The unfolding smear campaign against former Lagos governor and leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, is no surprise. It had been in the works for years since the Jonathan-led government realised that Tinubu commanded a powerful political followership. The successful merger and birth of the APC posed the most potent threat to the PDP and Tinubu an architect of the merger has become a marked man.
The thought of a Buhari-Tinubu ticket confounds the PDP hierarchy and their crisis-battered president. That Tinubu might be nominated as General Buhari’s running mate also incenses the small element within the APC who joined the party not for its progressive vision but to exploit its platform to press forward their vision of themselves. Having failed at halting General Buhari’s bid, the PDP disinformation machine has thrown itself into overdrive trying to stymie the selection of Tinubu. Sadly, some elements within the APC – elevating their personal ambition over party and national interests — have lent themselves to this endeavor.
During the Nazi takeover of Germany, madman Adolf Hitler became jealous of those within his own party who showed independent thought and who would not allow themselves to be bent just so he could satisfy his megalomania. Outraged, he engineered a purge executing the lot of them. This bloody scheme became known as the “night of the long knives.” In Nigeria, we have entered the “season of the wrong knives.”
The recent report on one of the online news websites on the allegations bordering on his academic qualification is not new. What is new is how desperate they have become to stir up a new controversy using an old lie. In the past these allegations were successfully rebutted. Recent attempt to present them as fresh allegations will not go unchallenged.
The online report, published by Sahara Reporters, claims that Tinubu withdrew his support for the ACN in the 2011 election due to blackmail by the president. It is rather odd that this report colors Tinubu as the villain. If the report were true, he would be a victim. President Jonathan and his administration would be guilty of the high crime of extortion. This tiny consideration seemed not to dawn on the authors of this scurrilous piece; so fixated on stabbing Tinubu, they implicate their own boss in wrongdoing. So eager to please their master, Jonathan’s mindless men further ensnare him.
If Tinubu had been scared off in 2011, it would make no sense for him to spearhead the formation of the APC against the same president. If the president had such control over TInubu why didn’t the president use that leverage earlier to scuttle the APC before it gained a strong position in the political space? The story makes no logical sense.
The particular accusations in the story further reveal the malice of mind of those peddling it. They claim Tinubu did not attend Chicago State University. They cite as their evidence a letter from the US Consulate. But if you read the letter carefully, the surname stated is “TinubO” not “TinubU.” If the University did a computer check on that name, the check would come up empty. The culprits likely misspelled the last name so that the name search would reveal nothing. This is clever but immoral; it is a wrong knife.
Meanwhile, Tinubu has genuine documents and pictures showing him as an award-winning student at the school. Nigeria should be proud that one of its own graduated an honor student from an American university over thirty years ago when that was more of a rarity than it is today. Instead, his detractors want to pretend he never set foot on campus.
As late as August 2012, Tinubu visited the university and was given a special reception and a tour by the school’s president. This would not have been done for a stranger. It would have been done for a distinguished alumnus.
After graduation, Tinubu landed jobs with two well established international companies, one the accounting firm Deloitte and Touche and the other, ExxonMobil. Such companies investigate an applicant’s academic background. If he had not attended school, these companies would not have hired him. He would not have excelled in them but he did.
The rumor about drug running is the lowest form of calumny. He has never been arrested, charged or indicted for any drug-related crime. Had any such suspicion existed, the American government would not have granted him political asylum during the Abacha era. Under American law, asylum cannot attach to anyone who has broken or offended that same law.
Moreover, Tinubu travels frequently to the states. This means he has a visa. American law prohibits visa issuance to anyone reasonably suspected of drug dealing, let along being convicted of the same.
If I were Tinubu, I would place a wager with the PDP. He should offer to fly to America if the PDP would also send Mr. Kashamu. Both can fly to Chicago. Then he should bet the PDP who would return to Nigeria first. We all know the answer.
There is a vicious campaign to deter Tinubu from the APC ticket; this campaign is being run from the PDP’s basement. They fear him. They cannot assail his competence and experience. He has been an able senator and governor. They cannot assail his commitment to democracy. He has personally sacrificed more for democracy than all the PDP hierarchy combined. They fear his ability to campaign, to get out the vote and to protect that vote, especially in the southwest because they know that is the pivotal region where the election will likely be won or lost.
These assailants desperately try to scuttle Tinubu’s potential candidacy. In that the truth offers them no solace, they resort to lies. They seek to ambush the man under cover of innuendo and untruth. But their aim is off and their knives are wrong. In the end, what they use to injure him will turn to point against them. Such is the outcome when one engages in malice.
Thus, they seek to prevent a person who may be controversial yet he is perhaps Nigeria’s most able and versatile politician, strategist and policy maker. For perhaps the most gifted politician of his time not to seek national office is a luxury a nation in this dire circumstance can ill afford. In the end, governance has little to do with religion, region or rumor. It has to do with vision and competence. The wrong knives will never be able to cut that truth.
– Tinubu Media Office, TMO