29th May: President Bola Ahmed Tinubu By KASSIM AFEGBUA

President-elect, Bola Tinubu

The tidal waves are still in their rambunctious cadence, swirling through like sea breeze, leaving whispers along their trail. Tongues are wagging, some faces wear tempers of defeat, others are beaming with smiles and laughter. Life’s archetypal nuances, the good, the bad and the ugly are ubiquitous, without surprise. Yes, expectations were shattered, emotions punctured, permutations broken, opinion polls ridiculed, and lamentations replete about a polity that was anxious about how the three-some front runner candidates would pan out. The three front runners stood on three different “ideological” pedestals. Obi was the youngest and freshest of them. He stood on two formidable platforms; the Christian faith and the ethnicity; such dangerous divisive approach to contemporary political discourse in a secular, multi-religious nation like Nigeria. His platform was strengthened by the same-faith ticket of the APC candidate, Tinubu, who partnered with Shettima. The pastors easily saw in him, a candidate that resonated with their faith. They mobilised their members, preached sermons on a regular basis, and invited Obi to attend some of their prayer sessions. He regaled in the oleageaneous paeans of those prayer sessions, where all fingers were pointed at him as the sessions went on.

One other was Atiku Abubakar, who basked in the euphoria of being a Northern candidate, buoyed by the declarations by some intrepid old men, who said heaven will not fall if another Northerner succeeded an outgoing Northerner. One of the reasons Atiku Abubakar was supported by PDP power oligarchs was that, he would use his northernness to rein in the votes against two Southern candidates; knowing full well that the South were never going to be monolithic in their voting pattern. So, in one breathe, Atiku was the candidate for the North, or so it seemed and indeed the votes he got were predominantly from the North. He was also carelessly arrogant in his approach, as regards the G-5 Governors; refusing to bend over backwards to accommodate their desires and wishes; all that they asked was the ousting of the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as a pre-condition for their lending support. He displayed his magisterial arrogance by declaring that he could win the election without the G-5 Governors’ support. He failed woefully in their states. Leading a fractured party to an election of such magnitude, I expected Atiku to be wiser in his approach and demeanor. He was carried away by the whispers of “president-in-waiting”; a cognomen infatuation of his praise-singers, and bought into the belief that his North would deliver him from the failure that awaited him.

Tinubu, the BAT with nine lives, the Lion, who understands the temperament of politics and the characteristics of Nigerian voters, was the third one. He knew that Atiku would enjoy Northern votes, but his APC Governors’ support was his bastion resource, that he depended on to neutralise Atiku’s grip on the North; and it worked! Apart from Governor Yahaya of Gombe, Governor Buni of Yobe, and Governor Sule of Nasarawa, all other Governors of the APC from the North were substantially through and through. Atiku won in those three states as expected by Asiwaju Tinubu in structuring the demographics. Asiwaju Tinubu went into this election as a pan-Nigeria candidate, who was not detained by the noise of same-faith ticket. He had the spread across the divide; North, South, East and West. His running mate is a Northern Muslim. Atiku’s running mate is a Southern Christian which choice was besmirched by accusations of betraying the Southern aspiration. Obi’s running mate is a Northern Muslim whose sphere of influence carries no real weight. His boyish posture and looks resonated with the average youths, but not with the core Northern established individuals and families. What the choice of him was expected to convey, spoke of the direct opposite in their sight; reason he couldn’t make serious impact within the Northern hemisphere; he didn’t resonate meaning with the mind holders.

The BAT with nine lives was propitious to win the election, despite all the positive opinion polls favouring Peter Obi; polls that were dubiously concocted to drive the narrative of Obi presidency. I remember arguing with my good friend that Obi will make a huge impact, but his spread across the country would be impaired by his low support in the North. That was further compounded by the fact that Obi’s coordinators in some northern states, were guys of Igbo origin. He didn’t trust the North enough, but he aspired to rake in their votes. It turned out that I was right!! Also, the weakness of his Vice Presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed was exposed. Asiwaju Tinubu had APC Governors behind him. Those from the North-West were resolute in their support. Senator Wammako of Sokoto stellarly worked to successfully neutralise the expected votes from Sokoto state. Tinubu was strong in the North-Central, South-West, North-West, and South-South, especially with Wike, Oshiomhole, Ayade, Sylva, Akpabio and Omoagege all backing him. It would have been a ninth day wonder if Tinubu did not win this election. Also, he has a Christian wife who is a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church. Her mobilisation and support for her husband’s aspiration was phenomenal. She was everywhere creating her own followership and helping her husband rake in the womens support. Tinubu’s son, Seyi, also mobilised the youths in their numbers to support his father. Seyi was everywhere on his own merit across the country.

It is expected that elections in Nigeria will come with their own challenges, but those human flaws are not enough to vitiate the outcome of the exercise. The outcome also suits what a plural society should expect; a pan-Nigeria president that cannot be claimed by any demographic. A Peter Obi presidency would have been claimed by the Christians, youths, and Igbos as their product. An Atiku Abubakar presidency would have been claimed by the North as their own, but Tinubu, who got majority votes from all the divides in combination cannot be claimed by any demographic. He belongs to the women, youths, elderly, North and South, East and West. He’s a strategist par excellence who understands the dynamics of Nigeria’s politics and intricate logic in contending with developmental issues across board. It is appropriate for PDP and Labour Party to interrogate the process, but they should apply decorum in doing so, to avoid over-heating the system. In any competition and contest, a winner is expected to emerge. For PDP and LP to be claiming victory shows a sense of entitlement rather than one of sportsmanship. The APC’s desire to interrogate the outcome of election in the 5 states of the South-East is a welcome development, to fathom out if those votes there were deservedly so. Peter Obi, the beneficiary of almost 95% of South-East votes will have more questions to answer on why it was difficult for other parties to score high in the South-East. We have seen visuals of thumb-printing without BIVAS accreditation and we have also seen result sheets where all other parties were scored zero, and one single agent, acting on behalf of all the parties.

The tribunal may end up exposing Peter Obi the more. By May 29th, the president-elect will be sworn-in, DV. Tinubu is coming into the presidency with huge experience and a rich antecedent of performance. A lawmaker, an executive governor, a private sector boardroom experience, a party man, and now a president. These ranks bequeath experiences that are not easy to come by. As President, he will be expected to use his conversational skills to deepen dialogue and constructive engagement, he will be expected to heal the wounds in the land, and build national cohesion and sustain cross-cultural and cross-faith unity. Also, he will be expected to create new national paradigms that would provoke new approaches to contending with national challenges. He will be firm in his disposition, but flexible in his interactions. He will keep his eyes on the balls, as he is wont to doing, and engage persons and factors that can help drive his vision for the country. As a pro-democracy activist with quintessential skills, he knows and understands what the expectations are. He knows how to select his lieutenants as a team player and leader; to drive the activities necessary to deliver on his mandate. Bola Tinubu understands how high the expectations are, and how compelling getting enough good hands to deliver on them is. Let him be. Let him deliver.

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