The Tinubu Brand: Tragedy of Unforced Errors

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Bola Ahmed Tinubu – APC Presidential Flagbearer

By Nnanke Harry Willie

The Tinubu brand aka BAT is much loved and promoted in certain quarters but the brand is equally hugely detested and maligned in other quarters. One can say that there is no middle ground for any stakeholder in the Nigerian political scene, you are either for Tinubu or against him! He has made great friends and great enemies for himself in the course of his chequered political career.

His fans and loyalists are deeply enamoured with him for what they believe he has done to benefit their careers and lives and would go overboard to support any venture and decision that Bola Ahmed Tinubu asks them to support.

His most bitter detractors and political rivals on the other hand are mainly former political partners who believe that Tinubu had over-reached himself in trying to push his personal interests or tried to curtail their own individual ambitions. A lot of these have happened through unforced errors committed by the man Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu himself.

For a celebrated strategist, it is curious that Bola Tinubu did not make peace with major Yoruba blocs before proceeding with his presidential campaign journey. In his first term as Lagos state governor, Tinubu broke ranks with Afenifere which played a critical role in his emergence as governor and ever since there has been no love lost between him and the organization. The smart thing to have done would have been to go back and make peace with the group but for inexplicable reasons, he didn’t. The same applies to the Odua Peoples’ Congress.

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The second category of unforced errors is not making peace with his erstwhile disciples such as Babatunde Fashola, Akinwunmi Ambode, Muiz Banire, Olorunnimbe Mamora, Rauf Aregbesola and a plethora of other star politicians from the South with whom had long fallen out in very avoidable ego slug fests.

A recurring complaint against the Jagaban Borgu is his tendency towards the diminution of rising stars in his firmament. Most of those stars are presently either aloof towards his campaign or totally against it. It goes without saying that the bitter hate campaign against Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo in the run-up to the APC primaries has festered deep open wounds that are unlikely to heal before the 2023 elections. There are some things that money and position cannot buy for some men; Tinubu should have known by now how to manage the egos and ambitions of his own rising stars.

BAT’s unforced error number three is the recent tendency for Tinubu to speak extempore or speak off-script. This has created more problems than good for his campaign. The first wrong move was actually in announcing that becoming president of Nigeria was his ‘life-long ambition’. Though this is factual, it is unlikely to sit well with Nigerians who are not his supporters. An emphasis to serve the nation would have been more like it. It gave the unfortunate impression that Tinubu was desperate and was ready to do anything to achieve that ambition even if it is not in the best interest of Nigeria at this time.

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The above gaffe pales in significance however when compared with the recent Abeokuta outburst where he screamed ‘Emi lokan’ (It’s my turn) and seemingly derided President Muhammadu Buhari as having failed three times as a presidential aspirant and only succeeded when he (Bola Tinubu) went to repackage him and successfully put him in office. This story was most unnecessary in such a gathering. The APC chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, subsequently frowned at this and, clearly, he and many of his fellow northern politicians may not really have forgiven Tinubu over the unfortunate issue despite what seems to be playing out in the interim.

The fourth unforced error by Tinubu must, of course, be the rather ill-advised decision to pick a Muslim as his running mate for the presidential elections despite his being a Muslim himself. This is particularly numbing against the background that there was a phenomenal push against it from a cross-section of Nigerians, including some of his very close associates such as Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). Indeed, Lawal has openly warned that he and Christians in the north will work assiduously against the ticket. This was all so unnecessary. Clearly, Tinubu took the wrong counsel on this, the mood of the country is not right for this.

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As if to rub salt on injury, Nigerians woke up to trending videos of alleged rented fake pastors who ‘graced’ the official unveiling of Kashim Shetima and the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC. This was apparently to make it look as though all the hue and cry against the Muslim/Muslim ticket was a ruse. It was, to say the least, quite disingenuous.

Perhaps, Tinubu’s greatest unforced error is putting the realization of his presidential ambition and faith in the hands of a group of people who had originally vehemently opposed his candidacy as the APC presidential flag bearer until, perhaps, after Atiku Abubakar emerged as the PDP candidate and subsequently enjoyed a torrent of Dollar rains in Abuja during the APC primaries.

Can Tinubu correct his unforced errors? Can he slow down on this brand-decimating trajectory, or will he continue to dig deeper into this cul de sac?

The ball is BAT’s to play.

Nnanke Harry Willie is the Audacious Brand Champion