Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Segun James in Lagos
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday led dignitaries, including President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and his Ogun State counterpart, Prince Dapo Abiodun, to shower encomia on one of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, on occasion of his 69th birthday today.
The president, in a message by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, joined the ruling APC and its teeming members in congratulating Tinubu on his 69th birthday, describing him as not only a patriot but also a statesman.
Buhari said he shared the joyous occasion with the former governor of Lagos State, whose acumen and influence continue to resonate round the country and beyond.
He rejoiced with the “patriot and statesman” on the 12th colloquium, an intellectual gathering to commemorate his birthday, that had over the years turned into a veritable opportunity for discussing topical national issues and harnessing ideas to grow Nigeria.
On the theme of the 12th Bola Tinubu Colloquium: “Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth: Imperative of National Cohesion for Growth and Prosperity,’’ the president said the topic highlighted loyalty to the country and the shared vision that would bring harmony and well-being to everyone.
He added that the topic is most timely and reflected Tinubu’s patriotism and benevolence.
He stated that the Tinubu had inspired many leaders and continued to nurture talents for the benefit of the country, while acknowledging his role in the stability of the APC, and advocating good governance.
Buhari rejoiced with family, friends and political associates of the politician, praying that God will grant him longer life, good health and more wisdom.
Lawan, in his goodwill message, joined Tinubu’s family members, friends and political in rejoicing with him.
He described Tinubu as “a leader of leaders, political strategist and astute administrator.”
He said Tinubu had in three decades of active roles in the politics of Nigeria impacted many lives and contributed to improving the polity.
“His achievements and the development foundations he laid in Lagos as the first elected governor of the state in the Fourth Republic have secured his place in the history of the state. That is the reason he has continued to loom large on the political stage 14 years after he last held a political office.
“The Jagaban of Borgu is also a founding father of our great party, the APC, and has been consistent alongside our other leaders in guiding the ruling party along a progressive path for the growth of our democracy and the development of our nation,” Lawan added.
Gbajabiamila, in celebrating Tinubu, said he had been living a fulfilled life worthy of emulation by all.
He added that he has left his marks on the development of Lagos State and Nigeria.
The speaker described the celebrator as a foremost democrat, whose doggedness, determination and commitment alongside other patriots made it possible for the entrenchment and deepening of democracy in Nigeria.
“Despite his achievements in life, the great Asiwaju does not blow his trumpet and remains unassuming, which is his hallmark. For those of us that come from his “school”, we know that he stands for justice and fairness for all. His presence in our political space is more than a blessing to us all. I make bold to say that our current crop of politicians have a lot to learn and gain from the Asiwaju,” he stated.
In congratulating Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, described him as a visionary leader and a mentor with exceptional abilities in various areas of human endeavours.
He called him a political pathfinder, nationalist and detribalised Nigerian, who has contributed to the socio-political and economic growth of Lagos State and Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu said Tinubu was “a major stabilising factor for Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation”, adding that the former governor left with impeccable records in Lagos State after setting the right template for economic growth and political stability.
He stated: “As pathfinder, Asiwaju charted the developmental trajectory of modern Lagos, raising the bar of governance and public service in the State and indeed, Nigeria.
“A cheerful giver who cares about the welfare of the people, Asiwaju personifies tolerance and humanity.
“The story of Nigeria’s democracy cannot be told without the name of the Jagaban Borgu written in gold. Thousands are today direct beneficiaries of his political benevolence.”
On his part, Fayemi, in a congratulatory message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, in Ado-Ekiti, described the former Lagos State governor as a distinguished Nigerian and a leader who is courageous, reliable, dependable and passionate.
The governor described Tinubu as a statesman with an uncommon political sagacity and generosity of spirit, two of the qualities he said made the APC leader stood out as one of the leading lights of progressive politics in the country.
“Asiwaju Tinubu’s ability to identify, nurture and engage talents is unequalled. His life has been a testimony of human capital development in an unrelenting struggle for a better life for the people,” he said.
Abiodun, in a statement yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kunle Somorin, described Tinubu as an exemplar, icon of democracy and true elder statesman.
He stated that Tinubu’s giant strides in business, politics and governance, have stood him out among his contemporaries in the country.
While noting that the former Lagos State governor had laid solid foundation for continuity of good governance in Lagos, Abiodun added that Tinubu, through his political astuteness, has ensured that the South-west and Nigeria benefit from the progressive politics of the APC.
He expressed his joy that Tinubu is waxing stronger in spreading the gospel of progressive politics throughout Nigeria.
“Your towering accomplishments, from the corporate world to being senator of the Federal Republic, representing Lagos West to being elected twice as governor and as the only governor standing during the 2003 tsunami are testimonies of a political icon.
“Like phoenix, you are uncowed as the undisputable vanguard of progressive politics, irrepressible statesman and an icon whose unconditional service and time-tested leadership inspire hope in us.
“For your exceptional skills at political engineering, altruistic leadership and unwavering commitment to ethical democracy, we are very proud of you and would continue to cherish your heritage of responsible statesmanship.
“At 69, it is our prayer that God Almighty will grant you more grace of many more years in the service of humanity and our fatherland in excellent health, limitless resourcefulness and with renewed vigour to better all your previous records combined,” he said.
On its part, APC also described Tinubu as a man of excellence and a true democrat.
The Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the party and the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, in a statement yesterday said Tinubu had dedicated his life to the service of humanity, promotion of good governance, growth and development of democracy in Nigeria.
He added: “As a leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is passionate about the future of the people, as a developmental democrat, he is a proponent of due process and rule of law.”
Buni said Tinubu’s humble and humane disposition made him a great philanthropist, adding that the APC family is proud of his achievements.
The Southern Senators Forum also felicitated with Tinubu on his 69th birthday.
The forum described Tinubu as a politician with penchant for distinction in leadership and unshaken proponent of culture of role modelling of younger generations on populist governance that can benefit the masses.
The Chairman of the forum and the lawmaker representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, in a message yesterday, said Nigerians had acknowledged the outstanding roles played by the statesman to stabilise the politics of the country as distinguished opposition leader since 2003.
The forum said Tinubu also played a strategic role in the consummation of the APC in 2013 through the amalgam of regional parties to rescue the nation from sliding into a failed state, which culminated in the Buhari presidency.