6th July, 2011
I was in Ghana recently in that illustrious country of the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, the great Ghanian leader and foremost pan-Africanist of blessed memory.
The object of my mission was to felicitate with my great leader, I mean that leader of leaders, the revered Lion of Bourdillon, Governor Emeritus and undoubtedly the Asiwaju of Yoruba, His Excellency, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who was honoured with the African Servant Leadership Award, by the Ghana Graduate School of Leadership and Governance.
It was an occasion that left no one in any doubt of the authentic African stature of this enigmatic son of Africa and his standing as an exemplary piece of Nigeriaâ€™s glory and a foremost ambassador of the black race.
The day in question, Asiwaju shone so brilliantly above a million mega stars as his immense contribution to Nigeria and mother Africa was lavishly celebrated.
It was indeed, Asiwajuâ€™s moment of glory, which will linger for long in memory.
Let me confess that even though all along, I have held my leader in the highest esteem, little did I realise how much he is appreciated beyond Nigeria until after that memorable visit to Ghana, where I had first hand opportunity to appreciate Asiwaju as a great leader whose fame transcends the Nigerian shores to the vast African space.
I was surprised through my interactions to witness first hand and from testimonies, the high esteem in which Ghanaians hold the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) leader and that Asiwajuâ€™s popularity and fame cuts across virtually every section of the Ghanaian society, ranging from the media, the elites, commoners, students and politicians, among others.
It is unfortunate that a prophet is without honour in his own country. This is because back here in Nigeria, I also realised, to my chagrin, that the Hausa-Fulani and Ibo including other minority tribal groups speak of Tinubuâ€™s feat of valour and had wished that a unifying figure of his stature would emerge to instil in them a common sense of belonging as Tinubu had done for the Yoruba.
Imagine for instance, what would have been the battered and brutalised psyche, humiliation and deep sense of inferiority that would have been the lot of this proven tribe of royal people, I mean the Yoruba, if Tinubu had not come to the rescue.
One could also have imagined how the likes of Awo, Abraham Adesanya, MKO Abiola and others, would have felt wherever they may be today, in Godâ€™s universe at Tinubuâ€™s invaluable effort in redeeming the collective pride of the Yoruba.
There is no doubt that Oduduwa, the legendary progenitor of the Yoruba, will be infinitely happy at this heroic feat of the indisputable Asiwaju of Yorubaland and the field marshal of the strategic politics of the southwest and the destiny-wished arrowhead of the progressive forces in Nigeria.
My advice to the Yoruba and Nigerians in general, is not to repeat the mistake of neglecting the great gift God has bestowed by putting in their midst, an uncommon, homo sapien and born leader of men like Asiwaju.
This expression is undoubtedly being made in the light of Asiwajuâ€™s heroic sacrifice exerted by putting his life on the line during the tyrannical IBB and Abacha eras in order that democracy may thrive.
Indeed, after Awo, there is no doubt that Tinubu comes across so easily as the visionary statesman and legend of our time and also for the profundity of his mind.
The tremendous development witnessed in Lagos State today is literally traceable to his visionary initiative and dynamism as the pioneer architect, who exhibited the rare courage of putting his reputation on the line for Governor Fasholaâ€™s emergence to ensure the continuity of his good work.
And for those who may wish to differ in this belief, it would have been appropriate to enjoin them to pause for a moment and imagine the general wave of condemnation and opprobrium that would have been hurled on Asiwaju if Fasholaâ€™s governance of Lagos State had turned out a disaster. I bet, Tinubu would have been literally hanged.
It is therefore interesting to note that this proverbial grain of mustard seed, planted during that immensely progressive era of Tinubu as governor of Lagos State and fielding a considerable harvest of growth in incumbent governor, Barrister Babatunde Fashola, is today being replicated in the progressive ACN governance of Ekiti, Osun and Oyo states.
This, indeed, is a development that deserves to be applauded by every patriotic Nigerian, considering the pivotal role of the southwest as a bastion of the progressive forces of which Asiwaju himself occupies a frontline role as the arrowhead.
Asiwaju is no doubt an uncommon gift to the Yoruba, Nigerians, Africans and mankind as a whole as his type are rare to come by, they only occur once in a generation.
Unlike Awo, who is only being appreciated after death, Nigerians and indeed, the Yoruba in particular, should not repeat the fatal error of allowing this legendary leader of men and his immense endowment to waste away.
â€¢Kunle Ademoye, an ex-lawmaker, was Chairman, Committee on Housing, Lagos House of Assembly