Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi

Lekan Fatodu

Power is transient. That is a given. But the influence, and often times cult following, that comes with it in Nigeria gives that transience a kind of impact that is not all too common. And that’s why it is way too easy to notice the difference between a person’s time in office and the time after.

Is it the phone calls that will drastically ebb immediately officials are out of their positions of power or the fair-weather friends that will swiftly switch allegiance to the next favoured man? Could it be some of the constituents including members of the opposition who will begin to count and gloat over the reduction in the trappings of power like the cars and orderlies and the perception of curious humility worn by the then men of power? The indices are just too numerous for most of the power elites who have occupied high offices at one time or the other.

As such, beating these indices is considered a mark of uncanny political ingenuity coupled with help from ecclesiastical hands because not a few powerful names have been totally forgotten and driven into political oblivion just after leaving their positions. And that is the more reason the number of political office holders who maintain relevance in their post-office days is very lean when compared to those who completely fizzle out of public consciousness.

Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, a former two-term senator, is of course a favoured one given that hardly can anyone remember most of the big names that dominated Nigeria’s political space in 1999 when he got elected as one of the first set of senators in Nigeria’s fresh democracy.

For many of Afikuyomi’s contemporaries of that era, the journey to political obscurity was even made swifter by the absence of solid legacies that can be credited to them after leaving their respective public offices.

Perhaps the most notable and fortunate name in the political class of 1999 is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was elected as governor of Lagos State that year and served two terms that ended in 2007. Needless to say, Tinubu remains highly influential and relevant in the political affairs of the country till present. In fact, Asiwaju has also been pivotal to the continuing presence of several others including Afikuyomi on the political turf.

But like others the dogged politician Afikuyomi has equally had his rough moment in the murky political water which many had thought would have finally terminated his political odyssey that kicked off quite early and rose rapidly.
In 1992, a vibrant and youthful Afikuyomi, who had considerable relevant political experience having served in different capacities, including as special assistant to the then National Chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP), was elected as a legislator in the Federal House of Representatives. However, the life span of that lower Federal Legislative was short, no thanks to the military who truncated the democratic process at the time.

Quite worried about the scourge of the military in governance and on the psychology of the entire nation, he and other democratically minded Nigerians joined hands to constantly march and campaign to force the military out of power.

The spirited agitation became unbearable for the uniformed men that they resulted to maiming and killing of innocent citizens; and also forcing several others into exile amongst whom was Afikuyomi. It must be noted that the pressure from Afikuyomi, his colleagues and other democrats that eventually compelled the military to hand over power to a democratic government in 1999.

Fittingly, Akifuyomi and many other politicians were part of the first politicians of 1999 that occupied various offices across the country. However, the rising and famous Lagos politician hit a brick wall after an illustrious two-term in the Senate when he put himself forward for the governorship seat in Lagos State in 2007.

Afikuyomi failed to secure the blessing of his political godfather – something he thought was a forgone conclusion. But the politics that time didn’t come in his favour. As such, he got frustrated and moved out of his political family of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) to pursue his gubernatorial ambition on a different platform. But still to no avail. Afterwards little or nothing was heard of him until he was appointed Commissioner for Tourism in Lagos State during Babatunde Fashola’s first term as governor.

After Fashola’s first term, Afikuyomi was said to have ventured into diverse businesses including consulting which completely took him away from political limelight and got many wondering if the happy-go-lucky fellow had signed off from active and partisan political.

But like the proverbial cat with nine lives, Afikuyomi has resurfaced on the political turf with a big bang. Being appointed the Chairman of the Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) Elections Committee 2017 is by all means a political big deal especially in a state like Lagos. And certainly his phone must have been buzzing ceaselessly again since his return to political limelight. His being attacked by dissenting voices aside, he made sure the candidates of the APC stayed in line with the rules during the just concluded local government elections in the state and, hopefully, willcontinue to guide them towards delivering good governance.

Beyond this, I reckon, is a great opportunity for Afikuyomi to share his experience with the newly elected 57 local government Areas (LGAs) and local council development areas (LCDAs) chairmen and women in Lagos state who are all from the APC on the need to build solid legacies for posterity and in preparation for a noble life after office.