As we approach 2023, the battle for the highest office is gathering momentum. There are noticeable alliances and re-alliances. There are also those who are yet to decide; who probably feel that it’s too early to take side.
As for sides, we have Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi from the South South and Ahmed Tinubu from the South West. And the question of where to pitch tent is seriously becoming a dilemmic challenge to Nigerians including political elites from the South South region.
Some people believe that Tinubu has been a liberal politician who more than any other politician, has raised men that are willing to take up his battle across the country. Others think that he has run a very effective Mafia politics that has protected the interest of Lagos overtime; with emphasis on successes in Port business and entertainment; industries that are almost absent in other parts of Nigeria.
However, there are strong and bitterly held opinions too that these ascriptions and claims are overly exaggerated; more like speculations that have only gained sustenance through the Tinubu’s owned TV Station and Newspaper House, the TVC News and Nation newspaper respectively. But these claims have almost become true because they have lasted for so long unchallenged.
If governance is really about the people, then the question we must ask is: was Tinubu truly a servant of the people as the electoral mandate to serve in the office of the governor demanded of him? Or was he serving himself using state resources and persons who only by default benefitted from his long term journey to promote self?
Ambode was one of those Tinubu progenies, but in 2019, he was despised and disgraced because he failed the real Lagos State and became its enemy. Actually, the real Lagos State is Tinubu. That is how liberal Tinubu has been; building a political empire that made him rich and powerful like a state. In fact, Tinubu is Lagos, he is the Emperor and the rest are his slaves, serfs and subjects. Why did he engineer the removal of Ambode?
A Lagosian and a political insider answered thus: “Tinubu removed Ambode because he (Ambode) refused to grant the concession of 4th mainland bridge to his (Tinubu’s) Hitech; he refused to increase the amount of money being paid from the state revenue to Tinubu through Alpha Beta from 10% to 20%; he developed Epe, which was never in their master plan; Ambode refused to finance Osun state elections; he opposed Tinubu’s succession plan of making Seyi Tinubu (Tinubu’s son) Governor of Lagos state after him. The original plan was to make Seyi Tinubu the party’s candidate, not Sanwoolu. He can’t rule this country, or else he will own the country and agberos will be kings.”
It is also noteworthy that Tinubu has not stopped nursing grudges over the party’s refusal to accept his proposed Muslim-Muslim ticket idea in 2015.
Tinubu has never truly supported the emergence of Buhari as the president of Nigeria. Yes he wanted a party that is formidable but not for others to come in and gain equal prominence, but he couldn’t control it because those persons like Amaechi who joined him to form APC are not small meats. Ameachi saw no one else but Buhari, so he matched everyone including Atiku wit for wit, tact for tact, dollar for dollar and delivered Buhari. Tinubu was and is still a pro ACN under APC. He has never been a pro-Buhari or a supporter of an APC that gives equal chance and opportunities to members from N-PDP, CPC etc. And this is evident in the words of Bukola Saraki.
Bukola Saraki had claimed during his campaign in Kwara State, that Ahmed Tinubu acknowledged his reason for leaving APC. He said “I left the party when I realized he (Buhari) lacked the capacity and the desire to make any change. Tinubu on his own part said, though he agreed with me about my assessment of the man, he would continue to support Buhari even if the man had to govern from the hospital stretcher because that is the way he (Tinubu) could become the President in 2023. So, while my position is premised on national interest, Tinubu’s is based on his personal interest and ambition. Now that Tinubu’s new speciality is to hurl insults at people like former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, focusing on me today is okay if it will help him feel good.”
He continued: “It is surprising that a man like Tinubu will be talking about morality and corruption. This is a man whose disrepute is known both within and outside Nigeria. This is somebody who personifies everything that is wrong with the Nigerian system.”
Part of Tinubu’s clever schemes is to play innocent and keep the image of a leader; he desperately wants to step into the shoes of Awo and be seen above other Western Yoruba leaders as the leader of the region. Yet he is very desperate to become the president and has plotted it from the very beginning by cunningly placing his supposed men at strategic positions. Tinubu is over confident that his ambition will become a reality because he thinks that he has his boys everywhere. But wether truly, the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibajo, Ahmed Lawal, Gbajabiamila etc., are his boys as claimed is yet to be seen.
It is Tinubu’s ambition that has almost destroyed APC. It was his ambition that brought in Adams Oshiomole. And seeing that Amaechi, with his youngness, agility, vibrancy, bravery, sagacity and innovative strength has become very famous and popular with people in the south and in the North, he (Tinubu) considered him (Amaechi) a threat to his ambition. Like they devilishly conspired to kill the southern ports; Calabar Port, Delta Port, Rivers Port – Onne Port, they also infiltrated the southern politics to weaken Amaechi’s influence and make him a bad market for 2023.
The evidence of this claim is seen in Oshiomole’s approach to the crisis that rocked APC in Rivers State. What practical and workable solution did Adams Oshiomole as the chairman of the party proffer to put a rest to the crisis. Adams was unable to solve the Rivers APC crisis as he was also unable to solve the crisis in other states where APC lost. While Adams served as the chairman, Tinubu has continued to lay claim to the position of national leader. So, as the national leader of the party, what did he do to resolve the crisis in Rivers APC? They all did nothing because as long as the fight continued, it had negative impact on the reputation of Amaechi; and that was a good score for them.
But while they hatched their plans, they did not take cognizance of certain uncontrollable variables, and it is those variables or factors that were not envisaged that have almost destroyed the party and backfired on them. So, it’s very easy to deduce that Oshiomole failed as the party chairman and Tinubu failed as a national leader when he reserved his comments and never spoke earlier enough about the leadership crisis rocking the party at the national level. In fact, Tinubu does not deserve the title ‘National Leader’ for placing his ambition above collective interest and success.
With this, how can anyone think Tinubu better than Amaechi if Nigeria needs a true servant? Should we in right sense celebrate men who turn state institutions to their private estate? Tinubu was bent on removing Ambode because he made decisions that didn’t serve his selfish interests. He vehemently refused to listen to anyone who advised him against the move; he even snubbed the president.
As an Assembly speaker, Speaker of all speakers, Chairman of Governor’s forum, etc, Amaechi stood for the people. He did not govern Rivers State as an Emperor, he did not create agberos and he did not lord his interest over Rivers people. He did not make deliberate efforts to transform himself into an institution that equals the status of a Nigerian state.
Amaechi rather served the people; he declared the famous”Rivers Money for Rivers people”. He matched his words with actions through embarking on massive infrastructural transformation in Rivers State. He standardized the state school system; improved healthcare service; drastically reduced unemployment and illiteracy by creating sustainable employment avenues and offering real opportunities for foreign and local academic advancement in the entire Rivers State.
Between 2003 and 2007, Rivers State was the second name for terror; blood rained like water and human beings were stolen like chicken as criminals took over the streets with so much audacity. It took a strong willed Amaechi to arrest the sordid situation.
People from the south south who may be supporting Tinubu will be justifying their decision with the following reasons: 1. dislike for Amaechi’s political choices and decisions in 2019 and 2. hope for a better chance to realize set objectives with Tinubu in 2023. But if it is not about personal interest, then the question should rightly be how the expected outcome of 2023 will impact positively on Nigeria and favor the south south. Sadly, there seem to be an absence of a defined and coordinated South Eastern or South South political agenda or objective.
With focus on 2023, Political elites from the south south need to discourage selfishness and revive the spirit of common dream and collective responsibility and pursue a common cause through a closely related statesman; it makes sense. Someone said “I’ll rather work with a devil that is my brother than a devil that is not.”
While it is true that Ameachi has all it takes to improve upon the achievements of the APC government going forward, he (Amaechi) has a lot of work to do in terms of keeping his house in order if indeed he is interested in becoming the President of Nigeria. Amaechi cannot win the national battle without a strong home support. So, he must reach out and reconcile. Also, people from the South South, especially political elites, must ensure that their choice for 2023 is not influenced by anger and vendetta.