Monday 20 February 2023

How not to handle Bola Tinubu ....By Kunle Oyatomi

It is troubling that sometimes it takes eternity to recognize the presence of a game changer in society. When all that we need to do is simply to acknowledge him or her and accord them the required space to operate and throw in their acumen to tackle our challenges, we travel all over the world, looking for a so-called messiah. As they say, we go to Sokoto searching for solutions to our problems, whereas what we’re seeking is in the pockets of our sokoto, (trousers). 

That was also the trouble with the national football team of the African nation that won the continental trophy last year. They didn’t have to go for their coach outside the country, as other nations in Africa were doing. He was in their midst all along. All they needed to do was give him and not yield to the temptation to go to Sokoto, as it were. They didn’t have to wait endlessly to take a decision. That would have been an expensive wait. Probably fatal in the long run. 

As in football, so in politics. What we’re witnessing today with respect to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is that we’re halting unnecessarily over whether he’s the man for the presidency after Muhammadu Buhari or not. What we’re doing amounts to a soccer team, blessed with a tested coach who can begin to win trophies for the team, yet is seen frantically looking for a coach outside its shores.

That’s not how to handle Bola Tinubu. He’s a ready material presenting himself and his history to salvage his fatherland in its critical period. Rather than embrace him, we’re muddling up the waters by comparing him with upstarts and those who don’t possess a strong past to rest on. It’s not fair to treat him this way. 

Now, one of the contestants, Abubakar Atiku of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, may have been a vice-president. But wasn’t in charge for us to know how he would have run the nation if he had the administration in his full purview. It’s a matter of conjecture what we would say he might do. Can we trust him with a total hold on the giant of Africa and the world’s most populous black nation in the world? Again, we drift into the territory of the unknown. This isn’t enough to use to sway the electorate. They need something more concrete to guide them to cast their vote in your favour.

How about Labour Party’s Peter Obi, the other visible candidate?He was the governor of Anambra State. He hasn’t lived beyond that past, a point that not only limits his credentials, but also denies the electorate a rigorous search into his potential to lead a country of 200 million plus citizens with a massive heterogeneity in culture, language, interests, politics, aspirations etc. He was lord over a culturally homogeneous people. Would he not be overrun by a larger setting like Nigeria if the people elected him? How would he fare? Again, we’re driven into the area of speculation. 

But with Bola Tinubu we don’t have such fundamental concerns. He administered a cosmopolitan Lagos State that was Nigeria’s melting pot. Lagos was, (still is) our mini-Nigeria. He reflected this in his government. There were representatives of ‘immigrants’ in his cabinet and in agencies of administration. It’s a tradition Tinubu entrenched, which has continued till today, 16 years after he left office. Those he mentored have perpetuated the system such that they have become the ‘’Tinubu school of thought’’ at the federal level and in the states, north, east, west and south of Nigeria. That speaks volumes about a leader who understands politics and is able to use it to help his generation and the future.

Tinubu’s political adroitness is also unquestionable. He set the pace in moving governance and its dividends closer to the end users by establishing more local governments in Lagos. It was a revolutionary move that saw others following his footsteps. He was far ahead of his time. Unfortunately, the federal authorities felt he had breached the Nigerian Constitution and punished his government by withholding the statutory financial allocation due his state. Tinubu stood his ground and refused to dissolve the new councils. He prudently governed Lagos without the federal funds. There’s no record he borrowed anywhere to pay state employees and build infrastructure. Eventually the court vindicated his move on the council creation and directed the withheld fund to be released.

Also under Tinubu, Lagos’ Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, rose phenomenally from N600m monthly to about N5b, a figure that made it larger than some African countries.

This is Bola Tinubu’s incontrovertible history that dwarfs the credentials of those who are campaigning with him for the presidency. Some critics say we can’t go into the past to solicit for votes for Tinubu. But that’s unwise if we want the best for our battered nation. History always has answers to the challenges of the present. And today this same history is beckoning to Bola Tinubu to bring in the magic wand he waved over Lagos. We ought not to look elsewhere.

Oyatomi Esq is the Director - General of the Directorate of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the All Progressive Congress, State of Osun


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