“With each new day, a gazelle wakes up knowing he must outrun the fastest lion or perish. At the same time, a lion stirs and stretches, knowing he must outrun the fastest gazelle or starve. It is no different for the human race. Whether you consider yourself a gazelle or a lion, you simply have to run faster than others to survive,” Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai in ‘MY VISION Challenges in the Race for Excellence’.
Truly, if Nigeria is to witness the much desired quantum leap in development and positive transformation, she needs the best pair of hands devoid of sentiments to pilot her affairs at the highest level. In Nigeria, leaders that combine the speed of the lion and the gazelle together with the wisdom of eagle are hard to come by. Within that premium range shine leaders like President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress, APC.
But as it is said, it is the tree bearing the juiciest fruits that attracts the most stones and that is why the two leaders have been receiving barbs from some Nigerians who expect miracles overnight. It is in that context that frequent criticisms of the two foremost leaders of the ruling party by opposition elements and some other persons can be viewed. For instance, the President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Bello Bodejo recently fired a salvo which appeared to disparage the reputation of Senator Tinubu.
Bodejo attempted to question the Jagaban’s suitability for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against the backdrop of rumors making the rounds in some quarters that he might take a shot at the topmost office come 2023.
First and foremost, let me state my position that the understanding between President Buhari and Nigeria apart from contributing to APC’s power ascendancy is also healthy for the nation’s democratic stability. Therefore, it is my wish to digress and point out why it will be a positive development for Nigeria if Tinubu, whose influence and followership far outstrips his indigenous South-west geo-political zone, opts to contest for the presidency in 2023 when the tenure of the incumbent president will come to a conclusion.
There are empirical factors in support of Tinubu presidency in 2023. It is a fact that his eight-year tenure as governor of Lagos State (1999—2007) has remains a reference point in terms of economic and socio-political sagacity anchored on superlative performance. It is upon his benchmark and foundation that subsequent governors of the nation’s commercial nerve centre have continued to build and expand.
A critical x-ray of Tinubu’s political trajectory, his numerous contributions to the advancement of the nation’s democratic project and his leadership of the Southwest zone particular shows that he has effectively stepped into the big shoes of the legendary Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the numero-uno galvanizing figure of the Yoruba race and the progressive forces nationwide.
Although, Tinubu is yet to state whether or not he will contest the 2023 presidential elections, the truth remains that he has all it takes to take Nigeria further considering the massive goodwill he has garnered over the years and his enormous contributions to the consolidation of the nation’s democracy.
Since the incumbent President is from the North and Tinubu is from the South, it will not amount to standing the principle of rotation of presidency on its head if the Jagaban decides to hearken to the voices of his numerous supporters by throwing his hat into the ring in 2023. Again, the issue of one’s faith shouldn’t be a factor in this race because it is a personal affair between an individual and God.
Another factor that will work in Tinubu’s favour is his political sagacity and deep knowledge, which has served as vital stabilizer for the current political dispensation as well as deepening the nation’s democratic culture. Recall that it was the alliance forged between Tinubu and Buhari that ensured Buhari’s election as President after three previous unsuccessful attempts. It also made an incumbent President in Dr. Goodluck Jonathan lose presidential election for the first time in the history of Nigeria.
It was equally this collaboration between Buhari and Tinubu that ended the tall dream of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of ruling Nigeria for 60 ‘’unbroken years’’. Again, it was the development that ensured a peaceful transfer of political power at the centre from one political party to another for the first time in Nigeria. So, for a leader like Tinubu, who made all these possible, what he deserves are accolades. And no reward should be considered too great for him, not even the presidency of Africa’s most populous nation.
Those who have been following the odyssey of Tinubu’s engaging political career would readily testify that he is one politician reputed for his organizational prowess, tenacity, managerial skills and administrative savvy. He is simply the Awo re-incarnate.
At this juncture, it is necessary for me to confess that my decision to enter into the fray of Nigeria’s seemingly murky political waters in the first place was because of the everlasting impression that Tinubu’s legendary political exploits created in me. He is one unique Nigerian personality with imposing features, strides and achievements. A politician, businessman and leader of thought, he has in the last two decades risen to become a politician to be ignored at one’s own peril and one of the most influential politicians in the country.
As a dogged politician, Tinubu has remained consistently firm, fearless and resolute in all his political activities. He is one politician who dares to tread where even angels dare not, which explains why he and a few compatriots formed the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, to confront the then maximum military leader, General Sani Abacha, when the latter bestrode the nation’s landscape like a ravenous lion.
As the Governor of Lagos State between 1999—2007, Tinubu, demonstrated an abiding fidelity to the twin principles of transparency and accountability and above all, his frugality with the state’s resources was second to none. He was reported to have managed the resources with admirable intrepidity. Even when his government was at loggerheads with the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo-led Federal Government over budgetary allocations due to the creation of Local Council Development Areas [LCDA], Tinubu, through his economic team devised ways of surviving, by deploying new strategies for internally generated revenue that were used to fund several state projects. Through such ingenuity, he survived and unwavering to the end.
So, for any leader to successfully manage the affairs of Lagos State for eight solid years with its daunting landmass and heterogeneous population the way Tinubu did, then such a gifted person can do more if given the higher responsibility of piloting the affairs of Nigeria.
To underscore the fact that he is a politician with lots of clout, Tinubu was instrumental to the mega merger of his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria [ACN], with other parties like the Congress for Progressive Change [CPC], factions of All Progressives Grand Alliance [APGA] and the All Nigeria Peoples Party [ANPP], which eventually crystallized into the All Progressive Congress [APC]. It was also through the instrumentality of his influence that the symbol of the ACN which is the ‘Broom’ was retained for the APC.
In the same vein, reform-minded Tinubu was also instrumental to the choice of Prof Yemi Osinbajo as the APC Vice-Presidential candidate, just as his strategic political roadmap of aligning the West with the North was key to the APC’s victory in the 2015 general elections.
In recent years starting from the run down to the 2015 watershed presidential election till date, the Jagaban has consistently demonstrated unquestionable support and loyalty to the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. Such rare acts of fidelity, civility, honesty and patriotism deserve compensation. Judging from the foregoing, one does not need the services of a prophet to know that Bola Tinubu is eminently qualified to lead the most populous black nation on earth. As the prognosis for post- Buhari era leadership smolder beneath the surface, Nigeria stands in dire need of Tinubu’s gravitas in running a responsive and reformist government that would realistically tackle the nation’s multiple challenges. That seems a surer way to sustain the Buhari legacy.
-Igban, a chieftain of All Progressive Congress, Cross River State Chapter and CEO of CymekPetrocorr Ltd is based in Abuja
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