“Was Tinubu planning to be the president of the living or the dead?…”
Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller was a German theologian and Lutheran pastor. He is best known for his opposition to the Nazi regime during the late 1930s and his widely quoted 1946 poem featured on the United States Holocaust Memorial, it reads: “First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out -because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Tinubu’s anguish reminds one of Martin Niemöller’s reviling of self. Like Martin Niemöller, Tinubu did not speak out when it mattered the most; when his perishing countrymen looked out for men. Even the First Lady of Nigeria at one point shouted, “Where are men in Nigeria”? Tinubu kept mum, maybe he saw the First Lady as an irritant. He was not there for Nigerians when they needed him the most. Why then should he expect Nigerians to rescue his dying presidential bid?
With 25 days to D-day, it is only dawning on Tinubu that the underwhelming performance of the Buhari government will be his greatest undoing. Yes, some patriotic Nigerians warned but his minders and spin doctors wouldn’t listen. They said no, Tinubu’s achievements as Lagos governor nearly 2 decades ago would do the magic. But it has not. Not enough at all to make any difference Nigeria-wide and assuage the tragic suffering of Nigerians.
Now late in the day, Tinubu has turned back to where he ought to have started. Six months of shadow-chasing and shadow-boxing was all they offered since Tinubu talked about emilokan (it’s my turn). To frighten Nigerians the most, Tinubu promised to continue from where Buhari stopped. Such an existential threat! What he promised is akin to burying alive Nigerians who Buhari’s govt has literally killed. It is only a tree that hears of its impending death and still stands there waiting.
Furthering these killer grips on Nigerians’ national economic, social, and political life means these indicators will get worse and result in more deaths. The dollar will then exchange for over 1,000 Naira and fuel will most likely hit N800 a litre.
Tinubu seems to have realized that his promise to start from where Buhari stops has alienated a few Nigerians who still have little sympathy for his vaporizing presidential ambition. He has now turned to his party and called it a failure, giving the damning verdict: “Today, they moved the exchange rate from N200 to N800. If they had repaired it, if they had arrested this, we won’t be where we are today, we will be greater. They don’t know the way, they don’t know how to think, they don’t know how to do.”
Tinubu is now speaking the language of opposition and not that of a ruling party. However, Tinubu as a citizen has the right to criticize his party. But at what point did Tinubu realize that his party cannot think? Is it now that his chance in the 2023 presidential race is irretrievably vanishing that he is waking up? If so, it means he does not genuinely care about the suffering masses.
The real question is: what did Tinubu do or say when the nation was seized by the jugular by the incompetent APC government? He and the governor of Lagos state, Sanwo-Olu both were said to have played key roles in the EndSars brutality by involving the army. The massacre resulted at Lekki Toll Gate, a business concern in which it is believed he has an interest. Did Tinubu condemn the brutality with which the EndSars protest was crushed? How many such deaths and massacres did Tinubu condemn? Is it the Owo Catholic Church massacre or which one else meant anything to a man who wants to rule Nigeria as a lifelong ambition? Was Tinubu planning to be the president of the living or the dead?
In the area of poor governance, Tinubu also kept mum till the nation’s debt profile rose to an unprecedented N77trn and debt servicing has now hit over 80% of the nation’s total revenue.
Tinubu has never said anything about insecurity in the country or blamed his party for not thinking well about it. Or, spoke tongue-in-cheek when he managed to utter a word not to annoy the power donors. Bandits that were brought into the country by his party to force Goodluck Jonathan from power (many thanks to Hon. Baraje for the great revelation) have grown into a full terrorist group, according to the latest status confirmed by the Nigerian courts.
The Killer herdsmen have taken over most Nigerian forests and killed, raped, and maimed. Suspected herdsmen killed the daughter of 97-year-old Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the national leader of the Pan Yoruba Socio-cultural organization, Afenifere. Fasoranti’s daughter was one of the many high-profile Nigerians they killed in the South West alone. Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Olu Falae escaped by the whisker and his police orderly was killed.
The rampaging killer herdsmen have killed even more in the South East. Before Obadiah Mailafia died, he told Nigerians that over 100 communities in the middle belt have been sacked by herdsmen and the displaced communities replaced by them. Tinubu never saw anything wrong. To say nothing about the spiraling unemployment and inflation that now stands at an unprecedented 22%.
The APC came to power brandishing a whopping 222 campaign promises, which included restructuring, state police, and even fiscal federalism. Not one of these mouthwatering promises has been fully met. But let us leave the APC promises out for a moment and look at Nigeria’s misery index which has grown worst on all counts since Nigeria gained independence with unemployment now at 33.3%.
Here are incontrovertible comparisons between Nigeria that Tinubu wrestled from Jonathan and handed over to Buhari: Dollar exchanged for N190 in 2015, but now exchanges for N740 or more; Fuel went for N87 in 2015, now it’s N300; Kerosene sold for N150 in 2015, and now N1,000; Diesel went for N155, now selling for N900; Cooking gas sold in 2015 for N180, but now N850; Rice was N8,000 in 2015, now N45,000; Bread was N300 in 2015, now N1,000; Chicken went for N2,500, now N10,000; flight was N13,000 in 2015, now N80,000; Insecurity was only in the North East zone, now all over the country; Debt profile was $9.7bn, but now $98.6b or N77trn.
When the gloomy future loomed on the horizon before unleashing, where was Tinubu? But today, barely three weeks to the 2023 presidential election he says, ‘They Don’t Know How To Think’ for Buhari’s Govt moving Exchange Rate From N200 To N800. Fact is: the failure of the Buhari govt was well predicted but the lust for power blinded the likes of Tinubu.
For this February 2023 General elections, Nigerians should offer the prayer of Josiah Gilbert Holland –
‘God give us men’
“Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting for Justice sleeps.”
Yes not men who will keep silent while the nation perishes for fear of injuring some pride and stepping on toes of power donors. Nigerians desperately need men and women who can provide total leadership and who possess the courage to restructure the polity and move the country to nationhood and make Nigeria the pride of Africa and the envy of the world. Not the likes of Tinubu that are only after the capture of state power rather than the welfare of Nigerians.
· Dr Law Mefor, a forensic/social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought