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7 Viral Events That Have Embarrassed The Tinubu Presidency

 Osahon George Osayimwen analyses some individuals/events that have affected the image/reputation of Tinubu either by association or by occurrence.

Bola Tinubu

When the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Presidency happened on 29 May 2023, I was worried about how high the Lagos NURTW celebrity boy, Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo would fly. Let me emphatically state that I am not his hater nor a fan, nor am I an enemy of progress. I imagined his eagerness to relocate to the seat of power, Abuja from his base in Lagos State. His son, King West, had already bragged on social media that 'they' now own Lagos State and Nigeria together.

I imagined the fate of the Yoruba Nollywood actresses in the hands of MC Oluomo. I felt they would be like motherless day-old chicks within the vicinity of hungry hawks. But interestingly, my imagination has been totally wrong.

The gentleman has kept a very low profile in both state and federal politics since Tinubu emerged as president. In his absence, his boss - Tinubu has been frolicking with yesterday-men to feature in his presidential reality show. There is a regular pattern of news, it is either Tinubu is coming up with controversial economic policies or he is doing photo-ops with individuals of highly questionable characters.

Below are some individuals/events that have affected the image/reputation of Tinubu either by association or by occurrence:

(1) Asari Dokubo meeting:

Tinubu's meeting with the former Niger Delta militant, Asari Dokubo, at the Aso Rock Villa on 16 June 2023, hasn't aged well, due to the conduct, and displayed impetus of the latter since the parley took place. When Tinubu met with Asari and publicised the visit as an achievement, many wondered what was cooking. Asari represents the era of what I regard as the age of 'guerilla politics' and political opportunism. But Tinubu appeared proud of the visit which appears to have backfired today. Asari left Abuja with the effrontery of fanning the embers of tribalism by attacking the Igbos viciously via unguarded social media comments.  He called the Igbos slaves, mocked the incarcerated Nnamdi Kanu, labelled the Nigerian military 'oil thieves' and threatened to crush the South-easterners. He has gone further to raise a private army to annihilate the enemies of Tinubu. He also threatened the sitting governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara, with violence. That's a very daring thing to do. Shockingly, all the security agencies in Nigeria have looked away as he is an ally of the president. Many have been forced to assume that a sacred cow like Asari might be carrying out the specific instructions of Tinubu.

(2) The James Ibori encounter

I think Tinubu was better off meeting with the ex-convict, James Ibori, in the dead of the night like Nicodemus did with Jesus, as reported in the Holy Bible. Tinubu has the freedom of association, nobody is taking that away from him. But a public figure especially the first citizen of a country should consider public perception before making certain decisions. This protects you from sending the wrong messages to the general public. Tinubu didn't just meet with the convicted criminal, he paraded him like an international diplomat. Ibori in turn pledged fealty to him. Nigeria wondered about the agenda of the meeting and the nature of the bond between them. Weeks later, news emerged that a UK court had moved to seize Ibori's property worth £101.5 million. As the news broke, Tinubu's recent picture with Ibori was mostly used as the report cover image by news platforms as a soft jab at the president.

(3) Proposed N8,000 cash transfer

Part of the baggage of former President Buhari's administration in the N5,000 cash transfer scheme aimed at serving as a palliative to the 'poorest of the poor'. The process was so opaque. We don't know the identities of the recipients of this money in Nigeria, geographic location or any tangible database or public register about them. The level of accountability in the operation of social intervention programmes in Nigeria has been zero. Yet, it gulped billions of Naira. As Buhari left, Nigerians breathed a sign of relief that at least that era of 'legal corruption and madness' had ended. But guess what, Tinubu brought back the initiative and increased the money to N8,000. Tinubu targeted the conditional payment of N8,000 monthly each to 12 million poor households for six months. It had to take a massive public backlash for Tinubu to make an embarrassing U-turn by turning to agriculture.

(4) Fuel subsidy removal/floating of Naira:

With the abrupt removal of fuel subsidy, Tinubu has proven to be the proverbial person that bathed himself with petrol knowing fully well about to be set on fire. The Buhari administration attempted to remove fuel subsidy times too. Each time Buhari did, the depth of the rabbit hole was baffling. This prompted the former dictator to always reach a compromise with the labour and trade unions on fuel prices at different attempts.

Tinubu's already low popularity has continued to wane further since the removal of the fuel subsidy, coupled with his decision to float the naira. Both moves have triggered a chronic wave of inflation and high living costs in Nigeria. Even his more die-hard supporters of the 'Agbado family' are not immune to his retrogressive policies. A significant host of them have lost their voices on social media. If measured, Tinubu's popularity will be at an all-time low as he prepares for a showdown with the Nigeria Labour Congress which recently announced a forthcoming nationwide protest.

(5) The Emefiele saga:

Gone are the days when you can score cheap political points by arresting and prosecuting a public office-holder. Buhari overused this during his first tenure. As the economy suffered, Buhari's attention was focused on chasing his political enemies tagged as 'corrupt officials'. Nearly invisible funds were recovered from them and splashed on the pages of newspapers. This never improved the lives of the poor masses.  This is why the arrest and detention of the former director of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, by the Department of State Security, DSS, for alleged financial infractions means nothing to Nigerians. Imagine a man who is being widely investigated for alleged gross financial crime being arraigned in court for the purported possession of firearms. On the other hand, Asari and his private militia are working freely with threats to unleash mayhem in Nigeria. Tinubu sure makes good comedy skits!

Even when poor Emefiele was granted bail by the court, the DSS fought the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) tooth and nail to keep him in their custody. The DSS would later seek a court injunction to further detain him but lost again.

(6) Nyesom Wike as a ministerial nominee:

The fact that Tinubu offered a ministerial seat to a member of the People's Democratic Party in ex-Governor Nyesom Wike is supposed to be commendable. Tinubu should be seen as an all-inclusive leader. But the nomination further lends credence to widespread rumours about Wike's clandestine political interest in Tinubu, a member of an opposing party. Tinubu performed a political miracle in the 2023 presidential election in Rivers State. He would controversially win the election - in a traditional PDP state with a sitting PDP governor. The results today don't add up mathematically. And Wike, an unrepentant antagonist of the ruling APC makes the ministerial list? Nigerians are not as foolish as Tinubu thinks.

(7) N25,000 low-ball offer to doctors:

There is a huge pressure on Nigerian doctors to leave the shores of Nigeria for better pay and working conditions abroad. Countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, the U.S., Australia, Saudi Arabia and others are hunting for them. 6,221 Nigerian doctors have left for the UK in the past 6 years. Nigeria falls behind the World Health Organization recommendation for the number of doctors to patients - 1:600 (one doctor to 600 patients). As of October 2022, the doctor-patient ratio in Nigeria was 1:9,083. The doctors are languishing in abject poverty in their home country calling for Tinubu's intervention. Then Tinubu intervenes and offers doctors within the federal public service a sum of N25,000 as a "peculiar allowance" to be paid every three months. That's barely £25 for people as big as doctors. What a shame!

In less than three months, Tinubu has made so much impact in Nigeria; in specific terms, not-so-good impact. One wonders what the future holds for Nigerians in the next three years. We can only hope for the best.


Osahon George Osayimwen writes from England.

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