Some things don't change about leaders

By John Okiyi Kalu on

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Some things don't change about leaders

"President Buhari is not the leader of APC but a product of the party. Tinubu is our leader."
~ Lai Muhammed via Channels TV


Those of you who followed my thoughts during the campaigns will recall that I never agreed with the "decisive strong man" image that David Axelrod and his team tried to create for General Buhari. My position was premised on historical observations made from 1983 to date. Buhari is a man who prefers to be at the background while others act. Even during the 1983 coup that brought him to power, he apparently endorsed the putsch but stayed behind while IBB and others executed and made him Head of State (HOS).

As HOS he stayed mostly in the background while his deputy Tunde Idiagbon took the centre stage. I recall that those who executed the 1985 coup actually had to get his strong deputy out of the way before they could shove him aside in a palace coup where no single bullet was fired. Similarly, as PTF chairman, the trend continued with Africonsult doing most of the work for him while he answered PTF Chairman. That is largely why he was able to absolve himself of the reported corrupt practices at PTF of those days.

Apparently I am not the only one who know about GMB's disposition towards being in the background. Tinubu, Obasanjo and others also know and by supporting his aspiration to be President wanted to cash in on this weakness and run the country by proxy. All that talk about Obasanjo sending him briefs on how to run the country were his own scheme to run Buhari by proxy. Tinubu also wanted to be his new "Idiagbon" but was forced to send "Commisioner" Yemi Osibanjo when he saw likely resistance from certain quarters. I suspect he is still interested in being the substantive "Idiagbon" and yet to rule out some form of arrangement with Yemi similar to what he asked Bakare to endorse.

Smart Tinubu.

Let's review the events that threw up Bukola and Dogara as Senate President and Speaker respectively. Tinubu and others wanted to scheme out the Amaechi led PDP decampees that joined APC after the merger for several reasons including the fact that they know a rebel will always be a rebel. Those former PDP men know what Tinubu knows and have the resources to challenge his tight hold on Buhari. Coincidentally the north is largely politically conservative and hardly work with political "hot heads". They prefer calm "yes sir" politicians but will use and dump political hot heads. If you understand the political culture of the north you will easily see that the fabled northern political dexterity is premised on a system of "leader-servant" configuration with the servant not questioning or being capable of challenging the leader at all times. It is very much feudal in nature.

Naturally the interest of Tinubu and Buhari met concerning keeping the PDP hot heads at bay. From what I can glimpse so far, they have effectively kept all of them, including Amaechi, outside the inner caucus of the new government. Amaechi and co will probably get cabinet appointments as ministers who are subject to removal within 2 years. Tinubu himself also run his political empire as a feudal lord and Buhari by birth and training personifies feudal grace and power.

You cannot change the essential Buhari and Nigerians hoping to see a gung-ho President Buhari will be sorely disappointed. He will take his time and act slowly but surely using scripts written by his managers who essentially must be men in his age and socio-political class. If Amaechi, for instance, advises Buhari and Maitama Sule advises him on same issue he will go with Maitama Sule always.

What exactly happened yesterday at the national assembly?

Elements of the so called new PDP realized that they won't get far in their quest to be relevant except they act on their own. It was easy for them to see the emerging picture and Bukola Saraki's ambition to surpass his father's achievements provided the opportunity for them to claim something. Remember that Bukola himself comes from a blood line of Fulani political aristocrats that migrated to Kwara State with Yoruba background. Tinubu is Yoruba and the political system in old yorubaland is not too different from that of the Fulani north-feudal reverence to power.

Bukola knew the game that must be played for political relevance and wasn't prepared to be a Tinubu boy. That was the point he made when he reportedly described VP Yemi Osibanjo as a mere commisioner under Tinubu. Don't forget he was a governor, like Tinubu, and had commisioners of his own too. Any of them could have ended up a Yemi Osibanjo. Nigerian governors generally feel superior to others outside their ranks.

On his way to G7 meeting President Buhari was alerted on the impasse within APC ranks with regards to the principal officers of the national assembly who will also end up as number 3 and 4 in the protocol list of the Federation. Tinubu already had number 2 and was scheming to corner 3 and 4 to himself but sold number 3 to Buhari as "one of his own". When Buhari heard about the issue he characteristically referred the matter to Tinubu to handle and made media noise about non interference with the legislature. That was his mistake even though it was expected from him.

Tinubu went to work using his proxy Osibanjo who was roundly shunned by Bukola and his group. With the understanding that power is not given but taken, Bukola called up old friends in old and new PDP and they went to work for him. While David Mark and others had personal interests to protect at the national assembly, serving and former PDP governors like Wike, Akpabio, Orji, Fayose etc had political survival in their minds. With privately disenchanted Amaechi (who produced no NASS member) and Okorocha toothlessly watching, another anti-Buhari palace coup was executed without "firing a bullet".

On D-Day, Buhari called Bukola for a meeting and he gave his word that he was coming to the meeting after meeting with his PDP allies and APC renegades like Senator Dino Malaye. The APC-Tinubu group went to the venue of the meeting to wait with assurance that Buhari will use presidential powers and call Bukola and Dogara to order. Lawan and Femi must have been feeling like Senate President and Speaker in waiting. Little did they know that Bukola and co had another joker.

First they used Vanguard Newspaper to send out a false information that the inauguration has been postponed with no source attributed With the help of David Mark they gained access to the national assembly armed with a pre-delivered proclamation speech sent by Buhari before traveling to G7 meeting. Of course 57 senators not only formed quorum but also constitute simple majority of senators needed to elect principal officers. With only one nomination for President of the senate there was no need to go through eloborate voting. Saraki was returned unopposed while Lawan and Tinubu were waiting for the President at the international conference centre.

Another palace coup successfully executed.

Once the news filtered out, the rest of the Tinubu-APC team stopped waiting for the President and rushed to the national assembly to stop the House of Rep from executing the second leg of the coup by the nPDP elements in APC. It was too late because members already knew what happened at the senate and the critical APC majority at the house also came from former PDP members like Dogara who decamped. APC-Tinubu team didn't have enough time to lobby or appeal to them as the processes for election were already on course. They only had enough time to nominate Femi Gbajabimila while the nPDP nominated Dogara. The rest is history as Dogara of nPDP defeated APC-Tinubu's Femi and completed the rout of Tinubu led old APC.

I don't envy Tinubu and APC because of the decision they have to make within 48 hours. If they sanction those APC members who supported Bukola and Dogara it will spell doom for APC. PDP will most likely welcome them after they have formed a faction of APC to gain legal right to decamp. Just like APC encouraged PDP members to decamp last year, PDP will encourage the formation of new APC and ultimately welcome their lost members home. I even heard that before Senator David Mark was made Senate leader they voted to amend house rules that made it impossible for a minority party to produce house leader. That should effectively remove the impediment posed by order 28 (1) of the national assembly standing rules and make Mark's position irreversible.

APC must therefore accept the outcome of the NASS elections and lick their wounds instead of allowing Lai Muhammed to release divisive media statements. Both the President and Tinubu should congratulate the winners and co-operate with them if they want APC to survive for atleast 4 years. They should note that Atiku Abubakar has already congratulated them and that simply means he is not towing party line and will likely lead them back to PDP or another party if push comes to shove.

Tinubu will lose all his investment if APC disintegrate so early in the day. Making noise against Bukola will therefore cost him more than it will help him. When Bukola and others defied PDP leaders and President Jonathan Baba Asiwaju forgot party supremacy and cohesion and smiled to the polls. Now the chicks have come home to roost as law of karma is in full operation.


To save the Presidency of Buhari the core north should immediately hijack him using the young turks of the northern political establishment. I have not stopped wondering why they allowed El Rufai to take the governorship ticket instead of deploying him to help Buhari. If it is not too late, they should withdraw him back to the presidency and allow him to assemble a team for Buhari from accross the country. President Buhari needs running and Tinubu is the wrong person to run him. Yemi Osibanjo is relatively new to high wire Abuja politics and should be left to attend to vice presidential issues. He lacks what it takes to be an Idiagbon and he is too loyal to Tinubu who is basically running a personal agenda as against a Yoruba or Nigerian agenda.

While I really don't care if APC implodes or not, I am worried about a lame presidency with a non co-operating national assembly. Anti corruption blablabla is now dead because the national assembly under Saraki will protect opposite interests. At the same time Tinubu will either dig in and recover his investment or return to Lagos and help Ambode add to the massive debts generated by Fashola. Luckily for President Buhari he has no electoral tribunal matter to worry about as Jonathan magnanimously conceded defeat. That means that nobody will blackmail him with "do you know how we rigged for you".

But surely Buhari needs running or management to be effective. He is still the same Buhari of the 80s and has not changed.

 

Posted on June, 10 2015

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