Tinubu’s Rising Baggage

Tinubu’s Rising Baggage

By Sonnie Ekwowusi

Opinion: “Tinubu could not have graduated from Government College, Ibadan in 1970 because Government College was established in 1974.”

“Tinubu’s claim that he attended Richard Dailey College stemmed from a stolen identity and falsified results of a woman named Bola Adebimpe Tinubu.”. “Tinubu submitted a forged Chicago State University (CSU) certificate to INEC because CSU stated that the certificate Tinubu submitted to INEC was not issued by them.”. “Tinubu is deeply involved in identity fraud.”. “The Naira currency is currently experiencing its worst free fall in the last 63 years.”. “The US dollar now exchanges for 1,050 Naira. The inflation rate has reached 30%.”. “Over 90% of Nigerians cannot afford a healthy diet.”

“Tinubu appointed Hannatu Musawa, a serving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, as a Minister.”. “Tinubu is the embodiment of provincialism. 90% of his Ministers not only come from his own part of the country but are also his partners in corruption.”.  “U.S. Federal Agents have successfully linked Bola Tinubu to drug-related activities.”.  “Tinubu’s son, Seyi Tinubu, used a Presidential jet to attend polo games in Kano State.”.  “CIA, DEA, and other agencies have announced plans to release documents related to President Bola Tinubu’s criminal convictions in the U.S.”. “Boko Haram killings are escalating, with 252 persons killed in Borno State.”

“Tinubu appoints an unqualified Olanipekun Olukoyede as the new EFCC chairman.”. “Seyi Tinubu, along with his friends, flies on a presidential jet to celebrate his 38th birthday.”. “The Tinubu government plans to spend a staggering N3.27 trillion on palliatives.”.  “Amid scarcity and economic hardships in the country, the House of Representatives purchases 360 exotic cars, each costing about N160 million, for its 360 members.”.  “CBN Governor Olayemi Cardoso maintains an ominous silence amid the collapsed economy.”.  “It is preposterous and unconscionable that, amid the vicious cycle of poverty plaguing Nigeria, coupled with the dwindling government income, the Tinubu Presidency and the National Assembly are embarking on an overspending spree to satisfy their personal interests.”

The foregoing and other issues represent an increasing accumulation of controversial or unfavorable topics that have become the subjects of public discourse since President Tinubu assumed office in Nigeria. Regrettably, these unfavorable matters have the potential to significantly impact President Tinubu’s public perception, his reputation, and Nigeria’s global standing. The way the name ‘Tinubu’ is now being discussed in the popular media suggests that it may become synonymous with cheating or certificate forgery.

This is indeed disheartening. Instead of witnessing signs of hope being restored or steps towards the redemption of Nigeria, what we have been witnessing since President Tinubu’s election are instances of certificate forgery, fraud, extravagance, incompetence, and devastation. Meanwhile, governance appears to be in a state of suspension. The Nigerian Naira is currently experiencing its most severe depreciation, with inflation reaching 30%.

While no one expects President Tinubu to work miracles overnight and completely heal the nation’s wounds, what the people are eager to see are indications of a fresh start, signs of renewed hope, and promises of a better future. Unfortunately, thus far, these signs have been notably absent. Instead, we are witnessing dashed dreams and disillusionment. As the saying goes, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,’ but we have yet to witness any such steps from the Tinubu administration. Concrete actions to revitalize the dormant economy have been lacking. The prices of essential food items in the market are consistently soaring. The Central Bank Governor and other Tinubu-appointed Ministers appear to be grappling with confusion. Many Nigerians have lost hope in the Nigerian enterprise. Frustration has led both young and old Nigerians to emigrate in large numbers, seeking opportunities abroad. In fact, it is rare to find a Nigerian family without at least one member residing in Canada, America, or Europe.”

The fallout from all this is a sagging international image. Nigeria’s image abroad is now battered and tattered. Foreigners are laughing at us. They see us as certificate forgers or potential forgers. This is why some people are summoning the courage to question the academic qualifications of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. Imagine, a whole Professor Wole Soyinka being suspected of having committed certificate fraud. The UK has unmasked over 669 Nigerian nurses who cheated in an online nursing exam in Nigeria before coming to the UK to practice nursing. The UK government has vowed to prosecute all of them. In the last nine years shepherded by Buhari, APC, and Tinubu, Nigerians have been witnessing a steady and progressive deterioration of those cherished values that form the superstructure for building our national ethos. The old image of Nigeria as a citadel of cultural and moral renaissance seems blurred. Having been betrayed several times, the people have lost confidence in the ruling party, APC.

Our country has always had some scoundrels in public office, but never in the past have we had such a great number of scoundrels in public office as today. Look at the corrupt and inept politicians occupying the seats of government today. We are really in a moral crisis. Those keeping quiet about it and refusing to take action should bury their heads in shame. Contrary to the views of many, politics and morality are not strange bedfellows. There is morality in politics. Contrary to Machiavellianism, the political end does not justify the means. The Machiavellian doctrine simply teaches that the end justifies the means, suggesting that there is no morality in politics. It implies that a politician could commit any atrocity, such as murder, like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, to satisfy their ambitious political goals and later justify it with Lady Macbeth’s words: “A little water cleans us of this deed.” Machiavellianism is fundamentally faulty. Morality exists in politics. A political strategy does not obviate the need for moral discipline. A politician cannot, for instance, commit evil acts to achieve a greater good. They cannot, for example, bribe INEC and Prof. Yakubu to seize political power in the name of improving the welfare of the people. A thief must return what he has stolen before seeking forgiveness. Think about it carefully yourself. A thief has stolen what belongs to you. Now, without repentance and without returning what he stole from you, the same thief dramatically comes to you and starts begging you to endorse his thievery or acquiesce to it for the sake of peace and unity in this country. Obviously, the thief and his acolytes feign ignorance of the preamble to the 1999 Constitution, which states, inter alia, that in order to build Nigeria and promote the unity and welfare of all persons in Nigeria, the principles of freedom, equality, and justice must prevail. Does this thief understand that justice begets unity and unity grows in the crannies of justice? If you want progress in Nigeria, allow justice to prevail. Don’t lecture us on progress if you disdain justice. No politician can rig an election to come to power to start doing good. No, the end does not justify the means. You cannot commit evil so that good may come out of it.

In fairness to President Tinubu, he never promised to fix Nigeria upon coming to power. He merely stated that it was his turn to assume the Presidency and follow in Buhari’s footsteps. If you have been a careful observer, you would have noticed that Tinubu has been following Buhari’s footsteps to the letter. Like Buhari, President Bola Tinubu is seriously implicated in educational certificate fraud, forgery, and identity crisis. Like Buhari, President Bola Tinubu is accused of submitting a forged educational qualification to INEC. Like Buhari, Tinubu has been taken to court over certificate forgery. Like Buhari, Tinubu is charged with identity theft. In the case against Buhari, the petitioners successfully met the burden of proof incumbent on them by showing that Buhari did not possess the educational qualifications, as he had failed to attach them to his INEC Form CF 001, as required by the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). But Buhari deposed to a false affidavit claiming that his certificates were with the military. However, both the military and Buhari’s witness and former classmate, Major-Gen. Paul Tarfa (Rtd), denied that Buhari’s purported certificates were with the military. Surprisingly, instead of ruling as aforesaid, the tribunal wrongly descended into the arena and assisted Buhari in patching up his defense by ascribing that he attended courses and trainings that could qualify him to contest the Presidential election. What was even more perplexing was that after falsely asserting that his certificates were lodged with the military, Buhari proceeded to tender, through a WAEC official, a Statement of Result of one Mohamed Buhari (not Muhammadu Buhari) showing different school subjects and different scores. Buhari also tendered, through the then Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, a Cambridge WAEC Statement of result where he purportedly scored entirely different grades in different school subjects.

So, you can see that President Tinubu is religiously following the footsteps of Buhari. I need not remind you that Buhari destroyed Nigeria beyond repair. He took Nigeria for a ride. He destroyed institutions in Nigeria, including the judiciary. Imagine appointing Mohammadu Tanko as the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Under Buhari’s watch, Nigeria’s treasury was looted as never before. Buhari put Nigeria into a serious debt burden. It is unbelievable that a man who has ruined the country in this fashion is left to be freely loitering about in his village without being brought to justice. The EFCC cannot even dare to arrest him for aiding and abetting former Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele in crimes.

Like Buhari, President Tinubu is ruling as if Nigeria were his personal fiefdom. Instead of appointing his Ministers in such a way as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and promote national unity, as stipulated in section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution, President Tinubu prefers to surround himself with the same wheeler-dealers with whom he executed many shady deals during his stint as Lagos State Governor. Like Buhari, Tinubu is not subject to the checks and balances of the National Assembly. Why? Because the current National Assembly is also a mere rubber-stamp National Assembly. It cannot refuse Tinubu anything. For example, Senate President, Godswill Akpabio (off the mic), is Tinubu’s man. Akpabio cannot refuse President Tinubu any deal. Like Buhari’s daughter, Tinubu’s son, Seyi Tinubu, flies the Presidential jet. Upon assuming office at Aso Villa, First Lady Oluremi Tinubu had boasted that her family didn’t need Nigeria’s wealth to survive because God had blessed them with wealth. But now it is manifestly clear that Mr. and Mrs. Tinubu and their family are feeding off the Federal government’s wealth. Seyi Tinubu flies the Presidential jet at his pleasure. Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu has a pet project, Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI), funded from the coffers of the Federal government. The other day, she was in Jos, distributing ₦500 million as relief and resettlement packages to 500 families in Jos, Plateau State. In their first 100 days in office, President Tinubu and Vice-President Senator Shettima have been indulging in an overspending spree. For example, the Federal government spent a gargantuan sum of $507,000 on hotel accommodation for President Tinubu at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Amidst scarcity and economic hardships in the country, the government purchases 360 exotic cars, each costing about N160 million, for the 360 members of the House of Representatives. You may recall that in August 2023, it was reported that the Buhari government was spending a huge sum of N16 billion to purchase exotic cars for Buhari’s 48-member cabinet, the largest cabinet in Nigeria since 1984. It is preposterous that amid the economic hardship in Nigeria, President Buhari is retaining a bloated cabinet, a bloated number of Special Advisers, and bloated special aides, among other things. The Senate President and the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Dr. Tajudeen Abbas, have about 3,000 legislative aides. Like the Buhari government, the Tinubu government is also overborrowing money from abroad with little or no thought on how to repay the accumulating debts. Similar to Buhari, President Tinubu is also giving out subtle bribes, otherwise called palliatives, to the people in a bid to silence them. The Tinubu government plans to spend a whopping N3.27 trillion on palliatives alone. Like the failed Buhari’s palliative policy, the Tinubu palliative policy is already a failure. The policy is a drain for dishing out free money and bags of rice and beans to APC stalwarts and election riggers. You and I may not receive the palliatives. Assuming we did receive the palliatives, how would they help us pay our children’s exorbitant school fees or our high house rent? How would the palliatives give us access to an affordable primary healthcare system?

As we speak, bags of rice and beans, along with other palliatives, are being distributed across the country’s communities. Elder Statesman and music legend Steve Black complained that he received one bag of rice to be shared among about 147 persons. He was in a quandary about how to distribute such a small bag of rice among 147 people, so he alerted the public and the media. Just yesterday, they brought small, tiny bags of uncooked rice and beans to my office. The rice and beans, wrapped in dirty cellophane bags, looked repulsively like offerings spread across the expressways. These were Tinubu’s palliatives brought for our office staff. As I watched, they handed each of my colleagues a tiny bag. Of course, they did not dare to give me any of the bags. They knew I would have instantly driven them out of the office or called the police to arrest them for assaulting me.

Anyway, after they finished distributing the items to my colleagues, I called all of them and addressed them on why they should not have accepted the bribes. While respecting their freedom, I told them that collecting the palliatives was tantamount to cooperating in evil. I explained that we do not need palliatives in Nigeria, even in the short run. “We need good governance. We need a constant electricity supply. We need security of life and property. We want the government to patch or repair the potholes on our roads. They should not give us fish; instead, they should teach us how to fish so that we can fish all day, all month, and all year to our heart’s content,” I told them.

Of course, I was unable to convince any of them to reject the palliatives. There is hunger in the land.

The role of the government is not to distribute palliatives; the role of the government is to cultivate the enabling environment in which people can achieve their potentials and create wealth for themselves. Only in such an enabling environment can the average family be assured of shelter, food, clothing, and other basic necessities of life. But rather than creating the enabling environment for people to use their God-given talents to create wealth for themselves, the Tinubu government, like the Buhari government, is wasting money on palliatives, which are indirect ways of making money available for many idle APC supporters.

Like the Buhari government, President Tinubu’s government has launched a manhunt for citizens and journalists perceived to be too critical of this government. Plans have been perfected to bribe media proprietors in Nigeria to stop their journalists from reporting issues that will damage the reputation of the Tinubu government. Already, some mainstream media publishers have been reached to stop publishing some critical stories about President Tinubu and his drifting government. Unimaginable.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that, like the Buhari Presidency, the Tinubu Presidency is drifting into the abyss. It is preposterous and unconscionable that amid the vicious cycle of poverty plaguing Nigeria, coupled with the dwindling government income, the Tinubu Presidency and the National Assembly are embarking on an over-spending spree to satisfy their personal interests. It demonstrates that the Tinubu democracy is greatly challenged from within by the pursuit of personal interests at the expense of the common good. Mind you, the Presidency is the central focus of power and responsibility in presidential democracy. Therefore, it is essential that the Presidency functions effectively in a presidential democracy. If the President is imperiled by certificate forgery, corruption, or incompetence, then our presidential democracy will be imperiled.

Solution: We must all stand up and be counted. Like we did during the Buhari misrule, we cannot get accustomed to tolerating oddities in this Tinubu government. In a democracy such as ours, power belongs to the people. It is not true that the people have ceded their power to the power-drunk politicians. If the people fail to make their leaders accountable for their stewardship, then they should stop wondering why their leaders are making a show of their stupidity and wickedness in public. Mere lamentation on social media that some politicians are incompetent or are stealing from the government is not enough. Each one must contribute something to salvage the system. We need responsible citizenry. We want citizens’ action. In an age in which most people in the world are coming together to tackle some pressing problems, we cannot remain in our various cocoons feigning ignorance or being unmindful of the reigning injustices and evils in Nigeria. Evil thrives when the so-called good people sit back and do nothing.

*Sonnie Ekwowusi* is the Chairman, Human and Constitutional Rights Committee of the African Bar Association (AfBA)

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