A good number of Nigerian journalists have been writing fictions for a long time now. But I don’t think the story with the caption: “Jonathan won April election – Tinubu,” in the Punch of Wednesday, 20 July 2011, was fiction. The paper quoted Tinubu as saying: “I believe Jonathan won the election but that the returns attributed to him in some parts of the country obviously appeared exaggerated.” Tinubu, according to the report, attributed Jonathan’s victory to the “unique circumstances of Jonathan’s rise to power” which made the public to see him “as a distinctive figure.” How, in the world of Tinubu—who wanted to become a running mate to Buhari, and who said that the candidate of his own party, Ribadu, was a Sarkozy, a Cameron and an Obama rolled into one—Jonathan was transformed overnight into a more ‘distinctive figure’ than Buhari and Ribadu, remains a mystery to many.
Tinubu, in his ‘lecture’ blamed the ‘weak’ campaign of the opposition for their defeat, saying that they naively thought that the public’s disenchantment with the PDP “was enough to get rid of them at the polls.”
In the report, Tinubu took a swipe at “a group of people dissatisfied with the outcome of the general elections,” who through their “political machinations” are worsening the security situation in the country, referring particularly to the Boko Haram menace. He then pledged his “‘full sympathy and support’ for the President in finding solution to the disturbing phenomenon.”
Anybody who had followed Tinubu’s words and actions during the so called alliance talks with Buhari’s CPC would not be very surprised at what Tinubu told the world in London. While Buhari consistently held out hope for a possible alliance, or at the very least, a working plan with the ACN, Tinubu had from the very beginning—once his request to be Buhari’s running mate was rejected by the latter on the grounds that it would be a Muslim- Muslim ticket, which, given the situation in the country, would be DOA—saw the alliance as doomed (in Tinubu’s words in the same report, “the opposition parties danced with each other but did not embrace”). Buhari, on the other hand, called for what he described as a ‘political maturity’ from both parties, who are in a way ideological soul mates, in order to dislodge the PDP. So, while Buhari was holding out hope for a workable alliance, Tinubu had gone to town to rule out any such alliance.
Campaigning in Kano on the 22nd of March 2011for his presidential candidate, namely Nuhu Ribadu, whom he compared to Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy of USA, UK and France respectively, Tinubu declared that the CPC was parading ‘expired leadership.’ Juxtaposed to what he said in his Chatham House ‘lecture,’ to the effect that the insecurity in the country was caused by the political machinations of a group who were not happy with the outcome of the general elections, you have a good idea of who Tinubu was referring to. There was undoubtedly a question of good faith in the alliance talks. Initially, when Buhari refused to run under ACN, again for good reasons, they agreed that the CPC would provide the presidential candidate while the ACN would provide the running mate. CPC was the first to ratify their presidential candidate and instead of ACN respecting their agreement, they went ahead and produced a presidential candidate. From that point on, the alliance was as good as dead. Again, Tinubu coming out to insist on being the running mate to Buhari, according to CPC sources, makes it clear that the party wasn’t serious about a workable alliance in the first place.
Why was Tinubu insisting on such an unpromising ticket?
One of the revelations that came out in the run up to the April 2011 presidential elections in Nigeria was the allegation the former governor of Sokoto state, Attahiru Bafarawa levelled against Tinubu, accusing the latter of being a PDP agent whose brief was to frustrate any alliance with Buhari’s CPC. But Tinubu was the first to make the allegation that there were PDP agents planted to frustrate the alliance, whereupon Bafarawa told him he might have to look in the mirror to recognize one such agent! Was Tinubu’s insistence on being Buhari’s running mate part of the plan to frustrate the alliance talks? That insistence was like telling Buhari: damn if you do, damn if you don’t. If Buhari accepts Tinubu as a running mate, the ticket would be doomed from the beginning, if he doesn’t, Tinubu would blame him for being intransigent. In both cases, Buhari would be the loser. But who really loses when there’s no good governance in Nigeria, is it Buhari or hapless Nigerians? For instance, in a space of one month the president has gone from constituting a mediocre cabinet to the nonsensical tenure elongation gambit to the declaration that petroleum subsidies are a ‘drain’ on the economy to the announcement that Nigeria will soon be importing fuel from the Republic of Niger! It’s not Buhari that loses at such manifest mediocre governance but the suffering masses of Nigerians.
There’s a pattern here: each time Buhari comes out to contest, the PDP sends their agents after him, possibly making one of those agents his running mate. They failed in 2003 because his running mate, Chuba Okadigbo, stood firmly with him, but that cost him his life as he was ‘teargassed’ to death during a rally to drum up support for their electoral petition. Chuba was an asthmatic and the teargas he inhaled from the PDP goons, some of whom appeared to be police officers, triggered a fatal asthmatic attack. With Chuba gone, Buhari’s case at the tribunal suffered a big blow. In 2007 both his running mate and his party abandoned him and went into an alliance with the PDP. That game was again attempted in 2011. Since they couldn’t plant someone close enough, his running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, was smart enough to understand that those same agents were trying to trick him into signing a post-dated letter of resignation. In other words, they wanted to blackmail him in advance and, through that, weaken Buhari once again. Currently there is a serious effort to divide the ranks of the CPC by creating ‘factions’ in the party.
Tinubu v ACN
Tinubu’s declaration that Jonathan won the presidential election is not only commenting on a case that is sub judice but also diametrically opposed to what his party said immediately after the election. The ACN, as widely reported in the press, said the presidential poll was ‘most systematically rigged.’ According to Lai Mohammed, national publicity secretary of the party, "What the PDP did last Saturday was simple: They colluded with security agents and INEC officials to cook figures which have now turned out to be their undoing, because the cooking was not intelligently carried out." (Thisday, 22 April 2011)
Mohammed continued: “A few examples will suffice: In the South-south and South-east, where President Jonathan is believed to have strong support, the average turnout was 67% each of registered voters, compared to 32% for the South-west where he is believed to have a strong opposition. In the North-west and North-east, which is considered a bastion of opposition in the north, the average turnout of registered voters was 54%.
“And whereas high voter turnout was recorded in states perceived to be sympathetic to President Jonathan in the different geopolitical zones (Bayelsa in South-south 85%, Imo in South-east 84%, and Plateau in North-central (62%), the opposite was the case for areas where the opposition was believed to be strong. Even in Katsina, Buhari’s hometown, the turnout was a paltry 52%! Ditto for Kano (53%); Sokoto (40%) and Zamfara (51%).
“It is also instructive that even though Edo State is in the South-south, the turnout was only 37%, apparently since the state was not believed – by the figure cooks – to be sympathetic to President Jonathan, being controlled by the ACN. The turnout figures for the South-west are also revealing: Lagos (31.8%); Ogun (28%); Osun (39%) and Oyo (33%). Also, while the margin of victory for the PDP in the South-south is 98% and for the South-east 98.9%, the highest margin of victory for the CPC in the North-west, where Buhari comes from, is 55.8%.”
No one can successfully refute facts with an argument, no matter how clever the argument. What the ACN is saying in its allegation is that those figures are too good to be true. The fact that both INEC and PDP are refusing to allow an inspection of the electoral materials that gave such a victory speaks volumes.
However, from the benefit of hindsight, we can reasonably conclude that by coming out with such credible accusation of rigging, ACN was publicly telling the PDP that their ‘agreement’ was just for the presidential election and does not include state elections, that if they repeat the rigging in the state elections, they will be glad to meet them at both the presidential and state elections tribunals. The PDP got the message and the ACN has been quiet ever since.
But what the party said is on record and it flies in the face of what Tinubu said in his Chatham House lecture.
If anybody or any party would know the PDP’s ways of rigging, that would be Tinubu and his ACN (formerly AC, formerly AD). So, it’s puzzling that while his party (which is inseparable from him) told the world that the PDP rigged the presidential election all over the country, Tinubu had to go to London to contradict his own party!
Was Tinubu used by the PDP/NPN to once again keep their nemesis out of power?
By Uchenna Osigwe