By Ayo Akinola
Modern (if I may use this word) Osun, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Imo etc and to some extent, modern democratic Nigeria, could be safely said to be as a result of the sagacity of this leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. As we celebrate his birthday this week, Aye Kooto cannot but say something.
Even a voluminous book will not be enough to write on the enigma called Akanbi Bolanle Ahmed Tinubu, with the epithet: Omo olodo ide, (the prodigy with a mortar made of bronze). He has defined what leadership ought to be. It may be safe to conclude that Bola is the major issue in contemporary Nigeria’s political landscape because when it comes to the politics of Tinubu, you cannot be on the fence: you either love or hate him. As governor of metropolitan Lagos, he bestrode the landscape of western Nigeria’s politics such that he became a kingmaker of sorts, even long after leaving office.
Bola Tinubu was born on 29 March 1952 in Lagos to the illustrious Tinubu family. He attended St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos and Children’s Home School in Ibadan. In 1975, Bola left Nigeria for the United States of America in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece with a heart brimming with unrelenting determination to achieve his visions. There he studied first at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, Illinois and then at Chicago State University. He graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. Tinubu worked for American companies Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, Haskins, & Sells, and GTE Services Corporation. When he returned to Nigeria in 1983, he joined Mobil Oil Nigeria, becoming an executive of the company. In 1992, he was elected to the Nigerian Senate representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic.
In 1993, after the results of the presidential elections were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy group called National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). In 1998, after the death of military dictator Sani Abacha, he returned to Nigeria to heed a call for all Nigerians to join in the National Reconciliation and Development. During the 1999 elections, Bola Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He won the AD primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial elections and later was elected Executive Governor of Lagos State. During his eight-year period in office, he made large investments in education as well as new road construction, required to meet the needs of the fast-growing population of the state.
Tinubu received several awards: Best Governor in Nigeria for Y2000 by the Nigerian-Belgian Chamber of Commerce; Y2002 Best Practices Prize in improving the living environment, awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works and the UN Habitat Group; Y2000 Best Computerized Government in Nigeria Award by the Computer Association of Nigeria. Tinubu is married to Oluremi Tinubu, the current Senator of central Lagos State. His youngest daughter, Abibat Tinubu, graduated from a Music college in Boston, Massachusetts, US in 2013.
Describing him as the leader of modern progressivism in Nigeria may not be far from being correct. His political sagacity, coupled with his natural ability to assemble egg-heads in whatever he does and wherever he found himself made his path to cross with those who would steer the ship of statehood, even till date: Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Information Minister Lai Mohammed, Joint Tax Board Chairman and Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Tunde Fowler, among others too numerous to list passed through Tinubu. After several shots at the Presidency, Mohammadu Buhari probably later learned that crossing path with the Jagaban will inevitably bring Mother Luck to him. That has become history today. A popular fable surrounds him, which is that no one goes to Tinubu in tears comes out of his home without a smile.
Neglect him to your peril. Ask former deputy governors Femi Pedro, Chief Mrs Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, and Adebisi Sosan as well as political juggernauts of yesteryears Musiliu Obanikoro, Chief Bode George, late Ganiyu Daodu, late Funso Williams, former Works Minister Adeseye Ogunlewe, and former Ondo Governor Olusegun Mimiko and a few others. Even the Ebora Owu, former President Obasanjo received lashes from him at the courts when the former withheld Lagos funds on accounts of new LCDAs.
Today the fates of those who choose to ignore the leadership of Asiwaju such as APC national Chairman John Odigie Oyegun and that of Ondo Governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu hang on the balance. The hands of the clock is turning towards him as President Muhammadu Buhari seems to be “seeing the light” as to why he should not betray his benefactor.
As a mortal, he has his own faults. But the good in him has almost eclipsed those faults. He has also suffered loss of a scion in Jide Tinubu. May God assuage the loss. Amen.
Whenever I think about the octopus hands of this enigma, I always have it in my mind that, take or leave it, at any point in the history of any nation, fate or God has always made it possible for certain individuals to give directions. God chooses those leaders Himself and gives them all needed human and material resources to implement His wish for the destiny of such nation. Asiwaju is unarguably one of them.
As Asiwaju marks another milestone, we wish him a very long life and prosperity.