With the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the president-elect, Nigeria has taken another bold step forward in its democratic journey since May 29, 1999 when the election Chief Olusegun Obasanjo ended multiple decades of military rule that began in 1966 with interruption only by a brief period of democracy from 1979 to 1983.
But why Tinubu? Of all the three major presidential candidates, he was the one whose past was more shrouded with controversies. From disputes over his age, educational qualifications, where he was born, past business deals including that he once settled with the US government and forfeited about $460,000 with court documents showing that he was a bagman for two Chicago heroin dealers in the early 1990s.
But if not Tinubu, who? The other two leading candidates have not been reported to be saints either. Atiku Abubakar of PDP is tainted with an unaccountable wealth for someone that was a civil servant who even admitted that he was into importing and selling cars when he was supposed to be working for government.
Going into the 2023 poll, Nigerians were presented with the options of the devil or the blue sea. But the questions are, are there still saints in the land? Or have we ever been ruled by saints, will we ever be ruled by saints and is there anywhere in the world where saints are calling the shot?
Not in any way to justify that bad names over good ones should be given a room in our polity and society, Nigeria has been a dysfunctional entity since its creation to make it extremely difficult or impossible not to be lawless or sinner. When you are pushed to the wall by extreme situations, the natural thing will be to first survive, after all the natural law uphold that if a man steal only to quench his hunger, he should be speared.
It has always been a contest between sin and survival (SS) with only one’s conscience that can be the unbiased judge, for any outside judges will be hypocrites who are judging from their comfort moments, forgetting that their secrets which may not be in the news as corruptions are equally sins.
For instance, a dad with a terribly sick daughter got stranded in a Lagos traffic. He had to drive through one-way to make it to the hospital and save his child. He violated the traffic law for survival; a youth spent five years at home after secondary school, taking JAMB over and over to get admission into a university. When he eventually did, he had to spend 10 years for a course that should be four or five years because of perpetual schools closure due to ASUU strikes. By the time he left school, he was already 30 years old, and the few job vacancies available were asking for youth below 25 years or lower. He was compelled to cut his age by seven years to give him a change to survive in his country; a man had been pushing a business in a federal ministry to the point of approval in Abuja when he was asked to double the figures as the take home for the officials. It was the only condition for him to get the job. He played ball and would live to argue with his conscience that what he got was for his job with the added tip for the officials not his problem or sin. But he could have walked away to look for other jobs. Yes, he could have walked away to hunger and hopelessness; a nursing mother obeyed a government directive that the old naira notes from her business were being faced out and should be returned to the bank. She did so only to be denied the new notes which were not even available. She had two options to either approach the POS operators and purchase N5000 new notes with N1000 or remain a good citizen and go home to feed her children with excuse and water.
According to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), only 41 million pay taxes in Nigeria out of the over 200 million population. Those that are not paying will have justifications for not doing so; justifications that will make it not to be sin, justification that will make it not to be corruption.
Nigeria is an abnormal society that hardly anyone from other countries can imagine. It perfectly fits the saying that only a mad man will behave normally in an abnormal situation.
Many prophesies had trailed the 2023 presidential election with some from popular pastors going over the bar, but despite that, not a few Nigerians believe that the hand of God was missing from the election of Tinubu. There was a WhatsApp post where someone strongly pushed the God’s factor, saying; Tinubu lost his state, so he won’t brag that he won because of Lagos; he lost Kano so Granduje won’t brag that I made him president; he lost Kaduna so El Rufai won’t think he won because of his radical stand; he lost Katsina so President Buhari won’t think he won because he anointed him; he lost Sokoto the seat of the caliphate so they won’t call him the Northern candidate or the Khalifa; he lost Osun where some say he really came from; he lost Plateau the state of APC campaign DG. Yet he won the overall simple majority votes and made the constitutionally required 25 percent cut in more than 25 states of the federation. What this observer didn’t add is that Tinubu still won despite the extremely oppressive government policies of naira redesign and fuel scarcity during an election period which would have made even the most meekly souls voted against the ruling party.
But in all these, what do we learn from history? Something happened in the old Israel after the reign of King Solomon from about 970 to 931 BCE. Having married 700 princesses and 300 concubines, Solomon at his old age sinned against God as he was led into the worship of foreign gods and became unfaithful to God. And the God verdict came; that he will take the kingdom away from him and give it to one of his servants. This later brought about the enthronement of Jeroboam, a servant of King Solomon, and the son of a widow who became the first king of the divided northern kingdom of Israel.
Now fast-forward to 1999 to 2007 when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo served as Nigeria’s president. To say Obasanjo was specially favoured by God would be an understatement as he had also served as a military head of state from 1976 to 1979. I’ve come across a story that he was specially favoured by God because his father had at his early age donated Obasanjo school fees to complete a local church project. At the time when Obasanjo was the president, Tinubu, the now president-elect was the governor of Lagos.
Obasanjo despite being a democratic president then ruled like a maximum leader with disregard for the rule of law as he would do anything possible to crush the opposition. In 2005, he seized funds belonging to local governments in Lagos State under Tinubu and held on to it despite court rulings against his action. There was also the Lagos armoury explosion on 27 January 2002 which was believed to have killed at least 1,100 people and displaced over 20,000, with many thousands injured or homeless. In the wake of the disaster the then President Obasanjo who visited the scene told agitated crowd that: “I didn’t need to be here to see anything because my being here will not solve anything. Shut up. I took the opportunity of being here to see what could be done.”
What could be more tormenting and painful for Obasanjo to be alive and see the Tinubu who he once trampled upon as the president-elect of his conquered estate? One can understand his agitation, agony and impatience when the election result was yet to be declared, when he said the exercise should be canceled. Quoting him, he said, “Your Excellency, President Buhari Muhammadu, tension is building up and please let all elections that do not pass the credibility and transparency test be cancelled and be brought back with areas where elections were disrupted for next Saturday, March 4, 2023, and BVAS and Server officials be changed. To know which stations or polling units were manipulated, let a Committee of INEC staff and representatives of the four major political parties with the Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association look into what must be done to have hitch-free elections next Saturday.”
Going forward, it’s instructive to note that comparing the story of Solomon to Jeroboam with Obasanjo to Tinubu has thrown up many lesions to be learnt.
Between Solomon and Jeroboam was his son Rehoboam who became king and foolishly threatened to make life more difficult for the people of the land. He first approached the elders who advised that, “If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you.” But he rejected this counsel and took that of the young men he’d grown up with who were now currying his favour. They asked him to tell them that: “My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I will beat you bloody with chains!”
Also between Obasanjo and Tinubu were Umaru Yar Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari and missed opportunities with nothing to show that any lesion was learnt.
The President-elect seems not yet to be carried away by his new status going by his utterances so far. In his acceptance speech, he said “I want to be your servant and not a leader. Whether you are BATfied, Artikulated, Obidient, or Kwankwasied, or any other thing, I want to serve you. The youths, I hear you clearly. We would work together. I will pay attention to your education. You shall be creative. Your four year course will be four years. Your universities will have autonomy.”
But the question is for how long will he remain sane before been negatively influenced and become power intoxicated?
Where will Tinubu seek his counsel and whose advice will he take? Will he seek for wisdom afar, and who will he attribute his righteousness to?
“Take away the wicked from the presence of the king and his throne will be established in righteousness.” Is it too early to say that those speaking for Tinubu after his election seem to be saying the opposite of what he had promised and this can only make one to imagine what those who spoke for Rehoboam said before he became power drunk?
The media and communication team of the APC in a combative press conference on March 3, 2023 in a response to Atiku and Obi’s separate press conferences said, “The combination of the disgruntled youths, the ethnic champions, and commercial clerics were the reason Obi thought he could win a presidential election in Nigeria.”
I don’t think we saw any disgruntled youths that voted during the election, but those that were frustrated and angered that their destinies had been mortgaged by the so-called leaders.
The youths had spoken twice now. First, with EndSARS and now through the 2023 election. They have the largest population and they are the ones that will elect the president after this dispensation!
If I were Tinubu, I will consult the elders and take to their advice so that history will not repeat itself as seen in the cases of Rehoboam and Obasanjo that lost their relevancies and kingdoms.
•Segun Adeleye is the President/CEO, World Stage Limited; Creator, OELA Music; and Founder/Chairman, Segun Adeleye Foundation for Good Leadership in Africa (SAFFGLIA).