On Tuesday, Director-General of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Political Support Group, Hon. Jubril Abdulmumin was a guest on Arise TV’s Morning Show. The former member of the House of Representatives, articulate as ever, exuded confidence in his candidate’s invincibility. He tackled every question with buoyant fluidity until one of the anchors, Rufai Oseni, asked a question that rattled the D-G.
The question: “How did your candidate make his staggering wealth? Secondly, there have been discrepancies about his age. Let me ask you, how old is he?”
This was the point where the good man from Kano opened his own flank, showing his ill-preparedness for his undertaken job. He rambled around the question and refused to answer it. When Oseni persisted, Abdulmumin described the question as fit for the trash bin and unworthy of an answer. He promised that if the interviewer repeated the question one million times, he would receive the same answer.
When former presidential spokesman, Dr. Ruben Abati, an anchor on the program, tried to intervene, Abdulmumin expressed the expectation that when an interviewee chooses not to answer a question, the journalist should move on to something else. At that point, Abati derisively retorted: “You now teach journalism,” a remark that captures the guest’s condescending remarks!
But more than the attempt to teach a journalist how to do his job is the arrogance of these men, who sell themselves to Nigerians as democrats. Two of the basic assumptions of democracy are the need for the people to ask questions of their leaders—whether prospective or incumbent—and the obligations for transparency from such leaders. It defies the imagination to see how people who claim to be progressive democrats question and even oppose these fundamental requirements.
Apart from his reaction, Abdulmumin himself showed contempt for transparency and accountability when the question of how to reconcile his current campaign for Tinubu’s candidacy with his existing office as Executive Director of a federal agency was posed by Abati. The former lawmaker dismissed this as an irrelevant question since his appointment was by the All Progressives Congress government and he is still working with an APC aspirant! So, you wonder: are these people so confused about governance that they cannot compartmentalize between national assignments and the shenanigans in their parties? While your ruling party can offer you appointments to any agency of government that it likes, the moment you take that office, you become a servant of the Nigerian people, not your party! Therefore, it is immoral to take on the campaign of a political aspirant when governance is supposed to be a priority. It is, in fact, a form of corruption which Nigerian politicians would laugh off as a non-issue.
You then want to ask yourself if these politicians are ignorant of the incumbent demands of their offices or if they do not think they owe the people this duty of service. Given the flagrant disposition of people like the former House of Reps’ member, one is persuaded to conclude that many Nigerian politicians do not just think that they owe the people an explanation for their choices.
One would imagine, for instance, that the DG of the Tinubu Support Group would understand that presenting on the Arise TV Morning Show for an interview was an avenue to talk to Nigerians about the person who wants their mandate. How do you trivialize a question that is not likely to go away? But even his principal’s disposition when confronted with the question of the bullion van allegedly parked around his premises on an election day in 2019 was equally dismissive!
Hear Tinubu, “I don’t work for the government. I am not in an agency of the government and let anybody come out to say I have taken any contract from the government of President [Muhammadu] Buhari and the APC in the last five years. If I don’t represent any agency of government and I have money to spend, if I like, I give it to the people free of charge as long as it is not to buy votes.” But you are a politician, influential in the ruling party, and justifiably believed to be the determinant of who becomes who in Lagos and other South-West states since 2007! Most importantly, you planned to be president, so you owe every Nigerian an explanation.
Although Tinubu’s supporters would see the above as a good response, it is not what one would expect of anyone who would one day ask Nigerians to vote him in as president unless he already assumes that the people have no option than to accept him.