Opposition: The Survival of Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu in 2003.


The greatest blessing that befell the then opposition in Nigeria was in 2003 when all AD Governors lost and only Bola Tinubu survived.

If only one other Governor had been re-elected on the AD platform, the party APC would never have come into existence, much less into power.
The luck of having one major power base and controlling authority can not be ignored as I continue to share insight into the intricacies of our polity: Tinubu as the only Gov in the AD had the entire party machinery under him and nobody could successfully challenge him. Some did try: Pa Adefarati and many of the Afenifere leaders held on to the AD political apparatus for a while and for a long period, AD was factionalised between Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa and Baba Bisi Akande – the former backed by the Afenifere, the latter backed by Bola Tinubu. Fate also plays a role in these things: Baba Akande was inclined to calling the bluff of the Afenifere because Akande was a product of Bola Ige who before he died was perceived by his core supporters to have been exposed to humiliation in the Afenifere ranks – so Akande revolted.

Now, if you wanted to contest for any election in the entire SW under the AD platform, only one person could guarantee financial support and that was Tinubu. Neither Akinfenwa nor the entire Afenifere clan had such funds.

Naturally, most former AD Govs gravitated towards Tinubu.
The exception was Pa Adefarati who was from Ondo where the Afenifere power base had then shifted to through Pa Reuben Fasoranti.

Tinubu in essence then had 4 out of 6 former AD Govs with him, including himself, making five.

And when he decided to move, they also moved.
They left the AD structure for Akinfenwa and co and called their new party Action Congress – none of the former Governors could challenge Tinubu – he had the funds, the immunity of office and the political clout to dictate what direction the opposition went and by what pace.
Tinubu as the face of the AC determined who contested for what office in which state of the SW singlehandedly in 2007.

Once you got the blessing of Bourdillon, the ex-Gov in each SW state automatically fell in line with your aspiration in line with Tinubu’s command.

So Tinubu decided on Fashola for Lagos, Aregbesola for Osun, Oshiomhole for Edo, Fayemi for Ekiti, Dipo Dina in Ogun, Adegoroye in Ondo, Taoheed Adedoja in Oyo State.

All the former AD Govs had no input even in their own states – Tinubu’s word in the AC was final on these.
Only Fashola won in Lagos but all candidates proceeded to court.

Again, it was quite easy for Tinubu to discreetly decide how to go about retrieving the mandate of his men across the SW without word of it leaking to the ruling PDP since he didn’t need to consult widely. How Tinubu became friends with Justice Salami who was the President of the Court of Appeal which decided which judges sat on the tribunals, nobody knows: his circle was small, he didn’t need to consult outside his circle so nothing leaked to anyone outside the core.

Fashola meanwhile was instructed to keep up appearances with AC candidates acting like the Govs of their states in waiting: Oshiomhole, Fayemi, Aregbe all went to public functions with Fashola, projecting an almost unbelievable confidence that they would soon become Governors.
Adedoja l, not being a core Tinubu boy initially, couldn’t wait for Tinubu’s plans, so he defected to PDP in 2009.

Adegoroye in Ondo is an unserious politician so he was abandoned and Mimiko was chosen to roll with Fashola and the Govs-in-waiting.

Dipo Dina was killed in 2010.
One by one, Tinubu’s men – Oshiomhole first, Fayemi second, Aregbe third, Mimiko fourth – all became Govs by judicial decision of the tribunals and the courts of appeal: never happened before and will never happen again.

How did Bola Tinubu do it?
Only his inner core knows.
Mimiko in Ondo revolted and didn’t join AC but Tinubu effectively had Lagos, Edo, Ekiti and Osun.

Because Atiku held the AC registration documents, Tinubu decided to move on and create a new party since Atiku wasn’t even participating anymore in AC affairs – they changed to ACN.
The new documents firmly in hand, Tinubu reached out in Oyo and Ogun for alliances: Ajimobi and Amosun were forces already in the ANPP in the two states so Tinubu singlehandedly decided to woo them to the new ACN platform, supported them with all he had and they won in 2011.
Tinubu could decide who to field in any state, who to woo, which party to go to, which name to use, how to get the judiciary to cooperate and so on: singlehandedly, as the opposition.

He could determine how acerbic or diluted Lai did his job and how high or low Lai’s volume was.
At that time, singing Tinubu’s praise at ACN events was common because he was the sole director and majority shareholder of the major opposition party.

Rotimi Fashakin was the CPC spokesperson but who knew him compared to Lai Mohammed of the ACN?
Tinubu could decide whether to back GEJ in 2011 or enter into an alliance with Buhari and Bakare on the CPC platform – he was the Jagaban of the opposition forces, all by himself.

Osoba didn’t want Amosun but as long as Tinubu did, ACN fielded him – it was the same everywhere.

When people now therefore say “PDP should do it like APC did it” – I smile inwardly at what is perhaps a good-natured suggestion but not well thought out at best and naive at worst: IT IS SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE – the circumstances and structure are too different to hope to replicate.
The power bases in PDP are too many and cohesion in opposition action is therefore difficult to achieve.

For instance: ACN clandestinely launched the “Ijaw Xtian” tag against GEJ, nobody in the ACN ranks objected because the party had no strong Ijaw person or dissenting Xtian.
In PDP, it’s different: if you plan to attack for instance on the basis of ethnicity or religion, too many people will shout you down – and that’s why PDP can’t pursue those radical moves.

Where you want to go all out and attack, some will tell you not to put them in trouble.
And it’s not even an ethnic or religious thing: It’s a crowd thing and when you have many power bases, you cannot expect cohesiveness in action as you would have with an opposition where there’s a single base of power controlled by one main person with others deferring to him.
But as it was that what in 2003 was thought to be a weakness for the AD turned out to be a strength, the ‘weakness’ of multiple power bases of PDP can also be a strength.

PDP can only thrive as a very large unit, acting in one direction and with absolute unity and cohesion.
And that’s where the work is: uniting the party across all states.

ANYTHING beyond that is a distraction.

If PDP loses in 2019, it won’t be because it didn’t play opposition like APC did, no!

It’ll be because it didn’t harness its own Strength of Numbers by Unity – simple.
And that’s what the party is focused on: just yesterday, I hear Elder Yemi Akinwonmi managed to unite the Oyo State factions and Baba Ladoja isn’t going anywhere – yet to confirm if the unity is real but it’s a step forward.

And same is happening everywhere for PDP.
Forget all the talk of APC played dirty opposition: if PDP was strongly united in purpose and mission as at 2015, if the GEJ ambition hadn’t divided the party, APC will still be doing opposition today.

That was the biggest reason why PDP lost, everything else is a lesser factor.
Our supporters should keep the faith and stay the course: if PDP is united, there is no greater electoral machine in the entire Africa – and I say that with every sense of responsibility, not exaggerating or boasting.

I always say: There is more that one way to kill a catfish.

And there’s a lesson here also for us in our personal lives: your twin brother’s path to success is not necessarily your own path to success. What works for one may not work for others – find your own strength from within and operate in line with it.

Chart your own course.
Another lesson to apply in your personal life: what you think is a weakness is sometimes a strength if you observe it closely enough and know how to harness it.

Unattractive people develop manners (or comic talents) that attractive people sometimes never learn nor need.
Yet another lesson: you don’t have to change what you are doing to become successful – I remember when oil and gas was the fad and everyone wanted in.

Someone became a millionaire in Lagos by importing handkerchiefs you buy for 50 Naira.

Get into yourself and stick with it.

~ Demola Olarewaju


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