2023: A Tinubu Presidency?
By Kazeem Akintunde

Kazeem Akintunde

The focus of last week’s discourse was on how the group of G5 Governors in the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, may possibly scuttle the presidential ambition of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar if the crisis within the party is not resolved.   https://theglittersonline.com.ng/kazeem-akintunde-11/

On Wednesday, Atiku met with members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the issue came up for discussion. He admitted that the aggrieved governors are strong members of the party and that mechanisms are in place to resolve the crisis as soon as possible so that the party can face the 2023 presidential elections as a united family. We wish him luck.

This week, however, the focus will be on the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. If there is one politician that has studied the Nigerian political environment and is ready to maximally benefit from the rot within the system, that person is Tinubu. We have very weak institutions in Nigeria, and have formed a habit of celebrating powerful individuals, some of whom are stronger than the state. These individuals also have the capacity to push their agenda down the throats of millions of Nigerians, willy-nilly.

If the 2023 presidential election is conducted today, Tinubu will likely emerge as the winner, and this won’t be because he is the best candidate for the job. It would simply be due to several factors, among which is his single determination to get the plum job and the strategic plans he has put in place to achieve that ambition over two decades ago.

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When he was elected Governor of Lagos State in 1999, Tinubu began building a network of political friends far beyond the borders of Lagos. He cultivated friends across the length and breadth of Nigeria and no amount was deemed too much to buy and maintain loyalty across the board. Traditional rulers across the country were courted, and money and other largesse made available to them, hence, his several chieftaincy titles across Nigeria, including his favorite being ‘Jagaban of Borgu’.

He recognizes the judiciary as an important arm of government, and makes friends with lawyers and judges. He is perhaps the first Governor to appreciate the power of the judiciary and he did all within his power to cultivate their friendship during his terms in office and outside it. In Lagos state, he bought brand-new SUVs for judges.

Plots of land were allocated to many of the Judges in choice areas for their accommodation. He pushed some Judges in the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission to the Court of Appeal and some to the Supreme Court.
He sniffs out first-class brains who have no political standing and thrusts them into the political limelight while sitting back to bask in the success of such appointees. The media was not left behind as building blocks of his political empire, as many editors got land, some contracts, while some were placed on salary throughout his eight-year rule in the state.
By the time he was leaving office, there was no institution of government that had not felt the ‘magic’ of Tinubu’s large-heartedness. He threw money at problems, believing, and rightly too, that what money cannot do, does not exist. The purse of Lagos state was deep. He improved revenue generation in the state and ensured that a percentage of it went into funding his political empire.

When stories began to fly of his shady past and his involvement in the drug business, he was able to wriggle his way out of the logjam. What is his real name? Is he a member of the Popular Tinubu family of Lagos? Is he a biological son of the late Alhaja Abibat Mogagi or an adopted son? Which school did he attend for his secondary education and who were his classmates? Did he attend the University of Chicago or Chicago State University, or both? Many questions with no direct answers. He went through all of those issues while running for office in Lagos State and he came out stronger. Some of his friends, including Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, took the bullet for him when he (Afikuyomi) admitted that the errors in his forms submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was an honest error made by him in the rush to get Tinubu’s documents submitted on time.

Tinubu was dragged before the Court by the late fiery human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi. He escaped indictment by the whiskers. If we have strong institutions, Tinubu would have been stopped long before he became the Governor of Lagos State. His records contain so many bogus claims. In his forms submitted to INEC, he claimed to have attended both Chicago State University and the University of Chicago. Another claim of his was that he attended Government College, Ibadan, for his secondary school education, but upon serious scrutiny, he dropped both claims that he went to the University of Chicago and Government College, Ibadan, as both institutions have come out to state emphatically that they do not have records of any Bola Tinubu as a student of their institutions.

We have been told by his media team that Tinubu did a remedial course at Richard Dailey College in the U.S.A, the certificate of which he used to gain admission to study Accountancy at Chicago State University. The institution has also come out to identify Tinubu as one of its students.
But not convinced by the unending questions about his academic record, a civil rights group – Incorporated Trustees of Center for Reform and Public Advocacy – has headed to court to compel the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba, to prosecute the former Lagos State governor for alleged perjury.

Indeed, many Nigerians who have questioned his past may have dug into his history and found scary skeletons and carcasses that he could not bury, and that has defined his politics.

While you will not find him on the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Alert List nor Interpol’s Most Wanted List, you will find damning information about his alleged link to narcotics trade and how he allegedly laundered drug money by buying and selling properties in the U.S. using different signatures to hide his identity.
It is on record that Tinubu was an accomplice in a drug and money laundering case involving two Nigerians– Adegboyega Mueez Akande and his nephew, Abiodun Agbele. A United States Government Narcotics Attaché in its embassy in Nigeria, Andre W. Kellum, claimed in an Affidavit dated 1992 that the two Nigerians were part of an organisation that distributed cocaine, which was operated by Tinubu.

But while Tinubu escaped arrest and prosecution by effectively masking his role in the drug cartel, evidence of fund lodgments in his bank accounts allegedly establishes him as a kingpin of the narcotics trade.

Tinubu’s flanks was exposed when Special US agents investigating the case traced illicit funds to bank accounts operated by him. The U.S. Government alleged that bank accounts held by Tinubu represented the “proceeds of narcotics trafficking” and money laundering.

In December 1989, Akande allegedly opened an “individual money account” for Tinubu at a First Heritage Bank with his residential address stated as 7504 South Stewart Avenue, Chicago. Investigators found the address to be “the drop-off point for packages from Nigeria that contained the white heroin.” In another credit application dated January 6, 1990, seen by the Special Agent, Tinubu stated that Akande was his cousin.

Curiously, at the time Akande and Agbele were being investigated, Tinubu was an employee of Mobil Oil Nigeria Limited, of Fairfax, Virginia, and was on a monthly salary of $2,400. However, despite earning only $2,400 a month, with no other known source of income, bank records obtained by investigators from First Heritage Bank disclosed that in 1990 alone, Tinubu deposited $661,000 into his individual money market account and in 1993, he deposited the sum of $1,216,500 into the same account.
By 1992, U.S. investigators had concluded that Tinubu was part of the international drug trade on account of the volume of funds found in his accounts which he could not satisfactorily explain. On January 10, 1992, Federal agents obtained a court order to freeze some of his bank accounts.

An amount exceeding $1.4 million dollars was seized from his account, a move he fought in court after claiming he made the money legitimately. Tinubu also denied to investigators that he had any additional bank accounts in the U.S. But other accounts operated by him were found to contain huge sums. An account hidden at Citibank under the name of ‘Compass Finance and Investment Company’ was found to be operated by Tinubu in partnership with Akande and Agbele. A seizure warrant was issued on January 24, 1992 on Tinubu’s Citibank account, and the sum of $600,000 was seized.

Tinubu, obviously sensing that the game was up, agreed to forfeit the funds to the U.S. Government. A document on the forfeiture signed at a U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois on 07/26/1993 stated that “the funds in the amount of $460,000 in the account in the name of Bola Tinubu represents proceeds of narcotics or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18 USC ss 1956 and 1957 and therefore, these funds are forfeited to the United States.”

Tinubu had further given himself away during the investigation of his role in the distribution of narcotics in the U.S. by suspicious money transfers for property purchases. A case mentioned was the purchase of 10111 Limestone Court, Potomac, Maryland 20854 on February 21, 1992, for $450,000. It was an obvious attempt to launder the drug money and divert investigators’ attention from him.
But how was a man who claimed to earn $2,400 a month able to purchase a house worth $450,000?
It was not surprising therefore, when the U.S Court ordered that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in the name of Bola Tinubu in account 263226700 held by First Heritage Bank represent proceeds of narcotics trafficking as a result of involvement in financial transactions in violation of U.S. laws. The Court also ordered that First Heritage Bank shall issue a $460,000 cheque payable to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and be forfeited to the United States Government. The forfeiture of the amount enabled Tinubu to escape criminal conviction.
He quickly returned to Nigeria where he began active participation in politics and used the proceeds of crime to bamboozle his way to national limelight. After eight years in office as Governor of Lagos state between 1999 and 2007, he became the de-facto leader of the Alliance for Democracy and Action Congress, AC, in Lagos, gradually extending his tentacles in the southwest by anointing and sponsoring candidates for elections. He was also involved in sponsoring candidates for elections in some West African countries and now, he has set his sight on the number one job in Nigeria. It may be safe to say that it is payback time – for him to tap back his investments across the country.
To get the ticket of the APC, Tinubu allegedly spent over $150m bribing delegates, Governors, party officials and successfully worming his way into the Presidency and the first family, spending money like there is no tomorrow. But like all mortals, age has caught up with Tinubu and the ‘Capon’ is no longer of sound health. However, as he said recently in Abeokuta, where he lampooned President Muhammadu Buhari and Dapo Abiodun, Ogun State Governor with his ‘Emilokan’ rhetoric, Tinubu is ready to break the bank in order to realize his lifelong ambition. It does not matter whether he would be a figurehead President by the time he is elected and may not be fully fit to discharge the functions of his office.
As pointed out in a previous article titled: Wanted: A New Leadership Recruitment Process’ https://theglittersonline.com.ng/leadership-3/, the whole political process is heavily monetised and it is characters like Tinubu that have amassed the needed money chest both legally and illegally that would continue to dabble into it. For now, except God intervenes in the affairs of Nigeria, we may as well start addressing Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President-in-waiting.

See you next week.

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