On Friday last week, news reports started circulating in the media that Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Raji Fashola, both key members of the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), were embroiled in a fresh cold war. Supporters of both parties were said to be drawing up battle plans against each other, as Tinubu’s allies accused Fashola of mismanagement of public funds on a personal website, and Fashola responding saying that he would not engage in a ‘dirty’ fight with ‘pigs.’
Many political commentators have attributed the source of this beef to the upcoming publication of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial list, where Fashola is said to be a prime contender to occupy the Lagos state slot – against the wishes of his erstwhile godfather and political mentor, Tinubu.
Many will remember, that two months ago, during the Senate leadership crisis that also played out on a daily basis in the national papers, Tinubu played a major role in fueling the crisis by attempting to railroad his preferred candidate, Ahmed Lawan, into the Senate President’s chair using the party apparatus. This development did not play well with the current Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who was forced to defy a compromised APC National Working Committee, in his bid to ensure that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not the arbitrary and ever-evolving rules of the Tinubu-controlled APC National Working Committee were followed.
Since Saraki emerged as Senate President uncontested, Tinubu has since vowed that he will never recognise Saraki as the Senate President of Nigeria – demonstrating that to him, it is either “my way, or the highway.”
At this point, it is necessary to ask why anytime Tinubu sees younger men with national political futures like Fashola and Saraki ascending based on their competency, he begins to use his media machinery to attempt to set public opinion against them. Back in June, Tinubu attacked Saraki’s credibility using the press. Now, in August, it is Fashola’s turn. Back in June, Tinubu made Saraki seem like an over-ambitious demon. Now, in August, he is attempting to paint Fashola as a womanizing, money-mismanaging degenerate. Is it that Tinubu has a complex when it comes to men that have been recognized by the public as the next breed of leaders? Or, is it that he just wants to ensure that all important decisions and positions in both the ruling party and the Federal Republic of Nigeria need to first have his blessing? What does Tinubu want?
Taking Fashola’s accomplishments as an example, as the governor of Lagos State, he left a lasting mark in the hearts of many Lagosians through his numerous achievements. During his administration, his largest achievement was his management of the ebola saga. Using his administrative acumen, he successfully turned an impending national disaster into a public health and public relations success.
Additionally, seeing that long-term development would be crucial to the success of the state, Fashola did not leave the educational sector untouched. His administration gave education in Lagos State the attention that it deserved by creating and refurbishing blocks of classrooms. He further implemented a Teachers’ Salary Scale (TSS) for teachers in Lagos state public schools to ensure that the people that were responsible for imparting knowledge to the future generation are adequately compensated.
The Fashola administration also saw to the successes recorded in many rural areas of the state, as over 110 rural development projects were finished under the rural water and sanitation scheme. Additionally, towards achieving security as one of the most important pre-conditions for human existence, the Fashola government not only turned most hide-outs and joints that previously served as bases for impostors and armed robbers into beautiful environments – it also established the Lagos State Security Trust Fund to effectively fund the security needs of the state on a sustainable basis.
In this regard, it is again important to ask why Babatunde Raji Fashola, who has clearly demonstrated his capacity as a high-performer in Lagos State, be attacked by Tinubu now that it is so close to the release of the ministerial list?
Let us not also forget that under Dr. Saraki’s administration as Governor, Kwara became the first state to complete a Nigerian Independent Power Project. Dr. Saraki went further to introduce new health programmes, a range of reforms on agriculture to increase the commercial viability of farming, and also led a number of significant and state-wide infrastructural developments – including improvements at the Ilorin International Airport Cargo Terminal. This is just to mention a few.
As a first time senator, Dr. Saraki moved a motion in 2011 to investigate the fuel subsidy management considering the challenges it posed to the implementation of the 2011 budget. Later on in 2013, Senator Saraki stood out during the struggle to save Bagega in Zamfara State from lead poisoning. As the Chairman of the Committee on Environment, Dr. Saraki was a regular tweeter on the#SaveBagega issue, and his work contributed toward rescuing the people of the distraught villages.
The fact remains, that whether or not one loves or hates Tinubu’s political dexterity and sagacity, in recent times, perhaps fueled by Buhari’s ascension to the highest seat in the land, Tinubu has become overbearing in the both the APC, and the country as a whole. From what we have seen in recent times, if anyone that wants to progress on the national stage, does not kiss Tinubu’s ‘Godfather’ ring – that individual will have to suffer the consequence of being lambasted by the Tinubu-controlled media.
At this point, it is important to end this article with this much-underrated quote: “If the head is in a state of quagmire, who will call the rest of the body to order?” Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the self-proclaimed political godfather of the APC needs to know and understand that his role as a political elder statesman, should be to serve as the pillar that holds the party and every other politician under him together. He should be able to call anyone who errs to order as a father would, and he should be able to hold the fort when necessary to avoid the recurring embarrassing public displays of disunity within the ranks of the APC.
However, these days, instead of Tinubu to be a lasting example to future political ‘Godfathers’ everywhere, it is clear that truly, for the sake of others not to progress, the once-great Asiwaju is truly ready to do battle in the mud to ensure that others do not.
Written by Chima Chime.