TINUBU: The Icarus Candidate


EXPRESSO 》》》By Steve Osuji

It may be uncharitable to call the mission dead on arrival, but the campaign is already as wonky as it can get. Call him Icarus man, rich in hubris and ambition, daring to fly even through the sun. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, BAT, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), may well be described as the Icarus candidate.

Remember Icarus in Greek mythology whose father makes him a contraption of wings using beewax to beat an escape. Father warns him never to fly too low nor too high lest he comes to a certain peril. But Icarus glides into the atmosphere and gets giddy as he conquers heights never attained by any. Why should I not defy the sun, Icarus thinks to himself; that would be the ultimate conquest, he thinks, forgetting earlier injunctions and his constitution. Pronto, the sun melts his wax before he nears it and Icarus comes crashing into the sea.

Is BAT by any chance suffering the Icarus syndrome? Is his candidacy and indeed, his entire political ambition ending the way of Icarus? Is he flying too close to the sun?

A few recent happenings in the political scape is casting BAT in the image of Icarus. First, Hajia Na’jatu Mohammed, the heavyweight decampee from the BAT political camp has painted BAT as authoritarian and autocratic; one who believes he has all the wisdom, intellect and wherewithal to win the presidential diadem come February 25.

Hajia Mohammed suggested that BAT has practically side-lined everyone in the party, and is currently running a solo campaign. She pointed out that hitherto, governors would organise and bankroll major rallies in their states. But not so with BAT, he funds even state rallies at humongous cost. Meaning that the party is all but in his pocket.

The first sign of BAT’s overarching presence was when he singlehandedly nominated the campaign team at both the Presidential and party levels. The APC Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu had thrown the list back at BAT complaining that the party had no hand in it. Some concessions were made here and there but the scar has remained.

The result of BAT’s seeming high-handedness is seen in the near-solo campaign effort of the APC candidate.

In the first place, the APC primary came in a gale of rancour and bad-blood. The Vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, supposedly a BAT protege joined the race in defiance of his old boss. BAT himself was obdurate, defying every wise counsel to remain a king maker. He wants to be king against daunting odds. It’s my turn to be king, he insists.

President Muhammadu Buhari and the powers that seem not quite enamoured of his ambition. BAT would have lost the APC primary but for the enfant terrible of Kaduna State, Governor Nasir el Rufai who rallied northern APC governors to back BAT and give him the ticket. Of course, the pecuniary toll on BAT is reportedly princely. Plus the fact that el Rufai is not altogether altruistic in his gesture being perceived as Nigeria’s master of intrigues and dark politics.

Now, over three months gone in the game and less than one month to the election day, BAT’s campaign can be said to be in the doldrums and APC in tatters. What are the sore points:

First, the small matter of Muslim-Muslim ticket which BAT was warned about and which he haughtily waved away as no issue, has continued to haunt him. His choice of Kassim Shettima as running mate is outright calamitous, to put it mildly.

Second, Icarus has been flying close to the sun and the APC campaign has been on the verge of crashing into the sea. But BAT remains heedless and obdurate.

He made no attempt whatsoever to reconcile the ‘fallen villains’ of the APC primary diadem. The Vice-president, for instance, is considered a traitor and enemy of BAT and his grand ambition. He’s still being vilified and antagonised till date. They probably await the opportunity to consign him to purgatory where in their poor opinion, ‘traitors’ belong.

The other aspirants, party lords and bigwigs in their rights, were never reconciled nor their sensitivities assuaged. Consider the likes of Chibuike Amaechi, the donkey who heaved APC on his bare back and led its campaign in 2015 and 2019, who is now in limbo. Also left to mourn are Ogbonnay Onu, a grandee of the party as well as Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State. Others are Rochas Okorocha, Emeka Nwajiuba, and Chris Ngige, to mention a few.

These are staunch party stalwarts from the southeast and south south. These zones are ill represented in BAT’s campaign and scheme. They don’t seem to matter as long as BAT is concerned.

To cut to the chase, the BAT campaign is akin to Icarus flirting around the sun in a mortal folly and quite unbeknownst to him. How’s it that the party chairman, Abdullahi Adamu is hardly at APC rallies if he’s truly the chairman? VP Osinbajo has NEVER showed up. Decidedly so. Amaechi, Umahi, Rochas, Orji Kalu, Onu, etc are nowhere to he found. APC was in Anambra the other day and Ngige was evident only in his absence.

Even el Rufai and his gang of northern governors, supposedly the backbone of BAT, seem to be on the back foot.

And now, what may be described as Armageddon may be at hand. Upfront, armageddon in Christendom depicts the final battle between the forces of good and evil. But this Armageddon may well represent the epiphany of Nigeria’s old order; something akin to the battle of evils vanquishing themselves.

In this fight for the soul of Nigeria, President Buhari is either squeamish about being succeeded by BAT or he seeks to redeem his legacy and statesmanship by ensuring an unimpeachable election. Whatever it may be, he has managed to remove himself from most of APC campaign and he has set up measures to ensure that no candidate has an undue advantage, especially on February 25th. That would be a most noble gesture; Buhari would have bribed history to be kind to him if he pull through an unblemished election in a few weeks.

Finally, BAT, the mythical Icarus candidate, has simply lived up to his own myths. From a humble background (some would say from no background) to become the greatest kingmaker in Nigeria’s political history. But like Icarus, he would dare the sun.

He forgets his beeswax trajectory. He sidelines the rump of his party seeking to grab Nigeria’s top job with freeloading yes-men and popinjays like Femi Fani-Kayode and mealy- mouthed Festus Kayamo. Worms without middle who wiggle from puke to pooh. They are devoid of character nor wise counsel. Their essence is their stomach and cash stash.

But who can tell the ways of the gods. In a short few weeks, the ballot shall be cast and barring any hitches, a new president would emerge. Would BAT defy the gods and blaze through the sun. Or would he come down crashing into the sea of infamy?


■OSUJISTEVE/03.02.23


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