Tinubu and the Desperation to Rule: A Dangerous Red Flag to Democratic Culture

By Solomon Semaka

An American economist, historian and social theorist Thomas Sowell was right when he said the last person to be trusted with power is someone who is dying (and desperate) to have it while the best person to wield power effectively is reluctant to do so but who will do it for a while as a civic duty. In fact, if we all see leadership as a service to others and not a business, we will exercise restraint when seeking leadership. When one becomes desperate to wield power, it becomes suspect if the motive is still service to humanity or service to oneself. History has proven time and again that those who desperately cling to power so aggressively end up becoming despots, dictators and unfeeling humans who see their subjects as lesser humans.

Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Jagaban of Lagos has in recent months and weeks acted in a manner that is unbecoming of a man who wants leadership simply for service to the motherland. His public utterances portray him as a power-hungry and vindictive leader who is willing to do anything to wield power. That’s a red flag that Nigerians must not take for granted as we journey towards the 2023 general elections. If we ignore these signs, we will be like the bride who received a dirty slap from her suitor for a trivial offence but decided to continue with the relationship into marriage thinking her husband will change during marriage only to meet an angry Mike Tyson as a husband.

Tinubu emerged from obscurity in the 1990s to be elected as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and then Governor of Lagos when the democratic rule was restored in the country. One does not need to be lectured about Tinubu’s tight grip on the politics and power play in Lagos. He made himself a little god, wielding power indiscriminately and disgracing anybody who refused to bow down and worship him. Granted, his stewardship was excellent but his transformation into a demigod with the power to fire and hire at will is alien to democracy. For him to think that the Lagos model can be replicated across Nigeria is a sad pointer to a power-drunk mindset.

It is also not clear how Bola Tinubu made his money except through politics. The vast assets in the control of the Tinubu’s are questionable as many argue he wasn’t an inch as rich when he joined politics ad he was when he left politics. I’ll choose not to bother about the vast empire Tinubu is running including assets allegedly confiscated from the state government and horrid rumour of his tight control of the revenue collection mechanism in Lagos. Alphabeta is Tinubu’s favourite cash cow in Lagos. It is not a lie to say Tinubu owns Lagos and her treasury. This is questionable and does not present him as a good leader. Nigerians must reject him wholeheartedly and retire him permanently to his village.

The Jagaban has in recent weeks been wailing nonstop like a damaged siren about the number of people he has helped to power and the fact that many of them include the president, vice president and some sitting governors. Such utterances bring to the fore a man whose politics was not for electing good leaders but a transactional brand of politics that seeks a payback. If he truly helped them to power when they were not qualified as he makes it look, then he is not a patriot. If he only participated like every Nigerian in the political process then he has no point claiming he has ‘made them’.

Good sportsmanship is seen in the magnanimity of accepting defeat and not in the bitterness of a losing opponent. By picking on perceived opponents and lashing out, Timubu has shown that he is not just desperate but he is also vindictive. Given the power, he has most likely to alienate certain people and sections of the country who may have ‘betrayed’ him. He did that to Ambode in Lagos not too long ago and can do that again to whoever crosses his narrow political philosophy. Trusting Tinubu with power is dangerous on many grounds and the APC and Nigerians should not make the mistake of fielding one who is power-drunk and vindictive like Tinubu.

It is an insult to Nigerians for Tinubu to claim the presidency belongs to him and that it is the turn of the Yorubas. He is not speaking the minds of the good people of Yoruba extraction but his contrived notion of entitlement. Barring any political arrangement he made with few persons, he must not forget that alliances change and certain realities override others. Nobody promised him the position of the country because there’s no such provision in our constitution. Nigeria does not run a monarchy that is based on inheritance.

Security agencies should invite Tinubu for questioning. He should explain what it means to get dirty to win the presidency. Nigerians deserve to know how he made the money with which he sponsored everybody and even ‘installed’ presidents and governors. He should as well explain how he has come to the conclusion that the presidency belongs to him and no other person because that’s a slap on our constitution and democratic culture. That he has succeeded over the years to do that in Lagos does not mean he can do it to Nigerians. It is not possible and the law should take its course.

Let me end this epistle with the words of Sun Tsu, the great Chinese leader and philosopher that “an evil enemy will burn down his country and then rule over the ashes”. Tinubu is setting fire to the nation already with his unguarded comments. He certainly does not care if what is left when he gets into power is a heap of ashes. Unfortunately, Nigerians won’t let him get there. We must resist him with our PVCs without getting dirty as he has threatened.

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