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 Abdul Okwechime pays tribute to Bola Tinubu, President -elect, at age 71

It goes beyond the primaries where he was clearly the underdog. He was set up to lose. Everybody else, safe for him, did not believe he had a chance. They thought it was a platform set to demystify the Great JAGABAN. What, with a President, whose countenance was more of disdain to the man who later became his Party’s Presidential Candidate, than welcoming. Every step going forward, right from the venue of the Primaries, became who GOD wanted or ordained, as it were.

At the Primaries he sat alone, first, like an orphan, but he was sure and knew he was not alone, GOD was on his side. His seat, suddenly became the cynosure of all eyes where almost all candidates came to pay congratulatory homage to him, as the result came tumbling down.

Recall that before the primaries he met a hostile environment within his party. The APC, whose hierarchy appeared hellbent to curtail his seemingly larger than life image, did everything to scuttle his dream. They apparently didn’t know the meaning of JAGABAN. The Adams Oshiohmole led EXCO was unceremoniously dismantled largely due to some imaginary fears of it working for an Asiwaju Tinubu’s President agenda. Undeterred he put his focus elsewhere, assuaging aggrieved members and helping even non members of the party across the nation. Rather than diminish therefore, his network, status and influence in and outside the APC family received a huge boost. These new ways of bonding with people across all divides were unscripted, just the normal behavior of the enigma called Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Across the nation during the rallies were real time testimonies from the high and mighty who have received the Asiwaju’s Midas Touch. Governor Ayade of Cross River State, George Akume of Benue State, Governor Ganduje of Kano State, and a host of these beneficiaries came on stage from one state after the other to give testimonies of how they have been touched by Asiwaju’s milk of kindness.

As the primaries drew near apprehension and uncertainty set in. Again the party leadership was largely not to be trusted. Intrigues and backstabbing were exhibited. Those that were counted as allies publicly disowned him and sought to be different. The unkindest stab came from Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President, a man who Bola Tinubu has persistently promoted and pushed at any given opportunity.

Very unexpectedly GOD came into the minds of the APC Northern Governors who decided to tread a part of honour by insisting that Power Must Shift to the South of Nigeria. This stand, more than anything else, became the albatross of the gang-up against an Asiwaju President, within APC Power Hierarchy, particularly in the Presidency. All such plans if they existed, were promptly perished. So he waltzed through the rumored plan of the Senate President Ahmad Lawan candidature to the supposedly scary screening panel, who everybody thought, at that time, was designed to screen him out. He came out clean in all, insisting that the candidates go through an election. He refused the idea of a consensus candidate even if he was to be the beneficiary.

As the intrigues continued with no one clearly ready to confront the “imaginary” enemies.  Two landmark events clearly ordained by GOD, took centre stage.  First the Northern Governors within the APC in an unprecedented manner, confronted President Buhari, to confirm his stand on the stories of his endorsement of Senate President Lawan, as the Party’s Presidential Candidate. Boxed to a corner, the President publicly, not only denied any involvement, but also insisted that he was unaware of such a plan. He further urged every aspirant to go prepare for the primaries.   

Secondly and the most daring is what I will describe as the ABEOKUTA DECLARATION. When the frustration and seeming abandonment by the Powers that be in the APC Administration, became more biting and needed a Protest, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the King of Protest took the bull by the horn. It was obvious that everyone else in the team either didn’t know how to go about it or clearly didn’t have the liver to so do. Like all leaders who don’t give orders but rather act and let others follow, he took the bull by the horn. Such an action was definitely inspired by GOD. In ABEOKUTA, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the most unorthodox manner, told the whole nation that it was his turn to rule Nigeria. Audacious. Emi’l’okan, he told them in Yoruba language at Abeokuta, meaning its my turn.  For the records, he reminded his listeners his trajectory in shaping the Democracy Nigeria enjoys today, including how with GOD’s Grace he was able actualise the lifelong dream of Muhammadu Buhari. The silence in all homes across the nation was deafening, even members of the opposition were alarmed at the boldness. No one knew how Abuja would react but what mattered most is the ability to confront the truth at any given time. It was a selling point, a GOD-given attribute that only him knows how to showcase. Emi’l’okan was actually the voice of GOD. But like it is said in the Holy Books, human beings love to see signs. They got the shock of their lives at the primaries. GOD showed them his anointed as he won with a landslide. That was the sign. Yet the humans in us kept the doubts alive.      

At last came the day of the primaries, where his initial quiet corner became the throne where other mere mortals came to pay respect. He beat the other contestants silly. Only GOD could have done that. That night, he proved that GODLINESS and GOODNESS don’t come with the size of Bible or Quaran you carry, nor are they from oratory at sermons. No. They come from Your Person as Ordained by the ALMIGHTY. In a contest that had about 2,000 voters, Asiwaju beat the other contestants with a minimum of a thousand votes each. Meaning that nearly everyone that came to the primaries voted for him.

Just as we began to felicitate and oil our structures the public war from social media enveloped the nation. All manner of insult, abuses, curses, and lies took over the social media space. In Nigeria’s Political History, no one has been so maligned, so demonised, so abused, like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He took everything in his stride, remained focus and believed in his goal. Those friends he made across our nation’s divide paid off. The campaigns in most parts of Northern Nigeria is “pay back time for Asiwaju”. So while the social media did their best to pull him down, GOD using the people that believe in him, stood him out. Rather than succumbed and cringed he became stronger, indeed than all of us put together. He would be the last to go to bed and always the first to get ready for the next day’s rally. He did  the 36 States and Abuja rallies plus the zonal Town Hall meetings that preceded the rallies.

GOD again intervened. While humans were busy with social media GOD intervened by causing divisions in the ranks of the opposition. They suddenly couldn’t understand each other anymore. The falcon couldn’t hear the falconer again and their Centre just couldn’t hold. Peter Obi threw in the towel. He couldn’t stand the PDP shenanigans anymore and went his way. He joined the Labour Party pulling a large chunk of the PDP supporters with him. Kwakwanso the Lord of Kano left to form the NNPP, further depleting the already miserable number. However, by far the hardest blow came from the G5 Governors, a group of five PDP Governors who, in protest of their party’s reneging its principle of leadership rotation, pulled out of the PDP Presidential Campaign, insisting that presenting a Northern Nigerian Presidential Candidate was an unpardonable injustice. Several opportunities presented itself for reconciliation amongst PDP’s warring members, but GOD hardened their hearts against each other. The five Governors eventually settled to work for any of the top Southern Nigeria Presidential Candidates. With this the opposition became totally fragmented. The rest is now history.

When it became obvious that the election was Asiwaju’s to lose and which wasn’t going to happen anyway, a new pressure point was introduced. In an election year where every effort must be geared towards a peaceful and restful country the federal government deliberately decided to put citizens into agony. First, an unprecedented inexplicable fuel shortage engulfed the nation. While the electorate was still groaning and having sleepless nights at the petrol stations, the government through its agency, the Central Bank of Nigeria, introduced a most inhuman cashless policy. The reason they gave was that it would check the practice of vote buying. The attendant suffering and pains that accompanied this policy is better imagined. The electorate was turned against the sitting government under whose umbrella Asiwaju was running. The larger society was becoming restive as frustrations set in. GOD again prevailed. The major opposition parties that should have leveraged on these hardships, chickened out. The two, led by establishment persons, Abubakar Atiku and Peter Obi, were too docile to stand up for the public. They have not been known to protest about anything. They had always been protested against. So GOD made them quiet to the pains of those that they were seeking their votes. GOD showed the voters how insensitive these other contestants were. It however provided the chance for Asiwaju to again, carry the cross of protest on behalf of the people.

Abeokuta became once more, the theatre for the protest. On his return to the ancient City, and at the peak of the petrol/Naira crunch, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, carried the people’s cross. In an unprecedented show of guts, he cried out in front of the teeming crowd at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, on the Naira and Petrol scarcity, imploring the crowd not to be discouraged and disillusioned but to come out and vote. He prophesied, “that no matter the self inflicted hardships from the fuel and cash scarcity, elections would hold and he would win”. It came to pass.

At a time when other contestants were left with no other offers to the voting public than divisive religious rhetoric, it is refreshing to see and hear of Renewed Hope. At a time when some others wore the combative garb of “taking back our country from one religion to another”, it’s gratifying to see someone who believes Nigeria should be piping its wasting gas, from here to Europe. Audacious. At a time when we are almost becoming a beggarly nation in the world, GOD gave us someone who knows how to do everything humanly possible to take us out of these woes. Those in the court don’t know GOD. They have refused to see the hand of GOD in this trajectory and by extension have taken GOD to court. Sadly.

Asiwaju doesn’t talk what he cannot do. Every statement, utterance, he makes, is well thought out. Every document he pushes out is well scrutinised and articulated. He is not frivolous. Nobody around him is. He is deep and reads between the lines faster than the lines and the drawers. Whatever documents he puts his name on, you bet, has been thoroughly vetted. He doesn’t read or propagate what he doesn’t believe in. So it is with His Manifesto. Believe me when I say that every line in that document has his inputs he fits implementers into every segment of a masterplan as he alone knows the persons best suited for each role. One of such is the choice of Shettima as the Vice President.

It is not by accident that the Northern Nigeria is the strongest voice in the Asiwaju Presidency. The man has reached out in the last decade he’s been out of office, across Nigeria, knowing fully well, in the true sense of the “handshake across the Niger”, that the people own the game of politics. You have to reach out and intervene in the concerns of others because you will need those others when it matters most. Politics is not military. Followers are built over time. Not a mob action instigated by social media. Asiwaju is forward looking. He saw today, yesterday. 

Tinubu works with young people. All around him are enterprising youths. They are his strength and he, their backbone. He knows it’s their time and space but he also knows that they need guidance, tutelage and leadership. The Time Is NOW.

Mallam Okwechime is a Journalist

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