Bola Ahmed Tinubu: Nigeria’s Enigmatic Political Legend by Japheth Omojuwa (A must Read)

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“You are more likely to find mercury walking along Lagos streets than a politician like Bola Ahmed Tinubu”, claims Japheth Omojuwa, Naij.com guest author. In his article Omojuwa explains why he considers Tinubu “one of the greatest political leaders” in Nigeria.

One can defeat an intelligent politician, one can disgrace a wily political candidate at the poll. One even may, if lucky enough, get over a persistent political opponent. However, a wily, intelligent and persistent political opponent will always be invincible. Nigeria’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu will go down in the nation’s history as one of its greatest political leaders.

The previous statement is based on the careful and intentional understanding of what Tinubu has brought to the table. You won’t be hard pressed to find a brilliant politician as outstanding political leaders are as widespread as water on the face of the earth. However, you are more likely to find mercury walking along Lagos streets than a politician like Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I will explain why.

Anyone with persistent access to the centre of power (in this case Nigeria’s federal government) can succeed in politics. However, it does not take too much to succeed in regional politics as long as one is not constantly in battle with the central powers. The real deal is to gain access to regional power, like Tinubu has been doing for 16 straight years, and then constantly look to take power over the centre while contending with powerful forces having seemingly endless access to Nigeria’s petrodollars.

Bola Tinubu did not start out like an average Nigerian politician –having no real job and looking to make a killing on politics. He had an enviable career before his foray into partisan politics that led him to win Lagos West senatorial seat. Unfortunately, that democracy process soon suffered a setback after the June 12 debacle. A technician in his own right – many have forgotten Tinubu once worked for such well-known brands as Deloitte, Arthur Andersen and Mobil Oil Nigeria (upon his return to Nigeria from the US) – he combines top-notch technical expertise with political astuteness.

Everyone underrating and confronting Tinubu has soon found out that his ability to lose small battles comes from his understanding of the fact that politics is a marathon. One will never win the war without having mind, mental strength and persistent energy to stay the course. Undoubtedly, Tinubu has many faults, but this piece is not about that. Many have written about them, and I did not spare words when it was time for that.

Tinubu is like the rest of us – a human with his own faults. However, unlike most people, he understands the legacy is zilch if it is not deployed through other people after one is off the stage of executive power. Tunde Fashola, the outgoing governor of Lagos, is deemed a great success by the majority of rational people. However, Fashola’s success would not be possible without Bola Tinubu on two focal fronts. Tinubu was intentional and strategic when he nurtured Fashola to take over him, and Fashola’s ability to succeed almost immediately after taking over was mostly because he had a foundation to build on. That foundation was laid by Tinubu’s eight years as a governor. That tradition of strategic, intentional and purposeful transfer of power is set to continue with the governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode. Ambode is even better placed as, unlike two previous governors, he’ll be leading a Lagos that will be finally politically aligned with the federal government for the first time in 16 years.

Lagos’s non-alignment over the years has come at a huge cost. However, it is due to Tinubu and Fashola that Lagos has not just survived being abandoned by the centre – Lagos is thriving! Tinubu and Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo may be cool these days, but they went head to head many times in the past. Their battles reached a crescendo when Tinubu as a governor of Lagos defied Obasanjo’s insistence that Lagos should not create more local government areas. Unlike Tinubu, Obasanjo did not mind to break the law as he deprived Lagos of its federal allocations.

That setback proved to be a blessing as Lagos was faced with two major options: to abandon the decision to create new local political structures or perish! However, Tinubu and his team saw the third option that no one else noticed. They worked out a survival plan for Lagos.

Today, Lagos does not need the federal government to survive as a business entity. It makes more than enough to provide for itself. There is no need to emphasize how Tinubu-Obasanjo local creation battle helped resolve that matter.

Bola Tinubu is already a political legend, but he can further embellish his beautiful cake of greatness with the icings of gold. He is as much a source of strength to the APC as he could easily be an impediment. It simply depends on what side of his enigmatic self he calls on. If the incoming government will succeed, a lot will depend on Bola Ahmed Tinubu making even more sacrifices than he made during the years of the APC formation.

Tinubu once stood as a lone star in the southwest, Okanlomo, when after 2003 election the PDP somehow swept through the region and found itself winning all the then Alliance for Democracy states: Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, except Lagos. Of course, those PDP wins were later overturned at the court, but Tinubu did not just stand alone basking in the euphoria of being a superstar. He fought back and helped win the legal battles that returned power to the opposition in the southwest.

That was almost a decade ago. Bola Tinubu no longer leads a regional party. Today he is not only the leader of an impressive national party, the APC. He is the masterminder, the strategist, the maverick player that defied the history of opposition politics in Nigeria and, working with General Muhammadu Buhari’s then Congress for Progressive Change, the then All Nigeria People’s Party and a residual of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, helped to establish the APC. On May 29, 2015, the APC will replace the ruling PDP and will become Nigeria’s governing party.

It has taken him 16 years, but the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom in Niger State has reached the pinnacle of the political game in Nigeria. Tinubu’s name will be entrenched in gold if the APC succeeds where the PDP has been failing for 16 years. That quest for success is the next battle for the Asiwaju of Lagos. I have never taken a bet against this seemingly ordinary man with the proven extraordinary abilities, and I am not about to take a bet on him succeeding with the APC in the coming years.

It is time for Tinubu to cement his national legacy. If he did, he’d be remembered as the one who helped establish the truly new Nigeria. This is the next stage in the evolution of a truly national leader.

"Tinubu Is One Of The Greatest Political Leaders" - Omojuwa

Japheth Omojuwa is a renowned Nigerian social media expert, columnist and Naij.com contributor.