Tinubu Is the Problem, Not the Solution -By Majeed Dahiru

Filed under: Life And People |

The strong man of South-West politics and the acclaimed national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has remained resolute in his support for President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the 2019 presidential election. Tinubu has forcefully emerged the leading chorister in the choir of ignorance that is singing Buhari’s praises, using his phantom good governance as rhyme and Peoples Democratic Party’s sixteen years misrule as rhythm. For a self-professed progressive politician, many had expected Tinubu to remain true to his reputation of standing firm on the side of the principles of good governance in the face of the glaring bad governance of the last three years of the Buhari administration. However, a close scrutiny of Tinubu’s style of politics, public service record and his continuous political hegemony over Lagos State will reveal a most retrogressive politician.


Bola Ahmed Tinubu


Whenever Tinubu points an accusing finger at PDP for being responsible for Nigeria’s problems, the four other fingers on the hand point to him as a major collaborator of PDP in its much talked about sixteen-year misrule. Shortly after PDP’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo was inaugurated in 1999, Tinubu’s Alliance for Democracy (AD) was brought on board in a government of national unity. AD’s Bola Ige, among others, was appointed into Obasanjo’s PDP government. By accepting to serve in a PDP government, Tinubu and his AD share responsibility for PDP’s misrule in its first four years in power.

By 2003, Tinubu’s AD was to further confer legitimacy on Obasanjo’s PDP for another four years, when it didn’t field a presidential candidate of its own but opted to support their “son of the soil” for his re-election bid. Interestingly, the candidate who attempted to halt PDP’s first four year misrule was current President Muhammadu Buhari, who however was resisted by Tinubu and his AD. After the attraction between Tinubu’s AD and Obasanjo’s PDP turned fatal, Tinubu was to go on to support then PDP renegade-in-chief, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the 2007 presidential election. Again in 2011 presidential election, Tinubu’s later party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) pulled out of a crucial alliance with Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Chnage (CPC) at the last minute and threw its support behind PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan for president. As a close collaborator and enabler of PDP’s sixteen-year misrule, Tinubu lacks the legitimacy to continue to serenade Nigerians with the now stale song of “how PDP destroyed Nigeria in sixteen years.”

Tinubu is not the solution he pretends to be but actually part of the problem. Beyond his close collaboration with PDP during its sixteen years of rule, Bola Tinubu has been one of the most powerful aberrations in Nigeria’s political circus since the return to civil democratic rule in 1999. Contrary to the image of “progressivism” that his public relations handlers have managed to construct for him, Tinubu has presided over perhaps the largest political heist in the history of the Fourth Republic, with enormous state capture as his ultimate self-achievement, beginning from the time he governed Lagos State. His vice like grip on Lagos has been sustained by his successful planting of lackeys as helmsmen of the government of Lagos State after his tenure. The devastating effects of Tinubu’s corrupt political franchise in Lagos are manifestly glaring for all to see. From vast pieces of prime real estate, government contracts and political appointments, Tinubu covets Lagos State like an inherited fiefdom. The huge financial resources from this fiefdom have been deployed through an elaborate patronage system to buy and retain power at all costs.

As Nigeria’s former federal capital, Lagos is endowed with the most advanced infrastructure among the 36 states of the federation. In addition to its massive federally bequeathed infrastructure, Lagos State has the economic advantage of being Nigeria’s major gateway (inlet and outlet) by land, sea and air to the world. Apart from its natural geographic position as a littoral State, Lagos is host to Nigeria’s major federal ports infrastructure, through which Nigeria’s export and import activities are conducted. The Murtala Muhammed International Airport, as well as the Tin Can Island sea port in Lagos are the busiest in Nigeria, handling over 80 per cent of all import and export cargoes of Nigeria. The presence of this infrastructure in Lagos has created a beehive of business activities around them, which have translated into thriving enterprises and millions of jobs with taxable incomes.

Taking advantage of the economic viability of Lagos state, Tinubu has designed an elaborate scheme of savage extortion of individuals and businesses with taxable income under the pretext of the internally generated revenue (IGR) drive. In a classic corrupt case of the conflict of interests, the private entity known as Alpha Beta, which is responsible for the revenue generation of Lagos State is widely believed to be closely associated with Tinubu. Today, Lagos, which is envied by others as the State with the largest internally generated revenue, which stands at about half a trillion naira for the 2017 fiscal year alone, and with a monthly generation profile of about N34 billion in 2018, has very little to show for this financial endowment.

Lagos State is plagued by an acute deficit of basic infrastructure. The federally bequeathed infrastructure has become overwhelmed by the geometric and exponential expansion of population, with its concomitant pressure, without a commensurate expansion, despite monies generated from the populace. From Iyana Itire, Ijesha-tedo, Pako Aguda in the Surulere suburb to Iyana-Iba, Alaba, Okokomaiko in the Ojo axis of town, most parts of Tinubu’s mainland Lagos are without basic amenities such as paved road networks or public water supply. A State without an extensive social security programme for its vulnerable, despite its huge cumulative revenue from both internal and external sources (the federation account), Lagos has the infamous reputation for the highest number of street urchins in Nigeria, with crime infestation as a terrible consequence. Whereas Lagos is the envy of all States in Nigeria for its huge IGR, its low quality public school and healthcare system are the envy of none. As the refuse capital of Nigeria, being the State with the least kempt environment, Tinubu’s Lagos was recently ranked as third (138 out of 140) worst city for human habitation on earth, according to The Economist of London’s intelligence unit. Tinubu’s Lagos is arguably the world’s most expensive slum to live in.

That Lagos State, with highest IGR profile in Nigeria, is also one with the highest debt profile, estimated at about $2 billion (domestic and foreign) is a contradiction, which can be resolved by unravelling Tinubu’s elaborate political franchise that is heavily dependent on government patronage to buy and retain power for purposes of state capture. Rather than utilise the State’s resources for the people of Lagos, Tinubu has devised an intricate political scheme of power purchase throughout the South-West of Nigeria and beyond for the sake of political self-preservation.

Like every champion’s era does ultimately, Tinubu’s reign is gradually coming to an end. The upset caused by a barely educated Ademola Adeleke of the PDP against the sophisticated APC apparatchik in the recent gubernatorial election in Tinubu’s satellite state of Osun is an indication that bad governance occasioned by sleaze can no longer be covered up by intellectual dishonesty. The state of Osun, which is Tinubu’s second most priced fiefdom, is a near failed state, which is unable to meet its most basic responsibility of public service salary obligations. No matter the final outcome of the hotly contested Osun gubernatorial election, that PDP’s Adeleke lead in the first ballot is a clear indication that Tinubu’s hegemony over South-West politics is gradually caving in under the heavy yoke of his legacy of bad governance. Tinubu’s entrenched patronage system of political leadership is fast losing sustainability in the face of dwindling national revenue and a geometrically growing population.

Tinubu’s insistence on reinforcing Buhari’s failure beyond 2019 will most certainly hasten the end of his reign. Without concrete benefits accruable to his strong base of the South-West from the Buhari administration, Tinubu’s insistence on the elongation of a glaringly failed regime for the selfish reason of a post-Buhari presidential ambition, will be an attempt to take his people for granted; an attempt that will most certainly be resisted at the polls, leading to his ultimate demystification.

Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through [email protected]