When Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared to Nigerians in June 2022 ‘Emi Lokan’ (it is my turn) in reference to the forthcoming 2023 presidential election, a contingent of the populace mused at the boldness, sense of entitlement, and cynicism of such a statement.
For those who have studied the rise of Tinubu, the crowned ‘Jagaban’ of Nigerian politics, although that statement was in keeping with his political gravitas, it was conspicuously incongruous with his political style.
When it came to national politics, the former Lagos State Governor had always preferred to operate in the shadows and play the role of a cerebral, self-sacrificing kingmaker rather than a king. By declaring Emi Lokan and subsequently backing it by controversially winning the 2023 presidential election, Tinubu effectively removed the cloak of discretion, subtlety, and diplomacy and revealed the iron fist of the unbridled ambition that made him so successful in politics.
Those who laughed then are now cowering in fear of the political Frankenstein that Nigeria’s political class has collectively created in the form of Tinubu and APC.
After assuming the mantle of power, Tinubu, in short order, began to replicate at the federal level the legendary system of control he established in Lagos State as Governor. He has spent the first few months of his reign making appointments and infusing his acolytes in every organ of the federal government.
If the allegations are true, he has also put his imprimatur on INEC the voting oversight body, to such an extent that some now claim that election rigging is now a childish trend of the past, and arbitrary blatant election awarding is now in vogue. Essentially, for the first time in Nigerian history, the line of demarcation between the state and a ruling party which had always been blurry, has now simply disappeared.
The consequence of such an aggregation of power to one man and one party, is that the adage ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ will be invoked by political cowards from the various opposing parties who will make a mad dash to join APC and kiss the ring of Tinubu the Emperor.
The signs of pending party defections are already there, with political thugs who looted, lied, and rigged with impunity in yesteryear now crying shamelessly that this new brand of absolute power wielded by Tinubu and APC, is beyond the pale even by Nigerian standards. The writing is on the wall that Tinubu is on the cusp of achieving what has, in truth, always been the holy grail of all Nigerian political parties, which is the formation of a one-party state.
The question for Nigerians is what next in the face of such an ominous political scenario? Some advocate for a violent revolution, others suggest using subterfuge to make the polity ungovernable, to redress the looming doom of APC. I, on the other hand, believe that the emergence of the political monster that is APC is not only the reckoning that the Nigeran political class deserves, but it is also ironically, the best opportunity for transformational political change in Nigeria since independence.
None of the mentioned approaches will yield fruit in wrestling away power from APC. Indeed, the only approach that will work is for opposing political parties to evolve from being bastions of rent seeking, self-interest, and corruption to functioning as real political parties ought to. This fundamentally means that opposing parties must clearly differentiate themselves from APC to galvanize the swell of public support that will cause the transition of power away from APC.
To differentiate themselves from APC, opposing parties must do something that has seemed anathema to Nigerian politicians in the past, which is to simply work! Work on creating a well-defined political ideology, and economic policy program that will catalyze real transformational change.
Work on party integrity by not indulging in the same corrupt behavior that APC politicians engage in. Work on community building initiatives to show the polity that opposing parties care for those under their charge. Work on organizing civil disobedience rallies to call attention to government malpractice when it occurs. Work on creating political strategies to win the next election years in advance rather than showing up six months before voting to ask the people for support.
By putting in the work, opposing parties will show Nigerians a clear contrast between them and APC. By putting in the work, opposing parties will mirror the ugliness of APC’s policies to itself and the people, thus causing APC to crumble as Medusa did to her own reflection. A mixture of work, strategic thinking, patience, and integrity is the formula that will arrest APC’s power.
But which parties and leaders have the courage and desire to fight APC? Who are the new heroes, and champions of a better tomorrow that will emerge? Does Nigeria even have such heroes anymore? I believe Nigeria does, and the emergence of one such warrior for change is upon us…