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APC leadership imbrioglio and nattering nabobs of Pavlovian conditioning

Published by The Nation on Sun, 05 Jul 2020

By Tiko OkoyoIT is no longer news that President Muhammadu Buhari decided to attend an extraordinary meeting of the partys National Executive Committee (NEC) summoned by the public face of one of the two major factions vying for control of the party structures ahead of 2023. And simply because the Adams Oshiomhole-led national working committee was disbanded and a caretaker/special convention committee was established to temporarily hold the fort, the number of traducers hurling long knives at the throat of the partys national leader and former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu has increased.And this is where the choice of this essays caption comes into play. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist best noted in the field of psychology for his discovery of classical conditioning. In a nutshell, Pavlov determined that by ringing a bell just before feeding his experimental dogs, they soon came to equate the sound of a bell with food and began salivating in anticipation. It now seems that the name Tinubu has equally become a conditioned stimulus guaranteed to reflexively elicit barking by a boisterous lot.While some of them gloat that Tinubu has finally received his comeuppance for allegedly betraying Goodluck Jonathan in the past, others gleefully announced that his erstwhile political mentees have started abandoning him in droves, just as rats abandon a sinking ship. Some have poured scorn on his well-known title of national leader in the aftermath of an impolitic gaffe by a presidential aide that with Buhari finally intervening to staunch the leadership haemorrhage, he has unequivocally demonstrated who the authentic national leader is. Then there are also those hopping on the bash-Tinubu bandwagon chiefly to ingratiate themselves to an influential politician from the South-South perceived to be the major beneficiary of Buharis decision to side with the Giadom-led faction.But the take of former aviation minister and notable political party ratter, Femi Fani-Kayode, tops the billing. He magisterially declared that It is over for Tinubu. He has been thrown under the bus and retired from politics. But not before accusing Tinubu of betraying and selling everything and everyone in Nigeria just to feed and satisfy his psychotic obsession and blind ambition.Betrayal of Jonathan' Isnt it the same Tinubu then Acting President Jonathan ran to on the eve of the 2011 presidential election to successfully extract a promise to gift him a South-West block vote at the expense of his own partys (Action Congress of Nigeria) presidential candidate (Nuhu Ribadu)' Shouldnt betrayal be made of sterner stuff' Besides, just how and when did unqualified support for Jonathan become the acid test for measuring loyalty'The objective of political parties is to jostle for, attain and retain political power, and both the Constitution and Electoral Act clearly outline the procedures and processes for doing so. Tinubu and Jonathan have never belonged to the same political party. So, how does one partys resolute quest to corner the same highly coveted prize with a mutually exclusive outcome translate into a betrayal' Even so, can Jonathan himself be absolved of betraying anyone or section in his determination to attain and hold presidential power between 2009 and 2015'Psychotic obsession and blind ambition' The premature permutations of the scheming young Turks within the APC notwithstanding, what is really blind and obsessive about Tinubus yet-to-be-declared presidential ambition' The same hubris was mealy-mouthed about the likes of Buhari, Senegals Abdoulaye Wade, Ghanas Nana Akufo-Addo and Americas Abraham Lincoln, among many others, until they put their detractors to shame'If Tinubu does indeed harbour an ambition to be president, shouldnt the more pertinent questions centre around whether he has the constitutional right to do so, whether he is eligible to contest for the post and, if given his antecedents, he is in any position to positively shift the needle of the compass of presidential leadership in this nation'Used and dumped by President Buhari and a cabal' Yes, the fate that befell the Oshiomhole-led faction Tinubu is said to favour can be easily seen as portending a clear and present danger to Tinubus rumoured presidential ambition. But just think of the number of times the same traducers have falsely cried wolf! No objective analyst of the fallouts from the extraordinary meeting of the APC NEC would make such a sweeping statement.Dissolution of the national working committee has left Tinubu down in the dumps' Reports even had it that Giadom was left in utter shock and disbelief as no one from his faction was listed among the members of the caretaker and special convention committee. Furthermore, he was reportedly stopped from addressing the press right after the NEC meeting ended. There is no way one can peruse the names of those appointed to fill non-statutory posts in the caretaker without noticing Tinubus imprimatur. Besides, Tinubu has issued a press statement expressing his total support for every action taken by President Buhari.Abandoned by erstwhile mentees and estranged political godsons' Truth is that despite the spirited denials by all the parties involved there is considerable disquiet within the Tinubu political family. But there is certainly no need to make such a song and dance about something that is common with every past and present politician with national name recognition. Besides, was it not the same Femi Fani-Kayode who, while passing his verdict on the Oshiomhole/Obaseki imbroglio, castigated the latter for violating a cardinal principle in the game of politics: being overambitious to the point of becoming disloyal to a political godfather and biting the finger that fed one'That Tinubu has easily become both the question and answer of Nigerian politics certainly speaks volumes about the trajectory of his foray into politics. Tinubu has cut his political teeth and earned his dues by working very diligently and playing smart politics. There is no gainsaying that his ascendancy to the pinnacle of political influence in the South-West and extensive national reach were bound to stoke incendiary fires of envy and malice. It is only at the tree loaded with fruit that the people throw stones.For a politician of his mettle, Tinubu has no illusions about those apoplectic with rage at his political ascendency nor should be uncommonly concerned about apostates. As long as he keeps playing the cards close to his chest his deliberate efforts to maintain a dignified silence would continue to provoke invectives from traducers fearful of what his candidacy would mean to their own ambitions.Elections in Nigeria will for the foreseeable future continue to be won and lost at the polling booths and not on social media platforms. So, Tinubu must take this poignant admonition of English statesman and writer Edmund Burke to heart: Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern tree make the field ring with their importunate chinkdo not imagine that those who make the most noise are the only inhabitants of the field.Okoye, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja
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