Former Governor of Lagos State and leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Bola Tinubu has a good understanding of politics. In fact, he is an astute politician, an acclaimed mobilizer, the unrivaled strategist and a calculative leader who knows how to attract the best brains. But he is also generous, brilliant, conciliatory, far-sighted, masterful, confident, quick-witted and mysterious. He has dominated the politics of South-West for over two decades now and there are no signs of letting go even as he prepares to become Nigeria’s president in a presidential nomination and primaries that promise to produce surprises.
In many ways, this smart politician is also a Nigerian patriot. During the long-drawn struggle to validate the June 12 1993 presidential election believed to have been won by billionaire business mogul, Chief MKO Abiola, he threw himself into the struggle. During this difficult time in Nigeria’s history, Tinubu provided leadership, ideas, funds and contacts even at the risk of his life and comfort. Eventually when the kitchen became too hot for him, he went into exile and continued the struggle with other democrats, friends of Nigeria and freedom fighters both in Nigeria and abroad until the soldiers were chased back to the barracks. Today, the former governor of Lagos State who transformed and changed the face of Lagos during his administration and the regimes that came after him, is in the ring for the biggest political prize. He wants to be president and he is leaving no stone unturned as he prepares to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Like a few other gladiators on APC’s crowded political field, Tinubu is also not new to Nigeria’s brand of high wire politics. He has survived many political battles and even at 70, he is still strong and capable of pulling the usual surprises in Nigeria’s politics. As a front-line presidential aspirant in APC, he is actually the man to beat, given his antecedent, personality and robust credential.
For instance, in 1998, he defeated the amiable late Engineer Funso Williams, the Lagos ‘favourate’ governorship aspirant to emerged as the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, AD. He went ahead to win the election the following year and became the pioneer governor of Lagos State in this political dispensation. So, between 1999 and 2007, Tinubu and his highly motivated followers held sway in Nigeria’s commercial capital, building infrastructure and political bridges. He has also discovered and effectively deployed all the talents he discovered since then. And until this moment, they are still on the field working very hard to sustain his legacy as a governor who came, saw and conquered.
One interesting about Tinubu’s aspiration is courage. In every of his battle, he usually deploys courage and this continues to pay off handsomely. Who still remembers his many battles with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s president who presided during Tinubu’s eight tenure as governor?
This unusual politician from Lagos State who created more sub administrative units at the local government level for convenience, suffered severely for daring. In fact, for a very long period during his governorship, Obasanjo suspended the statutory revenue allocation to Lagos State all in a bid to suffer and conquer him.
But he trudged on and damned the consequences, just to prove the point that he was after all, right. Today, every part of Nigeria benefits in one way or the other, from his sound economic vision which has increased the internally generated revenue of Lagos State
But Tinubu is also a conscious and cosmopolitan leader who knows how to cast his net far and wide. This is so because he fully appreciates the fact that no one can limit or localize talent. So, he can actually travel to the end of Nigeria in search of trained and talented people who can drive his great ideas. For instance, during his time as governor, he appointed non-indigenes into his cabinet. He also placed non-indigenes in other sensitive positions like the judiciary, ministries, departments and agencies.
As we prepare for another round of general elections, particularly with regard to presidential contest, Nigerians should look seriously in the direction of the APC leader for many reasons. For instance, if we hope to stem the tide of suspicion, violence, mutual distrust and provincial governance at the center, then everybody must take the Tinubu candidacy very seriously. Why do I say so? He is the only Muslim that is easily acceptable to every Christian today in the country because of his disposition towards people, irrespective of their tribe or tongue. With a wife like Senator Remi Tinubu, a Christian and deacon in one of the fastest growing Pentecostal churches in the world, every Nigerian can go to bed and sleep with their two eyes closed with Tinubu at the helm of affairs.
He is also a job creator and a great manager of men and resources. I am very confident that he will not only address the unemployment crisis and empower young people, he will also do justice to other areas of need. But above all, he will secure Nigeria with his policies and international connections.
Honestly, at a time like this in our history as a country, we need a man of conviction and the APC National Leader fits the bill. We can all see how forgiving he is even of those he lifted who are today working against him. I also appreciate his staying power as a politician who has refused to be distracted by unverifiable issues around his paternity, place of birth, age, education, source of wealth and other issues that have remained mere allegations because no court has found him guilty of any of the charges.
At a personal level, I must say that I am eagerly waiting to see how he deploys his huge structures across the country. The fact that he is at home in many parts of Nigeria remains one of his strengths and this coming election will vindicate him.
No doubt, the coming months will be very exciting with Tinubu in the mix. This sagacious politician has the capacity and the temperament to play interesting politics and win. The fact that Buhari disappointed many Nigerians with his age and the challenges it brought, should not make us deny Tinubu the opportunity of governing Nigeria and address the nation’s many challenges.
This is our chance as a people and it is important that we take it.