Asiwaju Tinubu: The Limits of Political Influence


I had watched strenuously to see how far the Asiwaju would go wielding so much power over his political structure spanning the whole of the South West and creeping towards the centre with no executive powers but mere influence. As a student of politics and a graduate of Political Science I have come to realise clearly that influence remains an aberration in the vicious game that is politics.

It is what people on the street call ‘breeze’. It cannot bite, does not have any legal backing, trading on morality and ‘what is right’ and as such enforcement of decisions especially disciplinary is at best tricky. Today I am sure that Asiwaju would be rueing the day he decided to give himself the spurious title of ‘Party Leader’.

For a strategist of his calibre, this was a fatal blow to his legacy. How on earth did he think he would continue to rule over his ‘minions’ especially with the integration of other soldiers in the enlarged party structure that was built with just influence? You see, the game where he holds whoever is the Lagos State governor can never be used at the centre. You cannot control the President of Nigeria and Commander of the Armed Forces with mere influence that comes with the empty post of Party Leader. This to me is his folly and I am sure in his moments of reflection, he would be shaking his head with regrets.

The president’s statement during his inauguration perfectly captured this. He had said, “I belong to no one.” That to me perfectly encapsulates what I am talking about. Simply because you played a major role in bringing about the electoral victory is not enough currency to wield the kind of influence Asiwaju was looking at wielding in national politics. This could be gleaned in all the subsequent defeats he has faced, culminating in this latest affront by the party chairman. Femi Fani-Kayode who I usually do not agree with, put everything in true perspective in one of his numerous write-ups when he illustrated how Tinubu has been embarrassed by the establishment ever since the inauguration. From the Kogi State governorship poll, through the appointments of Fashola and the former Ekiti governor; through even the appointment of Nike Animashaun and now the Ondo State debacle is beginning to show Asiwaju as a giant with a clay feet.

How can you ever plan to hold power without legal backing. That is not legitimate power and as such cannot achieve sustainable leverage. I will say, he was lucky with Fashola and is also being lucky with Ambode but can you imagine a Fayose as governor of Lagos State or even Wike. You will begin to see what I am talking about. Continuing to expect loyalty from gratitude is funny . But that is exactly what has been happening.

Chief Awolowo insisted on being the Premier and when he went for election in the centre and failed he came back to reclaim his executive powers and this led to a fracas that led to wahala in the old Western Region simply because the combatants understood the powers that came with executive positions.

If Asiwaju was party chairman today and with his clout and charisma, even the president would think twice before he moved against him. Let us look at Chief Adisa Akinloye in the Second Republic, he was so powerful that his image loomed large even far and above that of the president. He never got to that point by wielding just influence.

So my advice to Asiwaju is for him to either seek executive powers by throwing himself up for elections either at the party level or at the national platform or simply just retire from politics before he is rudely humiliated by people who despite their gratitude to him for ‘making them what they are’ would not allow that to becloud their judgment or decision taken in the pursuit of both their personal and national goals.

Really sad that such a brilliant tactician could not see this. Really painful.