Bola Tinubu was already a very divisive figure even before becoming president-elect. Unfortunately, we will be stuck with him as president for at least a year or more. This is tragic. The very unabashedly brazen electoral fraud that is bringing him into office has hardened a lot of Nigerians.
There could not be much confidence left in state institutions after that kind of electoral heist. The only institution now standing in the way of a mass perception of state failure is the judiciary. Quite literally, the judiciary is on trial. Should the judiciary prove to be not any different, we should prepare for some potentially very dark days ahead.
Even before, we will have to endure months of this oddity, as the legal process cannot be rushed. After all, even someone so controversial, divisive and massively flawed as Mr Tinubu deserves justice and fair treatment under the law.
Mr Tinubu is president from end-May by the gift of northern Nigeria. He did not win his home southwestern region nor his home Lagos state. Mr Tinubu, a southern presidential candidate, did not win the south. Unsurprisingly, the north is rightly emboldened, as the ongoing jostling for political offices already shows.
Mr Tinubu’s many controversies, from perjury, multiple identities, corruption to documented drug-trafficking, are also beginning to embolden the country’s darker instincts, with politicians, officials and security operatives, making a show of competing for who is the baddest gangster. The Adamawa gubernatorial mess is one example.
The disregard for process, law and order was so brazen, so crass, that even the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) felt this was one too much for it to chew. The recent incident in mid-May involving Seun Kuti of the renowned Fela lineage is another example.
Mr Kuti slapped a policeman on the face in a manner that suggests a newfound confidence that could only have been instigated by a sense of impunity. A gangster’s paradise beckons should the judiciary fail to do its duty.
Peter Obi, the hugely popular presidential candidate of the burgeoning Labour Party (LP) has a huge task ahead of him. Mr Obi should prepare to be betrayed from the day of inauguration on May 29th, 2023. There is a thing about the power of incumbency that intoxicates people. Many of his key elite allies will play both sides; if they are not already doing so.
And the error should not be made that the tensions are entirely about Mr Obi’s Igbo roots. Yes, it is a factor. But it is more than that. Mr Obi has proven that an alternative electoral math can be used to secure a Nigerian presidency that cuts across legacy structures and sentiments.
Since 1999, a southerner has been successfully elected to the Nigerian presidency twice. And each time, the southerner had to get the support of the Muslim north. Bar the serendipitous case of Goodluck Jonathan, who was president in 2010-15, this tend to involve first proving an affinity for the north. The concept of “amanah” (trust) in northern Muslim culture cuts both ways…