By Shaka Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, the moment of truth is nigh. We are at a critical moment – another opportunity to seize back the country from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its merchants of anarchy and grotesque self-entitlement.
Failure to get it right for the third time in a row will cause the entrenchment of wuruwuru anda stinking culture of impunity in this land of our fathers. There is a grim sense of foreboding that this could happen. However, it will be imbecilic for a nation craving sanity to elect one who is a peril to democracy and the state’s institutions.
The road ahead is going to be very difficult because the forces of evil are very powerful and relentless; they are pulling the strings behind the stage and putting the brakes on many changes that will make the elections more transparent, knowing full well that they don’t stand a chance in credible elections. That is the reason for the desperate loud cry recently by the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu that the fuel scarcity that has been with us for months and the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were meant to sabotage his victory. The media blitz that followed was all part of the script to capitalise on the suffering of the people to gain their sympathy and make them feel he cares for them. Anyone who cannot see through that, is at best naïve in the extreme. Tinubu does not give a hoot about the poor. It’s all about himself.
Ask yourself; is he the only presidential candidate affected by the naira redesign policy? Why would fuel scarcity and naira redesign be targeted at him? Every Nigerian is affected, including other presidential candidates. I cannot think of how Tinubu is more affected than other candidates, except he is telling Nigerians the naira redesign has shaken his plan to deploy his vast ill-gotten wealth to buy votes.
It is instructive that all through the strike that was embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which lasted nearly nine months, Tinubu never felt that it was targeted at sabotaging his presidential ambition. He was travelling round the country then sensitising leaders of thought to his presidential quest. He did not give a thought to the varsity students who were forced to idle away at home by the government he installed. Tinubu jostled in the primary and won the ticket, by hook or by crook, while the strike lasted. Nor was the massive insecurity across the country targeted at undermining his chances of winning the election. The attack and mass abduction of students in schools in many northern states were not targeted at Tinubu. Little wonder he never said a word about these serious acts that threatened the lives of ordinary people. The truth is that this man has never cared about the people of Nigeria. He is the one who has consistently exploited the misery of the people he is partly responsible for, to advance his political career over the years.
I was amused watching the Kaduna State governor Nasir el-Rufai the other day on television regaling the public with tales of a cabal in the presidency working against Tinubu’s presidential ambition. Others have alleged that the cabal is working for Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So many of their “internet infestations” (to borrow Wole Soyinka’s phrase) have gone on overdrive, dropping names of senior government officials they believe are working against Tinubu’s ambition to be president. One has gone as far as branding the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele enemies of the public. Can you imagine that? I swear, these people are the worst hypocrites living on God’s earth.
They have forgotten so soon that Tinubu and his associates have been holding meetings with the Governor Nyesom Wike-led G5 governors of the PDP, who are working tirelessly against their party’s presidential candidate. Tinubu and the G5 governors have held several secret meetings, negotiating a working arrangement to support him. Many in Tinubu’s camp openly celebrated the working arrangement. They saw no betrayal in what the governors were doing to their party, so long Tinubu profited from it, but when he was on the receiving end of a similar scheme, he and his associates started screaming betrayal. Where was el-Rufai when Tinubu was holding his working-alliance meetings with Wike and co.? These people must think everyone is a fool in this country. A sitting PDP governor was reported to have asked his appointees and elected local officials to work for Tinubu against his own party’s candidate? El-Rufai must tell Nigerians what that means.
Now, come to think of it. How can anyone in his right senses, knowing what we know now about Tinubu, vote for him? How can any rational person vote or canvass for votes for him seeing what we have all seen and/or heard on the campaign train? Have we lost our minds? Don’t we have any shred of honour left in us as a people? Honestly, I am flabbergasted. Words fail me to describe some of my fellow countrymen riding on the Tinubu train to Aso Rock. Clearly, this land of our fathers is in bondage, held hostage by criminal gangs of politicians masquerading as agents of change and their supporters from hell who cheer them on even when they are talking unintelligently.
These people (supporters) live amongst us – as friends, family members, acquaintances, neighbours, colleagues, etc. They are the educated and the uneducated. They are the high-ups and those amongst the lowest rung on the social ladder. We encounter them every day, in offices, bars, malls, marketplace and social events. They fill you with righteous indignation with the way they reason and you wonder aloud; dense people everywhere. How did I find myself sharing the same country with them? Oh my God! How did our country get here?
As I have repeatedly stated, I make no illusion of the fact that Nigerians are incredibly smart people, with a history of foolish choices. But it is staggering how much more, many in this geographical space called Nigeria, actually work to undermine the country’s progress. And after making bad choices, we begin to hope and pray that somehow, our nightmare will end in a miracle. We begin to pray that clay would somehow magically turn into gold and the bad choices we consciously made with our eyes wide open will become good and things will just get better. But things have never gotten better this way. As a matter of fact, they only got worse as the Buhari years have shown.
In 2015, Tinubu and his cohorts presented to Nigerians a man who had no reason to go near the presidency of Nigeria and branded him the messiah who would make things right. Tinubu, the Emilokan, was the arrowhead of that scheme. They recruited people with credibility to their Change project. See where they got us into. To rub salt in the wound, he recently boasted in-your-face that he made Buhari president in 2015. But a confused Tinubu later hit out at the same government thus: “Today, they moved the exchange rate from N200 to N800. If they had repaired it, if they had arrested this, we won’t be where we are today, we will be greater. They don’t know the way, they don’t know how to think, they don’t know how to do”.
Was that not enough to kill his presidential dream, if many people shouting Jagaban care about the tragic state of the nation today under the Buhari, that Tinubu made President? But this is a country of “anything goes”, where many reason anti-clockwise or don’t even reason at all. That is why in 2023, the APC that has wreaked so much havoc on our country is asking Nigerians to vote for the most flawed presidential candidate in the history of this country. How many times shall we be fooled as a people before realising that making the same foolish choices won’t lead to better outcomes? Imagine worse outcomes than these:
Can anyone remember how much the dollar was in 2015 compared to how much it is today? At least, Tinubu, still remembered as the hypocrite blasted Buhari for the depreciation of the naira recently. One US dollar exchanged for N197 in 2015, today it exchanges for N751 or more. Can Tinubu’s supporters and APC choristers tell Nigerians how much a litre of petrol cost in 2015? Perhaps, we should remind them. A litre of petrol sold for N87 in 2015, now it’s in the range of N300 to N450; Kerosene sold for N150 in 2015, and now N1,000; diesel sold for N155, now selling for N850; cooking gas sold in 2015 for N180, but now N850; rice was N8,000 per bag in 2015, now N45,000 and above; bread was N300 in 2015, now N1,000 to N1300; chicken sold for N2,500, now N10,000; airfare from Lagos to Abuja was between N18,000 and N25,000 in 2015, now it is between N50,000 and N80,000. Inflation was in single digit, now, it’s over 21 percent. The country’s misery index is at an all-time high of 62.79 as of July 2022. Under the APC-led government, the number of Nigerians living in poverty stands at over 133 million, the National Bureau ofStatistics (NBS) announced recently. That figure, according to the bureau represents 63 per cent of the nation’s population. Nigeria has even earned the ignoble prize as the poverty capital of the world. Until Buhari brought that laurel home, I personally had never heard of such ranking. Lest I forget, the country’s debt profile was $9.7bn but is now about $167bn that is about N77trn including Ways and Means.
Before 2015, insecurity was mainly restricted to the North-east zone, but Buhari’s government has democratised it to every part of the country. Bandits now strike everywhere at will. Hundreds of schools in the North have been shut down owing to frequent kidnapping or threats of it. Travelling by either road or rail has become a death wish. Many of your compatriots have lost their lives for simply going about their normal lives. That is Buhari’s legacy.
Why should you or your relatives or friends vote for the APC? What did Tinubu do when Buhari showed reluctance to campaign for him? He hit out at his government and tried to dissociate himself from it. Blackmail you know. But the moment Buhari started campaigning with him and raising his hand in different states, everything changed. Tinubu gushed saying he wouldn’t have minded if Buhari continued in office but for term limits. He sure knows Buhari’s number and how to arm-twist him into doing his bidding.
In Imo State, after Buhari again raised his (Tinubu’s) hand, telling Imo people during the APC presidential rally there on Tuesday to vote for him, Tinubu gushed out once again that he would build on Buhari’s legacy as enumerated above. Nigerians should ask Tinubu what legacy of Buhari he was talking about. Legacy of colossal failure by a man he said recently doesn’t know how to think or do? Or a legacy of taking the naira from 200/$1 to N800/$1? Is that what he wants to build on? Hell No.
Now, take a comparative look at where we were in 2015 and where we are today and tell me why anyone in his right senses would even contemplate voting a party that has caused this country so much pain and misery with the lives of so many lost under its tragic misrule and incompetence? In eight years, Buhari’s scorecard has been an unmitigated disaster on a scale never experienced in this clime. Immediately Buhari was elected, it became obvious to the discerning that the country had made a fatal mistake. That terrible mistake was repeated in 2019 by the strange people called Nigerians.
Today, the country is in a mess. Men of anarchy are loosed upon the land. If you vote for the APC in next week’s presidential election, then you are an accessory to this buffeting tragedy. In eight years, they have pauperised our great country. They have turned the land of our fathers into a land famished by poverty and disease. A land of perpetual violence and bloodbath, a land that is eating its own alive. A land ruled by avarice, covetousness, mind-boggling corruption and nepotism.
It may be impolite to always criticise anyone for supporting Tinubu, but not doing so would amount to granting them immunity from responsibility for our current tragedy. They are the oxygen fuelling Tinubu’s campaign; likewise they did to Buhari’s. They are the ones applauding him foolishly when he speaks gibberish. We cannot exempt them. The astonishing mediocrity of their thought and the sheer insanity of their behaviour must be condemned… How many times shall we allow their actions to condemn this country to a moral and economic abyss? How many times shall they be fooled before they realise that Tinubu and his party have nothing to offer this country?
A party that has caused so much damage to our national self-esteem as a people? How does one even wrap his head around it that any normal, sane human being, knowing what we know now, and seeing the daily disaster on his campaign train still sing, “on your mandate we shall stand” or hail him Jagaban, Jagaban? A man who can barely express himself without committing multiple gaffes? His campaign speeches are little more than a laundry list of gaffes and insults, tied together with haughty rhetoric devoid of even pedestrian civility or fluency. They are disjointed contextually, inelegant in delivery, pompous in character, lacking in charisma and eloquence, petty and devoid of addressing the issues, and lacking in finesse. His hired flatterers accompany him everywhere he goes, ready to applaud his most nonsensical and unintelligent statements, even in their misery. Poor people! They clap and clap and gyrate for a morsel of food to entertain a man who has single-handedly appropriated their common wealth. A man most guilty of their miserable condition.
Can anyone remember Tinubu’s Chatham House debacle? It was one of those moments you were overwhelmed by shame and pity. Here is a man who wants to be president of Nigeria unable to answer questions on his manifesto directed at him in front of a global audience. Instead, he nominated members of his delegation to answer questions for him. While his flatterers applauded, his spin doctors quickly went to town with the narrative that it was evidence of Tinubu’s team approach to leadership and that it would form his governance model if elected.
The man did not remember his date of birth, so an aide had to write on a piece of paper for him to read from. What did his supporters do? They clapped for him. What were they clapping for, I asked? For God’s sake, this man is running to be president of Nigeria, not president of his residents’ association. He is contesting in an election he claimed would hold on January 25, two weeks after that date had already passed. But Nigerians know the presidential election would hold on February 25 and not January 25.
For those actively and secretly supporting this man, again, I ask; what did Nigeria do to you to wish her this? It is truly frightening how casually we think or do things that affect our country and its future.
Recently, I asked an ardent Tinubu supporter if he would engage someone like Tinubu to run his company after seeing his record-setting gaffes or his fragile condition – just based on what we see on his campaign trail? He just stared blankly at me, unable to answer. This same individual is supporting Tinubu to be president of Nigeria. Something is certainly wrong with a lot of people in this country.
We are in perilous times. Who knows, perhaps the much-talked end times are upon us. Doesn’t the Bible say towards the end, many strange things shall happen and many false prophets shall rise and people shall be led astray? For the avoidance of doubt, the reference to prophets to me, doesn’t mean those who purport to be men of God alone. It refers to leaders who in that capacity can mislead those they lead.
The future of our nation hangs precariously in the balance. Our national values, norms and mores are facing an assault from a desperate politician who declared Emilokan. He has deployed a massive war chest, he cannot account for in the campaign to wrest power at all costs from the people. For him and his team, it is about winning at all costs. The end justifies the means is the philosophy upon which Tinubu’s democratic credentials are built. Of what use is democracy if Emilokan doesn’t win? That seems to be their definition of democracy. He approximates and interprets his selfish interest to mean “victory for democracy.” Only when he wins or his party wins is an election free and fair. I saw this trend a long time ago and warned Nigerians about the danger he poses to democracy and all its canons. But many didn’t listen.
Now, he has recruited a few vocal bandits as salesmen and consultants hell-bent on foisting another calamity on this land of our fathers. Ex-activists, veteran journalists and a few good men who once stood for the good of society are scrambling to be part of an army of wolves, ready to tear apart anyone who dissents with a thousand bites. Pundits and ordinary citizens have been trained as effective apologists and deniers of the sins of our tormentors.
These politicians have been successful thus far because many often see them from primordial lenses and support their aspirations for base reasons. But the fact that some people think this way reveals that something vital has already been lost in our culture that needs to be recovered. They threaten anyone who dares to ask questions of their principal. But do they think we are afraid of them? The arc of history bends towards the values some of us stand for. We may honour them for what they did in the past, but more importantly, we’ll judge them by what they are doing to our country today. After all, roads, we were told by ancient wisdom, are made for journeys, not destinations.
Frankly, I am shocked, and I am sure many are too, by their capacity for mischief and lies. Now, they tell us, it is Tinubu who built Lagos. And that the video of him muttering Bala blu …. was doctored. Honestly, I really don’t see how anyone can defend Tinubu’s transgressions and flaws without looking ridiculous. Just before this, another hopeless member of Team Tinubu came out to tell Nigerians that the bullion vans that conveyed cash to his Bourdillon Ikoyi residence on the eve of 2019 election missed their address and that they were actually empty. First, they missed their way, then he stated they were empty. How did he know they were empty when they missed the way? It means they opened the bullion vans that “missed their way”?
I tell you this, there is a saying in the land of my fathers, “It is less of a problem to be poor than to be dishonest.” Unfortunately, some of these guys are people one had respected so much. The revelation here is that the human being is a very complex creature that is driven by several emotions and situational factors that could make a man compromise his principles or values. However, I think in life, a man should be able to stand for something, no matter what.
Let’s return to what we have lost as a people. It is an understanding of moral truth that is connected more to virtue than to the outcomes of our actions. I say this regardless of the outcome of the presidential election next week. If Tinubu emerges victorious, the lines between good and evil will collapse. The fabric of our institutions – and moral essence will dissolve. In a few words, it would mean the people of Nigeria chose Barabbas over Jesus (speaking literally) with all its attendant ramifications.
All men of goodwill must come together to prevent this from happening. We must fight until the final whistle. Duty calls on everyone with a PVC who means well for the future of Nigeria not to vote Tinubu in next week’s presidential election. Voting “against” him will be a most worthy endeavour and an honourable epitaph on our gravestones, preserved for future generations. Let the everlasting memorial on my gravestone read: “Here lies a man who in words and in deeds fought for the very soul of Nigeria by voting against Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the February 25, 2023 presidential election.” I believe we shall overcome if we stay together on this.