The self-proclaimed national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, won’t keep quiet. He won’t leave us alone! I am constrained to direct Nigerians’ attention once again to his legendary breathtaking hypocrisy on a cocktail of national issues. His frequent self-righteous attempts at moralising about corruption and good governance, in a bid to impress and demonstrate support for an out-of-date, out-of-touch and aloof president makes my blood boil; I literally throw a punch in the air in frustration about where Nigeria has found itself with people like Tinubu calling the shots.
You see, we are dealing with people without scruples or a shred of what good governance is all about except it serves their interests; people whose faith in black power supersedes their fear of the Almighty God. We are dealing with a gang of super-rich mob-like political merchants whose wealth from corrupt political patronage now poses a significant threat to the emergence of credible candidates for public offices. With the massive ill-gotten resources at their disposal, it has been easy for them to hold many states hostage, and their modus operandi increasingly poses a threat to the survival of unborn generations.
Each time Tinubu and his harem of court jesters and hypocrites insult and assault our sensibilities, I struggle to make sense of what remains of those values and lessons from our forbearers that have not yet been balkanised and bastardised by these people. I am even sometimes amused when these people of easy virtue try to claim the moral high ground and present themselves as custodians of the baton of a glorious past and the bridge to a bright future.
How can they be? What do these people stand for, I often ask myself whenever I see their self-serving statements in the media always designed to gain political advantage. But beyond bewilderment, I am troubled by the danger they pose to the real change, not the counterfeit currently reigning in the land. The truth is despite the reservations one may have about the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria was better under the “16 years of waste” compared to the nearly four years of rot, total cluelessness, nepotism, clannishness, grand corruption on an industrial scale, unprovoked brigandage, and mindless slaughter of innocent lives by Fulani herdsmen and other militia groups besting our security forces.
But Tinubu and his choir of pretenders and residents of alternate reality continue to live in denial of self-evident truths about their destructive reign. You see, I am almost tired of arguing fiction with facts. But I have also come to realise that we are dealing with determined opponents who would not stop lying. So we should not be tired of calling them out anytime they disturb our peace with false and misleading claims. They think that by repeating a cocktail of tired lies and half-truths several times, it will help them remake and rewrite the facts on the ground to suit their narrative and mislead undiscerning Nigerians. Of course, in this nefarious quest, there are willing writers of fortunes-for-hire to help advance their narrative. But that strategy won’t work this time around because unlike in the 2015 election, President Muhammadu Buhari is in the hot seat now and many Nigerians are feeling the heat of his stinking performance and unbelievable incompetence.
Since Buhari brought Tinubu back from political hibernation, the Jagaban Borgu has been too excited and eager to please him. He is doing it in a somewhat disgusting manner, betraying his overexcitement and appreciation for being brought back from the cold. I have recently observed that Tinubu — in an effusive display of commitment to his pact with Buhari — is fond of making unguarded statements that offend our sensibilities each time he visits the Presidential Villa or flies in the presidential jet with the president. Who will forget that memorable photograph of Jagaban’s big smile from ear to ear at the joy of travelling with Mr President to one of the African countries not so long ago? It reminds you of a wayward child who follows a stranger home because he gave him candy.
When he faces reporters immediately after each encounter with Buhari, he gushes with eagerness to impress him. Now, what do you make of what he was reported to have said about the PDP immediately he emerged from a meeting with Buhari last week Wednesday? This was what he said: “We don’t fear, whether he (Atiku) is meeting in the jungle in Dubai or in Abu Dhabi. People are free to meet and strategise in any way they feel, but we are not going back to the illusion of the PDP. It is not possible, Nigerians will not do that. They say slow and steady wins the race. We inherited that from our forefathers and knowledgeable people. We can’t go back to the pit that we inherited for 16 years. They can strategise from anywhere but a leopard cannot change its skin.”
Did Tinubu really say all that, or was he misquoted? I suspect he did, but does he really think we are fools who can’t see the pit we have been led into by Buhari on the pretext of change? Or does he really believe Buhari is providing good leadership for the country? Does he really believe the economy is doing well? Does this man actually believe in the sermons he delivers on good governance, or he just says it as a way of self-preservation for his own empire to last just for another day? What really does this man called Tinubu stand for? Progressive development? But he repudiated all that recently when he pulled the second term rug under the Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s feet, stating publicly that even though he had performed well, he was not a good party man and as such won’t get a second term.
When people like Tinubu enjoy impunity the way he has done over the last 20 years, they begin to see themselves as invincible. His success in denying Ambode a second term seems to have emboldened him to now see himself as someone capable of walking on water and flying in the air. But he should know that no empire lasts forever.
In that diatribe against the PDP, Tinubu wanted the world to believe that the opposition party had put Nigeria in a pit. Well, he should know that if the PDP put Nigeria in a pit, the APC has messed up the rescue efforts and has dug that pit deeper. Since Tinubu lives in an alternate universe, maybe he was not aware of Kano Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s dollar bribery videos. The scandal broke several weeks ago. I am drawing his attention to it so that he can focus on the pit that the APC has dragged Nigeria into. Up till now, nothing has been said about it by the “saintly” APC that brands the PDP corrupt. The wisdom of old tells us to first take the plank out of our own eye and then we will see clearly to remove the speck from another man’s eye.
Tinubu and his empty vessels in the APC have been making the most noise since taking power in 2015. For all their noise, we have seen how empty they are. We have seen how easily susceptible and even more so to all the vagaries and abuses of power that they accused the PDP of. The APC government has shown itself to be completely lawless and disrespectful of court orders. So they would do well to save us the agony of the platitudes. They should save us the moralising and sophistry of their purported efforts to rescue Nigeria from a pit. Ganduje, who promised to deliver five million votes to Buhari in the 2019 presidential election, was caught red-handed receiving dollar bribes from contractors in several video clips and the Buhari-led APC government which claims to be fighting corruption has maintained a deafening silence on the issue.
So far, though belatedly, only SERAP has called for a probe. In sane societies, Ganduje would have been probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the report forwarded to the state House of Assembly for action. This saintly APC is neither ashamed nor embarrassed by the videos of the bribe-taking governor to the point of making a conscious decision to drop Ganduje as its standard-bearer in the Kano governorship race. Tinubu sees nothing wrong in this. But just imagine if it was a PDP governor caught in such a shameful, disgraceful act, the APC and its EFCC, along with its satellite pro-democracy groups would have been shouting to the heavens by now.
Under this so-called corrective, corruption-fighting government, we saw how 48 houses which were suspected proceeds of corruption were returned to a stalwart of the APC and a former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva. Thereafter, he went underground so that the scandal would not receive much media scrutiny. All those houses were acquired in just four years during Sylva’s tenure as governor. But EFCC is busy chasing down any lead on Diezani Alison-Madueke’s alleged properties and seizing them. Why is there an animal farm attitude of one nation two moralities here?
Since June this year, a petition was submitted to the EFCC on the large-scale malfeasance bordering on tax evasion, money laundering, and outright corruption totalling over N100 billion in Alpha Beta, a company alleged to be connected to Tinubu himself who is arguably one of the most prominent APC leaders in this country. One hundred billion naira is too big a sum for a government looking for funds to fund the 2018 budget to ignore. Who was the whistleblower? The former managing director of the company for nearly 15 years. Imagine the quantum of information at his disposal. Strangely, the EFCC is still evaluating this particular petition. Imagine if it was a petition against any of the prominent figures in the PDP. By now, the investigation would have taken a breakneck speed with arrests and daily leaks by the EFCC to the media with sensational discoveries of wrongdoing.
Recall that Tinubu once described the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as former President Goodluck Jonathan’s ATM. Well, that might have been true. But what has changed since the APC-led government took over power in 2015? It appears Jonathan has since relinquished the ATM and the Eureka moment for Buhari came when he found it. And he broke into a kumbaya song. From the scale of corruption in that corporation under Buhari’s watch, what happened under Jonathan now looks like a child’s play.
Under Buhari, there has been a rising crescendo of the daily ATM withdrawals to an alarming level. Suddenly, from 30-35 million litres of petrol consumed daily under Jonathan, the figures have since jumped to between 65 and 80 million litres daily. This same Tinubu sees nothing strange and fishy about that astronomical increase despite the country’s rapid economic decline. Till today, nobody has been able to explain how contracts worth $25 billion were awarded without due process or recourse to the NNPC board for approval. Some were even awarded when President Buhari was in a London hospital and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was the acting president; yet he didn’t know about the contracts.
In a developing news report by Premium Times, the federal government has been found to have illegally diverted $1.05 billion (N378 billion at N360 to a dollar) sourced from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividend to secretly fund subsidy payments on petroleum products. Who pays this subsidy? Of course, the NNPC which is currently the sole importer of petrol. So the NNPC basically pays itself any amount it determines as subsidy on the fraudulent astronomical volume it claims as the daily national consumption? The disturbing thing here is that it is all shrouded in secrecy.
But here is the icing on the cake: What the NNPC was to Jonathan for just five years is what Lagos has been to Tinubu for almost 20 years! Interestingly, Tinubu has never misplaced his Lagos ATM for one day in the last 20 years.
Under this APC-led government, Nigeria has declined in all development indices culminating in it earning the ignoble badge of shame as the Poverty Capital of the World. It has overtaken India as the country with the most extremely poor people in the world, despite the fact that India has a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s. Of course Tinubu will not appreciate this implication. How could he when he openly boasted of being richer than his native Osun State? Under the APC government, Nigeria has been rated one of the most dangerous place in the world to give birth and has more HIV-infected babies than anywhere in the world, according to a recent report. What is this government doing about these grim statistics? All these are of less concern to Tinubu. All he and fellow APC members want is power for the sake of it.
Tinubu should give us a break and hide his face in shame, instead of adding insult to injury of our collective psyche he and his fellow collaborators have inflicted on this country. His Buhari experiment has failed, period! Nigeria is in worse shape than Buhari met it. It is foolhardy in the extreme for Tinubu and his supporters to continue to parrot tired excuses and point the finger at others for the tragedy they have brought on Nigeria. Only someone with a dangerous inclination to mislead would say that things are better now than they were four years ago.
I am however under no illusion about the motivation of those who want this country to remain this way as long as they can call the shots. Thanks to the unbelievable docility of Nigerians, a man who bears the single greatest responsibility for the disastrous state of our country frequently opens his mouth in public to utter gibberish.
This article first Appeared on Thisday Newspapers.