Thursday, January 22, 2015 12:22 pm
By Damola Awoyokun
Jonathan has turned the country into a terrible mess that we have no other option but Buhari. And yet Buhari is an unrepentant representative of the Arewa Hegemonic Consensus unleashed by Sardauna. From his deeds as a military head of state, to his deeds as chairman of PTF and to his past stands on national issues when he is not in the campaign mode, Buhari is not interested in the common good for all Nigerians. When he talks about his love for Nigeria, he is talking about his love for the Nigeria of northern hegemony. His use of the word “Nigeria” is merely a codeword for Northern interests. Now that his government is inevitable, what should we do to contain him according to Kennan and keep southern interests safe? This is where Vice President Tinubu comes in.
After the long drawn democratic primaries between Clinton and Obama in 2008, the general no-brainer position was that Obama should adopt Clinton as his running mate and his national electoral victory would be safely assured. This was very enticing. But Obama thought not just about winning elections but about the future: Clinton like him was deficient in foreign policy matters and his presidency would make America very weak in overturning the mess Bush was leaving behind. So he chose Joe Biden, a veteran. Obama’s opponent, John McCain quickly capitalized on the millions of women who may have felt dispossessed by the neglect of Clinton and chose Sarah Palin. That choice eventually proved catastrophic because in the long run the substance of a candidate would always trump consideration for optics.
Prof Yomi Osinbajo may be smart and have a distinguished record but he doesn’t have Isale Eko Bolekaja strong personality that Nigerian political ethic required. In fact the absence of this personality accounts for Jonathan’s downfall. Because he is so easily pushed aside, we are wondering who is actually running Nigeria? Okonjo-Iweala, Alison-Madueke, Patience or Goodluck? As the President of the Federal Republic of 170 million people, Jonathan is so weak, miniscule and confused that events overwhelmed him all the times. Look at the recent cartoon terrorism in France: as the Islamic killers attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices, President Hollande speedily convened a security meeting. He and his cabinet members visited the terror scene few hours after the attack even when the terrorists have not been apprehended. By night time, he was already addressing the nation, reassuring them and defending the founding ideals of the French Republic. That is a leader. The terrorist attack was unforeseen but he quickly took charge. He refused to be overwhelmed by it. He is Charlie.
On the other hand, it took the visit of the young Malala, 3 months after the kidnap of Chibok girls before Jonathan met their parents only in Abuja. He did not even bother visiting the place. It was after 19 days after the kidnap before he called on the governor of that state for a report of what happened. He never assured the nation through a special broadcast because what happened to the Chibok girls can happen to any Nigerian child. Jonathan is not Charlie. Jonathan is a rat. Victorious soldiers do not necessarily have better weapons. But what they do have in abundance is grit. With a weak commander-in-chief who cannot inspire confidence down the ranks, soldiers are deserting the field of battle and Boko Haram and their sponsors are busy laughing. In the first anonymous interview the Seal who shot Bin – Laden gave, he said during the briefing before the mission, they asked what would happen if they were suddenly surrounded by the Pakistani military.
He said the original plan was that they would surrender and Vice President Biden would fly to Pakistan to negotiate their release. Obama said, no way! “My guys are not surrendering. What do we need to rain hell on the Pakistani military?” The shooter said: “That was the one time in my life I was thinking, I am f**king voting for this guy [Obama]. I had a picture of him lying in bed at night, thinking, You’re not f**king with my guys. Like, he’s thinking about us.” That is how the personality of a commander-in-chief contributes to the success of a mission.
There are going to be headwinds form every direction either from regional interests, business interests, foreign interests, media interests, breaking news, friends and family that threaten to derail your agenda however lofty they are. It takes a strong determined personality to stamp his/her feet on the ground or bang his/her fist on the table to say no and the people will take him seriously. When President Obasanjo said this was what he was going to do, nobody doubted it. Today leaders are still travelling down to Ota to pay tribute to him and render him relevant to national affairs. In moments of uncertainties or insecurities, people prefer a leader who is strong but wrong to the one who is weak and right. President Jonathan is worse: he is weak and wrong. When he too wanted to travel to Ota, Obasanjo stopped him “out of respect for the office of the president.” Only a Tinubu could have singlehandedly fought Obasanjo in particular over the creation of local government and in the other clashes between the state and the federal government. And for the first time, there is a formidable platform against the hydra-headed PDP due to Tinubu.
It is good for a leader to be smart, humble, be a visionary and be concerned with welfare of the people. But all these qualities only come into play only when you first and foremost have a strong personality that consistently secures the right environment for these qualities to flower. An effective leader can always get people of ideas around him to supply him; but he can never outsource a strong personality if he is lacking. Else he is not the leader. Osinbajo is a man of stellar qualities but he has a politically inconsequential personality. They’ll give him the space to turn Aso Rock into a Redeemed Camp or even to change the country’s name to Oluwarepublic of Nigeria while real politicking goes on behind closed doors and agenda-defining meetings happen behind him. They would concoct their agenda in Kano and Kaduna inimical to the rest of the country and if Osinbajo says no, they would still go ahead because they know his ‘no’ does not matter.
He was simply brought in to annul the deficit implicit in a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket. Blessed are the meek and humble, they will say to pacify him. But trust me, Tinubu is neither blessed nor meek, nor is he weak or humble. With Tinubu there as Vice President, both Southerners and Northerners would know that no agenda would pass behind him; they would know that defying him would spell consequences either immediately or when Buhari comes down South to campaign for 2nd term. It is baffling how this eluded the APC strategists.
Indeed with no solid achievements to run on, Jonathan has been openly appealing to the North-South religious divide. And so the APC allowed itself to be rattled when in actual fact the religious narrative would never have swayed the Southern vote unlike the North where power is religion and religion is power. Hardly does anyone know until recently that Fashola is a Muslim. Or that when Adedibu, a Muslim removed Ladoja, a Muslim, he installed a non-Ibadan Christian there. Religion in politics particularly in the multi-religious South West is never an issue. The Abiola and Kingibe presidential ticket of 1993 was a Muslim-Muslim ticket and Southern Christians never felt dispossessed by it. Paring Osinbajo with Buhari is a mistake.
—Damola Awoyokun is a writer and historian.