OPINION: But he was a leper


NIGERIA’S current President, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, could, in the next four years or eight years or for as long or short as he lasts in the presidency for that matter, turn around the country’s comatose and paralyzed economy. He could stop the hemorrhaging value of the Naira. He could arrest the soaring national inflation which was reported to have hit 25.8% last weekend, the highest level in almost two decades. It is projected to hit about 30% by the end of the year. He could make the prices of petroleum products more affordable for the majority of citizens and fight corruption to a standstill.

Tinubu could reinvent the dying Nigerian middle class which in some jurisdictions is key to economic recovery. Even if the president achieved all these lofty goals which, by the way, he will not achieve no matter how long he stayed in office, he will still not attain immortality because he will be dogged by the factual statement that: ‘…he was a leper’. This was the slur and the burden of a certain Syrian army general as recorded in the Holy Bible. In 2Kings 5:1, the Good Book records inter alia- “Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honourable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord has given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valour, but he was a leper”. If Naaman was Jewish he would have been cast out of the city gates. Lepers do not live and mingle with healthy people because the disease is contagious. Leprosy is a disease as well as a figure of speech. It’s worth recalling that between April 16-20, 1998, four of the five government registered and funded political parties adopted a serving Head of State, the late Gen. Sani Abacha as their presidential candidate for a scheduled election. Many Nigerians treated the socalled adoption with utter scorn. But it was Chief Bola Ige, a former governor of Oyo state, who poignantly captured the situation when he described the political parties as ‘five fingers of a leprous hand’. It was derisive and it stuck. An online dictionary describes leprosy in two folds. It says that leprosy is ‘a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin, and in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities. Secondly, it says it is ‘a state of corruption or decay’. Both definitions would appear to fit our narrative. If the Tinubu presidency holds out it will adversely infect the polity like a contagion which is the communication of a disease from one person or organism to another. Nigeria’s politics has long been bad but the advent of Tinubu will only make it worse. The negative effects are already manifesting. Many Nigerians remain unpersuaded that he won the February presidential election fair and square. A sizable portion of the population believe that the election was stolen with the aid and brazen connivance of the ‘Independent’ National Electoral Commission [INEC].

In like manner, the marathon judgment on September 6, of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal [PEPT] affirming Tinubu’s win has failed to assuage those adjudged to have lost that controversial election. They described the ruling in favour of Tinubu as a tainted judgment hinged on technicalities with no justice. Not many of the losers are invested in the fact that the judgment of the PEPT is still subject to a review by the Supreme Court. Their fears are founded given its curious and controversial rulings on the governorship election in Imo state about four years ago and the primaries last year that produced now Senate president Godwin Akpabio and his predecessor Ahmad Lawan.

Another tragic outcome of the Tinubu ascendancy is that his coming and the increasingly observed coalescing around, and gravitating towards his regime by some elements, is that many Nigerians have no shame and their consciences have been seared. The eternal declaration of Othman Dan Fodio that ‘conscience is an open wound’ and that only ‘truth can heal it’ is no longer of any consequence. For them it does not matter that Tinubu had virtually no life and certainly no childhood and no trace of his whereabouts for the first 20 years or so of his being. In other words, he was a ghost. That he claimed that he attended primary and secondary schools and proceeded to file relevant papers with INEC in pursuit of his successful governorship bid in 1999, and then in 2023 claiming he never attended any does not matter. He made these claims on oath. Those are of no issue to the rabid supporters of Tinubu. For whatever reasons these issues did not count at the PEPT. They are also likely not to count in the Supreme Court in November. That he is suspected of identity theft and that the name he now bears belonged to someone else who was a female is not of any consequence. That the conclusive proof that he perjured himself by submitting a forged Chicago State University [CSU] certificate to INEC should have no bearing on his declaration as president of Nigeria.

It was reported last weekend that Tinubu will be in New York, US this week to address the United Nations General Assembly [UNGA] in the name of Nigeria. What an irony because in a court not too far away from where Tinubu will speak, a judge may be making a ruling on whether or not to order the seeming scandal-prone CSU should release academic records of the man they claimed was their student. The records affirming that he attended and graduated from CSU in 1979 may not be the contention. The contentious issue is the demand by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], who is also a party to the dispute in court, is asking the university to also produce the documents with which Tinubu was admitted for his undergraduate degree in CSU. The evidence is that Bola A. Tinubu in the high school diploma certificate which another Bola A. Tinubu who is now the president of Nigeria is bearing was a female. Could it be that there had been a sex change in the intervening decades for which there was no public record. In spite of Tinubu’s baggage including being a bag man and banker for a cocaine trafficking cartel in Chicago which ostensibly led to his forfeiture of $460,000 to the US government, he still enjoys a significant support. One of his choristers includes Prof. Wole Soyinka, who until last week, we did not realise had access to the backend of INEC’s servers and keys to their bimodal voter accreditation system [BVAS] strong room.

Otherwise, where did he get the confidence to speak with finality on the correctness of the votes INEC allocated to Peter Obi [Labour Party], Abubakar [PDP] and Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress [APC]? He may yet speak on INEC’s mysterious ‘glitch’ which affected the up loading realtime of the results of the presidential election. Soyinka is known to be outspoken, acerbic and trenchant in his public commentaries. He it was who called then Nigeria’s First Lady Patience Jonathan a Shepopotamus. He also had no issue in joining in branding President Goodluck Jonathan a drunken sailor. We should not forget that Soyinka was also part of the cabal that inflicted the affliction called Buhari on Nigeria in 2015. But he now suffers from selective amnesia. Somehow Soyinka, a supposed global citizen, has not heard about Tinubu the alleged perjurer, identity thief, serial certificate forger and a drug cartel banker. You may ask whether he can be compelled to speak to an issue that does not catch his fancy? The answer is no but we are duty bound to call out his hypocrisy. On Tinubu Soyinka is a hypocrite. He cannot cleanse Tinubu of his many dirts, not even with his pretensions to sophistry and global citizenship. His new strident crusade to remake his longstanding benefactor will fail. Indeed, it has already failed.


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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