Tinubu the Burden of A Nation

By Jude Atupulazi

The hottest discussion in Nigeria today is what we have come to call Tinubu’s Chicagogate. It is all about the many controversies trailing the man thrown up by the country’s electoral umpire called the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. A name that laughs at its owner, owing to its pretence to independence and fairness. But that’s not my immediate concern for now. My focus is on the latest controversy about President (oh, how I detest to prefix this title to his name) Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose university certificate is under world scrutiny.

This Tinubu is always in the news for all the wrong reasons. If it is not about stealing the mandate of the masses of Nigeria, it is about bearing a dual nationality. The next moment it will be about age falsification or not having a state one can truly say he comes from. At the moment it is about the authenticity of his university certificate which is heavily mired in controversy.

The crux of the matter is that what he presented to INEC is not what appears to be the truth in which case his tenure as president of the country may be abruptly terminated if found to have presented forged papers to INEC. That is why one of his major opponents in the heavily rigged Presidential Election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is going after his jugular to get the Chicago State University (CSU) to prove that Tinubu presented a forged certificate by releasing documents that will nail Tinubu.

This was what Abubakar had been seeking in a London Court these past days with a view to procuring the document that would help his case at the Nigeria’s Supreme Court.

As I wrote this there had been no determined outcome of the saga but it had not and will even now won’t stop Nigerians from hoping that enough evidence would be gotten that would throw Tinubu out of office. I’m sure at this stage many Nigerians may no longer care if it is not Peter Obi that will be declared president so long as Tinubu is out.

However, I feel it is good to at this point, to caution those hoping that the Supreme Court would throw out Tinubu based on whatever new evidence is thrown up, to better put their hopes in check. Why? This is NIGERIA! Just as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) refused to ”see reason” and upheld the announcement of Tinubu by INEC as the winner of the Presidential Election, I do not see what miracle could make the Supreme Court do otherwise, even if it is proved that the Tinubu that attended CSU was a woman. If the Supreme Court doesn’t know what else to say, it can declare that removing Tinubu would hurt or damage the nation and that will be that.

But what this whole saga will achieve is that the world will know the kind of man Tinubu is. There may be situations where he will attend meetings of heads of government and the others will be sneering at him behind his back as the president who lives by forgery. It’s not as if that will make Tinubu break down in tears but no matter how hard a façade he tries to produce, deep down, he will be ashamed. In that alone may lie the victory of Nigerians; even if very little.

Indeed, this Tinubu Chicagogate is something that gives me joy. When some of us talk about these things, some people see it from either parochial partisan binoculars or ethnicity. The failure of Nigeria’s Democracy is a failure of her institutions which are tied to the apron strings of the executive.

Until we put this right, we will continue to stutter. I’ve always said that if we must engage in shallow tribal politics, let each tribe give us their best. Is Tinubu the best the Yoruba Nation can offer? Emphatic NO! Was Buhari the best the North could offer? Capital NO!

Sadly, what has been happening is a situation where certain cabals produce people they can either manipulate or people cast in the same mould as them. Thus, many times you see brilliant people deputizing others not worthy to carry their file, for how on earth could Nigeria have a Prof Osinbajo being vice to a Buhari? Lol, it can only happen in Nigeria and funnily enough, we turn round to say the country is not working. It is a crying shame that at 63, Nigeria is still grovelling in the dark and getting worse with each successive regime.

Here, we play politics of the stomach which makes otherwise reasonable and educated folks to support nonsense. No one looks beyond tomorrow; it’s all “Give us this day, our daily bread”. Those expecting Tinubu to resign if it’s proved he presented a false university certificate may yet be disappointed for we’re a people without a modicum of shame.

I can bet you that no matter what is discovered in this CSU saga the Supreme Court won’t budge. But the nation’s reputation will continue to be in tatters. It will still be business as usual. Unqualified people will continue to head important institutions on the basis of tribe, religion and nepotism.

But surely, a day will come when the Sword of Damocles will strike, even if it’s not from our own doing. I say this because every empire in History had its expiry date, no matter how powerful.

When we condemn the election that brought Tinubu, it’s not because it’s Tinubu, it’s about doing things right. I personally have this blessing of seeing far. I warned seriously against electing Buhari but they said he was a disciplinarian but I responded by saying that being firm should not be confused with being knowledgeable. In the end Buhari was neither firm nor knowledgeable.

His regime witnessed some of the worst corrupt practices, ineptitude and, worst of all, division of the country along religious and ethnic lines. His regime witnessed the highest bloodshed in peacetime Nigeria where all manner of blood hounds wreaked havoc on fellow Nigerians. Amazingly and annoyingly, not a single one of the notorious killers in the name of killer herdsmen was prosecuted, for instance. Human life became cheaper than that of a cow. If anyone talked, he was dismissed as a rabble rouser.

Many politicians have been toying with the masses, showing gross insensitivity to their plight, garnering everything to themselves, while critical institutions like the armed forces, police, civil servants, et al, are left to rot. Did we not see how the Senate President recently announced the famous holiday package for his colleagues at a time when the salaries of many cannot buy a bag of rice?

I pity those outside the power corridors who engage in base spaniel fawning for their masters, forgetting that the butterfly will never be a bird. That will be a natural aberration. Such people are just fooling themselves.

In a way, I’m very happy that it’s an Atiku from the North that is holding Tinubu by the balls at the moment; had it been one from a certain part of the country who knows how it will end? I’m sure that had it been a certain Peter Obi that has been trying to strip Tinubu naked in the market square, some fools in Lagos would have started harassing Igbos and asking them to go home.

It would not have been anything new though. But now that someone from a place perceived as producing the nation’s sacred cows is beating this drum, those cowards fanning the ethnic embers in Lagos are keeping quiet, with their tails tucked between their hind legs as a frightened dog is wont to do.

Nigeria will get it right one day but not through our conscious effort. It will just be a case of our reaching a boiling point like a vulcano and, vooom, everything goes up in smoke.

I had liked the idea of seeing this badly manipulated presidential election as being the precursor of that shattering climax but past and recent experiences in Nigeria told me and still tell me that harbouring such expectations may be akin to expecting that the nation’s seat of power in Abuja will be relocated to the Igbo heartland; something we know can only happen in the next life.

But then, as I have earlier noted, the little victory to be derived from this whole business is that Tinubu will have been greatly unsettled by the time it all comes to an end. He will know that Nigerians and the world know him for what he is: a corrupt, shameless politician with a filthy baggage whose stay at the nation’s seat of power will continue to bemuse civilized societies.