By Mobolaji Sanusi
“The true statesman is the one who is willing to take risks.”—Charles de Gaule(1890-1970).
It is not by human power but by the grace of almighty God that in over two decades of the current democratic dispensation, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), has become a puzzle that power brokers in the nation’s political firmament have found a hard row to hoe. Tinubu, omo olodo ide, holds numerous important titles including the Jagaban of Borgu land, Asiwaju of Lagos and governor emeritus of Lagos State. On Monday, March 29, 2021, he will clock 69, but yet remains an enigma that keeps waxing stronger and escaping, in the process, the unceasing traps of his ever mounting socio-political traducers. This unfaltering torchbearer of progressive politics, looks set, to remain for a long time to come, a mystery that fake friends masquerading as his genuine allies, and confessed foes alike will try, albeit unsuccessfully, to unravel.
Tinubu, despite his unrivaled contemporary vilification by envious political gladiators and parasites, remains the most-sought-after politician and perhaps, one of the few most significant of the progressive hue in modern-day Nigeria. The reality, even amongst those that hate to love Tinubu, is that he has become a veritable political brand that can be ignored at the peril of any noteworthy politician in the nation. Since 1999, when this new political experiment was born, Tinubu, like Awolowo achieved until his death in 1987, has been the main issue in our current democratic journey. When his political party was in the opposition until 2015, the concerns of previous governments was what will be Tinubu’s reactions to their policies and actions: Now that his party controls the federal government, the concerns of those in government and also within the ruling political party’s topmost hierarchy is whether Tinubu is with them or how best they could tame his looming political image. Until he speaks on any issue of national significance, public opinion is not settled. That shows how purposefully powerful Tinubu has, so far, been to our body polity. The Asiwaju of Lagos has faced fears, betrayal and treachery but at the end of it all remain undaunted.
Today, in our political firmament, Tinubu has become a political brand whose name, most politicians deploy to win support at national and state levels during electioneering periods. The question to ask any aspiring politician seeking public office to determine his prospects or seriousness is: Have you been endorsed by Tinubu or not? That is how politically turbulent the Tinubu phenomenon is in today’s Nigeria.
This writer keeps observing how political ignoramuses deride him; the grovelers of centrist conservative elements impugn his character, but that is Tinubu, the enigma still standing like the rock of Gibraltar. No doubt, Tinubu has the skills of political liberation and he’s equally imbued with the power of intuition which makes him tower above adversaries. This man of unquantifiable knack for philanthropy has this uncanny nerve for discovering talent not minding the fact that most of these people turn out to stab him in the back. But Tinubu, at sixty-nine, must ask himself a self reassessment question to wit: Could it be genuinely said that his created talents are discovering fresh beneficial talents or just using the platform he created for them to pursue their selfish agenda? It has become imperative for Asiwaju to start paying attention to how he handles back-stabbers and over-fed loyalists with diminished passion for what he stands for other than to continue to use his brand to extort, undermine and be envious of younger loyalists, creating avoidably in the process, more enemies for him.
Out of sheer envy for Tinubu’s result-oriented political track record; his steadfast commitment to finding solutions to political challenges, most people that he helped to power later see him as serious threat to their ambitions to cling onto power.
Some, out of steep spite of his large-heart and enormous goodwill, will query his source of wealth: And simply because the man is doing what they cannot ever do or are not privileged to do since they are not in a position to do it, they harbour the ache in their bellies. Some see him as being immoderate. But Benjamin Disraeli had an answer for the Tinubu-phobia when he said: ‘Moderation has been called a virtue to limit the ambition of great men, and to console undistinguished people for their want of fortune and their lack of merit.’ There are empirical examples of Nigerians, irrespective of tribes and especially among the Yoruba, the man’s cradle, that have benefited immensely from his political and pecuniary largesse. But sadly, these same people still hypocritically relish speaking ill of him. Surprisingly, Tinubu relishes welcoming such backstabbers back to his fold. Most of us see this as a weakness but he sees that to be one sacrifice of greatness that he must pay. One can only hope that this inclination of taking back dangerous backstabbers would not turn to be his undoing later in life.
Whoever doubts Tinubu’s progressive credentials needs to embark on historical excursion. After not less than three failed attempts at the presidency, current president, General Muhamadu Buhari eventually clinched the coveted post in 2015 and 2019 respectively because of the invaluable support and political ingenuity of Tinubu. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, whatever reservation he might have for Tinubu will forever be secretly grateful for the irreplaceable support that Tinubu gave him in 2011. Also worthy of mention is the fact that at a time that the Yoruba states of Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Osun and Ekiti were falling to the gangsterism of dethroned People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2003 and 2007, it was only Asiwaju’s Lagos that stood to absorb the heat of conservatism before eventually launching, single-handedly, the worthwhile battle that liberated the former western region but Ondo, from the grips of rampaging agents of feudal politics. Progressivism is indeed taking firm root in the country today because of the great political mind possessed by Tinubu.
Despite the sleaze of political mudslinging by mostly beneficiaries of his political large-heartedness, Tinubu’s democratic scorecard remains very glittering and unassailable.
Tinubu is indeed and always politically determined to succeed. And it is this uncommon determination to be great and to politically liberate the people from the yoke of reactionary politics that compelled him to take with zeal, progressive politics, since year 2014’s merger of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) with other opposition parties – far beyond the west and to all parts of the country. This gave birth to All Progressives Congress (APC) that today controls the seat of power in Abuja. The move at that time generated spite, covetousness as much as cynicism from those who always see impossibility rather than possibility in Tinubu’s laudable political initiatives.
The difference between Tinubu and the rest in the political arena is that he sees possibility where others predict doom. His often-talked-about political superiority complex does not mean haughtiness; although it might appear to be so in the eyes of the mischievous among politicians/citizens who want to see it so. Tinubu feels a higher esteem over the obstacles he desires to surmount and he is blessed with the rare courage of overcoming them, with enough energy reserved for any eventuality.
The positive roles of Tinubu in the successful political merger of the opposition parties; the outcome of the 2015 general elections in favour of then opposition and the fact that a precedent has been set that makes it impossible for a ruling party, especially at the centre, to take others for granted in the political space have become a burden of envy in the minds of most politicians that see Tinubu as a threat. Rejection of Tinubu’s political ingenuity is nothing but a deliberate creation of avoidable amphitheatre of perfidious hypocrisy.
The current firm control of the centre by erstwhile opposition, hitherto considered as impossible, and the invaluable role played by the Jagaban of Borgu land in bringing it to fruition merely confirmed him as the definitive contemporary political leader of the progressives in the country.
Like Awolowo during his lifetime, Tinubu, ‘omo olodo ide’, has, in contemporary Nigerian politics, become a thorn in the flesh of conservative/progressive politicians of less candour. This unjustifiable kvetching syndrome by some of the current political elite class against Tinubu has become a catalyst that gives him more inspiration to surpass his present enviable feat. Tinubu must realize that this is not the time to rest on his oars. Things are really tough in the country and like the political magician that we know him to be, he should, once again, step forward and rescue this country from the current abyss of undesired change. This writer, wholeheartedly wishes Asiwaju, the husband of adorable Senator Oluremi Tinubu, plenteous happy returns of your day in sound health and continuing political relevance. Happy birthday to you sir. And as the Yoruba would pray: Akanbi, omo olodo ide, “igba odun, odun kan.”
–– Sanusi, a lawyer/Journalist is the immediate past MD/CEO of Lagos State Signage & Advertisement Agency.