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OPINION: Don’t let Tinubu go rogue again



OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

EACH time Nigeria’s President, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu goes rogue Nigerians pay a price. A huge price usually. So it is incumbent on us to be on the alert to stop him in his tracks unless we are at peace with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

A little definition of to ‘go rogue’ will suffice so that rabid supporters of the ‘Independent’ National Electoral Commission [INEC]-declared president of Nigeria will not claim that we have called their man a rogue. It does not really matter that virtually everything about him is roguish- name, state of origin, business, schools attended, certificates, among others. An online dictionary says that someone can be said to have gone rogue when they ‘behave erratically or dangerously, especially by disregarding the rules or the usual way of doing something’. Going rogue and being unconventional are two different things. The attraction to go rogue has been noticed with Tinubu since the advent of this democratic dispensation in 1999. When he committed what was an obvious perjury in the forms he filed with INEC in pursuit of his Lagos state governorship ambition, he procured one Tokumbo Afikuyomi to take the fall for him. When Alpha Beta, a company that collects taxes in Lagos and which is widely associated with him was accused of being used to launder money and tax evasion, shadowy figures contrived to drive its managing director, who was sacked on account of being estranged with Tinubu, out of town. The man went to court and the case got stuck there. In no time a mystery fire razed that particular court house. Nothing was salvaged. The evidence went with the flames. Case closed. The non-violent EndSars protesters were accused for the arson.

Soon after, the once angry and sacked managing director made peace with Tinubu and even endorsed him for president. It sounds like the story of a mob boss. We do not know whether Tinubu is one but what is certain is that he had been part of, or at least was a bag man for a drug cartel in the United States of America [USA] in the 1990s. He had to forfeit USD460,000 to the US government about 30 years ago. His flirtations with rogue behaviour are legion. We will grant that he is a Nigerian. But he had once claimed that he was a black American. He has also been accused, with evidence, of acquiring a passport of the Republic of Guinea. One of his lawyers, a very senior attorney at that, had told the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal in Abuja that Tinubu’s citizenship of Guinea lapsed with the expiry of his Guinean passport. At the time that that lawyer told the tribunal this story I was frightened about the validity of my citizenship of Nigeria because my passport had expired.

We have gone to this length to establish that virtually everything about Tinubu is a pain to Nigeria. It is because of his rogue disposition that we had roguish elections last February and March. It is because of his roguish past that the outcome of the February 25 presidential election is mired in controversy and stuck in the tribunal. It is because of his roguish utterances including ‘grab it, snatch it and run with it’ [ahead of the election] that this country has become polarised and a butt of jokes in decent societies.

On May 29, at his inauguration as president, he removed the so-called subsidy on petrol under the pretext that he was ‘possessed with courage’ to make the wicked declaration which was not part of his written inaugural speech. Nigerians have since been crushed by the fallout of his folly. Like the Biblical misguided Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, Tinubu went ahead to add to the burden of the people by attempting to unify the Naira exchange rate with other currencies without thought to the supply side of the equation. The Naira has been on a free fall ever since with the attendant dire consequences on citizens. No rigour attended any of these actions. Apparently Tinubu is not done with willfully inflicting more pains on Nigerians. Now he is spoiling for war with neighbouring Niger Republic; a war that is unnecessary, avoidable and without benefits. Except to him because he is struggling with a dubious mandate and legitimacy issues at home.

READ ALSO: Opinion: Tinubu’s 20 nuggets of follies

About two weeks ago, elements of the Nigerien presidential guard stormed the presidential palace and toppled the regime of President Mohamed Bazoum. But the president succeeded in locking up himself and his family inside a safe room in the palace. His government failed, anyway. Reports were that from the safe and secure self imprisonment inside the palace, the embattled president had been working the telephones for him to be rescued and restored to office by his allies- the US, France and the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS]. The US and France who have military bases and staging posts in Niger are obviously not interested in putting boots on the ground but want to fight through proxies.

This is where Tinubu comes in.

Coincidentally, he is also the chairman of ECOWAS. Tinubu has close affinity with France. Unlike Buhari’s London, France is Tinubu’s preferred destination for vacation, consultations and medical tourism. It has also been suggested that he may have been an asset to the American Intel community given the US strident refusal to declassify his alleged unsavoury records in the FBI archives. So is Tinubu beholden to the French and the Americans? There is no evidence in that regard.

But even if he is beholden to any other country or countries, we have a bounden and abiding duty and obligation to prevent him from using Nigeria as a trade off for whatever he owed the West. Nigerians should insist that only political negotiation, dialogue and diplomacy should be applied to persuade Niger’s new strong man, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani to relinquish power. If that option fails, Nigeriens should be allowed time to sort themselves out. Last Sunday as the ECOWAS ultimatum to the junta to restore Bazoum lapsed, Nigeriens massed in a stadium in Niamey in solidarity with the coup leaders and in defiance of ECOWAS. So on no account should Nigerians allow Tinubu to drag them into any war. Our plate is full and overflowing with intractable domestic worries of our own. We have no strategic interests in Niger and its natural resources of mainly uranium and gold.

America and France should fret about their access to Niger’s uranium deposits and the mortal fear about Russia’s increasing influence in the Sahel and the West African sub region. Our interest stops with the fact that Niger has been a friendly neighbour which shares borders with about seven states in the north of our country. It’s tragic that Tinubu dealt a mortal blow to diplomacy and negotiated settlement of the impasse in Niger when he took a belligerent stance ab initio by imposing ‘no flight zone’ over that country and quickly followed it by cutting off decades-long electricity supply arrangement with Niger. Tinubu knows or should know that supplying Niger with electricity was not an act of charity or Big Brother by Nigeria. It was designed to dissuade Niger from building a dam across the River Niger at their own end which would have had cataclysmic effects on Nigeria in terms of agriculture, power generation, aquatic life and the environment generally. It is true that Niger is in breach of that understanding by recently commencing the construction of the Kandadji dam on River Niger, but taking precipitate action by cutting off electricity supply at a time of tension could eventually prove counter productive. If Niger falls into the hands of other powers as it appears to be doing, and Russia and China elect to help it hasten work on their Kandadji dam, we will only have a whimsical president to blame. Even if Tinubu overruns Niger, a country with a land mass far larger than Nigeria’s, in a matter of hours as being suggested in certain uninformed quarters, it would still be a pyrrhic victory. If we invade we will own Niger Republic. Do we have the staying power? Do we have the resources? Is it in our national interest? Fortunately, there has been virtually no support for Tinubu’s planned invasion of Niger from the broad spectrum of the Nigerian society. But the president is not known to be respectful of Nigerians. He demonstrated that much prior to the recent elections and has continued to act in flagrant disregard to the sensibilities of majority of Nigerians since he assumed office. He should not be allowed to hide under ECOWAS to perpetrate a warped personal agenda. Time to stop Tinubu is now.

AUTHOR: Ugo Onuoha

Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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