I was speaking with a friend and we were discussing the presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
I guess, when you spend most of your interaction time on social media; you tend to forget that there is still a very large demographic outside Twitter and Facebook in this country who are a formidable group… Formidable enough to be a better indicator of what is actually happening in this country.
In 2015, the elections seemed to have been a success driven by great PR that swayed a lot of people; who in turn convinced others that Buhari was the only choice.
But I think that we may have overestimated the impact a great social media campaign had over people. We always forget that the people that decide how elections will go are rarely reeling out fire tweets and getting likes, retweets or shares. If you want to know what the average Nigerian thinks, keep your phones and computers and go talk to them.
The campaign towards the 2015 elections was a huge success outside social media. Market women and men embraced Buhari. It was actually not very difficult for the APC. The country seemed to be in a sorry state. Therefore, people who had hoped that GEJ symbolized fresh air were disappointed. GEJ had his scorecard in our hands already. Buhari came in with an old and blurry score card that in hindsight was obsolete as it is a different country now.
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While those on the various social media platforms celebrated what they saw as the proof of how powerful they were right up to influencing presidential outcomes; the true heroes were the people on the streets.
So, back to what I started with.
I was gisting with someone expressing my disdain at Senator Remi Tinubu. She had accused Senator Smart Adeyemi of party disloyalty. I could not believe that being part of the ruling party meant that one could not criticize pertinent issues that are destroying this country.
Nigerians were upset as to be expected. Is securing our nation less important that being loyal to a party??
My friend nodded as he listened to my complaint. I noticed that while this person agreed that the statement from Senator Remi Tinubu was problematic; he was not as emphatic as I expected him to be.
We soon started talking about Bola Tinubu and his presidential ambition. On social media, the mere mention of Tinubu as the president of this country is met with hostility. Online, Tinubu is seen as part of the problem. I was sort of certain that this was a general opinion.
This was till I had this discussion. I started out by stating how I felt he had betrayed the South-West as exemplified by the October 20, 2020 Lekki Toll Gate massacre. I did not understand how a Tinubu could not boldly decry military action in Lagos State against protesters.
The crimes committed daily in the North-East is met with lukewarm resistance. People are killed and livelihoods destroyed but life seems to go on. Now, here were a group of people tired with the Nigerian situation and protesting it but were met with a no-nonsense military. The protests were violently shut down and the prominent activists victimized.
I expected Tinubu to condemn the government. I expected him to call out Buhari. The South-West at that point was desperately in need of a leadership that is pro-West and would point out discrepancies in treatment of issues that concerned Northerners against issues that concern the West.
Tinubu did all he could so that he was not seen as calling out Buhari. I felt disappointed. This is not Pa Awo. Just like Falana is not Fawehinmi. Just like Burna Boy is not Fela.
I expected this person to jump on the ‘Tinubu does not deserve the presidential seat’ train. This person kept quiet. So, I prodded.
I said that Tinubu knew exactly the disaster this administration is but has kept mum because of personal ambition.
Then, this person asked me if it had occurred to me that Tinubu, on reading the signs on the wall, decided to play the game with the ‘other side’. Stepping out on Buhari would mean persecution and witch-hunting targeting Tinubu.
As we have seen, the government may not be apt at fighting terrorists, corruption or fighting for a better economy. Their skill is reserved wholly for fighting critics and criticism. They will leave no screenshot unpublished. Case point, Festus Keyamo and Idris Abdulkareem. Idris sang Jagajaga reloaded that had Festus coming out with receipts on the time he had wanted handouts. Garba Shehu did the same after Father Mbaka called for Buhari to be impeached. He spoke about Father Mbaka seeking contracts.
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We all know that a criticism from Tinubu would divide the party greatly and the North would fight his future ambition.
Hence, the theory from my friend that Tinubu was being wise by reserving criticism. His eyes are on the prize. The prize being a Yoruba as the President of Nigeria. And then, my friend said, no one would mess with the South-West.
I was stunned at the reasoning. It sounded like it made sense. It could very well be true.
But my problem is this.
How do you see a burning house and not begin to look for water? You do not want to shout that it is on fire because you are the heir apparent. You don’t want to offend the owner who is still alive. But bro, if you let it burn down, then what do you inherit?
I beseech all those in power. Your political ambitions are all valid in a nation that still exists. If the nation is consumed totally, we will all be exiles. Put out this fire just so that you can have a country you can still plunder. Do you want to stand in ashes holding your victory belt before an empty stadium?
Save Nigeria today. Tomorrow is looking further by the day.