Sunday, March 15, 2020 11:54 pm
By Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
Due to alert responses of Lagos and Ogun state governments, actively supported by the federal machinery, Nigeria was able to quickly identify and isolate the two cases of the novel Coronavirus 19. This action, thus far, has stopped the spread of the disease into the wider community as has been seen in other nations. We are grateful to God and to all those involved in the response effort, particularly the brave and committed medical teams on the frontline.
While Corona has been presently contained in Nigeria, we must be alert to another sickness that seems rampant within a certain segment of society. That sickness is old Ambition-virus 2023. This illness afflicts many in the political class along with their allies in the media. Those touched by this malady find that their ability to tell time and discern the difference between the present and the future has been strongly impaired.
The carriers of this sickness are confused as to the very season our nation now finds itself. They conflate things, which no sensible person would conflate. The primary symptom of their malady is the driving tendency to believe the events of 2023 will be decided before we even exit the year 2020.
Consequently, everything they say and do is geared toward obsessive jockeying for position to control and manipulate a race still three years away. In doing so, they recklessly undermine the very party which they claim to serve and weaken the administration of President Buhari to which they claim to be loyal. They line up to run a race for which the track has not even yet been constructed. Put another way, they seek to pluck the fruit before the seed is even planted. As such, their actions border on the pathological. True, ambition is inherent in human endeavour. Without it, nothing great is achieved. However, strong ambition applied in the wrong way has never done anything positive. At best, it results in confusion. Usually, its results in something worse. No matter how great one’s ambition and how able one may be, nobody can rush or speed time. That is beyond the realm of human capacity. To do so is to contest against fate itself. When it ends, such a contest rarely ends well.
In a well-structured society, people come to understand that the time for politics is seasonal; it is periodic. The responsibilities of governance are what is perpetual. Many of our politicians sadly have inverted this reality. Politics and electioneering are secondary to governance for they are but tools of governance, the platforms by which one demonstrates his or her worthiness to lead a great people. The more a person obsesses over and constantly engages in political manoeuvring is a warning sign. Not only is he prone to the 2023 virus. He likely has little to offer in the way of good governance. He wants to hold public office that you might serve him not he serve you. For if he had adequately studied and been acquainted with the ways and means of progressive governance, he would be focused on that important task at the present moment. He certainly would not drown himself and all around him in harmful political intrigue.
It is against this backdrop that we should view the present ploys and plots to undermine the APC National Chairman. The Chairman is human; thus, he has his merits as well as his flaws. Yet his humanity cannot be grounds for his dismissal. If so, the position will forever go vacant.
The Chairman has been a tireless campaigner and mobilizer for the party. He has steered the party through difficult elections. His contributions should not be undervalued now that the bulk of elections are behind us. To do so would be an act of ingratitude. It is no secret that the Chairman and Edo Governor Obaseki are in dispute. This is unfortunate. However, the party has moved through proper procedures within the proper organs of the party to hopefully resolve this spat. All party members know this. Such decisions are part and parcel of internal party governance. Yet, motivated by ambitions that have nothing to do with the quality of the Chairman’s performance, people shunned the agreed party reconciliation mechanism and resorted to other means to oust him. These self-help attempts are unwarranted. These attempts reveal more about the mala fides of their perpetrators than they do about the Chairman.
The plotters launched their attack solely because they perceive the chairman as an obstacle to their 2023 ambitions. People went to court knowing full well the party constitution prohibits such action because these people had not yet exhausted all internal disciplinary procedures. We even had a national deputy secretary improperly call for a NEC meeting on the basis that he believed himself the acting national chairman. Clearly, this man would not have summoned the temerity to make such a move had he not been instigated by powerful individuals who he thought would reward or, at least, protect him for committing the wrongful act.
Those engaged in these manoeuvres see themselves as clever or cunning. They do so because they only understand the mean craft of political intrigue. They have yet to understand the value and long-term utility of democratic governance. Thus, they embark on the strangest of quest. They would rather dismantle and weaken the institutional core of their party just to gain control of that weakened edifice in order to pilfer the party nomination, which they crave. This is more than sad.
Many of us expended sweat, tears, toil and sleepless nights to build this party. Our personal sacrifices were not insignificant. We built this party not simply as a vehicle for personal ambition. We built the party because we saw it as perhaps the only enduring hope to bring progressive governance to this nation. Those who now seek to abuse the party by using it as their personal device do it great harm. They should not be allowed to sacrifice this collective enterprise at the altar of their self-aggrandizement. Somehow, some way they should find in themselves the bearing to adhere to the democratic spirit on which the party was founded. To be an APC member means more than merely carrying a membership card. It means to believe in a set of ideals and principles geared to our highest purpose as a party and a nation.
In a broader context, those afflicted with the 2023 virus do a grave disservice to President Buhari and his administration. They should be trying their best to help the president. Instead of seeing President Buhari as our present leader and commander-in-chief, their sole contemplation is upon his eventual exit. Yet, not even a full year has passed since his second inaugural. How can they be committed to helping him realise his mandate when the fullness of their gaze is affixed to seizing this very mandate for themselves?
The president is faced with many challenges. He is fighting hard on security to keep the population safe. He is pushing for economic reforms that will augur future sustainable growth. His disdain for corruption remains unwavering. Add to it now the Corona crisis and its resultant social as well as economic impact. Politicians express loyalty to him but the words of too many of our politicians are like butter under a burning sun; they melt quickly away. Better to be loyal in deed. Instead of trying to manipulate party and other mechanisms solely to their political gain, it is time to shelve political intrigue for the time being. It is time for all party members to truly see what is at stake and work with Mr. President for the collective good of the nation.
This means we must rally around President Buhari. Instead of everyone saying they are working for the party and nation but going their separate ways based on their selfish designs, we must help him build a stronger national consensus on policies that will ensure safety and bring greater prosperity. If need be and when called upon, we must offer ideas and suggestions that move policy and progress forward. This is the time for governance. It is not the moment to bring the politics of 2023 into 2020. In due course, 2023 shall come. Nothing can prevent it. However, that time is not today. If we are earnest, the present offers sufficient work and challenges for us without trying to add to it by rushing the future. Let us dedicate our energies to helping President Buhari win the present. In this way, you better secure the future for the nation, the party and even for whatever personal ambitions you may nurture.
I have said what is on my mind in hopes that some people may leave the 2023 frenzy and commit themselves to the harder yet more rewarding task of improving progressive governance, whether within the party or at the local, state or federal levels. Yet, I am not so naïve to think all will heed this counsel. The stubborn, those obsessed with the obsession of their ambitions, will ignore all advice. They will constantly pull 2023 into all that occurs in 2020. Their vision is blurred and judgement made faulty by their ailment.
We are democrats so we cannot physically quarantine them. However, we can quarantine their ideas and antics by not falling prey to them. This is the best way we help President Buhari fulfil his mandate and inoculate our party and the nation from grave folly.