30th March, 2012
It was a well deserved honour for the national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as eminent Nigerians gathered at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, to felicitate with him on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
The event was the colloquium organised by his associates as part of the activities marking his birthday in Lagos.
The former governor of the state used the occasion to reflect on the success of his eight-year administration in Lagos, a feat he attributed to the team spirit of his executive council.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, frontline diplomat who chaired the 4th Bola Tinubu Colloquium, use the event to advocate a Sovereign National Conference, SNC.
The former Commonwealth Secretary-General, said that such a conference is a way to tackle Nigeria’s challenges, adding that to return to true federalism, Nigeria needs to restructure the architecture of governance.
Anyaoku also called for the creation of six federating units in place of the 36 states, adding that should the 36 states be retained, they should become development zones within the federating units.
His words: “That the support for the SNC is without doubt and the outcome of the conference should be subjected to a national referendum to give it legitimacy.
“No one can deny the fact that there are major challenges of insecurity, heightened by Boko Haram, constant call for new revenue allocation formula, decline in health and education standard. These, in my view, should be addressed at the conference on how to face the challenges.”
He noted that if Nigeria is to arrest the destructive competition among ethnic groups, it must hold a national conference.
He said Nigeria cannot face these challenges on the basis of the 1999 Constitution; otherwise, the nation’s quest for peace and development would remain elusive.
According to him, to effect this change, “we need a national conference but there are those who fear the break-up of Nigeria, the burden accruing to Nigeria are sufficiently weighty to outweigh fear”.
“It should be accepted that Nigeria as one entity will not be up for contention. I do believe that a true federation, rather than unitary, will promote unity in Nigeria.”
To Anyaoku, Asiwaju Tinubu is “an effective advocate of federalism and a dedicated activist for the return of democracy and the restitution of Chief MKO Abiola’s presidential election victory in Nigeria.”
He accepted to chair the event, according to him, because of what the celebrator stands for.
The diplomat said: “My second reason for agreeing to be here is the significance of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as a consistent advocate of true federalism in Nigeria. As governor of Lagos State, he undertook some key development projects which, under our existing Constitution, were federal responsibility.
“In this context, I recall an incident on a presidential flight from Lagos to Singapore in 2002 when, in my presence, President Obasanjo and Governor Tinubu were engaged in a rather animated discussion over the issue of reimbursement to Lagos State of the cost of a federal road which the state government had constructed to the satisfaction of the Federal Ministry of Works.
“It was clear to me then that Asiwaju was one of the few people who can speak the truth to power. There is, therefore, little wonder that he has become a towering leader of opposition to the federal governing party.”
The former governor aligned with the view of Anyaoku, that only a National Conference can resolve the fundamental questions germane to Nigeria’s unity and stability of the country.
Highlights of the programme included the launch of a book entitled: Asiwaju Leadership In Troubled Times, edited by seasoned journalists, Tunji Bello, Sam Omatseye and Segun Ayobolu; cutting of the anniversary cake by the celebrator and introduction of the ‘Tinubu Institute of Policy and Governance’ to the public.
An elder statesman, Alhaji Maitama Sule, who revisited the national leadership question, hailed Tinubu’s leadership qualities, urging others to emulate him. Sule, who first saw Tinubu, in 1959, when he was eight years old, said Nigerians should strive to raise leaders and not looters.
The book was reviewed by frontline journalist, Kunle Ajibade. Another accomplished journalist, Dele Alake, former Information and Strategy Commissioner, gave the toast.