GUEST COLUMNIST BY ISSAAREMU
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, two-term governor of Lagos state (Centre of Excellence), a one-time Senator and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has just turned 64.
For a country notorious for death (as distinct from) life expectancy, it is a perfect time for another thanksgiving for the political octopus who had successfully navigated the political land mines from military dictatorships of all hues to civilian democratic dispensations of varying persuasions. It has almost become a national culture that great men and women in our land are celebrated only at the announcement of their obituaries. We like to depart from this trend by acknowledging some of the remarkable things that have happened in the course of Tinubu’s illustrious career as a public figure.
Not few are unlucky in the politics of war of attrition. All must therefore rejoice and hail Asiwaju at 64! It is certainly not yet Tinubuism as a distinct philosophical/political theory and practice attributable to the chieftain of APC. However at 64 there are emerging discernible patriotic and pan-African incontestable and verifiable political praxis of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, which must not pass unnoticed at 64.
One essential attribute of Tinubu is organization and institution building. There are very few politicians who have put so much energy and faith in cultivating political organizations and parties as vehicles for attainment of political power and good governance like Tinubu.
Well before President Barack Obama admonished Africans to invest in strong institutions, not strong men in 2009 in South Africa, Asiwaju had long been identified with pan Nigerian political organizations such as National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Alliance for Democracy (AD), the Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now, what has been tagged “the game changer” the All Progressives Congress (APC). Of course we dare to analyse the vibrancy and the objectives of these political organizations, we cannot doubt their historic relevance to the deepening of the democratic process in Nigeria.
Truly Tinubu can be described as a tested organizational man. He commendably cultivated new institutions to cope with the challenges of governance as the Governor of Lagos State. One that has passed the test of time and even copied by a number of states is Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, a Lagos State-owned agency under the ministry of transport. Others include creative organs like KAI, LAMATA which have instilled “sanity and safety in the critical areas of public health and transportation”.
Another critical success factor in Tinubu leadership is the audacity to think outside the box and dare to succeed. Many political pundits are still confounded how an AD, one party state in 2007 metamorphosed into 5 AC/ ACN states in 2011 notwithstanding the totalitarian disposition of PDP under emperor Olusegun Obasanjo.
Certainly, the transformation of an opposition party, APC to a ruling party in the biggest democracy called Nigeria, underscores once again the political sagacity of Bola Tinubu and his comrades. Today most state governors lazily agonize over the dramatic fall in oil revenue. But did Asiwaju AD-led state survive the oil revenue allocation embargo imposed by President Olusegun following the creation of unlisted local government councils between 2007 and 2011?
However, the most remarkable attribute of Tinubu at 64 are his civility, and audacity to be different and the courage to talk to power.
It was on the floor of the National Assembly as a senator that he called for Resource Control, a demand that has improved on revenue allocation formula. Many political observers are recently certainly impressed that Asiwaju has audaciously “ruled the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, out of order for saying he should not be expected to conjure magic in resolving the current fuel crisis in the country.”
It is a sad commentary that many in the ruling political party, especially the state governors carried on while their citizens are sleeping at filling stations searching for fuel that is not free and not available to buy at official price. Tinubu in his timely commendable statement threw in his lot with Nigerians who, according to him, were “as right to feel insulted as the minister was wrong to have said such a thing.” Indeed its time Kachikwu reconsidered his appointment as a Federal Minister. He was recently credited to have said it was cheaper to import refined petroleum products than refine locally. Is the minister working for foreign refineries or National Oil Company? He should live to the mission statement of his petroleum ministry, which is to maximise the benefits of the oil and gas sector for national development.
Lastly, essential Tinubu is his global outlook. At a time most Nigerian politicians are insular and killing their fellows to be local godfathers and local champions, Tinubu is a national and pan African politician attested to by his remarkable outreach in West African sub region in particular and in the continent as a whole.
Happy birthday, Asiwaju!
•Comrade Aremu (mni), General Secretary of Textile Workers’ Union, is the Secretary of Alumni Association of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).