By Ernest Omoarelojie
In the Nigerian political arena, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, operates like a collosus. Almost quietly, he succesfully has waddled his way into Nigerians’ consciousness having made himself a capable ally to those whose support he would need for his long term plans. Effectively, he has since become the country’s replacement for the late Chief Tony Anenih, ‘Mr Fix It’.
At least, that much is evident in that wherever he pitches his tent, he becomes the centre of focus. That perhaps explains why no one is really surprise that as quickly as he declared his intention to succeed incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, he made himself the centre of every political discussions within his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. But the real challenge for him now is that he has too questions he needs to provide answers just so that he may be able to dispel the growing belief that he is more of a problem posing as solution.
No one, either within the opposition PDP, where he is a lingering nightmare, or his ruling APC, where he is a leading member and of recent, a growing bad dream, can dismiss his overwhelming influence generally, the same reason, among many, why he won the right to win the ‘National Leader’ toga. Unfortunately, as big as he is in the country’s political consciousness, even bigger he is in the department of self-evident controversies, the same that will turn his newest dream into a make or mar situation.
A lot has been said about allegations that portray him as a dubious character. This piece is not about to add that he is or that he is not. Instead, it is meant to reflect on his controversial past, the engine room that generated the doubts about him as an individual worthy of trust.
Tinubu is alleged to have been involved in illicit drug dealings while in the US. Among other allegations, he is said to have received substantial monetary proceed from the deals as shown in some documents that indicate that there were questionable payments to his US bank accounts. Thus far, no response, worthy of the name, has come from either him or his handlers, to convincingly vacate substances of the allegations. The questions to which he and his handlers must to provide answers here include: was he indeed not linked? Is anyone linked with drugs good enough to become Nigeria’s next President, at a time the country should have president that is practically as clean as a whistle?
Tinubu claims Lagos as his state. Like his alleged involvement in drug dealing, it is another subject of controversy. His traducers say he is from Iragbiji, Boripe council area of Osun State. The issue is that even though he has a right to adopt Lagos as his state, that right is not persuasive enough to convince any one that his deafening silence over his real status is not conspiratorial, particularly as it underscores the reason for the constant bickering over the issue by stakeholders. At least, many real Lagosian with traceable ancestry are angry about what they regard as a stranger lording over them. Arising from that, there is now, a growing movement tagged, ‘Lagos for Lagosians’.
As far as the protagonists for the ‘Lagos For Lagosian’ movement are concerned, his claim to being a Lagosian is patently and peculiarly false. Thus, it becomes more imperative that he must tell Nigerians whether or not is from Lagos or Osun State. Nigerians need to know whether he is ashamed of acknowledging his Iragbiji ancestry. He has to provide answers to the questions just so Nigerians may know that he is not the subject of Bishop Ajayi Crowder’s abmonition when famously noted that he, who is not proud of his colours is not fit to live. If Tinubu is not proud of his real root, he is certainly not fit to preside over Nigeria.
When he became Governor of Lagos state, Tinubu became the subject of some debilitating academic controversies. Allegations had it that he did not attend either of the two secondary schools he claimed to have passed out of. That is in addition to the controversy over the real identity of the university he graduated from. The ensuing ‘Rofo Rofo fight’ was so intense that reverted public interest defender number one, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, took on the case, vowing to expose the truth, come what may.
Certificates from both secondary school were not only never tendered, it was also alleged that no record relating to them existed. In fact, in the case with the secondary school in Ibadan, Oyo State, the records covering the years he claimed to have graduated from the school disappeared completely.
Festus Adedayo wrote:
“In 1999, one Waliu Balogun wrote a petition against Tinubu leveling a number of damning allegations that bordered on fraudulent claims of educational attainments. Among other things, he accused Tinubu of lying in an affidavit attached to his Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) form that he lost his degree certificates while he was in exile between 1994 and 1998. The newsmagazine later published those details in a gripping expose which left a sour taste in the mouth.
“One after the other, all Tinubu’s claims, sworn to under oath in the Form CF001 he filled with INEC were shredded to smithereens by the magazine’s story. St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, Lagos, which he claimed to have attended, the magazine said its investigative reporting found never existed just as his name was conspicuously missing from the records of the Government College, Ibadan which he claimed to have attended between 1965 and 1968. Indeed, GCI’s alumni association, the Old Boys of the school, debunked the claim…”
If the two secondary schools he claimed to have attended denied having him, he obviously has a credibility issue. If, as it seems, his is a credibility problem, is Nigeria, at this point in time, to be entrusted to a character of the hue?
Certainly, Nigerians will be safer in his hands if he can prove that what has been said about him are not true because Nigeria requires a trust-worthy president.
Tinubu can now gladly talk about being an honoured alumnus of Chicago State University, after having deposed to an affidavit that he graduated from the University of Chicago. The error, according to him, emanated from one of his friends who filled in the details in his INEC forms.
He can now talk about a specific Vice Chancellor and colleagues at the said university with such infectious assurances that tend to give the impression that he is real for once. Will it not be equally assuring if he talked about his secondary school mates and or principals? Or has he?
Tinubu is an old man. Certainly, being an old man does not invalidate his rights of aspiration or disqualifies him from contesting for and becoming Nigeria’s President. After all, he is not older(?) than Buhari and or American President, Joe Biden. But then, there is something about his age that is alien to either that of Buhari or Biden. In the first instance, he is said to be far older than the age he declared, so much so those who claim to know him say his declared aged is far less that of those who refer to him as ‘Uncle Bola’. Most ridiculously, there are claims he is older than his eldest daughter by less than a decade.
Now these may not be true but is Tinubu himself or his supporters comfortable with his case as a would-be president that has controversy surrounding every inch of everything concerning him, including his real age? Is that the kind of President they think Nigeria deserves at this point in time?
Incumbent President’s health and general healthcare in the country are among the most difficult issues Nigerians find improbable to live with at this material time. In the main, they are angry that no leader, both at the state and federal levels, has found it necessary to build a world class medical facility, capable of providing as much healthcare as any of its kind any where in the world. They are angrier that despite having secured political independence over 60 years ago, the country’s Governors and Presidents still travel to London and other advanced countries for medical tourism when all they needed to do is provide one, at least, somewhere in any part of the country. To say that they are very angry with Buhari over the issue is an understatement. To even imagine that they will be satisfy having a potential medical vegetable as next President is nothing but a crimine of unimagined epic proportion. Nigeria and Nigerians deserve a President worth the name in character and conduct. For at least two major reasons, no Nigerian should consider having another President whose health status is a mystery.
As Lagos State Governor for eight years, Tinubu was unable to establish one single hospital worthy of his presence as a patient. Time has caught up with him and he is now an old man with plenty of medical needs but relies, unfortunately on hospitals and medicares abroad. He is yet to be a president contending with all the rigours of office yet frequenting London to fix body parts, as he puts it. Certainly, we have not forgotten that the issue has already drawn public ire with the incumbent who regularly vacate his responsibilities for medical trips abroad. One can put the issue into more practical perspective by relating it with a Nigerian axiom which says, ‘fight never start, nose don cut.’ You may complete the rest.
Tinubu is statutorily qualified to aspire to the office of the President of Nigeria. But beyond regular requirements, including age, academic qualifications, etc, there is the more fundamental character and or moral requirements. Put differently beyond his astute political dexterity, he also needs to be worthy of the office in character and moral standing. If there is controversy over his character, his real home state, his secondary academic qualification, his alleged involvement in drug peddling, his age, his health, etc, what then qualifies him?
Until Tinubu and his handlers provide answers bothering Nigerians, he should know that he is more of a problem posing as solution. Truth is, Nigerians cannot afford to be blinded by a project they saw coming.