Tinubu’s Controversial Outing at Chatham House

Last week, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu, stirred another controversy when he delegated Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and other members of his team to respond to questions posed to him at the Chatham House in the United Kingdom, Ejiofor Alike reports

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, incurred the wrath of his political opponents and traducers last week when he delegated some members of his team to respond to questions posed to him at the Chatham House in the United Kingdom.

Tinubu was in Chatham House to speak to Nigerians in the Diaspora on why he should be elected in 2023.

After his presentation which was streamed live on ARISE NEWS Channel, he was asked some questions on how he planned to address insecurity, oil theft, education and economy if elected president in 2023.

As he was asked by the moderator to respond to the questions, Tinubu apparently turned himself into another moderator and assigned some members of his entourage to respond to those questions.

While he assigned Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to speak on how his government would address insecurity, he asked the Director of Strategic Communication of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Dele Aleke, to respond to the question on oil theft.

Tinubu also delegated a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Wale Edun, to respond to a question on how he would boost the economy if elected.

Others, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade; former Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; APC National Women Leader, Dr. Betta Edu, also answered questions.

Apparently aware of the potential controversy his decision would generate, the former Lagos State governor had tried to justify his action.

According to him, he adopted the delegation method “to show team-ship”.

Tinubu said: “Let me demonstrate here one of those philosophies and doctrines that I believe firmly in, it is team-ship, unbreakable team. To demonstrate that, I will assign it to my team.”

Many believe that what the APC presidential candidate did has never happened in any interview session anywhere.

Though Section 5 of the Nigerian Constitution empowers the president to delegate powers to the vice president, ministers, aides and other public officers to act on his behalf, many have also reminded Tinubu’s team and supporters that the former governor of Lagos State is not yet the president and should not be talking of delegating powers to a non-existent team. 

Despite the attempt by Tinubu himself to justify  his decision, the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation insisted that answering questions through proxies was a national disgrace.

In a statement by one of its spokespersons, Kola Ologbondiyan, the campaign organisation said, “Nigerians including supporters of the APC presidential candidate were thoroughly embarrassed to watch Tinubu, who earlier showboated with a scripted speech went blank on the world stage in tragic display of emptiness and inability to personally address questions that were put to him on economy, security and other challenges facing our nation.

“Our campaign finds it very appalling that a candidate aspiring to be the president of a nation as complex as Nigeria exhibited an embarrassing inability to coordinate his own thought process to the extent that he could not personally think through issues and address them but had to direct questions put to him, including those on his health and policies to others to answer,” the campaign organisation explained.

Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation added that Tinubu had confirmed to Nigerians and the world he is completely unprepared for leadership and intended to transfer the onerous task of leading the country to proxies and a cabal that did not seek votes from Nigerians.

“Of course, Nigerians cannot afford to have president, who cannot take responsibility to lead but intend to shift burden to others apparently to find scapegoats to blame for his inevitable failures,” the campaign organisation added.

The Atiku Support Organisation (ASO) also took a swipe at the former Lagos State governor, describing as a colossal disgrace his conduct in Chatham House.

ASO said watching Tinubu delegate questions directed at him to his party men at the conference room was proof that he has no atom of capacity to govern a country as Nigeria.

In a statement by the support group’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Victor Moses, the group argued that the “fact that Bola Tinubu couldn’t provide answers to basic questions, especially on how to improve bilateral ties in the area of defence with the United Kingdom, but called on El-Rufai, Gbajabiamila, Betta Edu and co to rescue him shows that Nigeria may be in for a major calamity ahead.

 “It is now clear to all Nigerians why Tinubu dodged the ARISE TV Town Hall debate. His mental facilities have shown a complete mark of deterioration, and he cannot face a one-on-one debate or conversation about his plans for Nigeria. A continuation of the APC government will be a major disaster for Nigeria,” the group added.

 Also, Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr. Phrank Shaibu said Tinubu bungled the opportunity to redeem himself.

 “Six long months after emerging the candidate of the party, the self-styled Lagos godfather has continued to avoid any public engagement with other candidates because his intelligence pales in comparison to them. The Chatham House event was therefore an opportunity to redeem himself but once again he fell short,” he said.

Shaibu argued that Tinubu knew that he lacked the capacity to respond to easy questions, and claimed his style was to delegate members of his campaign to answer questions for him.

The Director of Strategic Communication for the PDP Campaign Council, Mr. Dele Momodu had also in a statement, criticised Tinubu’s performance, saying he was expected to “sell” his vision and not to use proxies.

“The Bola Tinubu handlers fumbled, and bungled it big time. They showcased him like a packaged invalid. It would have been better to present him as a brilliant politician and administrator, warts and all, who’s capable of independent thoughts,” Momodu said.

“No man is perfect. His gaffes would have been more pardonable and acceptable. He was expected to sell his own vision and mission.

“But what we saw yesterday was a theatre of the absurd,” he said.

“All those around Tinubu yesterday knew the bitter truth but chose to fool Nigerians. One of them was heard in a viral video telling Tinubu to dance to the popular song BUGA by Kizz Daniel because ‘that’s what the youths want to see’ and lo and behold Tinubu instantly transfigured into an accomplished choreographer,” he added.

However, Momodu met his match in the Minister of State for Labour and Employment and Spokesperson of Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, who was quoted in the media as saying that Momodu has no moral right to pass judgment on Tinubu’s performance.

Keyamo reportedly said Nigerians have been rejecting Atiku Abubakar at every election cycle having realised that he is a “well-packaged and whitewashed crook”.

“Unfortunately, Dele Momodu is not the moral barometer by which Asiwaju can be judged. So, we can simply ignore his rantings”.

“He should simply ask himself why Nigerians continue to reject his candidate in different circles of election: the simple answer is that Nigerians know that Atiku Abubakar is a well-packaged and whitewashed crook”.

Tinubu’s interview at the Chatham House has added to the many controversies that have been trailing his statements and actions since he emerged as the presidential candidate of the ruling party.

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