By Gbenga Akinmoyo
June 2023 is turning out to be a very interesting month in the calendar with some remarkable feats making it very hard to choose a “Personality of the Month”. Very high on the list must be Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis player who just won the Paris Open to become the first male tennis player in the world to win 23 Grand Slam Competitions with the previous record being held by Raphael Nadal at 22 Grand Slam wins.
Another close contender also in the world of sport must be Pep Guardiola, the Spanish football manager and Head Coach of Manchester City F.C. in England, who successfully manoeuvred his team past their noisy-neighbours, Manchester United, to clinch the 142nd edition of the oldest football tournament in the world, the English Football Association Challenge Cup, on 3rd June 2023 at the famous Wembley Stadium in England with a 2-1 win. Then a week later, at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey they secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Inter Milan of Italy to win the 68th edition of the UEFA Champions League Final on 10th June 2023, thereby completing a European and domestic treble of victories having also secured the English Premiership League title at the end of May 2023.
There is no doubt about the skill required by both Novak Djokovic and Pep Guardiola to achieve those outstanding feats involving tremendous mental & physical strength and coordination; acute precision; tactical nous; and superior gamesmanship to come out on top; emerging victorious in the sporting arena, at times very much against the odds.
But it may surprise you to know that my nominee for Personality of the Month of June 2023 is none other than His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Sworn-into office on 29th May 2023 he has already made some pulsating pronouncements and taken actions indicative of a President who has the “political will” to tackle some of the thorny sensitive issues that have caused stagnation in the country for several years and it’s an appetizer for more to come. In times past the landmark for assessing the performance of executive Presidents and Governors has been the conventional “First 100 Days in Office”, but President Tinubu is swiftly creating new yardstick of measurement by reducing it to the “First 40 Days in Office”, creating new milestones.
You will recall that whilst he was still meandering as President-Elect he met with the leadership of his political party the APC and evolved a controversial zoning formula which was agreed and announced by Barrister Felix Morka, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC as being a decision of the National Working Committee which was said to have the President-Elect’s approval. On the 11th May 2023, you may recall my article entitled, “APC ZONING FORMULA FOR NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IS A POLITICAL MASTERSTROKE” referencing the APC announcement of their zoning formula for the leadership elections that would produce the principal officers of the 10th National Assembly. Some called the move a political suicide; others welcomed the ambitious move of zoning but objected to the attachment of preferred specific individuals to being named for the 4 key positions of Senate President; Deputy Senate President; Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. It was my view at the time that the template had been agreed and deliberately announced, so early into lobbyist proceedings, to concentrate the minds of the major stakeholders in order to engineer a preferred outcome.
Given the fact that APC ran a much criticized Muslim-Muslim ticket for the Presidency there was intense pressure to get things right with the National Assembly, against the backdrop of a further challenge that out of the 109 Senators-Elect, 54 of them are Christians while 55 are Muslims. Whilst APC had a majority of 59 Senators against 50 controlled by 6 opposition parties, they do not enjoy that luxury in the House of Representatives.
It is the first time since 1979 that a ruling party has failed to win a majority in the two chambers of the National Assembly, so the task of delivering a full house of principal officers was further escalated. It is also the first time that as many as 8 political parties are being represented in the House of Representatives namely – APC; PDP; LP; NNPP; SDP; ADC; APGA and YPP. The threat of the so-called, “Greater Minority” was rife and led by the PDP which is the largest minority party, seemingly positioned themselves to give the ruling party a bloody nose, figuratively speaking.
President Tinubu, himself a former senator and the APC, had to deploy foot soldiers to lobby the incoming members of the red chamber to support the candidature of Akpabio/Barau, with Tinubu reportedly having to do some late night visitation to sensitize and lobby the grassroots crew on the formula that had been chosen in the interest of national unity, without denying anybody from vying for any position, as a staunch Democrat.
Today the 13th of June 2023, the National Assembly was inaugurated with both the Senate and House of Representatives electing their key Principal Officers and in spite of the machinations, intrigues, hullabaloo and horse-trading over the last three weeks or thereabouts; lo and behold the anointed candidates were all elected.
In the red chamber, Senator Godswill Akpabio secured 63 votes to defeat Senator Abdul Aziz Yari who polled 46 votes for Senate President, whilst Senator Jibrin Barau was elected as Deputy Senate President unopposed. Similarly, in the House of Representatives, Hon Abass Tajudeen polled 353 votes to defeat the other two nominated challengers, Hon Idris Wase (the former Deputy Speaker) and Hon. Sado Soli who both polled 3 votes each. Hon Benjamin Kalu was elected Deputy Speaker unopposed.
The opposition parties had threatened a repeat of the 2015 scenario wherein Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu caught the ruling party unawares and emerged as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively. However, that legislative fiasco did not see the light of day this time around and the background vocalists are now murmuring about the (s)election of a “Rubber-Stamp Legislature” with the emergence of Akpabio/Barau in the Senate and Tajudeen/Kalu in the House of Representatives. They argued that President Tinubu should not be permitted to have his way such that a radical (and at times) confrontational National Assembly is vital for a healthy democratic experience during the next four years, but I beg to disagree with that school of thought.
The Nigerian democratic travails of this 4th Republic, since 1999, is akin to the journey of a Nigerian male child growing up in one of the urban cities of the country. His first 16 years saw him journey through early adolescent years to primary and secondary school under the PDP-led administrations from 1999 to 2015; successfully graduating to the next phase in the journey of life; gaining admission to higher institution for further studies. In 2015, the young man commences a 4-year course under the Buhari-led administration, which later turned out to be an 8-year course. Now that he has graduated with a first and second degree and recently completed the compulsory one year NYSC programme, your son and my son at the tender age of 24 years is on your marks to face the challenges of the real world; real economy; realities of the Nigerian society perhaps without mum and dad holding his hands for the very first time. At this juncture, ask yourself what type of government you would like your son to face as he steps into the unknown? Is this the right time to brandish a government of experiment and unnecessary antagonism by the greater minority? Is this the time to be seeking for a senseless opposition or a sensible dynamic opposition particularly as none of the minority parties had put forward any formidable contestant(s) to challenge the APC’s anointed candidature?
In the national interest at a time like this, when the bleeding nation has much to recover from, we need the Executive and Legislature to work together in harmony, more than ever before, to create a climate conducive within the economy for full gainful employment and creative business opportunities to thrive through healthy government policies from the Executive and smooth legislative passage of laws that will give effect to those policies and diligent oversight functions by the Legislature, which some often refer to as “Rubber-Stamp Legislature”. National interest is not about brotherhood and selfish party considerations; it is about having a collective resolve to address ideologies and issues that are germane to the society at large.
The personalization of elective office and regional politics has only served to take the nation aback. I honestly cannot see any patriot calling for an Executive and Legislature in 2023 that will be at each other’s throats for the next four years with the consequential direct effect of delivering poor governance to the people of Nigeria. How does such political equation help job creation; increase GDP; reduce poverty levels and improve the standard of living of the impoverished teeming masses?
What does this 24-year old democracy require at this stage other than STEADY MEANINGFUL GROWTH AND PROGRESSION that can be occasioned by a stable relationship between the arms of government that will be a platform for an illustrious working career over the next 30 years before retirement, assuming the retirement age hovers around 65 years?
If President Tinubu can continue to deploy the visionary models that he engaged years ago that helped to transform Lagos State into the commercial nerve centre that it is today; if he assembles a squad of players and technical crew in his Cabinet like Pep Guardiola and sets them against the opposition; and if he performs tenaciously on the grass and clay courts interchangeably like Novak Djokovic, then it is virtually certain that Nigeria is on an upward trajectory and on the path to greatness with Renewed Hope and that many victories are within reach and several Grand Slam titles will be our portion as a nation, to the glory of God in heaven, the Orchestrator of Nigeria’s destiny. Trust me; a brand new Nigeria Nations is being Rebuilt and Rebirth with President Tinubu at the helm of affairs. As he Leads, will you Follow?
This article was written by Gbenga Akinmoyo (Hon GaRo), a legal practitioner, political analyst, Executive Director of Rebuild Nigeria 360° and the CEO of LeadiFollow Limited.