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Remembering the pilgrimage to Tinubu Chatham House



All Progressives Congress

Signs that All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu will lead a proxy government if elected emerged on his way out to Chatham House in London. Tinubu, who has made a tradition of avoiding public speaking events in the run-up to the February 2023 election, scrapped Arise Television’s town hall meeting hosted for top presidential contenders on Sunday, December 4, 2022. It was the last in the non-participation of Tinubu. -appearance in similar engagements since he won his party’s presidential ticket last June.

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Last August

Last August, Tinubu was conspicuously absent from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) annual conference. Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and Labor Party (LP) candidate Peter Obi honored the invitation at the conference in Lagos. Tinubu’s running mate Kashim Shettima replaced him. In September, Tinubu was again absent when presidential candidates from all political parties endorsed the 2023 election peace pact. The National Peace Committee (NPC), organizers of the peace pact, is chaired by Abdulsalam Abubakar, former head of state military. Tinubu was once again represented at the event by his running mate, Shettima, in a process that was also personally attended by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku. Obi, the Labor Party (LP) candidate, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), were also present.

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Arise Television

In what has become his trademark, Tinubu avoided an earlier town meeting also called by Arise Television in early November, where Atiku was represented by Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, his running mate. On the eve of yesterday’s second edition of Arise Television, Tinubu traveled to London, reportedly to headline an engagement on the Nigerian political process. This was by way of addressing the Royal British Institute. It was supposed to have focused on the 2023 general election, with specific regard to national security, economic, and foreign policy imperatives. The director of media and publicity for the APC-Tinubu/Shettima Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, had previously said that his director “would not be blackmailed into attending the event”.

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Kwankwaso and Obi

Atiku, Kwankwaso and Obi diligently attended the talk show, which was simulcast to the world from the organizers’ studios in Lagos and Abuja, hosted by Charles Aniagolu and Adesuwa Omoruan. Attendees addressed issues related to poverty alleviation and the holistic reengineering of critical education, healthcare, and human capital development. In what was a mild and congenial atmosphere, Atiku, who is closely entrenched in both the public and private sectors, vowed to cut red tape and block waste in government if he is elected. “Overheads” and “recurring costs”, which are often blurry and opaque, are major drains on public resources, weakening allocations for real socioeconomic growth.

House of Representatives

The “question and answer” session that followed Tinubu’s speech, however, visibly exposed Tinubu’s suspect ability in one-on-one dialogue. In a conspicuously striking pattern that amplified this possibility, Tinubu called several members of his entourage to answer questions posed to him. He had in his delegation the president of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai and his Jigawa and Cross River counterparts Abubakar Badaru and Ben Ayade. Also present was the former CEO of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi.

Dele Alake

Dele Alake, a media expert, and Wale Edun, a prominent player in the economic and financial sector, were also there. They both served as commissioners on Tinubu’s state executive council, when he was governor of Lagos state from 1999 to 2007. Tinubu variously called El Rufai, Ayade, Alake and Edun to answer questions directed at him. The outsourcing of the questions was a watershed in political engagements anywhere. The world has duly taken note of our prototype of recruiting leaders, in the highest echelons of Nigeria.

Arise Television

In 2015, Buhari, despite his well-established communication deficiencies, never reassigned questions directed at him. How he has subcontracted authority during his tenure will be another discussion. In fact, it would have been more dignified for Tinubu to have attended the Arise Television town hall meeting in Lagos. Any of the governors who traveled with him would have done a better job of delivering the address which was by the way well written. Tinubu and his party owe deep apologies to Nigeria and the international community. The highly publicized appearance at Chatham House was a massive disaster.

Niger Delta

Tinubu’s appearances in the stands across the country since the start of the campaigns have been marked by troubling verbal gaffes and shaky coordination. When he doesn’t call the Delta state “Niger Delta state”, he offers prayers for the success of the main opposition party, the PDP. During a recent campaign visit to Bayelsa state, the APC standard bearer had trouble pronouncing the words “recreate” and “technological”. At the *Chatham* outlet, even when he had the dais to himself, Tinubu would stutter in some instances, even having difficulty with such a direct expression as “co-contestants”. These serial errors have inspired several skits and videos on social media highlighting the troubling cognitive challenges of the APC candidate.

Tom and Jerry

The APC’s obvious plan is to paper, glass, glitter and foist on Nigerians a president with such worrisome vital signs. Or why does Tom and Jerry’s roulette wheel about a man who claims to oversee the lives and affairs of Africa’s most populous country remain forever shrouded in mystery? This is despite the fact that Nigeria has yet to recover from the long locust years of the Muhammadu Buhari disaster, which has subsided since 2015. A man who survives drowning is more circumspect when he sees a large body of water. Nigerians must be cautious and resist the installation of another “royal president” who will oscillate between the comfortable cocoon of the presidential villa and the world-class medical facilities of Europe and America. We cannot go to the polls on Saturday, February 25, 2023 blindfolded, as we did in 2015. We cannot afford another president who will be a serial medical tourist, recording 225 days of our collective life and existence. A very popular Yoruba adage tells us that even when we shed tears, our eyes are not blind to what is happening around us.

This House Has Fallen

Tinubu’s managers and handlers owe it to Nigeria to allow us to associate with the man who aspires to make us presidential broadcasts, after May 29, 2023. Nigerians must persuade Tinubu to talk to us, face to face as Atiku , its main challenger, who is always keen to reassure Nigerians how we can collectively rebuild our crumbling national edifice. The title of the very incisive book: ‘This House Has Fallen: Nigeria In Crisis’ by the German author Karl Maeir, could not be more accurate. Nigeria does not need a masquerade as a leader. We need a proven Atiku Abubakar who can very ably provide comprehensive leadership straight out of Eagle Square, on Monday May 29, 2023.

Atiku Abubakar

Olusunle (PhD), a poet, journalist, academic and author, is the special adviser on media and publicity to the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar (GCON)

Opinions expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not those of TheCable.

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