Yesterday, we watched as an old man was retired politically. Seating lonely in an empty room, with no political friends or associates, he came cap in hand to ask for permission to run for office from a man that didn’t need to give it, and left a resounding message: “this is about me, this is about my personal ambition”.
What a shame!
This was not meant to be so. A man who worked tirelessly to install progressive governance at the national level for the first time since independence, when Nigeria was slave to conservative market forces, was not designed to seek the approval of a proletariat to get the mandate of the people. He was meant to take the bottoms-up approach, not the top-down approach to power. He was meant, as a progressive socialist, to do so in company of likeminded folks not alone.
The speech itself was rambling. Trying so hard to sound eloquent, it was obvious Asiwaju was badly advised. As any political gladiator knows, only the inexperienced and desperate jump out early before the whistle is even blown in a consequential election like Nigeria’s Presidential race.
In 1999, Bola Ige was the first to declare. In 2003, it was Abubakar Atiku. In 2007, it was Odili and Ibori, in 2011 it was Ribadu in front and in 2015, President Jonathan started the race before anyone could say Jack Robinson! In 2019, we all cannot forget quickly how Governor Fayose launched his campaign. What do they have in common? They were all unserious losers!
And oh, can we even ignore the disrespect? Here you are visiting a man in the Presidential Palace, and allowing yourself to be goaded on to be called the kingmaker. You took it, accepted the title and stuck your fingers in his eye in an empty room next to his office!
Come to think of it, allowing others to tooth your horn comes with certain level of dignity and statesmanship. Your 3 million vote addition to Buhari’s immaculate 12 million made him President, but it sure can’t make you President! That is simple mathematics!
It was hard to watch an old man trying desperately to sound polish. He was rambling, often off point. He referred us to his model governance in Lagos, some twenty years ago when social media was not even a thing! Common! The same governance that delivered a fantastically corrupt revenue collection model? Where your private company was written into the law? The same model governance that set the pace for golden pensions for ex-Governors that other states have since scaled up to impoverish our people?
Fact is, Asiwaju has never been taken to task for his true stewardship in Lagos. Now that he has thrown his hat in the ring, all will be litigated. The stolen funds, the mix of state and personal funds, the inability to complete basic infrastructure when Egypt has built 32 new cities with similar resources or the lack of basic transportation that has ensured the average Lagosian spend the most time in traffic in the entire world- wasting their most precious earth possession, while he enjoys fantastic wealth and locks the state resources for his son (sole media right and owner of tolling resources), his daughter (market tribute collector) and wife (Senator and woman leader). Is this the new model for national governance? God forbid!
It is good Asiwaju himself admitted he was saying the truth and nothing but the truth, when he spoke of his “lifelong personal ambition”. We have no problem with his ambition, we just want a president that wants the job because of us not because of himself!
Tanko Yusuf (writes from Jalingo).