Asiwaju: Right Man for 2023



By Moruf Akinderu-Fatai

Many often assume that the aspiration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to become the President of Nigeria is new. He has nursed this hope to serve our fatherland for a while if one cares to look deeply through the lens of his passion and involvement in governance and power in the last two decades. No one, who is as passionate as he is about the nation, will see the situation we are in today and stay away from making his contribution except he is incapable.

Asiwaju is skilled, knowledgeable and fit to navigate the nation out of the murky waters that we find ourselves in today. The rebirth of this great nation can only be masterminded by a proven doer with the legendary power of vision and wizardry ability to turn things around. This is a man that wanted to run with Mr. President in 2015. Why did he want to be the Vice President?  His aim is to run the economic agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari. No agenda is good enough if it cannot be translated to real improvement in people’s lives. This requires exceptional competence and clear-cut vision. Not many can achieve the desired turnaround. Only a few can boast of the testimonial of this great man.

Power peddlers, who knew his exceptional capacity and did not want Buhari’s regime to succeed, were vehemently against this ticket. They proclaimed change, but were against the people who can make it happen. This is the hypocrisy damaging our nation, keeping us chained to the forces of stagnation. What did they do next? They started attacking all his business and political interests in 2015. They have bought over many of his allies and turned them against him. They believe that if they can destroy his support system, they can quench his passion.

However, time and recent events have proved them wrong. I am not a spiritual person. But I can see it well. I am sure that all those who claimed spirituality should have seen that this man remains not only constant, but also resolute as a progressive force that could bring the solutions that we all yearn for. My support for him is not based on sentiment, but founded on his capability for smart visioning and his unique style of bringing solutions and ,of course, his financial wizardry.

I am totally convinced that this is the man for this moment. This is a moment when a lot is at stake in this nation. It is our make or mar moment. A lot is hanging in the balance. We all know that a leadership error at this moment will be a die cast for the fragmentation of all that makes this nation tick. In all my years of studying Tinubu, I have been awed by his capacity to generate solutions to seemingly complex challenges.  His ability to think clearly brought about the idea of Independent Power Plants (IPPs) at a time when power supply in Lagos State was very bad. He was the first to do this in Nigeria via Enron with 270 megawatts.

The private sector keyed into it and they are still ready to buy into it. The strategy was to be able to release the 100 megawatts from the grid to the public while the private sector pays higher rates for the IPP. By 2004, the Lagos State Government planned to add another 570 megawatts in Morogbo, Badagry. But the federal government, then under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made nonsense of the project. It gave Ibadan 90 megawatts and was removing over N250 million monthly from the allocation of Lagos State. Till today, Lagos is yet to get constant electricity in Nigeria despite the fact that the idea was hijacked at the federal level. Also, Asiwaju brought up the idea of 1,000 Lagos Free Trade Zone (LFZ) at Ibeju-Lekki LGA. Today, the zone has over 40 multi-billion-dollar investors including Dangote Refinery Ltd, Dangote Petrochemical & Fertilizer Plant and Lekki Deep Sea Port.

Nigerians should be berated for their inability to elect the right leaders to steer Africa’s biggest economy currently valued $440.78 billion. The examples of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Moshood Abiola are pungent examples of our costly errors in the past. Shall we continue this ruinous trend? Shall we keep cutting our nose to spite our face? You want Nigeria to progress. Yet, you cannot see that there is a candidate who is very ready, willing and qualified for the job. There is no gainsaying that Asiwaju’s sound background in public policy and finance is needed at a time like this.

The foundation that he laid through initiating a development plan for Lagos State over two decades ago is the singular reason for the sustained prosperity of this megacity, which according to Lagos State Bureau of Statistics, today accounts for 26.7 percent of Nigeria’s total GDP and more than 50 percent of non-oil GDP. The physical development, social growth and economic prosperity of the state are distinct in sub-Saharan Africa. With the solid foundation Asiwaju laid, Lagos should soon be matching Johannesburg (South Africa, $276 billion GDP), Cape town (South Africa, $155 billion), and Cairo (Egypt, $140 billion).

The major distraction, which is now being escalated, is this controversy about religion.  As a people, we have always looked forward to everything or anything that could take our eyes off our challenges. That is our nature, and thus is how we allow sentiment to continue to govern our lives and derail us from the sure path of progress. But I want us to know that this is a distraction that we cannot afford at a critical time like this. The debate is a game plan to scuttle the rescue plan that we need so badly.

What has being a Muslim or Christian got to do with having a clear mind and sound ideas to move Nigeria forward? Has religion contributed greatly to our national development? Which of the past leaders performed creditably as a result of his religious affiliation? Asiwaju is a detribalised and liberalised leader in all ramifications. He was the one who even gave the Easterners the best platform to grow their business in Lagos State. They feel so free to come to Lagos with the assurance that they will return home in prosperity. Under his guidance, governance opportunities are extended to all who live in Lagos without allusion to tribe or religion.

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I have observed that the old generation churches understand the dynamics. The new generation churches should please audit themselves. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo happens to be a Senior Pastor in one of Nigeria’s biggest churches. He has been the second in command for seven years. He is in charge of the economy and he has been very active in the church all over the country. He has been within the set-up. Yet, they talk of Islamisation of Nigeria. The last time I checked, the majority of the people that work with him are Christians with many pastors among. I have never seen a delegation of Christians go to officially protest to him that Christians are being maltreated. They now complain about persecutions to the United States and the United Kingdom. What an irony? What is their deep seated intention? Is it to trouble this nation further?

President Buhari, like any other man, has his faults. But in their hatred for the man, they have not seen that the man is a clear-headed Muslim with only one wife and shakes hands with ladies. I do know he attended church services when necessary to honor his Christian associates when the needs arise.  A man that works easily with a Pastor as his deputy and has another pastor friend as a former vice presidential candidate, that is, Pastor Tunde Bakare. Can this man be said to be against Christianity?

Here we are again. Tinubu’s choice of Kashim Shettima is a boil in the nose of detractors. This is a man with a sound educational background and exposure locally and globally. He is a detribalised Nigerian with landmark achievements during his stint as Borno State Governor.  A serving senator and a banker by profession, Shettima is well loved by both Muslims and Christians in Borno State. It was said that he made funds available for the re-building of churches destroyed by terrorists. He launched attacks against various terrorist groups in the state. No wonder he is top on the hit list of the terrorists. But they will never get him. He committed a lot of resources to fighting insurgents and resettling the victims of terror attacks.

Obviously, the enemies of Nigeria see this Tinubu-Shettima as another powerful combination that can open the doors of progress. As a result, they don’t want it to fly. I will tell you that this arrangement will bring a guarantee of defeat for Boko Haram. We have two individuals who are thinkers and doers. Shettima will bring in the ground knowledge on situations of insurgency, and it will be tackled headlong. We should spend more time thinking of Shettima’s competencies and how capable he is to give us the kind of peculiar leadership at a time like this. Not his religion.

Asiwaju too is undoubtedly a man who dictates to challenges. Challenges do not control him. He is a civilian with the heart of a gallant soldier who faces issues headlong without a thought of retreat until victory is achieved. Let us all support this man. Electricity will no longer be a nightmare and insecurity will become a history. Once security and power issues are tackled, our diasporas will surely come back to contribute to our journey to greatness.

While others without a meaningful agenda are dancing to a music they think could bring acceptance, Asiwaju is looking beyond the rhythm of their music. He sees capacity. He does not see religion or ethnicity. He wants to solve problems all the time and bequeath a virile nation to posterity. He has evidence of his capacity all over. Take a look at the Civic Centre on Victoria Island. You will recall that stretch was a refuse dump. It was Asiwaju’s vision that changed the landscape of that entire space opposite the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island.

I plead all Nigerians of good conscience to desist from religion and ethnicity to divide us. These are the two weapons the so-called owners of Nigeria have been deploying to divide us. If they succeed, they will ultimately destroy Nigeria. God forbid! The tumours of religious and tribal division must be removed. I think Asiwaju has taken it upon himself to tackle these ills before bringing himself before the electorate. I am indeed very excited waiting for Asiwaju’s presidency. I am eager to see new and novel approaches to solving problems in a manner that turns challenges and concerns to positivity. He will draw up and implement development plans and build a legacy that leaders after him will build upon.

I plead again that anyone, who is very upset by this choice, should look at the man again and whatever he stood for in his years on earth and check if he indeed does not care about the other faith. His wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, is a Pastor in the Redeemed Church of God. The concerns are duly noted. I am sure there will be a lot of engagement as we move towards the elections, and the fears will be trashed out. The issues facing Nigeria can only be resolved by a man of strong political will, a resolute man with a lot of courage.

I am sure his era will bring prosperity to all, irrespective of our religious biases – Christians, Muslims and those of other faiths. Asiwaju is the best amongst the presidential candidates now. Please, for the sake of our posterity, let’s focus on what will lead us back to the path of prosperity.  Nigeria needs this kind of leader now: a courageous, dynamic and resolute solution strategist: Asiwaju is a man for a moment like this.

-Akinderu-Fatai, Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, writes from Alausa

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