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Tinubu’s Ergenekon

Tinubu’s Ergenekon


By Reno Omokri

When President Buhari said the opposition lost the last election because we were overconfident, he was not correct. He was almost accurate but not quite so.

We were not overconfident, so to speak. Rather, we had underestimated the political cunning of Bola Tinubu. I say we, because of the principle of collective responsibility, even though I personally had not underestimated him, and I urged my colleagues not to do so.

For a man to have run a very tight operation in Chicago in the early 1990s, when the US war on drugs still had its post-Reagan bite, he must know a thing or two about organisation.

 And for him to have assembled the coalition of strange political bedfellows that unseated a popular incumbent President was an indication of his keen mobilisation skills.

And then again, to have calculated the attitude of the Muslim core North, so far ahead, towards his Muslim-Muslim ticket is a display of his cold-hearted determination and deep shrewdness.

Bola Tinubu is gifted with the Obasanjo look. You may ask me what that is. Essentially, it is the blessing of looking very foolish facially while being very astute mentally. And when you have that gift, people tend to underestimate you and lower their guard around you.

And just as that trait helped Olusegun  seize control of first, the military, then the whole country, it has also served and is still serving Bola Tinubu well. Some, though not all, of his balablu, bulaba jagabombs were scripted by him to encourage his opponents to underrate him.

Beyond his Southwest home base, Bola Tinubu is not popular. And he does not even pretend to be. Waziri Atiku Abubakar is more popular outside his base than Tinubu.

But Tinubu knows how to play the game of political patronage and has the discipline of politically delaying his gratification. He understands money and uses it as a great motivator. And he knows how to delay his own ambition and install his foot soldiers in strategic places.

So, while many other politicians have food soldiers, Tinubu has foot soldiers and food soldiers. And the combination of both makes his troops good soldiers.

Tinubu has been preparing for 2023 since 1998. He has a former Lagos Commissioner as a top shot at the Independent National Electoral Commission. He has judges he appointed as Governor that are now in the Court of Appeals. He made Lawan Senate President and installed Gbajabiamila as Speaker. One-quarter of Buhari’s ministers are his appointees.

He helped the owners of Oando and Alphabeta become dollar billionaires. He has turned many journalists from paupers into multimillionaires. He is on excellent terms with army generals and has incorporated family members of leaders of our intelligence agencies into his patronage network.

He even ordered the then Action Congress of Nigeria members of the House of Representatives from the Southwest to vote against a fellow Yoruba contestant for the Speakership in 2011, and instead support Aminu Tambuwal because part of his 2015 strategy against then-President Jonathan was to claim that his government was anti-Yoruba, and that would have been impossible if the PDP had a Yoruba speaker. Imagine that type of Machiavellian thinking!

With his advanced preparation, the judiciary may even treat him better than INEC did.

Tinubu and Godswill Akpabio both learnt from MKO Abiola very well. What money cannot do, more money can do. But Tinubu went further than Akpabio in that, apart from Olusegun Obasanjo, no other Nigerian politician has perfected the art of emotional suppression and stooping  to conquer like him.

Bola Tinubu has perfectly implemented the Fethullah Gülen style of politics, and we in the PDP must also play it, or he will keep outfoxing us. We should start now by sponsoring young PDP-leaning Nigerians through school. When they graduate, encourage them to join the civil service, INEC, judiciary, diplomatic service, and the army. Keep them in place as sleeper cells to advance the party’s interest within government and to be in pole position to influence future elections in our favour legally.

Tinubu has his own deep state within the Nigerian state. His own version of Ergenekon. And we in the PDP must either counter him by having ours or go the Erdoğan route by destroying his, so there is a level playing ground. Because, right now, most grounds, including the Judiciary, are levelled in his favour.

It is a long game—a marathon. And if we do not beat Tinubu at this game, which he has been playing for 26 years, we will keep playing catch up in the future.

Instead of insulting his intelligence, let us, as the Peoples Democratic Party, study it and outfox him. We should not be too ashamed to copy his playbook. That is how you become a Chess Grandmaster. You spend months studying your opponents’ plays. We must study Tinubu to defeat him like Erdogan studied Fethullah Gülen and then destroyed his political base.

Sadly, many Nigerians, especially those who self-identify as Obidients, are not politically mature or savvy. So to them, politics is a zero-sum game. It is not a non-lethal means to an end.

So they give no thought to understanding their political opposition. Others must understand them because they are correct, and they mustn’t understand others because anyone not with them is wrong.

So when they see a figure like myself, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, analysing both the good, bad and ugly, about someone like Bola Tinubu, to them, it can only mean one thing-that I want to join the All Progressives Congress.

Such myopic thinking is why they have so much political activity and very little political productivity. They rely on sheer effort without a strategy.

Whether we like it or not, Bola Tihubu is a force to be reckoned with. And if we must defeat him, we can only do so by understanding his strengths, weaknesses, and the threat he poses to us as opposition parties.

Yes, he is, in many ways, a nasty piece of work. And I have said before that I would not urinate on him if he were on fire.

But that does not blind me to the fact that he is a highly effective political strategist. And without also strategising, we in the opposition will constantly be reacting to him and playing catch up.

When World War II era American General, George S Patton, faced off against Germany’s General Erwin Rommel in North Africa, he spent a week studying Infanterie greift (Infantry Attacks), the book Rommel had written on tank warfare. And after defeating him, he credited that singular act for his victory.

By now, every opposition party worth its salt ought to have a dossier on Tinubu. Because believe it or not, he has one on the significant leaders of your own parties.

That is why we must analyse him, because, after Olusegun Obasanjo, he is the most effective political strategist alive today in Nigeria. But whereas former President Obasanjo is a benevolent force, Mr Tinubu can only be described as malevolent.

We need to know the truth about Bola Tinubu, and it is that truth that will set us free. And the truth is that whether as a cartel leader, an opposition party enforcer, or a national leader of the ruling party, the man knows how to assert his will on his environment.

We must understand why, so we can formulate how to clip his wings.

If all we do is insult and abuse him, we will be playing right into his hands because, as he has said, ‘I don’t read social media o. They abuse the hell out of me.’

As opposition parties, we must understand that Tinubu is a master at identifying cleavages in society and exploiting them. We must thus deprive him of that by caucusing so there are no cracks for him to leverage on. We cannot afford to be emotional. This is the time for realpolitik.

Let us remember that Tinubu is a gangster. A known cartel lord. He is vulnerable. He has his Achilles’ heel. And Tinubu’s sword of Damocles is the fear that he uses, like Satan, to control his kingdom. Not all of the people in his patronage network kowtow to him because of love. Buhari does not love Tinubu. Sanwo-Olu would love to be free of Tinubu. Many members of the SW caucus of the APC are eager to be rid of his overbearing yoke.

What stops them from rebelling against him is Tinubu’s ability to give them the Ambode treatment.

That is where the PDP comes in. We must be the antidote to his fear. We must provide hope to the judiciary, and his minions that it is possible to clip Tinubu’s wings.

And the way to do this is by working with the Labour Party and all other opposition parties to seize control of who becomes what in the upcoming National Assembly. We can do it. Kwankwaso has got his coveted revenge against Ganduje in Kano and no longer needs Tinubu. He should be able to put national interest above any other now.

Erdogan did it to Fethullah Gülen, and we can do it to Tinubu.

A united opposition poised to take control of the National Assembly will embolden the judiciary to stand up to Tinubu, and make them the true last hope of the Nigerian people.

I hope this counsel of mine would be heeded by those with the power to make the needed changes. This is a strategy game, and the only way we can outfox Tinubu is to outthink him.

On Dangote’s Refinery

Dangote’s refinery is such a big deal. We Nigerians don’t seem to know that. Not only is it worth $19 billion and is the largest single train refinery in the world, but it also occupies an area larger than Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Banana Island combined. With the direct and indirect jobs it will create, it is set to employ more people than the Lagos State Government.

We are not making enough noise about this. It is a big deal. A game changer. Why is our government not showing enough excitement about this project? Every TV station and newspaper should have a countdown to the official opening. Especially the NTA. If this were happening in South Africa, they would flood the airwaves. We must do the same.

Nigeria must prove that she loves good news more than bad news. Dangote’s love scandal of 2021 made more headlines than his record-breaking refinery of 2023. What does that say about us as a people? Not much. Not much! Our preference for bad news over good is a trait we must weed out of our couture.

In economic terms, this refinery is more relevant to Nigeria than the proposed inauguration of a new President and government on May 29.


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