Bola Tinubu is old. It is no news anymore that his age is one of his biggest challenges to achieving his dreams as Nigeria’s next president. His supporters will say otherwise, and would argue that this is a non-factor, and that, if for anything, it is an advantage to him, since old age naturally translates to experience, and counts for something in being a good leader.
Such is the appeal of views, intelligently cancelling out themselves and, in so doing, establishing an enduring ideology. To people who don’t drool over Tinubu, his age is a huge turn off. Many young Nigerians have asked him to tend to his health and attend to his grandchildren who need him more now than Nigerians.
There are equally many senior citizens who believe that Tinubu should not be president because he is too old. They may be right or wrong in their own ways — after all we live in a world of different strokes for different folks, and where variety makes the world go merry, ain’t that what they say?
The world over, old age has come to be associated with wisdom — the natural capacity to sit down and see what young people wouldn’t, should they even climb atop Mountain Everest or even Burj Khalifa.
But old age itself deprives, it weakens and incapacitates. It could strip one off things one could easily have done, and may compel artlessness. Old age can strip one off the touch of time, and may even cast the well lettered as technologically amateurish. Old age embodies wisdom in the same way that it dispels capacity.
Tinubu himself is not oblivious of this literal truth. This Iragbiji-born old man is at once a searing example of one who has completely lost touch with posterity and suffers from a chaos of wisdom.
Burgeoning Nigerian blogger, Kofoworola Omoshalewa, posted a very informing video on her blog recently. The video originated in 2012, when Goodluck Jonathan called the shot as Nigeria’s president.
The video prominently featured a younger and far agile Bola Tinubu on the lectern at a certain event. As he spoke, he made jest of the disingenuousness of a youngman like Jonathan in appointing an eighty-three year old (he meant to say 79) Edo-born politician, Tony Anenih, as Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
In the mode of a jester, Tinubu questioned the capacity of oldman Anenih to oversee the board of an agency that is highly tech-based, especially in this 21st-century, when modern technology is needed to drive innovation and whereas Anenih cannot even identify the keyboard of a desktop computer. Tinubu said this with no iota of thought whatsoever about the future.
A point is clear from the video, and from what he said: the old is not fit to lead. It was right to him at the time he made this point. Tinubu has since shown in Lagos that he does not believe in the capacity of old people to govern. Babatunde Fashola, Akinwumi Ambode and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, all sired by Tinubu, are young people. Ebullient, tech-savvy too.
So, why does Tinubu believe that what he barely believes or what he does not wish for Lagos, should be accommodated by Nigerians? This is hardly statemanship. Among many others, the video’s merit is in two ways.
Firstly, it confirms what many Nigerians have been saying in the build up to next year’s election, which is that old people should not rule Nigeria of the now. Secondly, Tinubu suffers from a chaos of wisdom.
Earlier in the year, there was also a video which surfaced in which Bola Tinubu declared himself a youth. Tinubu made this declaration, not just because he wanted to endear himself to Nigerian youths, not just because he wants to win election, but because he knows full well that he is too old to lead Nigeria. He declared himself a youth because he wanted to make a bold statement that though he appears frail and shaky, he still has the capacity to do what the young do.
Here is a man who loathes old age and seems to feel ashamed about it, which is probably why till this day, his real age is a doubt and seems prepared to continue to lodge this in his heart as top secret. Here is a man, acting averse to his wit, while unfortunately positioning himself somewhat as an apostate of his peers — talking down on the old and loathing the very status that divine fortune has thrust upon him.
He once stoked derision and even attempted to incense young Nigerians during the Jonathan-era, when he queried the capacity of a man as old as Anenih to sit as Chair of board in one of Nigeria’s most prestigious agencies.
Today, it appears that time has vanquished desire in the way that oldman Tinubu aspires to president a big and multiculturally complex nation like Nigeria. Oldman Anenih could not be fit as a board Chairman of an agency, but oldman Tinubu is fit to govern a larger and more demanding space as Nigeria. Posterity is indeed a reality.
Now that he has decided to dance naked on Nigeria’s political stage, it is only normal that the eyes he used in looking at others’ nakedness while they danced should be used in looking at his’.
And so, I was embarrassed when some rebuked people who mocked the very age and health status of Tinubu. Not that it makes it right, even in the US, the health status of Presidential candidates have come under fiery scorn, just to score some political points. It happened to once US Democratic Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton in 2016, and eventual winner, President Joseph Biden in 2020. It is all part of the campaign trail to blaze.
Only last April during the French Presdential election, incumbent President Emmanuel Macron was mocked by his political opponents and even some French, for having a wife much older than him. It is that bizzare, but this is all part of the campaign thrills and frills of any election anywhere in the world. If you’re vying for the highest position in the land, you ought to have thick skin.
You should be ready to tolerate the messiest and most repelling of outcomes. You should be ready to see yourself as a garbage site, where everyone throws what they will at you. We are approaching a general national election, and so every trash thrown at any aspirant or supporter should be worn as perfume.
And so, it is my candid opinion that members of the Pirate Confraternity who composed a song to mock the entitlement mentality of Tinubu, his ill-health, his shaky hands, his shaky legs, should not be totally blamed. This is totally my opinion.
I do not support washing one’s hand with glee, but the cup one has used to serve others to drink will also be used to serve him. What, instead, should be the fad in the song composed by the Pirates is an unequivocal message, which is that Tinubu is not fit to rule Nigeria, because he is an old war horse.
Tinubu cannot detest gerontocracy — rule by the old — while claiming to appreciate the ingenuity and enterprise of the Nigerian youth. This is terribly misleading. If Tinubu should tell a lie at all, let it be an excusable lie.
Let him not attempt to reverse the time by claiming to be a youth. An old man cannot at the same time be a youth. That would be bravely misleading and fiercely contradicting.
All said, Nigerians must be weary of a two-faced figure — half-old, half-young — aspiring to become Nigeria’s president. We cannot afford a president that is not only old, but also suffers from a chaos of wisdom.
Mr Ochibejivwie writes in from Warri