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Tinubu’s Inheritance: “The Challenge Of Hope Is A Good Breakfast, But It Is A Bad supper” —Francis Bacon



Image of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Chaos! Cultivated chaos, that is what we have on many fronts and that is what Nigeria is today. And that is what Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President-elect and exponent of Emilokan, will be inheriting.

Unfortunately for him, the Muhammadu Buhari that he, Tinubu, helped to power, is the grazier-in-chief who has turned Nigeria into what it is.

In THE ALMANAC OF AMERICAN HISTORY, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., quoting John Locke, wrote in the Introduction: “‘In the beginning… all the world was America’”. He then explained that Locke intended only a metaphor for the state of nature that preceded the establishment of civil society…as a new beginning, a break in the long, sad continuities of history, a fresh chance for fallen humanity”.

By the same token, Tinubu’s presidency could engender a new beginning, a break in the long, sad continuities of history, a fresh chance for fallen Nigeria, which Buhari has created that would compound Tinubu’s problem are the number of things he cannot change.

As he’s sworn in next Monday, May 29, 2023, all he would have are 1461 days to run his first term – one of the four years is a leap year. Neither he nor Nigerians can change that unless fate intervenes. The Nigerian Constitution says every state is entitled to one minister; Tinubu cannot change that, even though changing it would reduce the waste associated with the cost of governance. Except the constitution can be amended within the first month or as quickly as possible before the appointment of ministers, some states may drag him to court for putting them at a disadvantage on account of not having their ministerial slot.

Fortunately, there are many more things Tinubu can change in the pursuit of renewed hope to redeem the fallen Nigeria.

Firstly, he can slash the pay of his ministers.

The President can take decisions and stick to them so far as he is convinced that they would guarantee the utmost good for the largest number of people without going outside the law to renew the hopes of millions of Nigerians as he has promised.

The perception is that Nigeria has fallen, because blind sentiment, cronyism, Naira devaluation, insecurity, mindless looting, unbridled loan collection, nepotism, greed and a culture of indolence in high places, have been packaged as a staple for the outgoing president who refused to properly process what was going on around him. This is made worse by the divisive and vile nature of the campaigns for the 2023 general elections.

For Tinubu, an attempt at equitable distribution of political power would be a first step towards enthroning a regime of political stability. That was where, among other areas, Buhari failed. And that was why Buhari did not realize that his style of administration had become an incubating contraption for disgruntlement and angst. Disgruntlement! Angst! These states of mind do not bode well for any system – be it the corporate world or the murkier platform of political governance. Buhari created a situation whereby a few individuals became lords of the manor, poking fun at millions of Nigerians and further exacerbating a sense of loss. Worse, through appointments and project approval, he sent wrong signals to some Nigerians that, contrary to his vow that he is for everybody and nobody, Buhari became a president for some people and not for everybody. Even in his home state of Katsina, there is a sharp distinction between the benefits that accrued to Daura, his emirate, and Katsina, the state capital. The reference to Katsina State as a microcosm, within the larger Nigerian space, is a sad metaphor for a president who truly claimed to believe in Nigeria.

In the full realisation that he is inheriting a Nigeria that has been remade for some people by Buhari, Tinubu will need to engage a paradigm that will at once send the right signal to Nigerians that he will be for everybody.

Yet, on another microcosmic focus on how Tinubu ran Lagos, some may never see anything good in the progress Lagos made under Tinubu’s control in terms of improvement in revenue generation, infrastructure, a redesign of the environment, remaking of the judiciary for effective justice delivery, employment and establishment of agencies to help drive good governance. What some would see is Tinubu’s monopolistic instinct of command and control.

To understand the dangers of monopoly, up until 16th Century Britain and after there were fierce, bloody battles over economic and political control, the seeds of which were sown centuries earlier. Because of the circumscription of the political space which was largely in the grip of the monarchy and political elites, (and some say Tinubu indeed circumscribed the political space in Lagos)consequently manifesting in the type of monopolistic economy of that era, nothing other than a stifling political atmosphere and an asphyxiating economic environment, was created.

In their celebrated book, WHY NATIONS FAIL, The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, reveal how, by 1621, there were 700 monopolies granted to a few business and political elites of that era (they claim Tinubu created his own in Lagos).

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Indeed, the English historian, Christopher Hill, reportedly puts the choking and destructive dangers of a monopolistic economy this way: “A man lived in a house built with monopoly bricks, with windows… monopoly glass; heated by monopoly coal (In Ireland, monopoly timber); burning in a grate of monopoly iron …. He washed himself in Monopoly soap, and his clothes in Monopoly starch. He dressed in monopoly lace, monopoly linen, monopoly leather, and monopoly gold thread…. His clothes were held up by monopoly belts, monopoly buttons, and monopoly pins. They were dyed with Monopoly dyes. He ate monopoly butter, monopoly currants, monopoly red herrings, monopoly salmon, and monopoly lobsters. His food was seasoned with monopoly salt, monopoly pepper, and monopoly vinegar…. He wrote with monopoly pens, on monopoly writing paper; read (through monopoly spectacles, by the light of monopoly candles) monopoly printed books”

Acemoglu and Robinson then concluded that “these monopolies, and many more, gave individuals or groups the sole right to control the production of many goods. They impeded the type of allocation of talent, which is so crucial to economic prosperity”. Those who do not agree with Tinubu’s style, even without prejudice to his achievements in Lagos State, point to this. Conversely, however, of all the state governors of the 1999 set, Tinubu remains the only one who has Lagos as a trophy, even with the so-called monopolistic tendencies.

It is gratifying to hear people say of Tinubu that he knows how best to identify talents that will help him run his administration. It is also gratifying to hear people say that he means well. It is soothing to hear people say Tinubu is a master political strategist and he knows how to navigate the murky waters of politics, having survived Olusegun Obasanjo and the cabal in Buhari’s conclave.

We are, therefore, offering Tinubu a strategy of hope, as contained in a Washington Post Bestseller, POWER PLAY (Win or lose – how history’s great political leaders play the game) written by Dick Morris, Fox News Channel Political Analyst.

The book is a compelling read for President-elect Tinubu not because he must do as it says, but because he can learn to avoid the slipshod which ruined not a few men of power. Examining 20 leaders as “early as Abraham Lincoln and as recent as Junichiro Koizumi, George Bush and Tony Blair”, Morris examines “how Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Winston Churchill succeeded and Lyndon Johnson failed in mobilizing their nations at a time of crisis”. Noting that “politics is the pursuit of power and history is the story of that pursuit”, Morris insists that “there is nothing new in politics; there are only ingenious reinventions of the wheel”.

Therefore, Tinubu would need a heavy dose of introspection in dealing with the multi-faceted challenges on the way to enthroning renewed hope.

In the power sector, energy sector, transport sector, health, education, security, water and other areas too numerous to mention, President-elect Tinubu has his work cut out for him. In dealing with that, he would need to be clear-headed, very clear-headed. This is so because, in the final analysis, there is a world of difference between the desire to accomplish and the capacity to deliver. That was where both Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Omorele Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari missed the point – the great mismatch between their desire to perform and their ability to deliver.

It is now left for Tinubu to deliver – without excuses, might we add. He may have started well with his reaching out to those against whom he contested. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, of the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, for instance.

But as Tinubu tries to settle down there will be many distractions which he will do well to avoid. Now, let us wax biblical: In the book of Proverbs 26:4-5, it is written: “(4) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. (5) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he is wise in his own eyes”.

This is a simple message on how to and how not to respond, when to and when not to respond, where to and where not to respond and so on. For Tinubu, he would need to avoid wasting time on pursuits that will waste his time and the time of Nigerians.

Back to Locke. Nigeria needs a new beginning.

Tinubu should not be afraid to take decisions that would engender positive change for that new beginning.

He would need not to pander, but he must be careful.

In the 18th century, when Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel warned against “optimism about developing ideas for the future”, he was merely saying that there is a season for everything we do or intend to do. Hegel’s point, as reflected in the Introduction to The Politics Book, was that “we cannot predict how we will appear to those in the future, not whether what seems common sense to us (today) will be seen as persuasive by our descendants (in the future)”.

It is left whether all that Tinubu has done which appears common sense to get his entitlement to Nigeria’s presidency with the Emi Lokan parlance, the battles he fought to win the APC presidential primary and the type of renewed hope he plans to engender, would be seen in future as persuasive.

So, for the exponent of Emi Lokan, Tinubu should serve Nigerians hope from Day 1 and never relent.

This is a prologue to a special package on sectoral agenda-setting engagement for President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It will run for the whole week till Sunday, May 28, 2023. Education, Health, Energy (Power), Economy, Polity & Governance Structure, National Security, and Reconciliation are to be published each day of the week.

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