Here I am this morning, sitting before my computer trying to unravel without mysticism, just how Bola Ahmed Tinubu managed to turn himself, without the aid of his enemies, in this election year, into an internet meme and a laughing stock overnight. And all for the wrong reasons.
The word hubris comes to mind.
When you gain power through tainted electoral processes, by the time you have bought the people with their own money, in the same way, over and over again, you will tend to (and with good reason) despise the electorate since the power which you wield on their behalf over them was not derived from them or for them. That disdain for the people which you hold in your heart, will however one day, be uttered by your lips.
But let us start from the beginning, because Tinubu’s pride began long before he uttered the words “E mi lo kan”.
By September of the year 2020, the Jagaban, having set his sights on the seat in Aso Rock went to Benin with all his war arsenal to mastermind the victory of the APC in Edo State. But Edo people told him that ‘Edo no be Lagos” and the Jagaban had his first taste of electoral defeat. All his money couldn’t buy enough votes and the thugs imported from other states to seize power in Edo were halted by the vigilant Edo youths at the boarders of the State. It was a rude shock and Jagaban returned to Lagos angry and even more determined to impose his will on an unwilling electorate.
And then came Osun State in 2022. After installing his own man four years earlier and “winning” the election by questionable means, Jagaban wanted to repeat the feat again. But he did not count on the anger of Osun people who were fed up with Oyetola and who felt Adeleke had been robbed four years earlier.
However, before the Osun state turbulence came the falling out with Aregbesola who accused Tinubu of playing God and in a cruel and distasteful diatribe made reference to the video making the rounds that showed that the aging Jagaban was no longer in full control of his bowels.
Then in early June, Tinubu went to Abeokuta to canvas for the support of the APC delegates for the presidential primaries in Abuja and there he made a speech in Yoruba. He regaled them with the tales of his political intrepidity and sagacity and how he had been a lynchpin in the AD which transformed to the ACN and now to the APC. In other words, the delegates were small boys compared to him and so should vote for him. He made no reference whatsoever to his fitness for office or the policies he would bring which should sway their votes in his favour.
He boasted that if not for him, Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State Governor, present at the meeting, would not have been made the flagbearer of the party. He boasted also that he was the one who made Buhari to win the 2015 elections after numerous failed attempts (as though foisting Buhari on Nigerians was a good thing).
Then Tinubu went ethnic and played the tribal card. “All I am saying is that it is the turn of the Yoruba speaking people to become president and within the Yoruba people, it is my turn. I have adopted and protected many political children, but in the face of danger, one has to first protect himself. I have served enough. I do not want to become history. It is my turn to become president. It is a matter of right for me. Bring it on”.
“E Mi lo kan”.
The sheer arrogance was scintillating and Tinubu had by that sole utterance brought in a new phrase into the Nigerian political firmament, a phrase that stood at par in stature with the political lore of the “penkelemess” saga.
What Tinubu did not know at the time of making the disastrous speech was that what the late Gani Fawehinmi could not do to him with all his numerous law suits, nor the PDP and the Labour Party with all their spin doctors and news media connections and social media influencers, nor the discrepancies in his account of his own age, sources of his wealth and family name and lineage, what these things could not do to Tinubu, he, Tinubu, did to himself.
Because Tinubu had sat down one day in one of his quiet moments and reasoned even as Nebuchadnezzar had reasoned, that “Behold I have my bullion vans and I have my money. Is it not the same people? The same Nigerians whom I have bought over and over again with my money? Is it not the same INEC and the same courts where I have never lost a case? Am I not the Jagaban and is this not the great political structure that I have built for the house of my kingdom, by the might of my power and for the honour of my majesty?”
Then he played the religious card and chose the Muslim-Muslim ticket and the hubris became clear as he alienated a huge section of the Christian population and a sizable section of the moderate Muslim population in a circular, pluralistic society. After that came the debacle of the fake Bishops, and then he sent out his hatchet men in the press and Sam Omatseye wrote a scurrilous article designed to stoke ethnic tensions. By the huge denunciation of the said article by professional journalists across board it began to look like every step the legendary Jagaban took faltered and every further step he took to amend the faltering steps only made it worse. I doubt if Sam Omatseye will write that type of drivel again any time soon.
Notwithstanding, Jagaban still put up a huge billboard that you will see on Third Mainland Bridge by Unilag, and I am sure that the same poster is replicated all over the nation. It had on it a picture of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and below his visage were the words “E mi lo kan” and I shuddered at the arrogance of our own Nigerian Ozymandias.
Then one day, the National Association of Seadogs, AKA Pyrates confraternity, had a huge meeting and they gyrated and composed and sang a new release. The title of the song was “E mi lo kan” and it was a groovy song and the video went viral.
In an attempt at damage control, their grand Patron, Nobel Laurette, Wole Soyinka, issued a statement condemning the viral video and the distasteful mockery of a frail and stumbling old man, but even this attempt only made matters worse because Soyinka, in his characteristic candour, inadvertently hinted that the Jagaban was beset with Parkinson’s disease.
The video is out there, it cannot be retrieved. The song is trending. The more they talk about it the more people search for it on the internet. It is already in their phones and their hard drives. Even the person that composed it will no longer be able to prove his copyright by now. I saw the video of some very young Northern boys also making a cruel parody of the Jagaban with another song yesterday. Yesterday also, Dede Mabiaku, the afro beat maestro released his own remixed version of the “E mi lo kan” song. It was an internet hit and all the attempts by the Pyrates to undo the original video amount only to shutting the stable doors after the horse has bolted. Perhaps just as Tinubu has lost touch with and control of the electorate, so has Soyinka lost touch with the confraternity he created.
And while many revel in the video, I am more concerned with imagining what conversation could have taken place at the meeting of the Pyrates Confraternity to cause a multitude of men to compose and agree on that song and sing it as one in a huge street procession. Were they tickled by the melody of the words or were they just looking for a laugh? Were they incensed by one mans arrogance or were they just concerned that the helm of the nation should not be held by unsteady hands?
I agree with those that say mockery of a person’s physical disabilities is not good, but on the other hand once you throw your hat into the ring as a candidate for the presidential elections, the state of your health becomes a legitimate point of enquiry. It goes with the territory.
The song itself has all the necessary ingredients to make it a hit: a catchy phrase, a repetitive chant over a live and controversial issue. The repetition of the words “E mi Lo Kan” in the song is a literary device. It underscores the stridency and desperation in jagaban’s voice and the obduracy of the character of an ailing octogenarian who craves above all things to hold power in frail hands even in his winter days. There is an oxymoron in there somewhere.
While serious and cerebral candidates are busy articulating their policies to the electorate, Tinubu’s manifesto is “E mi lo kan”. The electorate has waited for Tinubu to break down and articulate the “E mi lo kan” political strategy to them, but alas they waited in vain. The “E mi lo kan” strategy remains a unique and mystical conundrum of Nigerian home-grown politics of entitlement and slavery.
E mi lo kan…In the Tinubu camp there is now an eerie silence. Perhaps they do not know what next to say. Perhaps it is because their principal is once again away to tend to his fragile health.
But it did not need to end this way. Had Tinubu just listened to the voice of reason whispering in his ear that to be president and to rule this turbulent nation, there are “many rivers to cross and a long long way to go” and you do not have the legs anymore for that my dear sir, and had he listened to the same voice whispering to him that the office of elder statesman beckons upon him with all the glory and reverence and blessings that go with it, and if only he could have resisted the temptation to make Nigeria his private possession the same way he made Lagos and the South Western States, then maybe, just maybe, small boys would not be mocking him today.
“E mi lo kan’. Its my turn. A political manifesto.
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