The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is over stretching his luck or underrating the goodwill he has enjoyed since the return of democratic rule in 1999. His Presidential ambition is an anomaly that can not hold water, not because of his age, necessarily as some are saying , but because it is an affront on our understanding of our recent political history. Let me lay the historical back ground to my argument.
Let me start with the annulment of June 12 , 1993 Presidential election. At that time, Nigeria practiced a two party system. The two political parties which were sponsored by the state were the Social Democratic Party, SDP and National Republican Convention, NRC. After about 8 years as head of states and military president, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, IBB, outlined a transition program which was to usher in democratic rule.
Activities of the transition program coordinated by a National Electoral Commission, NEC which began with voters registration, election of council members, state assembly , governorship election , House of Reps and Senate polls , was to end with the election of a president in June 1993. Two candidates filed out for the presidential, MKO Abiola, a YORUBA man from Ogun State of the SDP and Alhaji Bashir Tofa, a Hausa man from Kano state for NRC.
At the end of the polls , results stated coming in, and from every indication, it was clear that Abiola had won. That was when IBB, the then president annuled the polls . There was pressure from within and without after that decision, so he had to step aside and put in place an Interim government headed by a Yoruba man, Ernest Shonekan. It was this weak leadership set up that gave room for the emergence of General Sani Abacha.
Abacha was a tyrant. He was resolute , precise and draconian. He was feared by all, because he kept a killing squad that eliminated anybody who questioned his authority. Most of the people who protested the annulment of June 12 election and later the inprinsoment of the supposed winner, Abiola were members of the Afenifere, NADECO and the media. Abacha had a response to them, simply kill some or imprison others. Those who were lucky, escaped out of the country.
Bola Tinubu was in the Senate just before the annulment. As an Abiola loyalists , he joined ranks with those who opposed the annulment, Shonekan’s interim government and the emergence of Abacha. Like most of them, who feared Abacha killing squad or arrest, he ran away to exile and remained there until the deaths of Abacha and Abiola in 1998.
The sudden deaths of Abacha and Abiola created a ledership vacuum which General Abdusalami Abubakar, occupied. General Abdusalami initiated a very short transition program which produced a president in 1999. The Spirit of 1999 was unity, fairness and Justice. As a result of that , the then three political parties, ZONED their presidency to the South West. This was done to appeal the Yorubas for the annulment of an election that a Yoruba man had clearly won.
So, in that Election, PDP featured Olusegun Obasanjo as president and Atiku Abubakar as his Vice while the coalition of AD and APP, featured Olu Falaye of AD as president and Musa Shinkafi of APP as his Vice. Both the two presidential candidates were Yorubas . Obasanjo , a former head of state , was in prison. Abacha had accused him of ploting a coup to topple him. From prison , he was packaged and made president. Most of the core Yoruba group didn’t like the choice of OBJ. He had not fought with them since he had said that Abiola was not the Messiah , so the Yoruba hated him for that .
In 1999, Bola Tinubu also returned from exile and contested election as the governor of Lagos State and won. AD also won all the other five South West states. OBJ lost in all the Yoruba states, although he won over all. In 2003, when OBJ contested for second term, he had consolidated power enough to “revenge” against AD and especially their leader, the Lagos State governor for opposing him. OBJ won in the other five states , but lost Lagos. That was when the deftness and smartness of Tinubu began to attract many people beyond Lagos and South West.
At the expiration of his tenure, Tinubu was able to install one of his boys as governor of Lagos, and from forming political parties, the AC and ACN, he had been able to revolutionise into a successful godfather, political strategist and multibillionaire business man who has taken over regional politics and was looking beyond. With others, they stopped OBJ’s ambition to amend the constitution and become president for a term.
Once again, the spirit of 2007 was one. The South West, and southern Nigeria generally had had their constitutional two terms in OBJ, so it was now the turn of the NORTH. That was when Alhaji Umaru Musa YarAdua came on the stage. In that election, Tinubu’s party,AC featured Atiku Abubakar as their candidate. The PDP, the eventual winner put up the team of YarAdua and Goodluck Jonathan, a minority Ijaw man from the south.
If YarAdua had finished his first and second terms in 2007-2011 and 2011-2015, respectively, the presidency would have returned to the South East, the second major Bloc in Southern Nigeria. But along the line, YarAdua died so Jonathan , of the lesser South South Zone, completed his term and won another term, in 2011. His desire for another term was once again rejected in 2015.
The spirit of 2015 was once again unanimous. In fairness, unity and Justice, to repay for the death of YarAdua, North West and the very state of YarAdua, Katsina, was allowed to produce the president. Mohammadu Buhari was elected . He teamed up with the political structures of Tinubu to actualize that , so Tinubu produced the Vice president. In fairness to him, he could have been the Vice President himself, but what counted against him was the fact that in 2015, the nation was no longer ready for a Muslim/Muslim ticket.
So naturally, in 2023 when the next presidential election holds , after two terms in Northern Nigeria , the presidency will once again return to southern Nigeria. Down there, South West and South South have tasted. It was first OBJ, 1999-2007 and then second, Jonathan, 2010-2015. So naturally, it is the remaining Bloc, SOUTH EAST, the predominantly, Igbos who will produce the next president.
Tinubu is making me to hate him because, since 1999, he is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the political process , so one would have expected him to uphold this sacrosant arrangement. His Presidential ambition when obviously, we know is the turn of the Igbos, stincts. He is dymisfying himself. With him , is everyone from the North or South West who is nursing a presidential ambition. The obhor all men and women of goodwil.
The Igbos have their issues which I pray they work on fast and get ready for 2023, but those issues are not enough to make Tinubu or any other politician insult our collective sensibilities as a nation we are struggling to uphold the virtous of unity, fairness and just.
Shija is a Benue born Journalist based in Abuja.