There is always this intriguing thing about small men: they almost always love big fights. They fish for giants to wrestle and subdue. Every Goliath that falls at their feet adds to the inches of their petite heights. That is why they won’t stop going to war. And when they come with big brains, they present as bombs, very lethal. Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has brawn and brain in tumultuous excess. He recently told ‘freedom fighters’ in Lagos to prepare N2 billion as sacrifice money. That is what the Nigerian gnomes would need to bring out five million voters to defeat and retire Bola Tinubu as the Capo, the ultimate mafia boss of Lagos and its satellites.
When the sky is red in the morning, wise sailors take heed and prepare for the unpleasant. El-Rufai was in the trenches just a few months ago with Tinubu against their former friends and allies – Atiku, Saraki et al. So, why seek your comrade’s retirement so soon after a hard-won battle? Wisdom does hurt the smart sometimes. Before the last elections, I asked one of Tinubu’s boys if they knew the implications of the choice they were making. He answered yes. He said they were in it because there was no other option. Was there really no other option or they felt their choice could provide the shortest route to the bosom of power? There are lessons here for anyone who takes Tinubu’s politics as the model. When you bring ant-infested woods into your mother’s kitchen, impudent lizards will follow the lead and piss in the family soup pot.
Like kidnapper-herdsmen enjoying immunity on southern highways, the Fulani governor of Kaduna came down to Lagos to lay his plan on the table in broad daylight. He didn’t talk about sacking herdsmen who rob, kill and abduct. That was too slight to be the theme of his Lagos trip. His talk was about tomorrow’s elections and impalement of godfathers. The shrill talk about retiring godfathers was about 2023 and its spoils. With the cloud of insecurity and uncertainty hanging on the nation, where really will tomorrow meet each of us? From Lagos to Kaduna through Abuja, who among these hard tacklers has the assurance of living out the hours of today? Yet, investing in the Ponzi scheme of 2023 politics is the fad. Kidnappers and bandits gain confidence and territory day by day and constrict the land. You would think this present danger should be elite concern at this moment. Maybe it is for persons who have been victims and are still panting from their deadly experiences. Others would rather join the elite to do politics of a future that does not belong to any of us. Even the government has gone the Abacha way, creating phantom plots to cover its embarrassing failure.
Olusegun Obasanjo spoke on Saturday and painted a portrait of comprehensive security collapse. He spoke of Boko Haram, of armed herdsmen and bandits and their egregious presence everywhere. His voice attempted a rallying cry nudging those with some sense to stop politics and do something before all became victims. He will be abused for saying herdsmen’s menace is about Fulanisation of Nigeria. Kidnapping continues to happen everywhere in the South-West. Have you ever heard Tinubu say something about the invasion of his ‘farmland’ by herdsmen? Yet, he talks and issues press releases whenever his friends are threatened. His next interventions will be on the Senate, House of Representatives, Buhari’s cabinet and the coming polls. He will not condemn herdsmen and their felonies. He is not in politics to offend his northern friends, but they have come down to seek him out. The Fulani he loves so much were in Lagos to talk about retiring him. And they appear not joking.
Coming from the feudal North to hawk freedom on Lagos streets is quite intriguing. It is a misfortune for a father to pray to his son in heaven for deliverance. Lagos and Kaduna did not start this Nigerian journey on the same pace and velocity. When colonialism came in 1860, Lagos resisted it; it stoutly stood against the amalgamation of 1914. At a time Kaduna was very content with servile obedience to colonialism, Lagos was the tank of resistance to that evil. Besides, a Fulani governor sauntering into Lagos in 2019 to teach anti-power abduction politics is a paradox. It is a paradox because he is doing so at a time southern roads are infested with Fulani kidnappers. When big misfortunes trip the unwary, he will feel soldier ants nibbling at his fallen trunk. I do not know of other places, but where I come from, the tail does not wag the dog. Indeed, our streams do not flow desert-wards. The ones that followed that arid course became extinct; they died. We grew up to know Lagos as home of wisdom – Eko Ile Ogbon. We knew it as the spring-head of good political sense, the unwhispering hiss of resistance to all forms of foreign domination, and, the source of the flora and fauna of political freedom as we know it. Now Kaduna is asking it to come sit at its feet.
Or is it about who owns Nigeria? If that is it, then the Kaduna governor and his powerful clan would be right to dictate to their minions down South. When a family property is acquired in the name of the favorite child, that child would rightly treat it as its own. Sometimes, the divine stamp on the arrangement energizes the favoured. The name ‘Nigeria’, for instance, was exclusively given to what we know today as northern Nigeria on January 8, 1897 by Lord Lugard’s Flora Shaw “to differentiate them from the colonies of Lagos and the Niger Protectorate on the coast…” The South is an afterthought, a clear pretender to the common patrimony called Nigeria. And the northern elite appear to know this and have never been pretentious about their ownership of the country, name and territory. They’ve always found allies to help maintain their destinies down South. Now, they want to dam their current friend who is overrunning his banks.
An old lion securely seated in the rich barns of Lagos cannot be frightened out of his gilded den by a Kaduna bully armed with just N2 billion. The mafia don is an Ajanaku – you can’t threaten an elephant with a cudgel. But it cannot be said to be the fault of el-Rufai. He and the forces he represents probably think they must complete the job Tinubu himself started with the Yoruba/Lagos psyche. The Tinubu cyclone has been a devastation of values wherever it has landed. He is the one who would be governor with the ladder of moral fervor but would soon cast the rungs of that ladder into infernal depths. His elephant casually plays politics of nursing shrubs and crushing shrubs. He is the chancellor of a traumatized university called Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. Under his chancellorship, a four-year course takes six, seven years and his voice is never heard making interventions to ease the pains of students and their parents. Some politicians play politics for its own sake – or for the sake of power, the spoils and their beauty.
At another level, Tinubu has done very well for his carefully built clan. He spots the excellent and polishes them with opportunities. But he is a grave nightmare to the indigenous Lagosian. The old fox is said to have his fingers on all pies; everything of value bears his stamp of occupancy. He is yet clever enough to have nothing legally pinned on him. I was midway, with a colleague, into an interview with Chief Bode George eight years ago when two gentlemen of his age barged in. “Bode, we came to inform you that even that new cemetery in Ikoyi has been found to belong to Bola (Tinubu). And you know what that means? Both our aaye (living bodies) and our oku (dead bodies) belong to him,” they told George, Tinubu’s arch-political foe. The host gasped. The visitors let out some dry laughter and sauntered out as casually as they came.
Since that time, he has grown in leaps and bounds, making and unmaking governors. The grumblers can only grumble and smash their sullen buttocks against hard, sulky places. The man is not done yet with himself – and with his quiet people. The kingmaker is saying he will soon be king himself; so, why would an alarmed North not frantically send their bravest to sell freedom to Lagos? But they can’t force-feed Lagos, a state peopled with preen and pride. Plucking and retiring errant leaders is a Yoruba pastime. They do not need any outside help to retire a Tinubu. They will do it calmly and firmly if and when the cup is deemed fully full.