BOLA TINUBU’S REPUTATION, as a political “giant”, as his followers acclaim him, may be heading for tatters, if caution is not exercised in his public utterances. Two major pronouncements by Tinubu, on issues of strategic national importance, which he embarrassingly faltered, set him up for adverse public criticism. His handlers, on both incidents, were on their knees with public apology, and carried out damage control.
The event in Kano State, in March 2021, will not be forgotten by Tinubu and Nigerians in a hurry. At a well-attended 12th Bola Tinubu Colloquium, to mark his 69th birthday, Tinubu told his distinguished audience that Nigeria needed to recruit “50 million” youths into the Nigerian Army, to stem insurgency in the country. That figure is about a quarter of Nigeria’s population, and the public was alarmed.
Swiftly, Tinubu’s Media Aide, Tunde Rahman, issued a statement that Tinubu meant to suggest the recruitment of 50,000 youths as security personnel for the armed forces, and not 50 million, he “mentioned in error”. The statement added that Bola Tinubu, regrettably, admitted the “error” in his address during the Kano Colloquium marking his birthday.
Rahman’s statement noted: “Asiwaju seeks the expansion of security personnel by 50,000 for the armed forces, not the 50 million that was mentioned in error. It was an accidental verbal mistake of which we all commit from time to time especially when reciting a series of large numerical figures. He did not mean 50 million, which is almost a quarter of our total population”.
Rahman added: “Please forgive any confusion due to this innocent error. The most vital thing is that he set forth a wise and timely approach that would help us face two of today’s stiffest challenges. It is in the spirit that we hope you view and assess his proposal for it seeks to provide a way for more youths to participate in building a greater, safer, and more prosperous country”.
YET ANOTHER MISLEADING claim by Bola Tinubu, last week, is that the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, issued by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, have “expired”. INEC, the issuing authority, and Nigerians were irked. Some women party leaders paid Tinubu a visit in Abuja, on his presidential bid in 2023. Tinubu, at the occasion, told the women that INEC’s PVCs in their possession, and in possession of other citizens, have “expired”.
Tinubu’s words: “In case they do not announce to you on time, the PVC you have has expired. Take one family member, two family members, knock on all doors and make sure that the new registration… Because they may not announce to you on time. The PVCs you have has expired. Yes”. A video on Tinubu’s claim trended on the social media with public reactions.
INEC reacted and countered Tinubu’s claim. The electoral body told Nigerians that the PVCs in their possession have not expired, and remain valid for future elections. That Nigerians who already have PVCs issued to them, do not need to register for another PVCs to be issued. INEC reminded Nigerians that double or multiple registrations of PVCs is an offence against the law.
Tunde Rahman, Tinubu’s Media Aide, again, to the rescue. He issued a statement apologising for Tinubu’s misleading statement on the claimed expiration of INEC’s issued PVCs. He said: “Immediately upon being apprised of this, Asiwaju apologised for the incorrect statement and felt sorry for any confusion it may have caused”.
BOTH INCIDENCES attracted public comments, that seemed not to revere, the astute politician, and a Chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC. More so, as he bids to occupy the highest office of Nigerian presidency. Major concern by analysts, is why Tinubu would not have his facts right and checked, on sensitive national issues, before his public pronouncements on them.
Some analysts have wondered if age factor was setting in on Tinubu. Tinubu is 69, by his age declaration; and considered still vibrant. To Tinubu’s followers, it is flawed to raise age issue. It will be dismissed with the wave of hand. But to concerned Nigerians, it is of vital concern. No half-measures, this time around, they insist, to ascending Nigeria’s presidency, which Tinubu is craving to occupy.
The present state of Nigeria’s economic, political and social misery, analysts say, requires skillfully endowed and pragmatic president, to lead from all fronts, to advance national development. They have argued that the decline in the nation’s fortunes in the last six years of Buhari’s administration, owes a lot to leadership, and taking matters for granted.
Ahead of Buhari’s emergence as a presidential candidate of the ruling APC, and eventually becoming president of Nigeria, in 2015, analysts say, Tinubu was at the helms of affairs. He strongly championed Buhari’s candidacy, despite resentments and concern about Buhari’s presidency. They said Tinubu cannot excuse himself from the “nation’s misery” of the past six years.
Properly interrogating Tinubu’s presidential ambition, analysts say, is significantly important. An emerging Nigeria’s president in 2023, they insist, should in addition to being adequately qualified and competent, needs to be in good physical and mental health, with medical proof. This time around, they insisted, no half-measures.