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LEADERSHIP Politicians Of The Year 2018

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Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu

For taking the art of politicking to its pristine level while keeping their eyes on the ball, for consistently remaining the “issue” and “point of reference” in the rough and tumble politics of Nigeria, Senators Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Bukola Saraki are LEADERSHIP Politicians of the year 2018.

Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s favourite sport is politics. He played a prominent role in the formation and eventual victory of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last general election. He was one of the men that battled the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan to a standstill. And to this day, he remains the issue in the ruling APC, and in the south-west. Somehow, he gets his way. For his political sagacity and sany that have firmly established him as the leading light in the political firmament of Nigeria, and for his staying power, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is LEADERSHIP Politician of the Year 2018.

Nigeria was on the verge of collapse under the leadership of the former ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before Tinubu midwifed the APC that created space for the emergence of President Buhari as its presidential candidate. Despite PDP’s machinery and power of incumbency, the party suffered a colossal defeat in the southwest and in the north due mainly to Tinubu’s political influence.

Tinubu joined active politics in the early 1990s after a successful career in the oil sector. He joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP), where he clinched the party’s primary ticket to contest the Lagos West senatorial district election, which he won against the candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1991.

After the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, and the protests that followed, he was forced to leave the shores of the country due to frequent assassination attempts on his life. He went on exile and thereafter joined the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) together with other critics of the Abacha regime. It was there that other pro-NADECO members and Tinubu came up with Radio Kudirat, which later became a thorn in the flesh of the Abacha military junta.

He became the third democratically elected governor of Lagos State on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD), following the return of democracy in 1999. He served two terms during which he helped to increase the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state to billions of naira monthly.

When he assumed office in May 1999, Bola Ahmed Tinubu promised 10,000 housing units for the poor. During the eight-year period, he made large investments in education in the state. He also initiated new roads required to meet the needs of the fast-growing population of the state.

He was the only governor returned on the AD platform in the southwest in 2003. The other five states were “captured” by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo-led PDP. At the time he was leaving office in 2007, he had ensured a return of some of the states to the progressives’ fold.

As governor, he was also involved in a struggle with the federal government over whether Lagos State had the right to create new local council development areas (LCDAs) to meet the needs of its large population. The controversy led to the federal government seizing funds meant for local councils in the state. The tussle ended with a Supreme Court pronouncement in favour of Lagos State.

In April 2007, when he was rounding off his second term, the federal government arraigned him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for trial over alleged illegal operation of 16 separate foreign accounts. In January 2009, he was cleared by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of charges of conspiracy, money laundering, abuse of office and official corruption in relation to the sale of V-mobile network shares in 2004.

Following the victory of the PDP in the April 2007 elections, Tinubu was active in negotiations to bring together the fragmented opposition parties into a mega party capable of challenging the PDP in 2011. In July 2009, he called for implementation of electoral reforms spelled out in the Justice Uwais Report to ensure that the 2011 elections would be free and fair.

Not deterred by the failure of the mega party to fly and form government in 2011, Tinubu continued to rally like minds across the country, which brought together five political parties and groups to form the APC in 2013. APC won the presidential election of 2015.

Soon afterwards, Tinubu could not enjoy the spoils of the victory. The table was turned against him and things began to fall apart for him. He didn’t have an input in the ministerial list, and his loyalists were not allowed to gain control of leadership of the National Assembly. Being a team player, he however remained within the party and did not rock the boat.

Today, the former Lagos State governor has returned to reckoning within the party. It is a fact that he is today the politician closest to President Buhari. Tinubu’s exploit in enthroning APC-led governments across the six southwest states is quite commendable. There is no doubt he will work hard to replicate this feat in other geopolitical zones and return the party to power in the forthcoming poll.

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