By ETIM ETIM
The furious outbursts from Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday in Abeokuta have not only embarrassed his core supporters and frightened his inner circle, they’ve also given credence to the theory that the man is not psychologically stable enough to be President. He sounded rude, uncouth and condescending to the President, Vice President and the host governor, Dapo Abiodun who was seated just behind him. Tinubu was in Abeokuta to meet with delegates and seek their support, but his performance might have given the people a fright and confirmed the popular beliefs that the man is usually high on something. If this were in a developed democracy where decency, mores and respect are integral parts of the political culture, Tinubu would have dropped out of the race and apologized to Nigerians. Emotionally unstable persons shouldn’t go near the most important office in the land.
Speaking on top of his voice in Yoruba, the former Lagos governor bragged about how he made Buhari President; that Buhari was crying like a baby in national TV after losing the 2011 elections; how he made Prof. Osinbajo Vice President and how he made Abiodun governor of Ogun State. ‘’I was in the stadium during the primaries; and they were tearing his posters’’, Tinubu said, referring to how disliked Abiodun was as an aspirant. Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu cringed as Tinubu condescendingly referred to Gov. Abiodun as ‘’eleyi’’ (‘’this one’’). ‘’This one sitting behind me, Dapo, could he even have thought of being a governor without me?’’, he asked with a tinge of disdain. ‘’I have tolerated enough; I have served enough; It’s the turn of Yoruba. It is my turn’’, he lashed out, stressing that he had never, in return, asked Buhari for ‘’contracts, ministerial slots or fura (dough ball made from millet commonly eaten in Northern Nigeria by Hausas and Fulani).
Tinubu’s usually boisterous supporters were stunned by his apparent meltdown; unwilling to respond to the avalanche of criticisms that poured into all social media platforms over the night. His outbursts are clearly very unpresidential and fall far below the standards expected of a man gunning for the highest office in the land. The arrogance in his statements and the implicit insults he hurled at President Buhari and the other leaders have eroded his stature and further diminished his chances in this race. Would any APC governor or leader of this party tolerate a sitting President being so demeaned? Would the Hausa/Fulani people of Northern Nigeria who constitute a major support base of the party venerate Tinubu for his snide remarks? Even in Abeokuta yesterday, nobody applauded as he spoke. They knew that he’s crossed the line. This is not the first time Asiwaju has disrespected Buhari so glaringly. In 2019, the President asked him to let Akinwunmi Ambode be, but Tinubu refused, and tossed the then Lagos governor away; denying him the right to seek a second term. Early this year, Tinubu addressed a rally in Lagos and referred to the Buhari administration in unflattering language. Many of his supporters were scandalized by his flippancy. He’s taken the President for granted for so long, perhaps because Buhari has not been as brash as Obasanjo. It is however impolitic to be so insolent and discourteous to a leader and turn around to expect his support. Not with this President who believes so much in reciprocity.
Tinubu’s grandiose sense of entitlement shows whenever he speaks. I have raised this point in my previous interventions and I will repeat it here: Nigeria is not Tinubu’s personal property. The fact that he’s captured Lagos in the past 23 years and turned it into his personal asset is not a guarantee that Buhari would lay a red carpet for him to walk on into Aso Rock. My sense is that this man has been deified for so long that he now assumes that he’s a god or king. Although the Yoruba adore their kings (Oba), it would however be a dangerous precedent to support a presidential aspirant with a god complex.
Another offensive portion of his rants is ‘’This is the turn of Yoruba; it is my turn’’. Will APC members in the South East and South-South take kindly this? The Party is wise enough to have zoned the presidency to the South as a logical sequence to the Buhari presidency. Any of the three blocks in the South could get it, depending on which presents the most acceptable candidate. I support Yemi Osinbajo not because he is Yoruba or it is the turn of Yoruba. I’m rather persuaded that the VP has the best credentials, experience and temperament for the job; and so far, he’s conducted his campaign with utmost decorum, civility and graciousness. Even when he was taunted, caricatured and abused in the weeks following his declaration, the VP showed no irritation. He neither talked down on anybody nor lost his temper as he went around the country.
But with these unforced errors, Asiwaju has brought down himself from the high pedestal where other aspirants sit. He’s lost the respect of party leaders, elders and delegates. The tendency of a candidate to dredge up a major scandal weeks or days to the election is the stuff campaign managers dread the most. In the US, it is called ‘’October Surprise’’, so called because the candidate has very little time to recover before the general election in November. I doubt that Tinubu would recover from this mess he has landed himself in.
Etim Etim is a Journalist and Media Consultant, lives in Abuja