By Bayo Osiyemi
I have never been passionate about any Nigerian politician after Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Lateef Jakande, as I am currently, of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Asiwaju
of Lagos and the Jagaban of Borgu.
I practice and play partisan politics in Lagos, so he is undoubtedly my political boss. But beyond that is a fact of history which cannot be obliterated.
From my first encounter with the man that appropriately fits the label of “small body, big engine”, Senator Tinubu struck me as a man of destiny on who jealousy, envy, treachery and perfidy cannot diminish.
When he ran for the Lagos West senatorial seat in 1992, I was one of those not enamoured of his razzmatazz at the time. It wasn’t that I didn’t see something special in his ways at the time but I refused to get swayed to his side on a strict matter of principle and fidelity.
While on the hustings during the run-up to the primaries, he visited party leaders in the monolithic Mushin of the time which included Itire-Ikate, Isolo, Oshodi up to Ejigbo. At that time, Mushin shared a boundary with the old Alimosho.
Chief J. Olusola Solomon, the man who spoke Egba dialect, who was the elder brother of the father of Senator Ganiyu Solomon, was our LGA chairman and I, one of the budding leaders in that local government area.
Chief Solomon, to date the most persuasive, most authoritative and most assertive party chieftain that area has ever had, introduced the then young aspirant for the Senate seat in his typical inimitable style and when Tinubu took the floor, it was evident he was no flash-in-the-pan. He sounded urbane, suave and streetwise; and proved even at that time, he was not a poor or wretched political activist. He blessed the sitting of that day with “some dough” which swayed many minds in Mushin that day.
Young as I was then, I chose to be an odd man out, who though caught between taking some cool cash to massage my youthful lifestyle or sticking to an earlier agreement on another candidate of our caucus, chose the latter on a matter of principle. I did not follow the Mushin multitude; I followed my mind and went to Ojo venue of the SDP primary to vote for the candidate of our caucus. That candidate lost as he was trounced silly by Tinubu.
Convinced that I had lived up to my principle of keeping faith, I later visited Candidate Tinubu in his, I hope I got that right, Bishop Oluwole street office in Victoria Island, to congratulate him for his emergence and to assure him of my support and vote as we prepared for the election proper. I want to believe he appreciated my principled stand and his likeness for me thereafter, I strongly suspect, sprouted from there.
I believe the recourse to that history is absolutely necessary to let it be known that I don’t belong in the category of those our people in Yorubaland say “ko le s’ododo, nitoripe o ti je doodo”. Translated literally to mean that he cannot be truthful because he had consumed the “fried plantain” of bribery and ultimately, compromise !
Over time, I had sat down to ponder the Tinubu phenomenon. His achievements so far cannot be equated with those of Chief Awolowo and Alhaji Jakande individually but, if the truth must be said, this Tinubu man has packed together with the finer attributes of the other two great politicians into his political modus operandi. It is the main reason, to my mind, why I am supremely convinced that Bola Tinubu’s BEST is yet to be.
Before I am quoted out of context, let me say here that Tinubu has not told me he is running for the Presidency, after Buhari in 2023 but I strongly believe that after the North, the presidency should come to the South West in 2023.
Some may ask, why not South East?
My own candid opinion is that in this matter of APC, the South-West did much better than the South-East in the formation and the footwork that gave Buhari, Nigeria’s version of America’s Abraham Lincoln, the coveted Presidential crown. Buhari, a conscience-driven person, has severally acknowledged this fact.
To be sure, the South East merits the Presidency, but not over and above the South West at this time, except fairness, equity and justice have other names to those espousing the idea of a South-East presidency. When it is rationally their turn, all believers in a united Nigeria will certainly support their bid.
That settled, we should, in looking to a South-West presidency, not allow ourselves to be goaded into any permutation beyond Bola Tinubu for 2023.
Yes, SW parades a galaxy of stars who are also suitable to enter the presidential race. VP Osinbajo, Fashola, Amosun et al. But everything considered, in my well-considered view, Tinubu fits the bill best of all. It is settled matter that all these names were discovered by Tinubu and guided, to become the political colossuses they proudly are today.
I took an excursion to history earlier in this article on Tinubu trajectory deliberately and advisedly. He did not wade into the political waters ill-prepared. He came into it as a man of means, which I can attest to in the Mushin scenario I painted here and in his well-articulated contributions to NADECO and the struggle against arbitrary rule towards the enthronement of democracy in our land; for which he was acknowledged and recognised by the powerful democracies and nations of the world.
What do I mean by saying that Tinubu fixed Lagos? It is fair account of history that Mobolaji Johnson remains unforgettable for working assiduously for the creation of Lagos State, and as its pioneer military administrator and later governor, did the best of which he was capable, to lay the foundation on which other governors, civilian and military, built.
But Lateef Jakande left his indelible footprints in governance as the first civilian governor who did the most pioneering job in the state including, but not limited to, the opening up of the Lekki corridor, undoubtedly the cash-cow of Lagos; the establishment of the Lagos State University, the mass housing estates in all the divisions of Lagos State as well as the state television (LTV8) and the abolition of the iniquitous shift system in schools.
Yet, if Jakande turned the forest of Lagos to a town, if you permit that manner of expression, Tinubu, to his eternal credit, beautified that “town” of all those who came after Jakande.
On the road to his present station in life, Tinubu burnt the midnight oil and candle and unsparingly drove himself hard because he was busy in his “laboratory”, seeking solutions to the multitude of pròblems besetting Lagos and proferring solutions to them.
Today, it is beyond debate that the template he drew up from his time as governor is still working for the state. If it wasn’t working, the state will not have earned for itself the undisputed appellation of “centre of excellence” in the country.
Also, his ability to fish out performers as governors of the State after him, is not commonplace asset; otherwise we should have seen such feat replicated in other states of the federation since.
These points make him a priceless asset to be sought after. If he fixed Lagos, I am goddamn convinced he can fix Nigeria.
I won’t claim absolute knowledge of all the frontline politicians of national stature; but I will wager on my bottom naira if Tinubu is not the hardest working of them all.
I recall my courtesy call on the Oba of Lagos at his Idunganran Palace shortly after his coronation and my own return from self- exile in Europe in 2008. After a good lunch with Kabiyesi Rilwan Akiolu and I signified my intention to take my leave of him and proceed to pay a similar visit to Tinubu at his Bourdillon Road residence, he asked me to help prevail on the Asiwaju of Lagos to slow down, that the man was over-working himself.
The reply Tinubu gave me when I delivered Oba Akiolu’s message was and still instructive:
“Prince, there can be no rest yet; because there’s still a lot of work ahead”
Ever since, the man Tinubu has not looked back. If anyone says he cannot see what he has been doing since 2008, then that person must be wearing blinkers.
Politics can be a game of chess. It is also a game that cannot be played shunting God aside in the schemings. God is of equity, fairness, justice and conscience. Those who disregard the Supreme Being in their games always reap the whirlwind of their dishonesty and perfidy; the pity of it is that they never lived to have the consequences stare them in the face. That falls in the realm of spiritualism.
On terra firma, I cannot but remember the Awujale’s pet-song of “eyi ma dun to ee; eyi ma tun to ee; eyi ma dun to niti gbajumo; aiye ile o, eyi ma dun to niti gbajumo; eni baa sope ko dun to, ko see tie, ka woran ..”
Seriously, theres no politician of Yoruba descent that òne can realistically compare to Tinubu at the present time. People of Tinubu’s type attract mostly undeserved criticisms to themselves; but called by any name, honey is nothing except sweet.
He must have been a diligent student of Awolowo school of thought where the sage postulated years ago that one needed financial resources in large quantum to battle reaction, negativism and underdevelopment to submission.
The narrow-mindedness, heartlessness and petty jealousy with which some of his kinsmen embraced to thwart Yorubas best opportunity for Awo to become the President in his time, should not be allowed to rear their ugly heads to thwart another golden chance for the Yorubas and inexorably the Nigerian nation this time around.
I submit in all seriousness and sincerity that Bola Tinubu is Nigeria’s best hope, come 2023, after Buhari’s Presidency.