APCpg) in Akwa Ibom State, and writes from Uyo.
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