2023: Bola Tinubu and his “loyal boys” to the government

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During a visit to Lagos as part of an advocacy campaign on the need to diversify the Nigerian economy in 2004, the Chairman of the Revenue and Revenue Allocation Commission (RMAFC), Engineer Hamman Tukur, told then-Governor Bola Tinubu that any local government created outside the constitution was considered illegal, under the provisions of the legislative grundnorm, and therefore would not receive allocations from the Federation account.

Tinubu replied that he would rather step up the revenue generation and collection campaign in Lagos State to support the third tier of government, and without the account of the Federation, rather than withdraw the more than 30 local governments more recent ones he had created.

The RMAFC Allocation Department, where the current Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, was then on staff, recommended the suspension of federal allocations to any state that created local governments outside the framework of the 774 local council areas created and recognized by the Constitution.

Other states that had created additional local governments at the time reverted to officially recognized ones, as President Olusegun Obasanjo, working on the advice of the Commission, suspended federal allocations to local government areas in the state. from Lagos.

As Press and Public Relations Officer at RMAFC between 1999 and 2004, when it lasted, my team monitored the ensuing media war over the withholding of local government funds in Lagos State by the federal government. Almost all organs of state government, especially the Executive Council and its members, including commissioners and councilors, alongside the Lagos Axis public commentators who we have referred to as “Tinubu boys” , deployed different media strategies to gain public support for Lagos State’s position on its right to create new local councils. And the so-called heavy hand of the federal government in its relations with the state.

In fact, aside from my office, President Obasanjo’s public affairs adviser, attorney Femi Fani-Kayode was the most vocal voice against Tinubu and his loyalists in this public discourse. Even the lawyers recruited by Governor Tinubu, through his Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (the current Vice President), had to write a very long reply against the position of Femi Fani- Kayode. I recall that the lawyers who signed the reply were then senior lawyers from Nigeria (SAN), including Wole Olanipekun, Rickey Tafa, Taiwo Osipitan and Kola Awodein.

Surprisingly, and to the amazement of many, despite withholding funds from the state in a way that could impede development and cause economic and geopolitical crises, the Lagos government has started to generate more revenue than what the federal government could have released for since the Federation account to date.

A few years later, precisely in 2012, during a discussion about the stubbornness of certain politicians, Mallam Yusuf Alli of The Nation newspapers made a call and handed me the phone, saying, “Talk to the Jagaban!

Although initially shocked, I was later impressed by Tinubu’s humane and compassionate disposition when he explained to me that “our positions are not based on stubbornness but on leadership by example through courage , fearlessness, fairness and justice to serve and empower our people.”

He even cracked a few jokes and explained in detail what leadership entails.

When Tinubu recently declared his intention to run for president, I recalled those closer encounters to assess his personality. Surprisingly, I was shocked to the core when I realized that most of the virulent attackers, since the declaration of his presidential ambition, are not only from his geopolitical zone, the Southwest, but some are also from the camp of his past. loyalists – Tinubu boys who were his former defenders, such as during the period of withheld council funds. And others who had benefited from his goodwill to secure nominations and appointments to public office at the state and federal levels.

It is quite disturbing to observe that when Tinubu aggressively promoted and supported the aspirations of many people to the highest public office, they saluted him from the highest; but now that he himself seeks high public office, they have turned to him with passionate hatred. They, who once touted him as the Jagaban, the leader and the last man standing when he helped give wings to their ambitions, now describe him as old, sickly and corrupt because of his political ambition.

Meanwhile, the most vocal and important voices supporting Tinubu’s aspiration at this apparent final moment in his political career are mainly northern APC leaders led by the former governor of the state of Borno and now Federal Senator, Kashim Shettima.

These northern activists pointed to the political debt owed to Tinubu and pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to reward him for what he did for the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 and 2019 elections, granting him the right of first refusal on the presidential ticket. They see it as a decent reward.

On the claim that Tinubu is physically unfit for the office of President due to his age, Senator Shettima pointed out that the Presidency is not a job for Masons. According to him, the mark of true leadership is not the ability to lift a bag of cement, but to have the required experience in governance, to be able to design innovative public policies and to constitute the good team that will implement them.

Activists in the North reminded Buhari that “in 2015, some very big war chest aspirants were itching to land the APC ticket, but like the Rock of Gibraltar, Asiwaju and his progressive team stood solidly behind. the candidacy of President Buhari. ”

Although I am also deeply concerned about Tinubu’s health, given what happened to President Umar Musa Yar’Adua in power and the fact that Buhari too was nearly exhausted from age and ill health earlier in his administration, I however regard the more recent life given to the allegations of Tinubu’s past misdemeanor – in his rise to wealth and judgment – as a common trait characteristic of most successful politicians in Nigeria.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to single out a politician who has succeeded in public service in Nigeria who has never been accused – whether true or false – of age falsification, falsification of certificates or corrupt practices, among other improper acts.

As we continue to strive to perfect our system for controlling and repelling the evils of our political processes, we must continually seek to improve and manage our democracy in content and form, including the very critical area of ​​leadership recruitment. .

In the meantime, if I could advise Tinubu, the kingmaker, on his dream of becoming king himself, I would rather say: “You are entitled to your aspiration, but if you are under extreme pressure to resign, you might as well consider Vice President Yemi. Osinbajo, your best ally in the South West, for his support in becoming the most powerful Nigerian. Or, Senator Orji Kalu, a former governor of the Southeast. Or Transportation Minister and former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi of the South-South. Or even the youngest presidential aspirant at the moment, Governor Yahaya Bello of north-central Kogi State, a region that has yet to produce an elected president or vice president to date.

Yushau A. Shuaib, author of the blogs “An Encounter with the Spymaster” and “Crisis Communication Strategies” at www.YAShuaib.com [email protected]

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