Tinubu: A Colossus At 65
By Idowu Ajanaku.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are aleader”
– John Quincy Adams
Questions have always been asked, over the centuries, about the secret ingredients that make up the pot pourri of political leadership, especially with regard to those who dictate the affairs of men and materials. While William Shakespeare, the literary icon opined that: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” the led majority often looks out for certain outstanding character traits in people who epitomise their collective dreams. They identify more easily with those who have the capacity and capability to articulate enduring solutions to their most nagging and intractable challenges; more so, leaders whose life trajectories have followed the inspiring path of zero-to-hero.
One man whose legion of friends, fans and political associates, here in Nigeria and beyond our shores, would today doff their hats for, click and raise their glasses to toast to his 65 chequered years of resilience and resourcefulness, is none other than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. As they celebrate with the man some love to call ‘the master strategist’, and others ‘the game-changer’, one cannot but take a sober moment to drink from the fountain of his illustrious life. In so doing, one comes in humility to glean lasting lessons in character, courage, charisma, confidence, candour and compassion (the 6C principles). Others come in a mixed milleu of humility, honesty, integrity, decisiveness, responsibility, passion, reliability and dependability.
Does he have all these qualities, or less, or even maybe more? That remains a knot for scholars in the political evolution of Nigeria to unravel. But for now, a few examples of the exhibition of these attributes would suffice. One is his uncanny ability to identify sterling leadership qualities in people, while others grope in the darkness of doubts and don’ts. Specifically, in 2007, when the gubernatorial market din swirled in Lagos over who would be his successor, he went for his erstwhile Chief of Staff, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). Though many analysts felt he was then a political neophyte, as the governorship candidate of the Action Congress (AC), Tinubu knew that Lagos, with its increasing population and industrial/environmental challenges, needed a man who knew and stood by the rule of law like the wavy lines on his palms. History has since proved him right.
And so it has been with the wave-making, world-renowned accountant, Akinwunmi Ambode, the visionary, vibrant and versatile incumbent governor of the Centre of Excellence, Lagos. When the coast was getting clear for political dreamers, jobbers and adventurers to throw their hats into the gubernatorial ring of the state in 2014, few, if any, looked the way of Ambode. True, he may have traversed the civil service landscape as an auditor for not less than 13 local councils. Yes, he may also have risen to the enviable posts of Accountant General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, as part of his 27 years sojourn in the civil service, but what has that got to do with the nitty-gritty of riding the wave crests of the murky waters of Nigeria’s brand of power and politics? In fact, the man looked too gentle to equate with the average political aggressor.
Yet, again Tinubu saw in him the most capable and trusted professional to lift Lagos above the rising tide of the looming economic recession. He knew that Nigeria was on the verge of that, what with the dwindling oil revenue and after the restless run of ravenous locusts of the PDP-led government at the centre. But quite a few did not. As recent events have proven, and considering his remarkable achievements in infrastructural development, transportation, healthcare delivery, education, entertainment and tourism, within a short span of two years, even Tinubu’s most critical political opponents are openly asking about the magic wand. But as the Pidgin English parlance in Nigeria goes, ‘dey no dey buy am for market’.
It is an unusual gift from God, given to a few men for the benefit of all. Indeed, great political leaders “analyse problems; identify the best solutions – not based on loyalty to political party, but rather on what is good and right and in the best interest of the nation as a whole.” Again, Tinubu’s open endorsement of the then All Peoples Congress (APC) candidate- and the current President Muhammadu Buhari – will for eons stand him in good stead. Towards the tail-end of the Jonathan-led, administration, Nigeria’s ship of state was literally on the verge of collapse, buffeted on all sides by the wanton waves of the twin evils of corruption and the insidious culture of impunity. There were overtures from the PDP for Tinubu to use his political clout to swing political patronage in their favour but he stood his ground. Nigerians are the better for it today, not minding the temporary pains of the economic recession.
It is in tandem with that patriotic zeal in him that he used his legendary political sagacity to resolve the impasse between the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Federal Government over the inevitable increase in the pump price of petroleum products. With dwindling crude oil production, no thanks to the mindless mayhem unleashed by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), as well as a drastic drop in the choice of our oil by foreign countries, the price premium motor spirit jumped from N97per litre to N145 per litre. Such were his skills at negotiation and peace-making that neither NLC nor TUC could embark on mass demonstrations to protest the hike as it had happened under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Also, there is the case of reaching out to the young stock of politicians in Borno State, who had hitherto been mesmerised by the stranglehold of a power- poaching politician for upward of 16 years. It was on the invitation of the governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima. More violence would have reared its ugly head in the Boko Haram-bedevilled state, had he not single-handedly offered the olive branch to calm strained nerves.
And in the South-West geo-political zone, where he hails from, Tinubu has become the respected rallying point, preaching peace, even across political divides. Little wonder that informed politicians from the well-informed axis now speak with one voice on burning national issues. He remains a critical catalyst for the socio-economic integration of the hugely blessed zone. History, therefore, beckons on him to continue to use his unique and uncommon political wisdom and wizardry to seek the best and the brightest for both state and country. He deserves all the accolades showered on him. Anyone or group of people that ignores him as the march begins towards 2019 does so at their own peril. It is 65 big gbosas to Nigeria’s most revered political colossus, still standing tall at 65!
Idowu Ajanaku is the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Lagos State on Information & Strategy
- Posted in: Opinions/Views