If clipping the political wings of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu , was all his detractors set out to achieve by sponsoring a hate documentary on him, then, they have achieved nothing. House of Representatives member Opeyemi Bamidele, in his article entitled: “My hatred for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu”, writes that those belly-aching over the meteoric rise of the former Lagos State governor to political stardom are chasing shadows.
In Nigeria of today, the more you decide to keep quiet and just do your things, the more things happen that will make it cogent and compelling for you to speak as a man of conscience. This is more so when the issues involved are such that key stakeholders cannot pretend not to know the truth, except you are just choosing to be a passive onlooker who, in truth, must either be a coward or a collaborator.
When, sometime last week, some friends and associates called me to tune my television set to a certain channel to watch what one of them called a “chicanery”, I rushed to comply. And behold, it was a documentary that was running, with the title:”Lion of Bourdillon”. It was supposedly on one of the foremost political players and leader of opposition in Nigeria today, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. After watching it, I was so touched that I felt if I failed to react, I would be doing even myself a lot of disservice for it would be hypocritical and immoral for those of us who know better to choose to keep quiet until some of our leaders are grown up and gone and all we can do is to stand up at their funeral to render a dirge. That documentary brought up so many things on my mind. Definitely, those behind the documentary really hate Asiwaju. I guess I hate him too. But for a different reason.
I hate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu because he is a man of definite purpose, a visionary per excellence, a political leader extra ordinaire, whose doggedness and strong convictions will never allow him to be compromised in the collective struggle to rescue Nigeria from bad rulership and misplaced governance.
I so much hate this man, Tinubu, because he is a child of promise and a child of destiny, whose entire political career is marked by consistent and unassailable conquests over anti-democratic forces, military dictators and their civilian apologists, retrogressive elements and the evil marauders in the corridor of power, who occasionally pretend as friends but could not hide their character as sworn enemies when the chips are down.
I hate this man, who, among his contemporaries has been the most celebrated for his outstanding political achievements and the most applauded as a political icon with deep intellectual prowess, which also made him to have uniquely surrounded himself with men and women of great intellect, seasoned essayists, political activists and scholars of national and international pedigree because only the deep can call to the deep.
I dread his consummate political strategy, his intimidating political profile and highly expansive political network that has continued to give his opponents sleepless nights. This was the man that was nationally acclaimed as the ‘Last Man Standing’, being the only Southwest governor who survived the so-called electoral tsunami that swept away his colleagues during the 2003 general elections.
I hate Tinubu because as a close associate and co-traveller of his for over two decades now, he has never ceased to amaze me by his constant penchant and quest for new ideas. His administrative acumen is matchless. As Governor of Lagos State for eight years, Tinubu practically laid the foundation for the rapid transformation of Lagos from a metropolitan state to a model mega city in Africa that it is today. His creative genius came handy as he grew the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue from the paltry sum of N600 million to N7 billion by the time he was leaving office in 2007. Today, the current monthly IGR of Lagos State is over N20 billion. Amidst the odds and hurdles of legal and political dimensions that lasted for over two years, Tinubu’s administration dared the Federal Government and created 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in addition to the existing 20 local councils. He pioneered the take-off of the Annual Lagos Economic Summit as well as the repositioning of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) as the dynamo for rapid economic development in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole. He revolutionised the state’s civil service and land administration system through the introduction of high technology-driven record and payment systems. He equally established the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Lagos State Bus Assets (LAGBUS), Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Highway Mangers and Drain Ducks as well as several other government and private sector-driven agencies to improve transportation, traffic and waste management in the city of Lagos.
Before his assumption of office as governor, ugly heaps of refuse dumps on the streets and T-junctions were a common feature within the Lagos metropolis while there was regular and static traffic congestion, gully erosion resulting from the blockage of drainages and the headache relating to a ravenous surge of the ocean, which almost claimed about thirty per cent of the settlements and infrastructure along the coastal line. Tinubu created the Ministry of Waterfront & Infrastructure and pioneered the Atlantic City Project to reclaim Lagos landmass on the shoreline from the tyranny of the ocean, and today, more spaces have been provided for exploits on the island, spreading to the Lekki-Epe axis.
My hatred for Tinubu flows from his uncompromising stance on the side of progress. His positions on matters pertaining to the rule of law and fundamental human rights are not only consistent but are non-negotiable. He is a man of the people and a man on the right side of history. During the protracted June 12 struggle and the march towards the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria, I make bold to say that apart from the late Chief MKO Abiola, there is no single Nigerian, dead or alive, home or abroad, that made a bigger financial commitment to the struggle than this same man, Tinubu.
Persuaded by the need to protect and defend indigent litigants whose rights were violated by the government and the more privileged in the society, the Tinubu administration established the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC) during which time Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the All Progressives Congress (APC) vice presidential candidate, was the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
I hate this man because his profound wisdom and foresight to jealously guard and deepen his laudable achievements in office made him to search out and discover an amiable and brilliant successor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fasola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who did not only consolidate on the progressive, life-transforming and ground-breaking legacies handed down to him but also went as far as carving a unique niche for himself as a role model in mega city transformation as well as a world-class technocrat in regional innovation and integration.
My hatred for Tinubu is partly informed by the fact that he did not limit the flowering of progress to Lagos State. He intensified the struggle and extended the frontiers of transformative governance to other states of the Southwest geo-political zone. Given his consummate political sagacity, doggedness, spartan discipline and confidence in the correctness of his ideological principles and practices, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagarban of Borgu Kingdom, the Aare Ago of Egbaland and the Jagunmolu of Ile Oluji, went back to the trenches and wrestled with political principality and power to rescue the rest of the Southwest from the PDP and today, by the special Grace of God, states like Oyo, Ogun, Osun and even Edo in the Southsouth have joined the train of progressive states where rapid socio-economic, agricultural and infrastructural development is holding sway.
My hatred for this man is borne out of the fact that he is never ever distracted from pursuing the laudable vision and selfless goal of nation building, helping on daily basis to chart a new course for our country with a view to liberating the masses from abject poverty, endemic insecurity and uncertainty that are products of several decades of bad governance, policy summersault and integrity deficit. Here is a man who is never perturbed or ruffled by the obtuse ranting and misguided vituperations of his detractors as he has always remained focused. I suspect this is, most likely, the secret of his outstanding and matchless accomplishments in virtually all areas of life: in politics, he is a quintessential leader and elderstatesman of national and international repute; in business, Asiwaju is a shining star and indeed a great success; as a community leader, the Jagarban is a rare breed. Here is an energetic and resourceful mobiliser for the common good, a man full of compassion, an epitome of kindness and generous spirit.
To the chagrin of his sworn enemies and to the credit of his large-heartedness, Asiwaju’s network of political influence in Nigeria today has grown beyond what some agents of mischief can wake up one day and think of cutting to size. His determination and quest for a just, egalitarian, viable and prosperous society have left him with no other choice than to join hands with like-minded political juggernauts, elder statesmen, human rights and pro-democracy activists, highly respected legal luminaries, prolific journalists and labour unionists from across the nation and even beyond, to the extent that he is one of the most detribalised citizens of contemporary Nigeria.The success story of the APC, as the most formidable opposition party driving the change movement in Nigeria today, cannot be said to have been completed without a considerable mention of the invaluable sacrifice and hardwork of a man who puts everything he has into any cause or struggle once he is convinced about it.
I hate Tinubu because he is a liberal man to a fault, who surrounds himself with independent-minded people and is never afraid of being contradicted or criticised by even his close associates and lieutenants. This was the more reason I felt comfortable to join him to work for the actualisation of the Buhari/Osinbajo project, having openly disagreed with him and the rest of the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) some months back on the need to conduct party primaries in Ekiti State prior to the governorship election for the sake of internal party democracy. The transparent conduct of primaries across board and in all the states of the federation by the APC in preparation for the forthcoming general elections is an eloquent testimony to tolerance of divergent views as well as the charismatic selflessness and dynamism that is inherent in the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other prominent leaders of the party such as Gen Muhammadu Buhari, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Alhaji Atiku Abubabakar, Chief Bisi Akande and so on.
The liberality of Asiwaju is not only evident in his politics as he continues to welcome his critics and opponents back to the party with warm embrace for them to work together again to save the ship of the Nigerian State from sinking, Asiwaju has also demonstrated that religious tolerance is not only possible but can be a reality even within the confines of our private homes. For instance, while he is a devout muslim and ardent financier of islamic activities, his heartthrob, Senator Oluremi Tinubu is an Assistant Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). As governor of Lagos State for eight years, Asiwaju surrounded himself with fervent Christians and Muslims, with all of them having access to equal opportunities and working together with a singleness of purpose, more so that every meeting of the State Executive Council during his administration always commenced and ended like a nucleus family meeting despite the rigorous debates and divergence of views on different issues that came up every week.
His cabinet was more or less an epitome of the Nigerianity movement; it was an assemblage of representatives from different parts of the country. The rollcall of those Asiwaju appointed into his star-studded cabinet, in addition to prominent sons and daughters of Lagos State, included Pastor Ben Akabueze (Anambra), who served as Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning; Mr. Dele Alake (Ekiti) who served as Commissioner for Information and Strategy; Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN (Ogun), who served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. He is a Senior Pastor in the RCCG; Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, an engineer, (Osun), who served as Commissioner for Works & Infrastructure; Mr. Wale Edun (Ogun), who served as Commissioner for Finance; Dr. Bayo Adewusi (Oyo), who equally served as Commissioner for Finance; Chief Ebenezer Akinbolade (Ondo), who served as Commissioner for Establishment & Training and so on. I (an Ekiti man) was equally opportuned to serve in that cabinet as Commissioner for Youth, Sports & Social Development before later serving as Commissioner for Information & Strategy in Governor Fashola’s cabinet.
To those who want to put Asiwaju in the dustbin of history for their own selfish political gain, they must realise that this is a tall dream in the realm of phantasm. It is a dream that can never come true. This is a man who has affected many lives across and beyond the shores of Nigeria in a most positive manner. By his active involvement in national re-engineering and restructuring, Asiwaju has further helped to define politics as a call to service and stewardship to humanity. To those who brand him negatively as someone who rose up from the gutter to the ladder, they should be reminded that Asiwaju was already a self-made success and an accomplished professional of global reckoning before he ventured into politics. After a very brilliant academic exploit in the United States (U.S.), Asiwaju had worked meritoriously with multinational companies in the U.S., including Exxon Mobil Petroleum, before he was posted to Nigeria as a Senoir Audit Manager of this multinational petroleum company. For the records, Asiwaju could only take a leave of absence as Treasurer of Exxon Mobil to allow him contest for the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1991, following persistent persuasion from many admirers of his, including my humble self. Before then, he was a major player in the finance sector and a notable financier of various religious and development-driven activities in Lagos State and other states of the federation.
While he was doing all these, we recognised his passion for progressive development but I doubt if he himself knew the magnitude of leadership skills, talents and intellectual power embedded in him until his eventual foray into active politics. Actually, his extreme commitment to democracy, the rule of law and social justice and the diverse leadership roles he played during the protracted June 12 struggle, home and abroad, had further placed Asiwaju in the mainstream of popular democratic movement in Nigeria, and he has continued to occupy this placement in history till today, to the extent that no one can successfully re-write his history by a mere launching of a futile smear documentary campaign against this great man of destiny. Despite his unbeatable and enviable contribution to the Nigerian project, none of his biological children is a commissioner or member of the legislature today whereas many of his ardent critics, including some of his close allies, already had their children appointed as Commissioners and Special Advisers as well as elected members of National and State Assemblies. Of course, such children, as Nigerians, have a constitutional right to be so appointed or elected. However, when his wife got elected as Senator, his detractors grumbled and when one of his daughters emerged as a leader of market women in Lagos, Asiwaju’s enemies told him to bring his head to be hanged.
Surely, it was acceptable for the late sage, our own Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in his life-time to produce Oluwole Awolowo as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly for two consecutive legislative terms between 1979 and 1983 before the military later took over the reins of power. It was acceptable for the late Chief Olusola Saraki to produce a governor in Dr. Bukola Saraki. It was acceptable to the American people for President George Bush (Snr.) to leave office as President of the U.S. and have two of his sons simultaneously serving as governors in the States of Texas and Florida and, of course for one of them to take over from their father’s successor eight years later as U.S. President. Equally, it was acceptable for former President Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary, to be elected as US Senator. Why must Bola Tinubu, another phenomenal leader of his time, be crucified for his political and economic fortunes if not for his consistency on the need for us to give birth to a new Nigeria? Enough is enough, the shameless display of crude politics and intrigues must stop at once. We must move forward as a people and as a nation.
For want of reasonable and convincing strategy to drive home their campaign, some filth columnists have consistently digressed from decent campaign and debate of issues and have wandered into the regrettable abyss of unprofitable calumny and deceit to score cheap political points. But it is high time they woke up from their miasma and come to the reality of the moment, The reality that the movement for change in Nigeria is a moving train that cannot be stopped. That no amount of mudslinging , phrase-mongering or smear propaganda against any of its leading lights can distract the mass of the Nigerian people from the collective resolve to liberate themselves from the forces of corruption, retrogression and stagnation. Willy-nilly, Nigeria shall be great again!
The late Rotimi Williams, an SAN of blessed memory had an opportunity to serve as Attorney-General in the Western Region, after which he ran a most successful and profitable legal practice that brought a lot of prosperity. Nobody said his wealth was stolen just because he had served in government. the late Chief Okotie-Eboh was a successful businessman after he had served in government as Minister of Finance. He was respected as a businessman. Gen Theophilus Danjuma left government to launch himself into business and today, he is one of the richest men in Africa. Our respected father, Chief Edwin Clark, was Minister of Information and later concentrated on his business. Today, he is not just a wealthy man, he, in fact owns a private university. No one would insinuate that his wealth came from his having served as a public servant. All over the civilised world, former public office holders end up in the corporate boardroom of reputable companies as key players. But eight years after vacating office as governor, Tinubu’s detractors will always trace his business fortunes to the treasury of the Lagos State government.
I feel so offended by this irresponsible manner of smear campaign. So much so that I feel I need to extend a caveat to President Goodluck Jonathan that the political mercenaries who are doing this to AsiwajuTinubu today will, most likely, do worse things to him at some point in the near future. He may not necessarily need to be a candidate himself at that point, just like Asiwaju is not one today and they are bent on damaging him.
Many of them own prime landed properties in Lagos as a direct result of Tinubu’s generosity. I know it as a fact because I was opportuned to sign thousands of certificates of occupancy between 2004 and 2011 as a serving commissioner under Governors Tinubu and Fashola, both of whom graciously delegated such official authority to me in exercise of their constitutional rights to so delegate.
Some of my former colleagues in Tinubu’s cabinet were mentioned in the documentary to have sold their official residential buildings. I could have bided for my own official residence located at 31B Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, but I chose not to. If I had done so, as done by some of my colleagues, it would have been in order, more so when all of these were happening at a time the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government had come up with a monetisation policy that made it possible for ministers, permanent secretaries, civil servants and other categories of public servants, including legislators, judges and even military officers to buy their official residences under the monetisation policy. Many of the sponsors and promoters of the documentary against Tinubu were beneficiaries. But Tinubu deserves to be crucified for implementing the same policy because he is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The documentary also made a vicious attempt to portray Asiwaju Tinubu as having worked against the political interest of Yoruba people while others are accusing him of nursing an ambition to become a Yoruba leader. Interestingly, close as I have been to this man in the last two and a half decades, I have never heard him express a desire and neither have I ever witnessed him take any step (overtly or covertly) that could suggest an ambition to emerge as a Yoruba leader. I do not believe it is a position that anyone would have to contest for or struggle to attain. Yoruba people know who their leaders are regardless of what manner of manipulation that may be orchestrated.
The late Chief Ladoke Akintola never had a chance to defend himself against allegations of having worked against the interest of the Yoruba race because he was gone with the crisis. The late Chief Akin Omoboriowo, before he was gone, did not have the resources and media clout to properly defend himself and reposition himself in history. As a Nigerian, as an unassuming Yoruba boy, as an Ekiti man and as a student of history, I am not convinced that these men deserved the attempt to totally condemn them to the dust bin of history as if they had no cause to disagree with the political establishment that would make it sound as if a disagreement with them was tantamount to working against the Yoruba race and interest.
Well, the late Chief Akintola might not have been alive to offer a later day explanation while the late Chief Omoboriowo might not have had the wherewithal to decisively deal with the matter before he passed on. To the contrary, however, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is alive and has the human and material resources as well as the media strength (be it in print, in electronic or through the social media) to squarely address the issues after the elections. Most significantly, I call on Asiwaju to allow stakeholders within Nollywood adopt the title “THE LION OF BOURDILLON” to make a major movie that will document the man, Asiwaju; his rise from grass to grace; his role in the struggle for democratisation; his contributions to the growth of our polity and in helping to lay the foundations for good governance and democracy; his political wizardry; his unusual transformation from the corporate boardroom to becoming a statesman with unusual political savvy and eventually a rallying point for opposition and change movement in Nigeria; and, of course, the conspiracy and allegations against him, among other salient issues that need to be documented for history even in the simplest form through the entertainment industry.
If the saying is true that nothing frightens the Lion in the jungle, then Asiwaju must not allow himself to be distracted from the present assignment that history has placed on his shoulders as he can always come back to comprehensively and decisively deal with this naughty matter.
Surely, if it is still the same Asiwaju I have always known, I am sure he would stay resolute and not get distracted. And that is part of my hatred for this Bourdillon-based but globally connected Lion, whose roaring, even when done silently, is most ravaging and fearful for a political order whose fear of the people has become so morbid. My hatred for him is that I cannot stop loving him. I hate this man because I celebrate him and because I know many Nigerians celebrate him as an unusual leader.
Bamidele is a member of the House of Representatives and governorship candidate of the Labour Party during the June 21, 2014 elections in Ekiti State