Nigerians who still recall the role former governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State played in the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government (1999-2007) will always be willing to forgive any outburst perceived by some, if not many, to be too negatively directed or otherwise to President Muhammadu Buhari.
As perceived by many political pundits, Fayose’s attacks on the President and the Presidency ought to spoil both to action.Like reading the minds of his sympathisers, Fayose, during the week explained that his continuous criticism of Buhari is simply because of his confidence that no democracy lasts without a virile opposition.“I put facts on the table, no politician can steal money without the help of the civil servant; we should look inwards. One thing I want you all to realise today is this… I love PMB. People think I hate him, but I don’t. Democracy is founded on opposition. Opposition will keep the government of the day on their toes to do the right thing.“I commended the President on effort on Boko Haram. In the last four weeks, it has been positive and there is hope. But I urge the President not to politicise corruption. The law has its process; there are agencies that take care of corruption. We should allow them do their duty without pre-empting them,” he urged.According to some political observers, the rate at which Fayose often descended on Buhari calls to question his (Fayose’s) sanity and genuine desire for the progress of the entity called Nigeria. However, deep thought has ceaselessly revealed that the governor speaks the mind of some Nigerians after all.Notably, Fayose has since the campaign era of the present dispensation, condemned the rising profile and public acceptability of the President. For instance, by describing the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate as a sick man who may not even go beyond the period (though not the only one on this campaign as it included Fani Kayode). But eventually, when fate smiled on Buhari, Fayose assumed the role of a true democrat and a good opposition for that matter.Speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and News Media, Lere Olayinka, Fayose was quoted to have said, “I wish they can see spiritually what I am talking about that Buhari, despite the hullabaloo will never be president. I predicted my return as Ekiti State Governor and I am saying it again that Buhari will never rule Nigeria again…,” though he won his re-election as predicted, but was wrong on Buhari.As mentioned earlier, Fayose refused to be cowed by the victory of the APC at the presidential polls, but rather than go back into his shelf, he boldly assumed the role of an opposition leader by picking all available holes in Buhari’s government.Firstly, he described the government’s anti-corruption stance as mere noise-making, witch-hunting and diversionary tactics “to hoodwink the public into overlooking the seeming failure of the government to deliver on its electoral promises.”According to him, “If President Mohammadu Buhari knows exactly where the stolen funds are kept and who looted the funds, he does not need all these public announcements. Rather, he should make public names of the looters and bring back the purported stolen funds, location of which he has identified. It is when he is able to bring back the money that he should make announcements of recovered funds.“You don’t announce a process to the public. Rather, you announce the results because, that is what is of interest to the people. It is like you are announcing that you know where armed robbers reside, won’t they change their location?” he reasoned.He continued, “What the APC spin-doctors and their collaborators in the Presidency are doing is simple. It is such that when there is nothing to tell the people about the rising Boko Haram attacks, dollar and other foreign currencies exchange rates, petrol pump price and other seeming failed promises of the APC federal government, they will accuse former President Goodluck Jonathan and his men of corruption, insult Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and make noise about fighting corruption.“President Buhari and his men should however know that Nigeria of today is different from that of 1983 and the system under which they are operating now is also different. Nigerians are watching and unlike 1983, nothing can prevent them from asking questions, which they are already asking,” he stated.He also alleged that the acting chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs. Amina Zakari is Buhari’s in-law, and cautioned that such appointment poses danger to the nation’s democracy, urging all to rise in defence of the impartiality. He said, “The most honourable thing for President Buhari to do is to rescind the unlawful appointment of Mrs. Zakari as INEC Acting Chairperson.”According to him, “since Mrs Zakari’s tenure as INEC National Electoral Commissioner has expired, she cannot continue to preside legally on INEC affairs, except if duly appointed as substantive Chairman of the Commission as provided in Section 154 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).“One of the major legacies bequeathed to Nigeria by the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government was free, fair and credible electoral process and President Buhari, who is a beneficiary of this legacy, must sustain this legacy by ensuring that the impartiality of the electoral umpire is unblemished by suspicions of partisanship and illegal appointments,” he said.He however backed his claim thus, “Two weeks ago, respected former lawmaker and former top civil servant, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, revealed that he knew Mrs. Zakari since childhood, and that her late father, the former Emir of Kazaure, was married to President Buhari’s elder sister.“Alhaji Yakassai, went on to reveal that President Buhari lived with and spent a significant part of his early years in the home of Amina Zakari’s father. This is enough establishment of conviviality between Mrs. Zakari and President Buhari, whose party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will be standing elections with other political parties this year and this will no doubt cast credibility aspersion on any election conducted by INEC headed by Mrs. Zakari,” he reasoned.He argued that Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which established INEC and other Federal Executive bodies did not make any provision for the appointment of Acting Chairman.Declaring the appointment as illegal, Fayose said; “Section 154 (3) provided that the President shall consult the Council of State in exercising his powers to appoint a person as the chairman of INEC and there is no record of such consultation before the appointment of Mrs. Zakari as INEC ‘Acting Chairperson.’When he realised that all entreaties to make the President see “reasons” failed, Fayose merely concluded to accuse Buhari of operating as a President of the Northern Nigeria only, describing steps taken by the President since May 29, 2015 as tainted in ethnic and tribal colouration, which, according to him, is inimical to the unity of Nigeria.This was however supported by the national president of Igbo ethnic group – Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike in an exclusive interview with Newswatch Times’ team in Lagos when he lamented that Igbo was unduly marginalised, systematically sidestepped and condemned to stake in a country believed to be owned by all.However, Fayose, who described Buhari’s action as “Northernisation of Nigeria,” said “appointments made by the President so far negate the principle of federal character,” adding, “it appears the unity in diversity of Nigeria is being taken for granted by the President.”He said it was wrong for President Buhari to have made 31 major appointments and only seven will come from the South while 24 were from the North.Fayose asked: “Under Buhari, are people from Southern Nigeria only meant to be hounded and harassed by anti-corruption agencies and the Department of State Security (DSS) while those from the North are meant to enjoy federal government juicy appointments?”Avoiding being too political on Buhari, Fayose, sometimes becomes self-appointed radar through which Nigerians often gauge federal government’s activities across Nigeria and in the process, turns human rights activist.For instance, early this month, he urged Buhari to call the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, to order over the invasion of the Akwa Ibom Government House by men of the DSS in search of bomb factory.Speaking at a media briefing in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, addressed by his Special Assistant on Public Communication and New Media, Lere Olayinka, he described the invasion as strange and anti-democratic.Fayose said: “Yesterday, the Akwa Ibom State Government House in Uyo was invaded by armed men from the Special Squad of the DSS. They invaded the Presidential Wing of the Government House in a commando-like manner, ransacked it, intimidated and harassed the occupants, claiming that they were searching for bomb and documents!“One wonders when the Government House of Akwa-Ibom State has turned to a factory where bombs are made. Also, we wonder why men of the DSS were overzealously looking for bomb in Akwa Ibom State Government House, instead of the Boko Haram ravaged North Eastern part of Nigeria.”“Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Austin Okojie, was picked up by men of the DSS in July. The REC was detained and later asked to report daily to their office for interrogation.”“Interestingly, the DSS under Alhaji Lawal Daura that has turned Akwa Ibom State and other States into centre of its draconian operations has not deemed it necessary to invite for questioning the Yobe State INEC REC, Mr. Abu Zarma, in whose bank account N15 million alleged to be a bribe was found.”“From the barbaric act of the DSS yesterday and other actions of Security Service under Alhaji Lawal Daura in the last few weeks, one can conclude that Daura is taking Nigeria back to the 1984 era of General Mohammadu Buhari and this is unfortunate.”“No doubt, the Director General (DG) DSS, Lawal Daura is acting out a sinister script of taking over Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controlled States in the South-South and South East by whatever means,” he alleged.However, in June this year, Fayose, in a complete demonstration of total love for his state and submission to powers that be, wrote to the Presidency, seeking opportunity to nominate a competent candidate to fill the Ekiti slot in the Federal Executive Council.“Should the request be favourably disposed to, I shall be happy to nominate a worthy and competent professional who can always oblige your Excellency and your cabinet the benefit of a second opinion in the serious business of governance,” Fayose pleaded in the letter.He noted that he wrote the letter based on the declaration made by the President that he would put overall interest of the country above every others, particularly political partisanship and biases.The Governor also hinted that his letter was on the strength of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria section 147 sub (2) and (3) which therefore state that, “Any appointment to the office of the Minister of the government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any such person to such office is confirmed by the Senate , be made by the President.“Any appointment under sub- section (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provision of section 15 (3) of this constitution provided that in giving effect to the provision aforesaid, the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each state who shall be indigene of such state,” he noted.He argued that though the state may be a PDP state, “this is not new to the country’s democracy, as late Chief Bola Ige who was the leader of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Abdukadri were made Minister and Special Adviser respectively by the PDP Government of Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007.”Having stated much of Fayose’s seeming attack on Buhari, it would also be pertinent to mention few of Tinubu’s attack on Obasanjo while in government as governor and president respectively.It has become common thing in the country to note that the recent relationship between the two ought to be considered by Nigerians of matured age the eighth wonder of the world.This is not being exaggerated as most people will recall how the duo did not see eye-to-eye even though unconfirmed reports had it that Tinubu often visited Obasanjo at his Ota farm at night after several salvos hurled at the president at the daytime.Lagosians in particular and Nigerians in general would recall the song: “Egbe oniro legbe won; egbe oniro legbe won o olori elewon loko won jo,” (their party (PDP is fraudulent; their party is fraudulent; and their leader is a chief prisoner) thus referring to Obasanjo who was once a political prisoner under late Sani Abacha and of course the party.As punchy as this was, Tinubu receives little or no attack which they blindly considered as political salvo that should be tolerated as a mere campaign song.It was at various political gatherings in the state that Tinubu pointedly urged Lagosians to disregard Obasanjo’s shortcomings in governance or retaliations to him because the farmer turned president was not relating to humans, but birds and animals.He queried, “What do you expect from someone who wakes up to behold on fowls, pigs and of course trees and not human beings?”Nigerians again never saw this as serious affront on the president of the most populous country in Africa. Only for the same myopic Nigerians to now want to condemn Fayose whose whatever attacks on Buhari was always backed with facts and figures; and was never too carried away by his poise as the opposition by constantly taking good care of his state.No wonder the legal consultant to the former president, Chief Afe Babalola recently applauded Fayose’s educational drive in the state, saying that his move was in the direction of repositioning the state to fountain of knowledge.Whichever way one wants to see the Buhari-Fayose-APC differences, it must be appreciated as a watcher of the watched for the progress of the nation.One would remember that if not for Fayose, Nigerians wouldn’t have known that Buhari did not go to Chatham House to address the English lawmakers and interviewed by the English ace presenter there in the United Kingdom (UK) while photographs of the same events had been circulated three days before his takeoff from Nigeria.Speaking after meeting with former President Obasanjo, Tinubu told newsmen that he was at the Hilltop Mansion to discuss because “we cannot know it all. We need to consult. Equally, we took an observation of his former boys who are running for presidency in our party and sought his opinion about them.“But I would not tell you what the discussion was about, but you are privileged to have heard why I am here, I will not tell you,” he was however smart to have referred to Buhari as Obasanjo’s boy, apparently in the nation’s Army.Alas! If Tinubu could mend fences with Obasanjo he once referred to as dullard to the extent that he succeeded wooing the former president into supporting the APC and its candidate – Buhari, then it won’t surprise Nigerians to see Fayose in the company of Buhari either now or at a later date.