In a futile scramble for legitimacy and public acceptance, Nigeria’s recently-inaugurated President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is back with his funny games. Miffed by his unpopularity, he is out to destroy the remnants of Nigeria’s crumbling democracy through a craftily orchestrated takeover of opposition parties and their eventual balkanisation under a falsehood code-named the Government of national unity.
The recent political maneuvers by the former Lagos State Governor have left many Nigerians bewildered, given the fact that the two major opposition parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party, are presently contesting the results of the shabby exercise at the Election Tribunal.
The man, Tinubu, is not new to Nigerians. For more than two decades, he controlled the political trajectory of Lagos in a pseudo-progressive style, installing key politicians into every available position and holding onto their apron strings as some sort of puppet master.
It will be recalled that on the 29th of May 2007, many Nigerian governors completed their two administrative terms. A lot of these governors went straight to the National Assembly that same year or made attempts at the presidency. Tinubu was one of the few governors who had other plans: to build a political dynasty. The work to achieve that started in 2006, when he started by cannibalising to extinction the Mojisola Akinfenwa-led Alliance for Democracy (AD), the party that brought him to office. He left AD to create a breakaway Action Congress, which later became the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), with Adebisi Akande as the chairman. Still, in 2006, he anointed his then-chief of staff, Babatunde Fashola, as his successor, knocking off the gubernatorial interests of party bigwigs like his deputy Femi Pedro, Musiliu Obanikoro, Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Jimi Agbaje and Raimo Owonikoko. For Tinubu, this was the beginning of a long line of deciding who emerges as not just the gubernatorial candidate of his party but also who becomes the governor of Lagos
The custodian of the mythical Lagos Master Plan, Tinubu, has, in a PR masterstroke, portrayed himself as a progressive democrat whose successors in the state have been chosen by the party through democratic primary elections. In reality, one could argue these candidates were personally shopped and hand-picked before being shoved into the laps of the party and the state. While primary elections do take place, these elections are mere charades to disguise the autocratic nature of Tinubu’s role in the emergence of his subsequent successors.
Tinubu’s desire to be seen and called a democrat is only contrasted by the reality of his undemocratic tendencies. Measured by every standard of transparency, accountability and openness that are the hallmarks of democratic enterprise, his then-ACN was the most undemocratic party amongst the lot, yet he never misses any opportunity to lay claims to democratic high ground. Give it to him, he sure knows how to mouth platitudes at public forums, but they are meaningless to a lot of people because of the contrasting reality of his activities, actions, public pronouncements, and the manner of the choices he makes.
Fast forward to present happenings, and one would have expected that the self-styled ‘Jagaban’ having been elected by less than 5% of the population according to INEC’s dubious figures, should be making efforts to apologise to Nigerians whose mandates he blatantly allocated to himself. One would have expected Tinubu to wait for the completion of the court processes before commencing the shameful poaching of opposition elements. But, No, Tinubu has other ideas.
Tinubu’s strange romance with political opponents over the last few weeks and his apparent obsession with creating a one-party state in Nigeria raise serious concerns about his motivations and the future of democratic governance in the country.
Tinubu’s political career, which began in Lagos State, has been marked by opportunism and a relentless pursuit of power. While it is not uncommon for politicians to form alliances for strategic purposes, Tinubu’s recent actions evidently go beyond tactical maneuvering if his political antecedents are anything to go by. The truth remains that his eagerness to forge alliances with political opponents, regardless of their ideological differences, raises heavy questions about his integrity and commitment to the principles he claims to stand for.
It is no longer news that Tinubu is the sole figure behind the balkanisation of the main opposition party, the PDP. Using a willing tool in the person of the former Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and his noise-making bunch of renegades called the G-5, he has maintained a strong foothold on the party and castrated it from within. There are even insinuations that Wike may get a juicy political appointment under Tinubu as a form of compensation for sabotaging his party in the last charade of an election.
It is also no longer news that Tinubu has also deployed ill-gotten wealth to seize critical structures of the fledgling Labour Party in several states in the country. With the New Nigeria People’s Party and its Presidential candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, already firmly in his pockets, one can only weep for Nigerians who are set to be abandoned to their fates.
Through his duplicitous ways of manipulation, Tinubu has maintained a strong foothold on these opposition parties in the country to ensure that they remain toothless bulldogs in his quest to squeeze life out of Nigerians using wicked economic policies.
Tinubu must be reminded that beyond the political shenanigans and naked display of political banditry, the pursuit of a one-party state in Nigeria contradicts the very essence of democracy itself. A healthy democracy thrives on the presence of diverse political parties that represent a wide range of ideologies and opinions. The emergence of a dominant party stifles political competition and undermines the checks and balances necessary for a vibrant democracy. By openly advocating for a one-party state through his overbearing actions, Tinubu has demonstrated a dangerous disregard for democratic principles and the importance of a robust opposition, and Nigerians must begin to raise concerns before it becomes too late.
Again, given the character of the Nigerian democratic system in which preparations for a second term more often than not commence almost immediately after a major election is won or lost, from every indication, Tinubu is already putting plans in place for a smooth re-election in 2027. This is not surprising because Nigeria is a country where its leaders only think of the next election and not the next generation.
In the face of Tinubu’s barefaced pursuit of a one-party state, Nigerians must remind themselves that the absence of a strong opposition will bury whatever is left of political accountability. Without a counterbalancing force to scrutinise policies and hold the ruling APC accountable, there is a risk of unchecked power and the potential for corruption. Over the last eight years, Nigerians saw what became of the country under Muhammadu Buhari who was inadvertently encouraged to mismanage Nigeria under the opposition PDP.
Tinubu’s plan to run a one-party state in Nigeria raises concerns about the erosion of political accountability, and this will, in no small measure, leave Nigerians vulnerable to abuses of power and limited choices in the political landscape. It is sad that brutal-minded Tinubu, despite being a product of political opposition, will be contemplating these undemocratic actions.
In any working society, one of the fundamental pillars of democracy is the inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives in the decision-making process. Going by Tinubu’s antecedents in Lagos State, this is not something Tinubu encourages. A one-party state, by its very nature, marginalises alternative viewpoints and stifles dissent, and this is something that is already prominent in Tinubu’s playbook. Tinubu’s apparent desire for a one-party state undermines the principles of inclusive governance and threatens the participation of minority groups and marginalised communities in shaping the future of Nigeria. Nigerians must begin to speak up for themselves now before it is too late.
It is crucial for stakeholders and the entire citizenry of Nigeria to question Tinubu’s motivations for advocating a one-party state through his actions. What exactly are Tinubu’s motivations for taking over the party structures of opposition parties using dubious means? Contrary to the claims made by his followers, this has nothing to do with a supposed government of national unity.
Clearly, Tinubu’s pursuit of this system is driven by personal ambition rather than a genuine concern for the welfare of the Nigerian people. By consolidating power within a single party, Tinubu could position himself as the unquestioned leader, furthering his political aspirations at the expense of democratic values and the broader interests of the country. These traits are what Tinubu has manifested for the past 24 years as far as his political journey is concerned.
Bola Tinubu’s recent flirtation with political opponents and his unwavering vision for a one-party state in Nigeria raise serious concerns about his commitment to democratic principles. The erosion of political accountability, the marginalisation of alternative voices, and the threat to inclusive governance are just a few of the dangers associated with such a system. As Nigerians, it is crucial to remain vigilant and ensure that the democratic foundations of the country are protected against the ambitions of individuals who prioritise personal gain over the welfare of the country. Tinubu must not be allowed to build another political empire of greedy politicians in Nigeria. Aso Rock should never be allowed to wear the garb of Bourdillon.