Tinubu Versus Saraki: The Equalisation Begins, By Olawale Olaleye

imageBetween Bola Tinubu and Bukola Saraki, there may be no end to the battle of wits and the brewing political enmity.

From the ‘University of Bourdilon, the Faculty of Jagaban, in the Department of Asiwaju’, situated somewhere in swanky ‘Tinubu Country’ comes this stealthy creature called Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This political Barracuda as he may have become has so grown from nowhere to somewhere with a staggering clout that could intimidate and diminish the stature of even the steely-minded.

From a brief stint at the Senate in the early 90s, where he supposedly cut his teeth in active politics, Tinubu wobbled through to become the governor of Lagos State in the late 90s and has since become a major force to be reckoned with in the body polity. Although he has since his governorship exposure not gone any further in elective politics, nothing has changed in his political influence but growth.

He therefore remains a prime shot caller in the body polity – first from his base in Lagos and gradually in his South-west region, for which Lagos remains a rallying point and now, the central government, where he is believed to have been instrumental to the election of the president, Muhammadu Buhari.

He’s made a president, vice-president, governors and lawmakers both at the state and federal levels. In fact, he is believed to have helped install presidents in some smaller regional African countries. That’s how far his influence could go. Besides, he is a 21st century tactician with unquestionable political intelligence.

Tinubu, for so long, has had it so good politically that he is almost an idol in the whole of South-west and beyond. No one has successfully challenged his authority. Those who did usually ended with a bloody nose. The fact that he has always pulled through the most difficult political challenges also built around him some invincibility, which at some point almost resulted in god complex for him. There is no doubting the fact he is politically savvy. But he is also sometimes over the edge in his push for whatever he wants. He’s never had anyone successfully challenged him to any bout all along. That changed a few weeks ago, insidiously though.

From the bourgeoning political dynasty of the late Olusola Saraki in the sleepy town of Ilorin in Kwara State, came this underrated equaliser in the person of Bukola Saraki, a two-term governor and Senator representing Kwara Central. Like Tinubu, the scion of the Saraki family is also the political leader in Kwara State and is hero-worshipped the same way Tinubu too is in Lagos and environ.

His active political sojourn started with his appointment as Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Budget in 2000. While holding this position, he initiated the Fiscal Responsibility Bill and served on the Economic Policy Coordination Committee, where he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of several key economic policies for the country.
As governor, he led reforms in the agriculture, health, education, finance and the environment. One of his major achievements was inviting displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe to the state and offering them an opportunity to develop farming in Kwara.

This initiative led to the establishment of Shonga Farms , which is now being replicated across the country. Under him, Kwara became the first state to complete the Independent Power Project in collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. His charisma and admirable aura among his fellow governors was believed to have got him the appointment as Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
As NGF Chairman, Saraki introduced a range of new ideas, including the State Peer Review Mechanism developed to ensure that closer working and collaboration could take place amongst members of the Forum, and best practice shared.
This initiative allowed for diverse case studies to be shared amongst states in a number of different policy fields. Above all, he was the first Nigerian Governor to be awarded the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).

His adventure to the Senate has also begun to yield result. As Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, he was also a member of the Senate Committees on Capital Markets and Finance. In all these, Saraki has campaigned extensively on health, food security, education and the environment. He also pushed a motion in the Senate to end the fuel subsidy regime in Nigeria, which has been an excessive waste of the country’s national resources. He has also intervened in the Lead Poisoning crisis in Zamfara State in 2010, and supported the Global Alliance for Clean Cooking stoves for safe and healthy cooking for millions of Nigerians while conserving the environment through reduced deforestation.

By also holding firm Kwara and pushing hard on the national front, Saraki is undoubtedly a force on his own, who would resist attempt to undermine him for ulterior intents. That, perhaps, can explain his choice of strategy during the tussle for Senate Presidency.

Evidently, Tinubu and Saraki have a lot in common. They are both strongmen in their states, even though Tinubu has more hold on the zone. They are both leaders of enviable records, to whom others defer. They both like to breed brilliant and young men, albeit for different reasons.
They have both continued to live with unsubstantiated allegations of corruption. They have confounding political strengths, intelligence, very well educated and could be Machiavellian in their pursuit of political goals regardless of whose ox is gored. They are a match of some sort and whether or not either of them likes it, it is a reality they must have to live with.

While Tinubu can still make do with his role in the success of President Muhammadu Buhari despite the bruises he sustained from the National Assembly leadership election and Saraki, who surmounted the political minefield and trumped Tinubu in the game of wits to becoming the Senate President is savouring the good of the moment, the end is obviously not in sight to this survival battle.

Already, this is a battle of ego between the two. Unfortunately, whenever ego sets into political rivalry, it starts to assume a very unsavoury dimension, which can only be stemmed albeit temporarily by desperation and common interests as the case was during the gang up against former president Goodluck Jonathan without a clear cut objective.

Ironically, for Tinubu, this period of his biggest political success (from opposition party to ruling party) might turn out the most challenging in his political trajectory. This has been evidenced by the unfurling developments. Therefore, it’s about time Tinubu returned to the political turn-table to review his strategy, based on the prevailing climate. The need to change his approach – both in terms of thinking and execution – may have become sacrosanct.

There is no doubting the fact that Tinubu has amassed as many friends as he does enemies. Not many can condone his palpable excesses and seeming arrogance with power and influence. His perceived penchant for accumulation does not also go down well with a lot of people.
For Saraki, his successful emergence as Senate President notwithstanding, the future political extrapolations should worry him. He might have succeeded in getting away with what many now tag ‘political treachery’ because of the character he was up against, that celebration can’t go on for too long, evidently.

Like Tinubu, Saraki too has some disturbing attitudinal demeanor, especially his perceived arrogance, which initially made it difficult for the collective of the PDP senators to settle for him. The fact that he was a rallying point against a common enemy was the saving grace. It made it easier for the PDP help he sought to pull through as shifting ground was not as difficult.

That, however, didn’t change the perception that the Senate President is a desperate lot, who would go the whole hog to seeing through an agenda and decimate whatever stands in his way. But he needed to make a strong political point and he did to the awe of many.
Taken together, the situation that this development has presented in the party is not a very good one. It signals danger and an indication that all is not well with the APC. In fact, it further justifies the assertion that the party is a platform of strange bedfellows, who came together for one thing – to take over power.

The equalisation of the power equation was therefore a momentary relief, which unfortunately gave rise to a more complex scenario, too tricky for the party to put together. Importantly, however, it is for Tinubu and Saraki to rethink their position in collective interest else this whole thing could come crashing before they know it.

Source: ThisDay

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