I have noticed the tendency of elements of the Tinubu political family to confess the perfidy their group commits in the process of “grabbing, snatching, and running away” with power. In my new book, Buhari:Tinubu: How They Snatched and Shared Power, Pa Ayo Adebanjo claimed that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as a governorship aspirant of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, in Lagos in December 1998, disrupted primaries in some of his opponents’ strongholds, which led to the abortion of the governorship primaries in those areas.
The guidelines for the primaries said the exercise should be cancelled wherever there was a crisis. Tinubu capitalised on this loophole and defeated his closest rival, Funsho Williams, whose name had already been submitted by the state chairman of the AD, Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu, as the winner.
In an interview, Pa Adebanjo disclosed that much later, when Tinubu had become the Governor of Lagos, one of his commissioners, whom the elder statesman and nationalist did not mention, confessed that Tinubu did sponsor the fracas that led to Williams’defeat.
Even back then, Tinubu was a keen practitioner of the retired Major General Shehu Yar’Adua group’s strategy of deploying every trick in and out of the book to win power. That was how he got to this point when he sits in Aso Villa as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Last week, another big confession came from Tinubu’s camp. This time, the confessor is not only a major player in Tinubu’s political family; he spilled the beans in a very public forum, right in front of the man they “played”: former President Goodluck Jonathan. Fayemi admitted that their fake “Occupy Nigeria” protests against Jonathan’s fuel deregulation policy of January 1, 2012 were not only politically motivated, he confessed that Nigeria enjoyed economic development under Jonathan.
Jonathan’s economic specialists, notably the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; the Central Bank Governor, CBN, Malam Sanusi Lamido; and even an All Progressives Congress, APC, Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, pushed for a total deregulation of petrol prices. This jerked up the pump price from N65 per litre to N141. The protests, which crippled Lagos, were joined by others such as the organised labour movement, Pastor Tunde Bakare’s Save Nigeria Group, SNG, and other civil society activists.
Jonathan deployed the Army when the police proved incapable of breaking up the daily gigs at the Chief Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Square in Ojota, Lagos. When the confrontations between the protesters and the Army were inching towards possibly claiming lives, Jonathan lived up to his political credo: “My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”. He brought down the cost of petrol to N97 per litre, and the protests ended. The Tinubu group claimed victory for being able to arm-twist Jonathan’s PDP Federal Government. They were emboldened and embarked on other activities to wear down the regime towards its final defeat.
Scroll forward to eleven years later. The same Tinubu started the implementation of the subsidy removal earlier scheduled for the end of June 2023 by his political partner, Muhammadu Buhari, right at the moment he read his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023. The question is: who won from Tinubu’s frustration over the subsidy removal? And who lost? At that time, the economy was booming because of favourable crude oil sales. The average daily dollar-to-naira exchange rate was N158, and Nigeria was saddled with very little external debt stock. Let me start with the gainers.
From the moment that Jonathan lost the initiative to implement total deregulation, his performance approval nosedived, driven mainly by scathing propaganda, multiple security threats, and internecine oppositions often bordering on subversion. By then, Boko Haram’s jihadist terrorism had morphed throughout the North and Abuja. Tinubu and Buhari’s groups were already negotiating their merger, while the erstwhile mighty PDP was getting torn asunder by rebellions led by Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Chibuike Amaechi, and six Northern Governors opposed to Jonathan’s second term ambition.
In the end, the APC, with Buhari as its presidential candidate, defeated Jonathan in the 2015 election under a pact that he would hand over to Tinubu after eight years. Fayemi also gained by becoming Buhari’s Minister of Solid Mineral Resources, from where he gathered enough “bullets” to return to Ekiti for his second term as governor. He even ran for president. These and other APC leaders benefited immensely politically from their acts of perfidy against Nigeria.
Between 2012 and May 2023, Nigeria spent well over N16 trillion in petrol subsidies, the lion’s share of which was spent by the Buhari administration. If this amount had been saved as planned by the Jonathan administration, it would have gone a long way toward solving most of the problems we face today, problems for which we currently have no money. So, we, the people, are the losers. Fayemi has been governor and minister, and his political godfather is the president. He can walk into Aso Villa and ask for favours as a member of the inner circle. Besides, he successfully replaced himself with his preferred candidate, Governor Biodun Oyebanji, in Ekiti State. Fayemi will not worry about the cost of anything.