Since the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate Bola Tinubu made his infamous speech about saboteurs trying to scuttle his election in Ogun State, recently the airwaves have been agog with conspiracy theories. Of course, he did not name anyone but he gave speculators enough homework when he lamented that the protracted fuel crisis and the ongoing Naira redesign exercise were contrived to frustrate him. Nigerians that get excited by conspiracies have spilled a lot of ink trying to determine the nature of the rift between him and incumbent president Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Yet, when you really look at his jeremiad closely enough, what you see is a presidential candidate taking the parasitism for which his party is well known another notch by feeding on the pain and trauma of Nigerians.
Politicians who have subjected Nigerians to suffering due to corruption and administrative incompetence are not ready to let up. Rather than them keep quiet—since they have no clue how to resolve the problems they caused—they are still stealing people’s pain to shore up their uninspiring candidacy. For Tinubu to turn the multiple failure of an administration he sponsored into power into a conspiracy against his personal ambition is selfish, narcissistic, and outright manipulative behaviour. This is merely a self-seeking campaign by a politician trying to make himself a victim of the failure of his cohort of politicians. Do not buy it.
Whatever is between him and Buhari will be resolved (or not, who cares?) Their issues predate the coming election and contribute zero to alleviating the realities of everyday Nigerians whose sweat, blood, and toll are serially extracted to keep these dead woods alive. Tinubu’s wife, Remi, once said during a television interview that Buhari used her husband to win elections and then thrashed him. Do not let the people who otherwise do not see you turn the coming election into a narrative of triumph at your expense. Let the dead bury their dead.
The people who have been steadfastly blind to all these years of Nigerians’ suffering are suddenly realising that the conditions in the country are severe enough to jeopardize their election. Those of us who have complained about the hardship for years have been attacked for it. Now that they see how it will affect them, they want to acknowledge that people are truly suffering. Tinubu wants to turn the hardship around in his favour by asking people to consider defying the circumstances to vote them into power—again—as an act of revolution. But what exactly will be revolutionary about voting people who have spent two terms gaslighting you other than sustaining you enjoyed the suffering they inflicted on you? To vote a government that has performed so woefully back into power again is to affirm that you deserve to suffer.
It is funny seeing Tinubu’s errand boys running with the conspiracy theory to mobilise opinions in favour of their paymaster. Even eminent lawyer Itse Sagay echoed the sentiment when he said, “…when people in responsible positions begin to create hardship and annoyance and anger in the population which will be directed against the government, just before an election, the effect of that is that the government is going to be blamed by the voters and they may decide out of anger to vote for another party. It will drive away votes from the ruling party which they will blame for the conditions and circumstances being created by these very dangerous people.” Sagay’s head must be so deeply buried between the thighs of his APC friends that he thinks the sentiments that will drive voters against them is simply about the recent development of the naira redesign. All these while we have endured insecurity, inflation, serial fuel crisis, 98 power grid breakdowns, power abuses, shrinking economic opportunities, multi-dimensional poverty, unemployment, extended ASUU strikes, and overall diminished quality of life but it only just occurred to him that disaffected citizens cast disaffected votes? Under which rock has he been living?
One other thing you must have noticed about the APC campaign is how stuck they are in the defensive mode. They have spent a good part of their corporate existence as the ‘opposition’ party and they cannot shed that bogus identity. It is how they know to campaign. Even while in power, they cannot function unless they pose to be the embattled party. Especially now that little to show for their eight years in power, they need an abstract force to demonise so as to take the heat from them and direct it elsewhere. For instance, the same Tinubu took his campaign to Makurdi, Benue State, only to start blaming the PDP for the fuel shortage! Perhaps seeing how much of Buhari’s irritation he incurred must have incurred with his earlier speech in Ogun, he was so desperate to find another agent to take the blame that he reached for their favourite hobby horse. It did not matter that the PDP that left almost eight years ago and half of their members have defected—and were heartily welcomed—into the APC. Given how badly the Peoples Democratic Party has been diminished since 2015, it takes another level of ineptitude for the APC to still be so vulnerable to their machinations. They should find better lies to tell; their imagination is stale.
Tinubu is not the only one in the race but he is the one who pathetically whines each time things are not going his way. How many of the governorship candidates or those running for the legislature at state and federal levels have been crying that the currency redesign is a conspiracy against them? There is a consistent pattern of him making himself look like a poor lamb about to be devoured by the big bad wolf of strongmen politicians. It rings insincere to the discerning. If the man ever becomes president, you already know his standard excuse when he cannot fulfil his campaign promises.
If not for the election, would it have mattered to them that they dealt Nigerians a bad hand all these years? After all these years of turning deaf ears to the cries of Nigerians, they have suddenly realised that the architects of our misfortune are ‘very dangerous’ people summoning disaffection against them. Nigerians faced serious crises of insecurity they were quick to play down the issues in the name of politics. When the daughter of an Afenifere leader, Funke Olakunrin, was killed, Tinubu could not directly confront the circumstances of her death. He was too cowardly to offend those who would hand him power so he more or less made light of her death. His response to #EndSARS was similarly pathetic. Now that he wants votes, he is throwing a pity party. He is making the raging hardship in the land into the grounds for which his political ambition becomes necessary and which would culminate in moral victory if he wins.
His appropriation of the punishment they have inflicted on Nigerians and making it about himself is parasitical. Those who are easily swayed by such cheap tactics will go to the polling booths believing they are standing against some oppositional force. These people have nothing in store for anyone. They did not need you before the election and they will not need you the moment they win. The defiant vote you should cast should be one that asserts that you are not too impoverished by the suffering of the last eight years to say “enough!” to their nonsense.