“I talked to my friend, Tinubu, we are very close. I told him that we need to develop the progressive party in Nigeria. He didn’t believe me, he preferred to go and link up with the most right wing group in the North. And that right wing group was headed by Buhari in the name of CPC… I have known Gen. Buhari when he was the military Head of State. I was a university lecturer then. I know the tyranny that was visited on this country. I warned Tinubu that he will regret bringing Buhari and imposing him on the party. I believe he is regretting silently without telling Nigerians. But more is to be expected. I am sorry to say that if Buhari is re-elected in 2019, it will not only consume Tinubu, it will consume so many other people. It may even lead to the disintegration of Nigeria.” — a statement made by Iyorchia Ayu, Third Republic Senate President, during an interview he granted The Sun newspaper.
Like Festus Adedayo, my good and very brainy aburo and an ace columnist with The Tribune newspaper had warned his readers in a piece entitled “Tinubu and Iyorchia Ayu’s Prophecy” which, I must say, inspired this write-up that he “ordinarily do not take Third World, especially Nigerian, politicians seriously,” I also do not put stock in Nigeria’s politicians (except for a very few) largely because they are nitwits who are not only bereft of what politics must produce for society, but are criminals in every sense of the word. As indicated, the epigraph above was a statement by Mr. Iyorchia Ayu, a seasoned politician that made its rounds on several social media platforms before Adedayo intervened. I had ignored the statement because I thought it was one of those fake pronouncements concocted by someone with mischievous intent in stirring some needless controversy. My urge to ignore was even stronger when I realised that the statement had no source ascribed to it when I first ran into it.
More importantly, I get easily irritated when a politician whose chequered and unenviable past is so glaring even to the blind suddenly start to make pronouncements that look so appealing and innocent on the surface like, for instance, former President Jonathan on a lecture circuit on how to fight corruption. What I had dismissed as inconsequential suddenly became important that needed further interrogation not only because Adedayo had devoted a considerable segment of his weekly column to it, but his own interpretation of the statement as it relates to President Muhammadu Buhari vis-à-vis its implication for the Southwest through Asiwaju Tinubu’s political engagement with the so-called most “right wing” elements of the north allegedly spearheaded by the president.
This piece is not necessarily a rejoinder to the column under reference, but an attempt should be made here to bring into the fore what Adedayo may have missed or probably decided to ignore in his dissection of Ayu’s beatification while my own dissection will be restricted to the contents of the epigraph above. Where Adedayo did not see “raw chaffs of self as motive for the interview” after “weeks of dissection and pondering” I saw not only some underhand scare tactics being deployed against the Southwest specifically targeted for 2019 should Buhari seek re-election, but an insidious setting up the stage—-through Tinubu—-on which the geo-political zone would be blamed for whatever shortcomings history may have in store for Buhari and his administration by the likes of Ayu. His vituperation against the president also falls on similar patterns of condemnations from those political gladiators who’re so accustomed to power that they never thought for a second that it could be lost in their lifetime, let alone to Buhari whom they’re morbidly afraid of because they never can predict to what extent he would go to expose the stench in their underbellies.
If Ayu’s statement above must be subjected to critical thinking and content analysis as Adedayo apparently did, one cannot help but conclude that it harbours nothing but half-truth, conjecture, falsehood, speculation and everything in-between as we shall see presently.
While Ayu’s expressed friendship with Tinubu and their closeness thereof was probably a carefully calibrated intro to authenticate and lend credence to his subsequent claims, the fact that he seemed to have been disappointed with Asiwaju because he did not believe him when he was told that they should “develop the progressive party in Nigeria” probably speaks to Ayu’s progressive credentials that may not be as genuine as he tried to make us believe. Asiwaju probably saw through him. Ayu may still not believe that actions, as they say, speaks louder than words as his records has shown that he could not be trusted not only because of his flippancy in the nation’s progressive fold, but also the ease with which he cavorted in the past with Nigeria’s reactionary elements that subsequently earned him such a rare privilege of possessing a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to Dasuki’s “ATM machine” from where he also ‘obtained’ substantially. It is therefore patently hypocritical of Ayu to have proclaimed his commitment and adherence to the progressive cause when he was (and probably is) an active participant in a political party that seeks to subvert, if not obliterate the very political tendency to which he claims commitment. If Ayu is a committed progressive, one wonders the ideological column that someone like Chief Wantaregh Paul Unongo, his fellow Tiv would fall under.
While there may be little to dispute in Ayu’s characterisation that the dominant political tendency in the Buhari administration is the “right wing” of the far north geo-political zones, what must also not be allowed to pass unsaid is that the president represents the progressive faction of this northern “right wing” as demonstrated by many of the progressive policies of his administration, some of which are quite novel, if even these policies must be measured by the time-tested yardstick left by the progenitor of the region’s progressive politics, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Ayu’s characterization of the north as being in the “right wing” of the political spectrum was nothing but a political statement meant to have some negative effects in the Southwest. The Southwest progressives were quite aware of the fact that the north has really not made any pretence about its conservative political path which Ayu himself has been a loyal accomplice, if not at least an honorary member before they engaged the regions in an historical alliance to rescue a nation on the verge of collapse. Therefore, they do not need Ayu’s lecture about the political predilection of the north.
As a member of the northern political establishment and a progressive that he claims to be, perhaps Ayu should have provided his southern progressive colleagues with the reason(s) why the political atmosphere in the core north have not been conducive enough to nurture a vibrant progressive class in view of the regions’ glaring developmental challenges that can only be obliterated by progressive policies and liberal politics when the Southwest has since produced another formidable generation of relatively young, brilliant, and upwardly mobile New Left as exemplified by the Osinbajos, Fasholas, Fayemis, Aregbesolas whose models of social re-engineering can be replicated anywhere in the world, and their technocratic subalterns in the federal bureaucracy that are changing the country’s fortunes for the better.
That the “right wing” in the arid north even in Nigeria’s post-bellum, still commands a significant leverage in the nation’s political scheme of things may not be the overarching concern. What’s probably perplexing is the inability of the new left in this political partnership to find like minds from among their generation in the north with whom they have shared values and governance ethics—-safe Buhari, paradoxically—-so that a new, serious and sustainable political paradigm can be effected within a short spate of time. Those that the Southwest thought has progressive inclinations, if not the mindset from the core north—-and, therefore, could do the governance business with have turned out to be very disappointing in view of their stance on federalism, state police and restructuring, among other things. Since the Third Republic Senate President seems to be far too enmeshed in partisan politics to make this observation, one would have thought that Adedayo should have come to his rescue in finding plausible answers to these posers rather than to have seized the opportunity to, once again, drive another put-down into the president’s persona that “Buhari is a cold-calculating power-seeker who equally possesses the ruthlessness of Hannibal, the Carthaginian General.” With this unfortunate characterization Josef Stalin would be green with envy in Lenin’s Mausoleum.
It is also important that Ayu’s assertion that he “warned Tinubu that he will regret bringing Buhari and imposing him on the party” be corrected. While a former university lecturer can hardly be accused of not having the presence of mind to know that words have meaning, why Ayu seems to believe that Buhari was imposed by Tinubu on the All Progressives Party (APC) is beyond comprehension. Buhari was not imposed by Tinubu or anyone for that matter. I submit. It would be recalled that Buhari contested with four other aspirants namely; Alhaji Atiku Abubakah, Rabi’u Musa Kwakwanso, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and Sam Ndah- Isaiah in a presidential primary adjudged as the most transparent, free and fair in Nigeria’s democratic experience. Atiku Abubakah ordinarily could have won the presidential primary as he was credibly reported to have spent money as if it was going out of fashion. Yet, the former vice president finished a distant third. Where then was Tinubu’s “imposition” in that October 2014 presidential primary?
Since clairvoyance or clairaudience are not known to be part of Ayu’s credentials or his natural abilities, his position that Tinubu is “regretting silently without telling Nigerians” do not merit a response here. But there’s no need for Ayu to stretch his conjecture into the realm of the ridiculous. His statement that “if Buhari is re-elected in 2019, it will not only consume Tinubu” [but] “so many other people” [that] “it may even lead to the disintegration of Nigeria” was nothing short of a red herring to whip up the sentiments of Southwest public against the re-election of a president who has clearly outperformed all his colleagues since the advent of the Fourth Republic. Since Buhari has not expressed a desire for a second term, let alone his re-election, it remains to be seen if Tinubu will be consumed by Buhari. But Ayu can be rest assured that the Southwest will interrogate before crossing that ‘consuming’ bridge if it happens. His suggestion that Buhari’s re-election in 2019 by the votes of majority of the Nigerian electorates in a democratic system is capable of leading to the country’s disintegration is to stand logic on its head. What he did not say, however, is that President Buhari’s actions and policies has never been so devastating to the economic power base of the very few but extremely powerful criminal elites that has held the country in the jugular for so long and with reckless impunity that they’re ready to pull down the roof should the president secure a second term, up to and including a coup d’état. Ayu just happens to be the latest among the prominent criminal enterprise to have indirectly sounded a note of warning that Buhari must go home after his first term.
Ayu should be reminded that if the ultimate goal of his highly political, if not prejudicial statement was to send the Southwest geo-political zone on a guilt trip for daring to partner with Buhari to rescue a country that was apparently headed towards a bottomless perdition in the Jonathan presidency, he has missed his target. The region’s dominant progressive tendency has never wanted anything more than a level playing ground in order to have a virile and sustainable polity, as opposed to the mercantilist predisposition to national politics of some of its counterparts. This has always been the region’s driving force. The Southwest should not, and must not regret having galvanised its people to cast their ballot for Buhari in 2015. It will not hesitate to support Buhari again for a second term should he seek re-election as there’s no alternative to a president who has demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt his unflinching commitment to rescue the country from the vice grips of the few unconscionable looters for the betterment of the long-suffering Nigerian masses. History will say the Southwest well because it came into the country’s rescue when it mattered most.
Femi Odere is a media practitioner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.