By Emmanuel Obisue
Call it party loyalty, feminism or smugness, Pastor Oluremi Tinubu’s attempt to talk down Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Smart Adeyemi on Tuesday, was boorish, selfish and delusional. She seemed to be more bothered about her husband’s 2023 ambition and how she relishes sitting on the exalted throne of the First Lady of Nigeria, than the stack reality of overwhelming insecurity caging the country.
She must have ignored the local jargon that states that “a man who bends down to look into another’s anus, must not forget that his own anus is open to the view of the whole world”. It was as if she meant that once you are on the ruling side, you lose your moral nous and right to question Aso Rock and demand good governance, even as a legislator, no matter the level of deterioration in the country.
For point of emphasis, Pastor Tinubu is a former first lady of Lagos State and currently a Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District. She is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. She is a Christian. She is an ordained pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG. Her ordination took place in 2018 at the Old Arena of RCCG, Lagos/Ibadan Expressway when the church held its 66th annual convention. She is also the Grand Matron of the Committee of Wives of Lagos Sate Officials, COWLSO. Originally from Delta state, she grew up in Ogun state.
While she may or may not be regretting her outburst by now, she must bear in mind that the perpetrators of violence across the country, whether under the guise of Boko Haram, Bandits, Kidnappers, Herdsmen, Secessionists, or Unknown Gunmen, do not kill along party lines. None of their surviving victims have reported that they were asked for party membership cards before they were victimized. If she hopes to sit on the seat of the first lady, and seat well on it, then she has a lot to learn. She may start by first apologizing to Senator Smart, and then to Nigerians. She may also choose to put a call across to former first lady Patience Jonathan to get first hand tutorials, as to how she managed to win the hearts of Nigerians, even with her many grammatical blunders. Dame Patience’s style was motherly and classy. She always showed empathy towards national issues. She cried whenever blood was spilled. She would speak and meet widows who lost their husbands to insecurity. Even the current first lady in her ‘other room and kitchen’ role, would have done better than Mrs Tinubu. Like someone wrote on Twitter, “Nigeria is a country where ladies reject Good men and accept bad men, get disappointed and blame all me”.
Meanwhile, this is not her first attempt at bullying men or Nigerians on critical issues. In 2016 and 2019 respectively, she made similar utterances against fellow Senators Dino Melaye and Elisha Abbo. She also in described Nigerian youths in 2019, as rude and lazy. She accused them of always coming to her house for free money.
Whether Senator Smart’s teary outburst are sincere or not, we must take his message seriously. The Nigerian security situation had collapsed long ago. The political elites are only noticing it now because it is getting closer to them. They just started feeling the heat. Smart brought out the Dino Melaye in him.
Again, the National Assembly must devolve more strategic approach towards making the Executive do the needful in tackling insecurity, rather than constantly calling for a declaration of a state of emergency on the security sector of the country. NASS has asked for declaration of state of emergency for an umpteenth time, with the president displaying a lackadaisical body language in response. They must firm up more strategic approach, rather than constantly going into closed Executive Sessions where the press is shut out. In developed democracies, executive sessions are rarely adopted, except in cases of extremely urgent national intervention.
Mrs Tinubu must also look back home to Lagos state and become worried about the latest United State advisory to its citizens in the state. The US Consulate General in Lagos bothered by notable increase in crime in Lagos, issued an advisory to Americans in the state. It stated that: “Reports of robberies/smash-and-grabs on the roads by armed men have increased significantly on both Ikoyi and Victoria Island. Typically, men on a motorcycle will follow a vehicle until it stops at a traffic light or intersection then approach the vehicle, present a weapon, and rob the occupants”.
It further warned that: “Although most of these incidents happen at night, the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos has received reports of robberies taking place during daylight hours. Please remember to be aware of your surroundings, especially when driving at night. The following personal safety tips can help reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Keep vehicle doors locked and windows rolled up at all times while driving, especially in traffic jams or at traffic lights.
Avoid driving alone at night and do not stop to help strangers on the road.
“Ensure that valuables such as cash, laptops, phones, cameras, bags, etc. are kept out of sight. Park your vehicle in areas that are well lit. Survey the area around your vehicle before you approach and be aware of suspicious people. Try to use main roads and avoid taking side roads at night. Do not carry original documents such as your passport unless necessary. Do not walk alone at night. Carry only the amount of cash you will need.
“The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos recommends that everyone consider the necessity of travel after 22:00. Actions To Take: Be aware of your surroundings. Keep a low profile. Stay alert in public places, including schools, hospitals, government facilities, places of worship, tourist locations, and transportation hubs. Review and alter travel routes and times to reduce time and place predictability. Avoid crowds and demonstrations. Exercise caution when walking or driving at night. Carry proper ID. Review your personal security plans. Monitor local media for updates. Review the Travel Advisory for Nigeria”.
But what was Smart’s offence? The lawmaker had only poured out his emotions during plenary. He spoke not as a card carrying politician, but as a Nigerian. At least he was first a Nigerian before he became an APC member. Contributing to a motion on the situation, Smart who spoke for over five minutes, described the current state of insecurity in Nigeria as the worst so far.
“This is the worst instability we are facing. In fact this is worse than the civil war. Some people believe that some people in government are supporting this move. We cannot pretend that we are capable of handling the situation in our hands. America, as powerful as they are, when the pandemic came, it came to a point China came to their rescue.
“We shouldn’t pretend that we need foreign support now. Billions of naira has been voted for security services and nothing is coming out of it. I’m a party man and I’m supporting APC but it has gotten to a point that as supporters we cannot keep quiet,” he said.
Mrs Tinubu who was sitting next to Mr Smart during his contribution, mischievously rebuking the Senator, saying: “Are you in PDP? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing? While it is not exactly clear why Mrs Tinubu verbally ‘attacked’ Smart or why she made reference to the idiomatic expression, “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, Smart is not the only APC senator who spoke in that manner during Tuesday’s debate. Unlike Mrs Tinubu, Smart was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, before he joined the APC.
She must also be mindful that these criminal elements have made billions of Naira from ransom. Their atrocities would only get deadlier and spread further across the country. If the billions of Naira disbursed to strengthen the security architecture of the nation were spent on the purpose they were meant for, we would be at this level. The situation now appears bigger than the Federal Government to handle.
Insecurity in Nigeria has reached terrifying heights. Even Governors that are christened ‘Chief Security Officers’ of their states, are now crying for help. Only recently, Governor Sani Bello of Niger State, was caught nagging to the press that Boko Haram has hoisted its flag in a Shiroro Local Government Area of the state, and were taking away wives from husbands. Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom is also crying. The governors are now doing the job of the media by keeping us up to date with unfolding events of insecurity. The portfolio of CSO has been dropped. Nasir El-Rufai had made a U-turn on his earlier stance on insecurity prior to President Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence as Nigeria’s ruler. Imo Goevrnor, Hope Uzodinma is feeling the heat. He hardly sleep these days. Geidam in Yobe state in in turmoil. This is the state that owns the Inspector General of Police, Senate President and National Leader of the APC. There has been massive exodus of people in Geidam, as ISWAP has reportedly seized the town and hoisted their flags. They are also reportedly collecting taxes and levies from residents. There is hardly no part of the country that is not faced with insecurity now.
Meanwhile, her careless remarks comes few days after her husband who is the National Leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, visited Buhari in the Villa. Maybe she was unaware that they (Buhari and Tinubu) both discussed security issues, after which her husband, the ‘Jagaban’ advised Buhari that the security situation of the country requires serious evaluation and management. Did the couple not have a husband-to-wife chat after he returned from his visit to Buhari?
“There is no president or leader that will want his nation fractured in tribalism, religious differences, and others; and it calls for serious management and serious evaluation and dialogue once in a while. Every nation will go through these curves and difficult times, and how we communicate it to the people, what are the areas to help make it easier for people to bear; those ideas have to be entrenched with the leadership of the country,” Tinubu told Buhari.
The former governor of Lagos State advised Baba Buhari that the best way out of the national crisis, which is not exclusive to Nigeria, is cooperation and unity. He also denied sharing an unhealthy relationship with President Buhari and gave the assurance that the President would vacate office at the expiration of his tenure in 2023. His wife’s decision to silence a colleague in her folly, may hunt her even if she eventually becomes first lady. Nigerians do not forget. The social media keeps record these days. She may have thwarted her husband’s chances to shine in 2023. She has shown that she does not have the motherly capacity to be Nigeria’s first lady.
A woman fighting hard today to silence a man speaking up against insecurity today, may not stand up for the country tomorrow if she becomes first lady. She was even described on Twitter as the Nigerian modern day “Ma Baker”. Her action was rather divisive. As it stands, there is fire on the mountain. Senator Tinubu represents Lagosians and the Yoruba people. She represents her husband’s ambition as well. The worst thing anyone, especially a political figure can politicize, is security. For Mrs Tinubu to boldly suggest to Nigerians that the country can burn to ashes, while the party name is upheld, says a lot about where we have gotten to as a country and as a people.