It’s absurd to contemplate a Tinubu presidency ~ by David Hundeyin
Few people knew Bola Ahmed Tinubu as well as my dad. His first two land allocations in Lagos had my dad’s signature on them (then Lagos State Director of Lands).
The full picture of him that I got from my old man is why I find the idea of a “President Tinubu” to be utterly hilarious.
The 1st thing to understand about the man is that he genuinely, wholeheartedly believes that everything and everyone is for sale.
“What money cannot do, more money will do.” That’s an actual quote from him.
The definition of “transactional” should have his photo next to it.
He has never at any point been a particularly great politician or an inspirational leader.
What he has been is a low-level wheeler-dealer. A petty grifter with a keen knack for sniffing out people’s financial weaknesses and targeting them with his vast unexplained wealth.
That ability to sense what people need/want and financially entrap them into loyalty with is what his ENTIRE support structure is based on.
There is NOT A SINGLE person around him who is there for any kind of ideological reason. It is ALL about give and take. Nothing more.
All your Dele Alakes, Bayo Onanugas, Festus Keyamos, Gbenga Ashafas etc have become his loyalists for no other reason than financial favours and access to financial resources they get from him.
Take that financial aura away from him for 3 months and he loses EVERYTHING.
Where he occasionally runs into obstacles that his money cannot dislodge, his only other calling card is violence. Hence his long romance with MC Oluomo and other key crime bosses in the Lagos underworld.
What he can’t buy, he destroys. Who he can’t bribe, he kills. That’s it.
If he can’t buy you and he can’t kill you, he becomes completely helpless because the actual skills required of a political leader – situational empathy, ability to negotiate, ability to share power and collaborate, openness to scrutiny etc – are skills that he DOES NOT HAVE.
The guy is basically Lamidi Adedibu with more money and less capacity to control his ambitions.
Because money and violence have become his long-standing secret formula in Lagos, he believes the same formula can be transplanted to Abuja to rule/subjugate 180 million+ Nigerians.
Of course it’s not hard to predict what is going to happen if (and that’s a big “if”) he is sworn in on May 29.
He will quickly discover that
A) Nigeria is much bigger and hungrier than Lagos, ergo buying everybody off is impossible, even with “federal might”, and,
B) Deploying state violence is only a limited option. Nigeria is the world’s most under-policed state, proportional to its size. Also, the armed forces don’t work like MC Olumo and if they do, they must be funded, armed and equipped heavily, which means that…
C) There will be a heightened risk of a military coup if “President” Bola Ahmed Tinubu tries to use the military to impose his will on the extremely restive country that Nigeria will become under him.
His is a classic Icarus story. The Lamidi Adedibu of Lagos who went too far.
He will find out the hard way that imposing your will using money and thuggery on Nigeria’s smallest land mass, is not just a different league, but a different sport altogether from being President and GCFR.
He will learn that even Buhari couldn’t rule using tyranny alone.
TLDR: He may have successfully deployed his dazzling personal wealth to compromise INEC and get himself declared “President-elect”, but the idea that Bola Tinubu has “won” anything other than the 21st century’s biggest pyrrhic victory is halfway between cute and hilarious. Read more.
David Hundeyin is the founder of West Africa Week . He was awarded the 2023 Distinguished James Currey Fellow, Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge.