8th April, 2023
By Dele Adeoluwa
Once upon a time, a man of wisdom, who decided to teach his growing-up son some basic lessons of life, took him along with him to observe two mango trees, located some meters apart, in a vast swathe of lush green vegetation on the outskirts of town.
The ambience of the first mango tree was a study in quiescence. It was in solitude. As sedate as the quietude of a graveyard. You could almost slice the stillness with a knife. The mango tree bore no fruits at all.
The situation around the second mango tree was, however, the exact opposite of the first. The scene was simply rumbuctious. A din. The big, quite fecund mango tree itself was a luxuriant sight. It bore rich clusters of eye-catching plums. The purple-yellow fruits were lusciously inviting. A horde of people swirled around the rich bough, engaged in a flurry of activities. Many were busy hurling missiles of various shapes and sizes to pluck the fruits.
Others tackled the quest with long poles to which were attached sickle. Some others made feeble attempts to stop the missile throwers, so they could safely climb the mango tree to directly fetch the fruits. Meters away, some idled and munched away. Nearby still, a cacophony from a mini makeshift market that had suddenly sprung up, swelled around, as buyers haggled over the price of some fruits displayed for sale. Quite a sight!
“My son,” the father broke his silence, intruding into his son’s train of thought as he watched the enthralling scenes before him. “This is life in its raw form.”
“How, dad?” The lad asked, still miffed about his father’s objective and their mission to the site.
“The first mango tree we went to see was solitary,” his father explained; “there was no sign of life around it because there were no fruits to attract anybody.”
“Its fate epitomizes a typical man’s life when he’s still struggling. It shows that you’re alone if you’re poor or a failure. Nobody reckons with you. Nobody cares if you exist because you’re not useful to them!”
“Oh, I see!”
“Now, you see the boisterous scenes around the second mango tree, people are flocking to it because it’s fruitful and richly so. That’s how people will flock to you the moment you ascend the pinnacle of success. You’re now a cynosure of all eyes.
“A lot of people will dote on you, but many will hurl insults at you, accusing you of many phoney things, as if your success means nothing, just as missiles are being hurled at the mango tree.
“But, my son, don’t mind them. Theirs is just the distracting noise of a market place. Just remain focused. While some among the crowd around you will genuinely love you, many are with you solely because of what they will gain from you.
“Then, many who insult you, posing to be fighting a moral cause, are, you will find, mere hypocrites! They’re only envious of you. They hate to love your guts, your wealth, your success. But deep down within them, they’re wishing to be like you.
“But, as I said, that’s life. So, ignore such distractions. Just be yourself, you’ll always triumph.”
The story of the second mango tree mirrors that of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Quite indisputably, Asiwaju Tinubu has always elicited extreme passions on both sides of the divide. While a sizeable population constantly pillory him every step of the way, never seeing anything good in whatever he says or does, many also dote on him almost with equal passion. Most of his hardest critics are simply envious of his sterling accomplishments. Some of them have become so obsessed with envy and resentment of anything, which has a Tinubu imprimatur, that it has over time turned to hatred.
However, the man, imbued with a rare native intelligence and acumen, sees all the hoopla no more than an irritant too infinitesimal to be bothered about. He would thus not be swayed by the negative passions trailing his political path. He pursues his cause wisely following the dictates of his conscience in and outside power and politics. This stoic sangfroid partly accounts for his streak of electoral successes and his latest victory at the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
Asiwaju has a robust experience in political activism and impactful governance, since he joined the fray in the days of the military; through the titanic battles waged to actualise the annulled June12,1993 presidential mandate of the late MKO Abiola, in which he was a protagonist, at great costs to his personal safety and resources; and through his eventual foray into power as a two-term governor of Lagos State (1999-2007) during which he laid the foundation for a modern, mega Lagos that has become a model for other states today.
His political life and brand of politics are a study in ingenuity, grit and elan. Here is a politician far removed from the madding crowd of ‘bread and butter’ politicians, and has created a political niche for himself, a brand of politics that could aptly be described as ‘politics as expedient not as convenient.’
In other words, Tinubu does not see politics as an end in itself but a means to an end, which is the ennobling quest and sacrifice for the overriding good of society. A highly intrepid personality, the success he has made of his unique brand of politics is a triumph of his political savvy-cum-craftsmanship, tenacity, resilience and legendary patience.
In pursuing this brand, he has had to sacrifice much of personal comfort and resources as well as suffered serious persecutions. He has also been highly misunderstood. Unlike others who hop from one political party to the other like monkeys, in perpetual search of their own share of the proverbial national cake wherever it could be found, Tinubu has through thick and thin stuck to progressive politics, the left of the center.
Time was when he was the only Alliance for Democracy (AD) governor in the whole country. That was in 2003 when then President Olusegun Obasanjo, seeking to build a home base for himself in that year’s election, forged a phoney alliance with the Southwest governors, elected on the defunct AD platform. The AD governors were to mobilise votes for him at the presidential election, while his party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was to do the same for the AD governors at the governorship election.
However, the then president cleverly pulled the rug off the feet of the governors. It was easy for him because presidential election came first. Having fulfilled their side of the bargain and mobilised massively for the then president, the governors were subsequently outmanoeuvred out of power!
Only Tinubu of Lagos State, who had seen through the subterfuge, survived the plot. The rigging hurricane, of course, hit Lagos too, but it was effectively stopped by the eagle-eye and eternal vigilance of Tinubu and his men. And only an iron-cast personality like Tinubu could have survived the magisterial onslaughts, which the imperial ‘power house’ in Abuja then unleashed on Lagos afterwards.
One instance was the illegal seizure of the state’s monthly allocation ostensibly to punish former Lagos Sate Governor Tinubu for creating the Lagos Development Area Councils (LCDAs) against an imperious presidential order. Not even a Supreme Court order could move the former President to release the money. It was not released until a new administration came in. But, Tinubu as governor and his team of wisemen managed the available resources without having to borrow.
This is the political maestro and strategist who won the February 25, 2023 presidential election, but has continued to be derided in a most duplicitous manner. The miraculous way his victory came can only be explained within the context of a man fated by Providence to be king. His victory right from the most tempestuous primary of his party to the main rancorous election is akin to the story of the proverbial elephant, which, like a bulldozer, uprooted all the barricades erected on his path to stop its advance to the river and dragged them along with it and when it got to the river triumphantly, it did a supple, macho dance atop the barricades-now-turned-path, to the consternation of the foes!
•Adeoluwa is the former Editor of The Nation on Saturday.