Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos, has emerged winner of the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Confess (APC). The party’s national convention began yesterday in Abuja. Other top contenders for the ticket were Nigeria’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, and Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State.
Reactions have continued to trail the emergence of Bola Tinubu. Many Nigerians stayed glued to their television screens late into the night watching the proceedings of the convention. They were hopeful that their favourite candidate would win. As the candidates presented their manifestos to the delegates, Nigerians were impressed with Yemi Osinbajo’s brilliance and hoped he would win the party’s ticket but he did not.
The presidential race began to look interesting when Yemi Osinbajo declared his interest to contest for the APC ticket. Many observers had doubted that Osinbajo had the courage to challenge Bola Tinubu, his former boss. In the weeks that followed, both father and son crisscrossed Nigeria, canvassing support for their candidature.
Osinbajo is loved by the people for his brilliance, eloquence and ready grasp of the issues confronting the country. He also impressed people with how he handled the country the few occasions he was acting president. Tinubu, on the other hand, was not so warmly accepted for his age and health status and what others described as his feeling of entitlement to the Nigerian presidency. The bulk of young Nigerians on the social media were pushing for Osinbajo, but it was APC delegates that voted and they returned Bola Tinubu, their benefactor.
The reactions trailing Tinubu’s emergence as APC presidential candidate show that there are lessons which Nigerians haven’t learned. One such lesson is that nation-building, just as nation-destroying, is a tedious venture. Part-time efforts sprinkled on social media per election year cannot overcome full-time efforts. For more than thirty years, Tinubu deliberately built a political empire transcending the entire South-West Nigeria. He invested in it full time with every breath in his lungs. Whatever his goals have been, he is closer to them now than when he started.
For the most part, the political system does not respond to outsiders. The government of the people by the people is not for all people, but for the few who participate. The message to young Nigerians who are not happy today is this – go home all of you and participate. Join a political party. You can get your degree or job alongside, but never forget that if your country is destroyed, very little of whatever you have will remain.
In the past, the two major political parties left forward-looking Nigerians stranded with no credible alternative. This time, a credible alternative exists. Rather than give in to hopelessness, Nigerians have an opportunity to make their voices count. They can queue behind Peter Obi, end this tyranny of the few and take back their country. However, if they start to rationalize between the two undesirables and settle for one, Nigeria will lose again, and this too will become another lesson unlearned.