Tinubu and the rest of us
By Obi Nwakanma
I have been absent in the last number of weeks from these pages, just to take a rest, but principally to save my mental health from the Nigerian conundrum.
One example of the Nigerian conundrum is the situation in which an unelected candidate is brazenly declared winner of a presidential election by INEC, the electoral body which openly connived with the party in government to push the controversial candidate of the party in power down the throat of Nigerians.
They forcibly inaugurated him as president of the republic to the shocked silence of the Nigerian majority, even as the results are still currently disputed in court.
I am not making this stuff up.
The Nigerian Civil Rights Community report on the election has said this.
The European Union expert observer report has said this without equivocation that the elections were brazenly rigged.
Nigerians watched the inauguration of Mr. Tinubu from a distance.
There was neither celebration nor applause.
It was like a day of mourning in Nigeria, rather than the day of celebration, and renewal, and hope which all new inaugurations bring.
For the first time, the inauguration of a president of Nigeria felt like a cult gathering.
The hollow rituals convinced no one.
But now, to many like me, and numerous other Nigerians, Mr. Tinubu is just an interim president holding down Nigeria by force until the courts decide the legitimacy or not of his election. Nigerians hope with bated breath that the courts will assert rightful judgment and free Nigeria of this burden of legitimacy.
If the courts fail to deliver true judgment, as many skeptical Nigerians already think they would, they would have placed the curse of Sisyphus on Nigeria. Nigeria would roll the rock of its state up, and it will roll back down because it has no anchor.
An illegitimate president will have the burden of a buy-in.
If a majority of the citizenry do not trust, support, or buy into the program of whoever is the president and the party in government, what we have facing us is four more years of conflict, mass resistance, and decline.
It is frankly a grim picture.
The settlement of the court case over the legitimacy of Tinubu’s presidency one way or the other will determine to a large extent what shape Nigeria takes going forward.
Too many things are at stake, but in order not to prejudice the courts, I will leave the issue for the moment until the court rises.
I will only say this: it is becoming clearer, even to skeptics, that Mr. Tinubu has no juice.
This is of course against the troll of many hagiographers who have put it out there in the air that “Tinubu has hit the ground running!”
How? Running to where? What’s their evidence?
He has taken tough decisions, they say. That is his major achievement!
Taking poorly thought decisions that are “tough!” And what are these tough decisions? How have they impacted the lives of Nigerians within the last nearly seven weeks of the Tinubu presidency?
Dear Nigerians, these are the ways Tinubu “hit the ground running,” for which the likes of my buddy, Steve Ayorinde, at Arise TV would quickly lose their thinking caps: first, within hours of his inauguration, Tinubu’s office announced a withdrawal of fuel subsidy.
It was the first act of his presidency and it was a sham policy act.
The immediate impact was the rise in price of petrol which has thrown Nigerians into the kind of despair none has ever seen in Nigeria yet. People cannot move.
Small businesses have closed down.
The direct impact on the economy is so massive and the damage incalculable.
Public reaction had grown so dangerously edgy that Tinubu quickly reversed himself. Now, that’s nothing to brag about.
The second is he made appointments to his executive office: Special Advisers. I’m still not sure how that became a benchmark for effective leadership or competence.
The real question is: how has Tinubu’s seven weeks or thereabouts in office translated into a new direction for Nigeria?
How has it put cereal on the table for Nigerians? How does the long convoy of luxurious cars conveying Tinubu through the streets of Lagos at the tax-payers expense reflect the quality of thought, insight and value, of a man out to solve the problems of an extremely poor and impoverished Nigeria?
What legacy does Tinubu want to continue: A circus for the rich, and death to the masses of the poor?
How does his appointment of advisers reflect a new and positive direction, when he continues on the legacy of deadly patronage, and of ethnic particularism and nepotism?
A look at Tinubu’s appointments for instance, some of his critics say, continue to demonstrate a brazen map into his very tribal consciousness.
He is without doubt significantly better than Buhari in this regard, but he has also front-loaded, just as Buhari did, mostly folk from his ethnic group who have been placed like a strategic ring around the office of the President of Nigeria.
That is not an achievement. Nepotism is not achievement.
Another action which has now been chucked in for Mr. Tinubu is his retirement of the Service Chiefs.
Retiring heads of the Armed Forces is not an achievement; it does not amount to a strategic reorganization and repositioning of the national security forces for security delivery.
It is just moving tables.
Worse still, retiring these officers and giving them mouth-watering severance benefits in the face of a national economic disaster is a form of bribery, and given the current paucity of national resources, a great imposition on the Nigerian tax payer.
But let us also look just briefly at the broad, strategic implications of this decision which might have unintended blowback: in making these appointments, Tinubu has sent over 350 Generals from the three arms into forced retirement.
Many of these gentlemen are in the primes of their lives, and at various stages of their rise, have been given very expensive strategic trainings at tax payers’ accounts.
This waste of national resources is bad policy. Beyond that is that it threatens to destabilize the Armed Forces.
There is no country yet that wipes out an entire generation of such ranking officers from its High Command without consequence.
One of the larger implications is that these highly trained soldiers, still at the professional prime, will be in the market for recruitment by private security organizations and mercenary forces, some of whom might not be good for Nigeria’s national security health.
The developments in Sudan and Russia, where private and parallel armies competing with the National Defence Forces grew powerful enough to challenge the state should give us pause.
And speaking of that precisely, one of Mr. Bola Tinubu’s missteps is to invite a well-known militant leader, Asari Dokubo, and offer him the president’s chair to address the press and the nation from Aso Rock – the seat of Nigeria’s government. The optics was heavy and symbolic. It startled many Nigerians.
Dokubo’s presence in Aso Rock seems to have borne this out. He not only threatened and insulted the Nigerian Armed Forces, he threatened and insulted the ethnic Igbo who happen to be his unheimlich. In videos currently emerging and circulating in the cyber stratosphere, Dokubo threatened to end Nigeria if he is arrested.
He apparently has the resources. In another video in which he went on a rant against journalist Rueben Abati, released from Saudi Arabia, Asari Dokubo seems to hint at the source of his impudence.
He possibly has a private mercenary force which has the strength enough to be awarded the contract to (a) man the Kaduna-Abuja Road, and (2) lay siege on the South-East and kill members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
He was given that contract, he said, by Buhari and his NSA. He may have been the face behind the unknown gunmen phenomenon in the South-East.
It is now up to the Federal Government to arrest Asari Dokubo and hold him and his mercenaries responsible for the violence in the South-East and the killings, especially of Dr. Akunyili, and the Port-Harcourt Real Estate Mogul, Gab Ofoma.
Besides, it is now clear to Nigerians that what Mr. Buhari ran was not a Federal Government of Nigeria. He ran a criminal enterprise, and supervised the liquidation of Nigeria. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari hated Nigeria and Nigerians. No surprise here that he ran off to the UK after he left office.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Fact Check news
Nwakanma is a public affairs analyst.