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How a minister’s failures saved a faltering empire

Is Bola Tinubu a supreme strategist? Okay, let us rather reframe the question. Is Tinubu a great strategist? I think he is. Given all his life’s travails and how he has triumphed over them, one has to be data-driven. And that means one has to grant him his deserts. Tinubu is a great strategist. Perhaps, the greatest since the post-IBB years. And that is adjusted toe-to-toe, pound-for-pound. But is Tinubu a supreme political strategist? The answer must, in spite of our admiration of him, be an emphatic “no.” He is not in the league.

His failures may be attributed to deficits of tactical or Socratic ignorance and his self-satisfying view of his own innocence.

One point for which many recognized Socrates was his insistence that he was the wisest man. But that was predicated on his knowledge of his ignorance or, in terms of praxis, his incompetence, his areas of incompetence.

Tinubu seems to have fallen short of this simple Socratic metric, of knowing when you are incapable. Sometimes, it is called imperial overstretch, in politics. That you are good to go by the plains, does not mean you are good to go by the seas. Genghis Khan, arguably the greatest conqueror ever, wasn’t quite a great sea combat general. He faltered twice in Japan, for example. That it was the typhoons that stopped him was a complaint he had to tell his many wives, not historians. However, it is on record that the middling Portuguese were essentially sea-driven empire builders. And successful at that.

More importantly, Britain became the biggest empire ever on its tactical appreciation of the Socratic wisdom-turned-praxis. Britain, an island nation, knew instinctively she had no power to imperil or imperialize Europe. So she left that to the foolishness of the Germans as Nazis, and the French as Napoleonistas. While the two self-destroyed themselves in the battles of Europe, the wise and wily British sailed into the darkness of Asia, Africa, etc, to trade on plunder and a promise of light. While the rest of Europe faltered at home, pinned down by their homespun ambitions, the Brits just flourished abroad. And next returned to dominate Europe via trade and technology.

So, a crucial part of supreme generalship is in knowing your limits. “Man,” the more ancient Greeks advised, “know thyself.” They have said it all. The rest is in humour.

On his own sense of innocence, one wonders if Tinubu has never listened to this famous song or its equivalent. This is especially so since he has many Igbo-speaking minders and flunkeys. One of the greatest songs I have heard off the Igbo is this: Onye gbuwe achara onye gbuwe onye akpola ibe ya onye ikoni. Loosely, it can be translated: we are all sinners in this game. Let no man pretend he is on the side of the angels, while the rest of us are in league with Satan. The game of life is a composite one. So also are we the players. Ahiazuwa.

But Tinubu, perhaps leveraging on his genius for media and spotlight, has always walked away with the appellation “progressive.” If it was just Tinubu being a progressive, things would have been palatable. But Tinubu, an imperial ranger or pretender, is always expanding his coast. So, whatever alliance Tinubu enters, he beatifies that alliance and its members with the substantiality of being progressives. That is to say, if Tinubu actually allied with hell power, hell becomes progressive. And with the deployment of media forces or power, these things are sold to an innocent public to believe. The danger, as Warren Buffett pointed out, is that one who deceives himself in private is likely to stay deceived in public.

So, instead of Tinubu talking progress and acting realistic, even conservative, he repeats the error of self-charm. He aligns with fellows who know they are in the game as assassins, even while they preach Christ or peace. Anyway, the onus is on Tinubu, who describes himself and his mandate group as progressives, to so act. His alliance, here irredentist northernist alliance partners, know it is a jungle. You got to kill, before you are made dinner. So their political speak is a trap. Alas, Tinubu’s political speak appears to be all in innocence. The wife gave a hint. According to her, Tinubu is in it for the love of country. While hunting with wolves?

Well, if Tinubu is in it for the love of country as a progressive, his alliance partners are in it for the love of acquiring empires. And swallowing up Tinubu and his political ecology is for them the first of a many tiered empire building skirmishes. As we say in my local dialect, Tinubu may have fallen in love with a boa constrictor in his dreams, waking up to insist on an embrace, rather than flee for life and limb.

But why are we back to Tinubu, just a week or so away from our last post? It is because of a trending news. And we are troubled Tinubu and or his faction may commit greater and more damaging errors, unforced errors.

The news is that Tinubu’s main man, his party stand-in or placeholder in Lagos, High Chief Henry Ajomale has fled the Tinubu sinking ship. The details are frightening but, in part, it is that Ajomale, who has served Tinubu faithfully, and was apparently rewarded as much, is now anti-Tinubu. And pro-Tinubu partisans are gathered to push for his sack and possible political decapitation. (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/…/260168-exclusive-role-tenu…)

The point is that they may succeed. But if they did they did humiliate themselves the more. Why? And or how? If really Ajomale is a double agent or mole acting out the instructions of Abuja, then Tinubu and clan are imperilled. Ajomale is too much in the know to be lost to the enemy, whatever the provocation. He must be quarantined, never expelled or excommunicated.

Two, the pro-Tinubu faction cannot really sack or discipline him in real terms anymore. How? Like we wrote in the first essay: “Immediately Tinubu crossed his comfort zone, his home terrain and habitat, for other zones, he suffered imperial overreach. His capacity to project power and levy sanctions, force or cajole alliances, persecute dissenters or mutineers are vanished outside his terrain. They are gone beyond his reach.’’

In plain terms, Tinubu can no longer sanction Ajomale. The details are as follows. To sanction Ajomale locally, in Lagos, will automatically prompt his being promoted, globally, in Abuja. And to rub it in, an Ajomale may be given an Abuja appointment with a cheeky brief. Such as one may be in Ajomale being purpose-made Personal Assistant to National Party Chairman for South West or South Party Affairs. The implication is that Tinubu and his faction may have to re-route themselves via Ajomale if they have to have anything done in Abuja. That is to make sure Tinubu and faction never have enough water to make their eba. And this is in spite of whether they live and trade by the Lagos lagoon or not.

And these things happen and have been happening. It is just that sometimes we are too blind to see. Okay, this. In the beginning of this APC administration, Babatunde Fashola was saddled with three composite super-ministries. To the untrained eye it was because he was such an outstanding success in Lagos. But that appointment had nothing to do with Fashola’s alleged performance. That appointment was more of a bait and a revenge, on Tinubu. The game was by the elevation of Fashola, a former Tinubu acolyte and present enemy, Tinubu would be encircled.

What really happened that nobody suspected but which we have always known is this: Fashola was granted that implausible leverage as a bait against Tinubu, not a gift or reward to his technocracy. If Fashola had by any error delivered like they hoped, that would have amounted to a dismissal of Tinubu from history and from greatness. The game was that a new and dauphin – that is, prospective presidential hopeful – Fashola would suck in the Yoruba out of Tinubu. It is like the head Esther demanded. Fashola’s was to serve his masters prized head to his north-bound imperialist bidders. It is not impossible, Fashola is not aware of the ramifications of this game he plays or for which he is a puppet. Sometimes, you got to be an olori apena to know what exactly is happening, where the edan is placed. The rest of the congregation are into beliefs, not knowledge systems. Fashola it seems is in the oluwo not apena line of power and successions.

Ironically, what saved Tinubu in keeping Lagos, electorally, was the woeful failure of APC and Fashola at the centre of things at Abuja. If, as the imperial northernists projected, Fashola was a smash hit, Tinubu’s political demise would have come since yesterday. That this key plot of the rightist empire-builder north is not known in Yorubaland baffles one. How come they don’t know what traps are cut into their paths? Point is, it is only providence that has saved and served them this much. Must they now still insist on the innocence of luck? Of wining out via chance?

For those who don’t know or remember, Tinubu and Fashola fell out irrevocably after Fashola’s term completion. Today, it is easier to sight two suns in one sky, than to see Fashola and Tinubu boogie together. Yet, these were guys who played 5 and 6 in the last political league. At least in its first half.

So, to sack Ajomale today is to promote him higher. And this nullifies the putative sack. What is to be done? Yoruba should rally round and save their kind. They should not so do because they love Tinubu. No, strategy is not in a lover’s pet games. They should rally round and save the Tinubu empire, because its going down will come with terrible consequential damage to the Yoruba nation and, ultimately, the South. It is because I am South that I am concerned. Nigeria ronu.

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Online Editor: Aderonke Bello
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