Monday 20 February 2023


THE buffaloes move as a herd with unalloyed loyalty to the leader. Like the soldier ants, they move in a convoy. But unlike soldier ants, they only take instructions from their leader and if by chance the leader dies, they just stand around waiting for the instruction that will never come. That is how buffaloes are getting extinct. Papa Awolowo on campaign rostrum at Jos in the 60s said: “We are an ideological indomitable straight tree (referring to Action Group members who drew their numerical strength from Yoruba)”.


The Yoruba are not buffaloes neither could any mortal nor any group of persons direct them sheepishly in political permutation and manipulation of the Nigerian state. Yoruba acknowledge the structure of leadership and pay due allegiance to the constituted authorities. The loyalty and faithfulness of the Yoruba to their political leaders  must not be turned into political mining ground for never- do- well politicians, who lack virtue and moral trait of leadership.

The Yoruba are intrinsically proud people who cherish their freedom. Long before the British King Charles literally lost his head in a revolt against intolerable oppression; the Yoruba had established a tradition for taming intolerable despots. As a Nigerian, I would be extremely concerned and embarrassed if Bola Tinubu became Nigeria’s next president.. 

As a Yoruba, I would be deeply disappointed and ashamed. Why? Well, as a Nigerian, I would be concerned and embarrassed because a Tinubu presidency would devastate Nigeria internally and demean it externally. As a Yoruba, I would be disappointed and ashamed because Tinubu’s politics and behaviour are antithetical to the values Yorubas claim define them; values of integrity, character and honesty, encapsulated in the honour-signalling Yoruba word: Omoluabi! 

First, for Nigeria, a Tinubu presidency would destroy the fabric of presidential politics in this country. It would legitimise a self-serving behaviour where someone entrusted with public office rapaciously amasses inexplicable wealth and uses the stupendous wealth to manoeuvre his way to Nigeria’s presidency.

 If that were to happen, the presidency of Nigeria wouldn’t only be tainted by slush funds, but it would also be for sale, going to the highest bidder. No one has ever become Nigeria’s president that way; rather, the virtuous path held more allure for all past successful presidential candidates.To be clear, this is not about wealth, but its sources. MKO Abiola nearly became Nigeria’s first billionaire president. But everyone knew he was a government contractor and an international businessman. He never held public office, not state governor, not local government chairman!

Similarly, if Aliko Dangote were to run for president, no one would question the sources of his wealth: we see them everywhere. Although a beneficiary of crony capitalism, Dangote has never controlled the public purse. He has never held a public office! But Tinubu was governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007. So, how did he become, in his words, “richer than Osun State”, owning private jets? 

A Tinubu presidency would make Nigeria a laughingstock globally, accentuated by Tinubu’s unpresidential carriage and gait and his crude manner of speaking, particularly his habitual gaffes and slurring words. 

The Financial Times recently referred to “his shifting versions of where his money came from.” In one version, Tinubu’s aides said he owned a large share in Manchester United, the renowned UK Football Club. Recently, Tinubu himself said he became a multibillionaire through real estate. All these stretch credulity, raising questions about how he got the money to make those investments. Well, he faces strong allegations of state capture, of grand corruption, of large-scale transfer of public resources for private interests. Tinubu’s reflex response to the allegations is: “Prove it”!

But such blasé dismissiveness won’t suffice in sane climes. Elsewhere, someone so stinking wealthy, with no known legitimate source of his wealth, especially being in public life, cannot glide insouciantly to a nation’s leadership without absolute openness about the source of his wealth.

This matters because unexplained and inexplicable wealth distorts politics and undermines democracy. As we know, deep pockets determine the outcome of presidential primaries. Indeed, prominent members of Tinubu’s party, All Progressives Congress (APC), have accused him of bribing APC governors, delegates and fellow aspirants to clinch the party’s presidential ticket. But deep pockets can also influence the result of presidential elections; slush funds can be used to buy votes. That’s one reason why, given his inexplicable wealth, a Tinubu victory would be disastrous; it would license, reward, and perpetuate a morally corrupt and bankrupt politics in Nigeria.

Of course, there’s also the documented case of Tinubu’s drug-related past. In the early 1990s, he forfeited $460,000 to US authorities after they concluded that certain funds in his bank accounts were “proceeds of narcotic trafficking and money laundering,” and accused him of being part of a drug cartel, a bagman handling and laundering drug money. Such a person would never dream of becoming president of a country with the right value system

Truth is, a Tinubu presidency would make Nigeria a laughingstock globally, accentuated by Tinubu’s unpresidential carriage and gait and his crude manner of speaking, particularly his habitual gaffes and slurring words. And, of course, at home, his Muslim-Muslim ticket would further erode internal cohesion, while his proposed statist policies and fiscal activism would destroy Nigeria’s economy, deepening poverty and escalating corruption... 

Yet, despite all that, Nigerians may elect him as the next president this week, which, if it happened, would vindicate the French philosopher Joseph de Maistre, who said: “Every country gets the government it deserves.” As someone also said, a rescue mission cannot succeed if people aren’t entirely sure they want to be saved. However, I believe Nigerians can choose to save Nigeria and themselves by rejecting Tinubu at the polls this week, on February 25.

Which brings me to the Yorubas.In a recent article in this column, I wrote that two sections of Nigeria could decide whether Tinubu became Nigeria’s next president: the South-West, which might vote massively for him, and the North, which might give him enough votes to win the race.

However, in that article, I appealed to the North’s sense of patriotism, urging them not to foist a Tinubu presidency on Nigeria. Well. In this article, I appeal to the Yoruba’s sense of honour, to their omoluabi ethos! The Yorubas pride themselves on having the values of integrity, character and honesty. Perversely, however, they also have a saying that undermines those values. The Toruba say: ‘omoeni ki sedibebere, ka fi ilekesiidiomoelomiran.’ Roughly interpreted, it means that however ugly one’s child’s bottom is, one won’t put beads in the bottom of another person’s child instead.

Well, that’s true, literally: you can’t reject your own child! But when applied to politics, the saying absurdly means that even if someone from your tribe is an embezzler, a drug baron or an infirm youwould choose him as governor or president over a better candidate from another tribe or ethnicity. That negates the Omoluabi ethos. Yet, sadly, that’s how some Yorubas view Tinubu’s candidacy in the presidential election: he’s a Yoruba, so, we’ll vote for him! Of course, Tinubu opportunistically whips up the ethnic sentiments.

Recently, while campaigning in Ado-Ekiti, he told the crowd: “This election is not about me because I’m not looking for what to eat.” Really? So, despite his “lifelong ambition”, despite his “emilokan” sense of entitlement, he’s not in the race for himself but for “hungry” Yorubas who are “looking for what to eat”? Of course, the election is about him, his family and his cronies; they all relish the power to rule Nigeria. Yet, he’s insulting the intelligence of supposedly well-educated people!

Well, he went on. “This election is yours. You will use it to liberate yourselves,” he told the people, adding: “They want to turn us into slaves. We are not slaves.” Who are the “they” who want to turn Yorubas into slaves? And how can Tinubu say anyone wants to turn Yorubas into slaves in Nigeria when they’ve produced president for eight years and vice-president for nearly eight years since 1999? What about Igbos who have produced neither? It’s utterly insensitive and self-serving!

Ironically, if anyone is enslaving the Yoruba, it’s Tinubu himself. Chief Obafemi Awolowo liberated the Yoruba through education, Tinubu is enslaving them, at least those in Lagos, through feudalism. He’s the “owner” of Lagos, the feudal lord, and others, from the governor down to councillors, are serfs, who must carry out his wishes and pay homage to him. Feudalism is alien to the Yoruba, but Tinubu feudalises Lagos, using his inexplicable wealth and political power to subjugate the people. 

Tinubu violates Yoruba moral code and introduces an alien system, feudalism, into the race. Yet, a Tinubu presidency would be such a disaster that it would do even more harm to the Yoruba race. Thus, it would be sad and shameful if Yorubas enabled the emergence of a Tinubu presidency. Hence, the plea: Yoruba ronu! Think, Yoruba, think!

Olufemi Aduwo. 


Centre For Convention on Democratic lntegrity, (CCDI) - Nigeria & United States and Permanent Representative of CCDI to United Nations.

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