The demystification of Jagaban Borgu, By Ikechukwu Amaechi

It took less than 60 days for the fabled political wizardry and leadership ingenuity of President Bola Tinubu, the Jagaban Borgu, to unravel. In fact, the jury is still out as to who, between him and his predecessor, former President Muhammadu Buhari, unravelled faster. Some say Tinubu did. At this stage in Buhari’s presidency, his so-called ‘body language’ still enthralled many. Not so for Tinubu – there is no body, not to talk of language.

At the end of the day, the biggest tragedy of the unfolding saga is the likelihood of comparing Tinubu to Buhari and the former president, warts and all, besting him. That will be the day! So far, there is practically nothing Tinubu has done better than Buhari in Aso Rock, yet, we were told he would hit the ground running.


He hit the ground and fell flat on his face and those who were busy insulting anyone who dared to ask candidate Tinubu questions before the election are today pleading for understanding and time. But time is a luxury that we can ill-afford in the prevailing circumstance.

Before his inauguration on May 29, Tinubu’s spin doctors promoted him as the best thing that happened to Nigeria’s democracy. He is a quintessential democrat, an astute politician, they ululated; a technocrat par excellence with the axiomatic Midas touch in public office. He is the father of Modern Lagos, they crowed, and a rule of law aficionado. Nigeria is lucky to have Tinubu as president, they chorused. All he has to do in Abuja to pull the country back from the precipice is to recreate the ‘Lagos magic.’

Tinubu amplified that chorus line in his inaugural speech: “Our administration shall govern on your behalf but never rule over you. We shall consult and dialogue but never dictate. We shall reach out to all but never put down a single person for holding views contrary to our own. We are here to further mend and heal this nation, not tear and injure it.”

He further listed five principles, which he said will guide his administration. And first is a solemn vow: “Nigeria will be impartially governed according to the constitution and the rule of law.”


But it is no surprise that the Tinubu administration failed in the very first rule of law test – the Godwin Emefiele travails in the hands of the presidency-supervised Department of State Services (DSS) – because, to borrow a local parlance, all the hype is nothing other than ‘packaging.’ Tinubu is the exact opposite of the picture painted of him by his minions.


The president is not a democrat and has no respect for the rule of law. He has the reflexes of a dictator – a maximum ruler who brooks no contrary views. For him, politics is a zero-sum game where the winner takes all. Many Nigerians seem to have forgotten that Tinubu holds the dubious record of being the only governor in this Fourth Republic that had three deputies.


He took oath of office on May 29, 1999 as Governor of Lagos with Senator Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor as deputy. But by 2002, the Afenifere chieftain had fallen out of favour and was humiliated out of office. Even Femi Pedro, the investment banker with whom Tinubu started his second term in 2003 as deputy governor, equally fell out of favour, was demeaned and forced to resign. He completed his second term with Prince Abiodun Ogunleye, a chartered accountant, who today has the unflattering record of Nigeria’s shortest serving deputy governor – 13 days only.


Elections are the hallmark of democracy and for elections to express the will of the electorate, they must be free and fair. Tinubu does not believe in the tenets of free and fair polls. He is a disciple of the Machiavellian school of thought that believes in the end justifying the means, a philosophy he expounded so eloquently in London in December 2022.

In a video that went viral shortly after his Chatham House outing late last year, Tinubu was seen admonishing top APC operatives in London to grab power by all means – fair and foul – in the 2023 elections.


“Political power is not going to be served in a restaurant. They don’t serve it a la carte. At all cost, fight for it, grab it and run with it,” he told them. And that was exactly what he did on February 25 that has thrown the country into a paroxysm.

He has lived by that philosophy all his political life, deploying ruthless methods, including using maximum violence to scuttle voting in opposition strongholds, particularly in Lagos. As president, he has no qualms replicating the same formula nationwide going forward. In Lagos, Musiliu Akinsanya, alias MC Oluomo, is the enforcer. Could that be the role Asari Dokubo is being primed to play at the national level? Time will tell.


Is Tinubu the architect of modern Lagos? I doubt if anyone will, in good conscience, answer in the affirmative. That honour, many believe, should be bestowed on Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who was governor in the Second Republic.

In the 50 months that Jakande governed Lagos, the poor breathed. His administration introduced housing and educational programmes that targeted the poor, built new neighbourhood primary and secondary schools and provided free primary and secondary education. He established the Lagos State University and the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, constructed over 30,000 housing units, including low cost estates; completed the General Hospital in Gbagada and Ikorodu and built over 20 health centres. The metroline project he started to facilitate mass transit was stymied by the Buhari junta that sacked the Second Republic.


So, what exactly did Tinubu achieve in Lagos State that advertised him for the job of being President of Nigeria? Okay! He was an efficient tax collector who increased the internally generated revenue (IGR) of Lagos from about N600 million monthly in 1999 to about N6 billion monthly by the end of his tenure in 2007.

But good governance is not all about taxing the people, exactly what he has found out with the splurge of taxes, which is what the sudden removal of fuel subsidy, proposed increase in electricity tariff, hike in school fees, import duties, etc., is all about. Governance must have a human face and a leader must have the milk of human kindness and empathy.

In just two months, President Tinubu now has the dubious record of throwing more Nigerians into the poverty loop than any other administration – military or civilian – in Nigeria’s chequered 63-year history.


What is even more galling is his unpreparedness. To imagine that two months after Tinubu thundered at his inauguration that “subsidy is gone,” the president has no clue whatsoever what to do to reduce the suffering of Nigerians because there is no actionable plan, hence the resort to Buharinomics. Borrowing the Buhari template of cash transfer to ghosts, literally, is the greatest disembowelling of the so-called genius.

To imagine that it has taken a man who said Nigeria’s presidency was his life-long ambition, a man who knew from the time he picked the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that he would be declared winner of the February 25 poll willy-nilly and five months after he was declared winner, regardless, to accomplish the simple task of compiling his ministerial list.

Perhaps as you are reading this, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, will finally be reading out the names of the would-be ministers. But that will only be because the law now says the president must present a ministerial list to the National Assembly not later than 60 days after inauguration. If not, we may well have faced the embarrassing situation, once again, where it took the president six months to draw up a list of cabinet members.


It is a double whammy for a president who professes rule of law to sit down in his office and watch the DSS, an agency of state directly under his purview, flagrantly disobey court order as it did on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Lagos where the suspended Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, was arraigned without a whimper. The only reason why the DSS would act so recklessly was because their action had presidential imprimatur.


Welcome to the Jagaban country – a country where thousands of citizens are thrown into abject poverty everyday; where poor implementation of policies has worsened an already precarious situation; a country where gangsters and thugs are treated like royalty even as they flaunt their private army and brandish sophisticated weapons.


Could all these be what it means to be an astute politician? Maybe! But this astuteness pushes Nigeria dangerously to the edge.

As Tinubu wilfully abdicates presidential responsibilities, handing same to unelected aides, some of them boasting that they have become Nigeria’s de facto Prime Minister, the only reason why Nigeria has not erupted in mass protests is because the propagandists are in Aso Rock. The vuvuzelas who know how to psyche up the people and wheedle the unwary with lies and whoopla are in power.


But one thing is clear. Events in the last two months have proved that the fabled Tinubu phenomenon is nothing but a farce and this ride which Nigerians have been forced to hitch with the rickety emi lo kan wagon will be bumpy. One hopes he does not crash Nigeria.


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