The Jagaban Factor in the Buhari Matrix

President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

By Simbo Olorunfemi 

“They Go Away Because We Go the Right Way”- Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

Many do not understand the Tinubu politics. Many are confused by it. Including the man from Kwara. He cannot understand it because it does not conform with the template they know and operate by. It always leaves them confounded. In their bid to explain or rationalise it, they are often left stranded.

Long before the 2015 elections, ahead of the birth of the APC, in the situation-room and permutations centre of leading politicians, they had come to the conclusion that the incumbent was there for the taking. 

The opportunity was there. They saw an opening. Those smart enough however came to the realisation that even though the gap was there, the only way that gap could be marketable was to rally around a strong candidate, with a dedicated base.

That was how Mai-Gaskiya came into the mix for the Jagaban. The whole essence of the coalition, for him, was all about rallying forces behind a David to help him take out a Goliath that has been entrenched for almost 16 years. That was his primary objective

Many others crossed over or joined the team, including the perennial runner from Adamawa, the man from Kwara, the red-cap from Kano. They saw an opportunity, but did not see the vision. They thought it was just about cobbling a team together for the realisation of anyone’s dream. 

It was not for Jagaban and he worked hard to ensure the man he saw was the most viable, in terms of the geo-politics, brand equity and the signs of the time to win. But for him, the man would not have won. Mai Gaskiya knew it. Those on the other side knew it. The battle line was drawn.

Of course, he had his own ambition, which he thought, at a time, could fly. He was even public about it.  But long before those on the outside pushing against it, mostly out of fear because of his growing influence, realised it, he had shelved it, having done his home-work, but only kept  them busy, only selling them a decoy. 

When they claim they foiled his ambition, those who know would simply chuckle. He had an alternate in place long before they knew it. When they realised it, they kicked, but did not succeed. ‘Mere Commissioner!’ They could not.

I argue that some of these people do not really understand the Jagaban politics. They are so single-minded and reductionist in their thinking that they assume it has to always be about self, in terms of holding one public office or the other. So, they box him. To them, for 2015, the only reason he could have supported Mai Gaskiya would be if offered a position. The only reason he would support the man for 2019 would be in anticipation of support for 2023.

That amounts to thinking at the very base. That is not the stuff of strategic thinkers. The man is one. The difference between his politics and that of the man in Kwara, like many other politicians, is that he is able to see how dying to self today can be of strategic benefit for his tomorrow.

So while he gave up his Senate ticket in 2007 and went to work to build a political armada that started with his region, before berthing at the centre, the other man from Kwara could not see beyond 2015. He had his way and a few years after, he is looking for a way.

Knowing when to put self aside, die to self, for the objective of the collective is the key.

In the words of  Asiwaju Tinubu, “there is nothing wrong with ambition. Without a degree of ambition, we would never strive to improve and develop ourselves. But ambition, restrained by nothing but itself, is a dangerous commodity.” 

The calculations for 2023 are different. They do not know the man, even though they think they know him. 

The bit they know is that the Jagaban factor was key in 2015 and would be critical in 2019. They are right about that.  They need to understudy the man to decode what is going on.


Strictly talking politics here. I know some preacher-man might come with some sermon on morality, asking what this has got to do with the people. We have done a lot of writing on that.  We might get to that soon, please.

I am a student of politics and our interest is primarily about power and the interplay of forces.

Thank you.

-Simbo Olorunfemi is a Nigerian poet, journalist, and business person with a background in TV production and brand management 

View Comments (1)

  • I totally agree with this great student of history. What he has highlighted in this wonderful piece is what separates Asiwaju Tinubu from the pack. To me, in Nigeria today Tinubu, as a political strategist, is yet to be matched.