READ Patrick Obahiagbon’s piece on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

Tinubu: Salute to courage as history beckons again

By Patrick Obahiagbon

Today, in Africa, the motherland of humanity, the self-glorification of the continent as the cradle of human civilisation is fast obliterating into a deprecable aqua of oblivion. It is becoming pellucid for any responsible and objective African personage that what would mark and herald the continent’s progress in spite of the traumatised stage that global political economy and neo-power geopolitics and stratagem have confined the continent to, is an audacious tackling of the continent’s current vaudeville of social, economic, political, religious and cultural phantasmagoria. Anything short of this is vacuous sloganeering.

Yet, not many of African leaders in all spheres of life, with emphasis on the political sphere have come to terms with the afore-stated grim reality. In Nigeria, the over-rated giant of Africa, a giant standing on spaghetti legs, the ruling class just like the ruling class in most of Africa, is still wallowing in delusion of grandeur and self-delusional hocus-pocus instead of waking up from slumber to tackle the hard stuff of governance and development. The recklessness and tactlessness of the PDP administration under President Goodluck Jonathan clearly demonstrates the imperative of the enthronement of a philosopher-king-leader. A philosopher-king of the Platonic guardian class anchorage, naturally brings finesse, rigour, discipline, fortitude, tact and above all, vision to governance.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, since the inauguration of the Fourth Republic has brought deft, organisational dexterity, benevolence, discipline and progressive bonhomie to Nigerian politics. The national leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has never been a pretender to power politics. He has always brought to bear his organisational skills and a given talent to strike the right chord at the right time. This is one African leader who is ideologically persuaded on how to turn the African fortune around as he continues to recruit well-heeled emergent leaders for the service of Nigeria.

His knack for spotting and keeping very promising people with leadership potentials is unrivalled in contemporary Nigeria. A close look at the army of young turks he worked with as governor of Lagos state between 1999 and 2007, who today are leading lights on the national stage foretells the sterner stuff of Asiwaju. His allies like Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Babatunde Fashola, Tunji Bello, Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo and a host of others amply demonstrate the sterner stuff of the APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His recent rapproachment with the Afenifere group is a political masterstroke and has left the PDP opposition befuddled and in the horns of discombobulation, especially with the tattered, shattred and battered nose its Oduduwa political subalterns received in the hands of hijackers of their recently held national convention.

PDP Southwest operatives who had basked in the gregarious and temerarious mire of wittling down the prodigious influence of Asiwaju in the politics of the Southwest now have to go back to the drawing board. The great efforts of the APC national leader in building bridges across ideological, ethnic and religious divides put him ahead as the master-strategist nonpareil in Nigerian politics today.

Love him or hate him, what critics and admirers of Bola Ahmed Tinubu cannot take away from him, is his organisational skills, a rare capacity to put his nose to the grind stone, a talent hunter, builder and investor in young men and women, imbued with cosmopolitan mien. As Senator in the aborted Third Republic, Asiwaju’s progressive jousting and performance in organising the opposition human rights and pro-democracy movements that challenged and defeated military dictatorship in the country is another testimonial to his progressive ranking.

He did not only join in the mass struggle to resettle the military in its fortes, he galvanised numerous social forces (professional groups, radical patriots and socialists, minority ethnic rights groups, leading centrists, even progressive retired military officers, farmers, traders, taxi drivers, tailors, fishermen, leading members of the clergy and their followers) to ensure the nation survives the onslaught and devastating macho-politics of military jackboots.

He gave life to radical newspapering in the country which called off the bluff and swashbuckling megalomania of the “kill-and-go” mien of the late General Sani Abacha.
Indeed, at a time when many great and respected Nigerians were hunted and murdered for their anti-establishment political activities, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu doggedly and ruggedly refused to tergiversate. He retreated into exile and battled the Abacha junta to luxation. Tinubu’s humanism and flair for constitutionalism was consummated as the governor of Lagos State between 1999 and in 2007.

Today, we are living witnesses to the giant strides of Tinubu as governor. In his bid to test and concretise the quest for federalism, the APC national leader as governor of Lagos State created local councils and funded them. Some other states which initiated the Lagos model could not withstand the onslaught of the federal government under the leadership of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who dictatorially stopped the Lagos State’s federal allocation. Other states quickly retraced their steps and annulled their newly created councils.

But, Lagos State under the dogged and cerebral Asiwaju, a federalist to the core, truly committed to the ideals of federalism in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi- cultural Nigeria pushed on with his newly created councils without Federal allocations for a number of years till he left office in 2007. Critics would easily say that Lagos is rich with huge internally generated revenue which emboldened Asiwaju to dare then President Obasanjo, but we all do know that if Asiwaju was spineless and pusillanimous, or even opportunistic to curry Obasanjo’s favour, he would have caved in and abrogated the councils he created.

It took the Supreme Court ruling for Lagos State to convert its new councils to Development Areas. The lesson from Asiwaju’s resilience and political sagacity is to put the question once again whether Nigerian States are ideologically committed to the struggle to refederalise Nigeria, with the states or federating units reclaiming some of their rights and functions?

The great federalist believes in action than cheap propaganda. Nonetheless, the lesson was not lost. The Asiwaju political machine made a statement that remains a watershed in the struggle for federalism in contemporary Nigeria.

As the nation returns to electoral politics in the months ahead, the All Progressive Congress (APC) must leverage on the political fortunes and far-reaching socio-political networks of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The Jagaban is already doing what he knows how best to do- reaching out to all that matter on the political stage, building bridges across the land to enhance the electoral chances of the APC.

Asiwuja should and must also reach out to other politically estranged groups in the other geopolitical zones to fortify the chances of our great party in the 2019 general elections.

Nigeria has always been Asiwaju’s political pet project and that is the more reason I call on him to shame and disappoint all those political Lilliputians who are praying so hard that there should be a crevice and snap in the tender and delicate political relationship between him and President Buhari. President Buhari needs Asiwaju Tinubu in 2019 just the same way Asiwaju Tinubu needs President Buhari in 2019. BUT A STEADY AND PROGRESSIVE NIGERIA NEEDS THE TWO OF YOU TOGETHER MORE. Truth be told. The other political parties are not offering better alternatives for the progress of our great country. History truly beckons again.

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