“Oro Ahmed yi nikan na ni o un ba mi leru”. (It is the issue of Ahmed that is giving me a lot of concern). That was the fear expressed by the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, a former governor of Oyo State, on the chances of the then governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in winning the gubernatorial election in 2003. Out of genuine concern, Alhaji Adesina, a great lover of Tinubu, was bothered that the Lagos State governor might not get a second term because of his repugnance to Obasanjo’s overtures and frolics.
That was at a time when all the other governors in the South-West, Chief Bisi Akande of Osun, Chief Adebayo Adefarati of Ondo, Otunba Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti, Akinrogun Segun Osoba of Ogun and Alhaji Lam Adesina himself were obeying the dictates and dancing to the falsehearted music of the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The governors were not alone in the travesty; they were goaded by the Pan Yoruba group, Afenifere ,under the leadership of late Pa Abraham Adesanya.
Obasanjo had, in the most deceitful manner, cajoled the governors and the Pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, in believing that he (Obasanjo) would be “soft” on them and make their victories eas,y insofar as they supported his election for a second term in office. The five governors fell for Obasanjo’s antics and openly worked for his second term in office. In fact, the promotion of Obasanjo’s second term bid took precedence over the campaigns of these governors and the National Assembly candidates in the build up to the general elections of 2003.
Despite the fact that we were in the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the opposition party, we campaigned vigorously for the second term of Olusegun Obasanjo and indirectly his Peoples Democratic Party’s candidates, who eventually defeated us. I was a victim as the AD candidate for House of Representatives in the Oluyole Federal Constituency.
With heavy music and beautiful lyrics, we introduced a new dimension, and new lexicon into our politics: we birthed the splitting of votes between Aremu Oke and Aremu Isale. Vote one for Aremu at the top (Obasanjo for president) and one for Aremu at the bottom (Alhaji Lam Adesina). But at the end of the day, General Obasanjo trounced us, with the deployment of all the tricks and antics you can think of.
But, in Lagos, Tinubu, in his wisdom, refused to follow either his fellow governors or Afenifere in supporting Obasanjo, and instead answered his own father’s name. He campaigned only for his party, the Alliance for Democracy. He asked voters to concentrate all their votes at the top, the space for AD on the ballot papers in all the elections.
As we were rollicking to the lovely melody of Aremu Oke and Aremu Isale in the South-West, from Ibadan to Saki, Ogbomosho, Tede, Idere and so on, particularly in Oyo State, the people of Lagos State were ‘eating to the top’ (won un j’eun s’oke). And in the real sense of it, they actually ate well and this is evident, till today, in the yarning gap in riches and wealth between the people of Lagos and those in other parts of Yoruba land.
Tinubu, using all in him: Wisdom, knowledge, smartness, boldness, exposure, contacts, etcetera, turned Lagos around within eight years. Bola Tinubu grew the economy, politics and sociology of Lagos and the stability being enjoyed in Lagos today is as a result of his right leadership. Lagos has become the model for virtually all developmental projects and ideas in Nigeria today.
From Fashola to Ambode to the incumbent Sanwo-Olu, Lagos has continued to progress steadily, while sadly, other states in the West are grappling to survive. Tinubu has established himself as the best and most dynamic leader and politician of this generation.
With the enormous powers of the Presidency, particularly under the leadership of Olusegun Obasanjo, who was touted to have possessed and exercised more powers than the American President during his time, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu still crushed Obasanjo in all aspects of governance. He challenged Obasanjo on legislative matters and won; he contested against Obasanjo’s position on the judiciary and made mincemeat of him; and in Obasanjo’s desperate bid to conquer Lagos State, along with other Yoruba States, Tinubu triumphed over Obasanjo and is still beating him till today.
For decades now, Nigeria’s major problem has been poor leadership. After the departure of the Balewas, Azikwes and Awolowos of this world, Nigeria has been largely unlucky with the sets of people that have been ruling us. All these past leaders that we are still praising till date did well because they were properly equipped for the positions they occupied and while serving they got the best persons for all the assignments.
Tinubu, in his time as governor of Lagos State, gathered the best brains in Lagos to improve the lots of the State socially, economically and politically. Tinubu, with his team of financial wizards, raised the internally generated revenue of Lagos from about N1 billion naira to over N20 billion when leaving office in 2007. In the socio-political scene, Tinubu took Lagos far ahead of other states in Nigeria, particularly in the South-West, when it became the centre of attraction virtually in all spheres. Ibadan that was the cynosure of political activities in the West was taken over by Lagos as major actors and leaders of Oyo State started running to Lagos for political directions and handouts.
I know that the children born during and after the governorship of Tinubu, Lam and others that are now of age to vote would not believe it that before the 1999 elections, Ibadan was of greater or of the same socio-political standing with Lagos. That Tinubu used to come to Ibadan for political advice and directions would appear to them as tales by the moonlight. But that is the truth. The story of Bola Ahmed Tinubu is that of a person who is naturally endowed to lead and who has been ceaselessly improving himself, and enabling people that would lead and make leadership functional, with profound results.
That the former governor of Lagos State was able to accomplish all these, including standing boldly with the Lagos people on the creation of local councils, was as a result of the ability of Tinubu to identify and engage the right people for the jobs at hand. Without knowing the incumbent vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Tinubu head-hunted him and made the Ogun State born legal luminary the Attorney General of Lagos State. Appointing with precision, Tinubu led Osinbajo to win the legal battle against the all-conquering Olusegun Obasanjo, who was then sitting as the president of Nigeria.
It is an open secret that the major problems of the country today border on the lack of adequate knowledge, right policies and directions. Thus, to solve the problems, Nigeria needs a person with adequate knowledge about Nigeria, her challenges and prospects. The country needs a person who knows Nigeria inside out and without any pretence or any primordial baggage.
Secondly, Nigeria needs a leader who is educated and versed in all aspects of life to formulate the right policies from the economy, education, health, employment, to security. A person who can get the best amongst us to engender insightful policies and programmes that would generate wealth and reasonable employment for our teeming youth. And thirdly, a person who is bold enough to look the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the likes in the face and declare that this is the best for my country and it is what I will do.
Certainly, Tinubu, more than any other Nigerian, is the most suitable for the job of being the next president. It is not about, I can do it. What Nigeria deserves now is I have done it before and I am ready, more mature, more experienced and obviously more prepared to do it again. It is not about I worked or learnt under Tinubu, as it is a well known fact that no one can do it as the original person, especially when the teacher is still alive, strong and willing. You can’t beat experience.
As I wish Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu a happy 70th birthday, it is almost certain that he will celebrate his 71st birthday as the president-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He possesses an uncanny ability to win against all odds as he did contrary to the fear lovingly expressed by the late Alhaji Lam Adesina on his chances of returning to the Lagos State Governor’s Office for a second term in 2003.
Kehinde Olaosebikan, CEO, Midas Communications Ltd and former Chairman of Oluyole Local Government served as the Chief Press Secretary to the late former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lam Adesina from 1999 to 2003.
This article was published on April 5, 2022 by Premium Times
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