By Abdulwahab Oba
At 66, and with the innovative title of ‘National Leader’ of a ruling party at the centre of Nigeria’s political federal structure, the Almighty Allah has truly been kind to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. And as he celebrates this unique day of his birth, the evergreen song by Chief Commander, Ebenezer Obey, which aptly captures what everyman always beseech the Almighty to give: “igba meta ni igba eda laye, kale san mi jowuro lo Baba”, should ordinarily resonate on our mind for this unique Nigerian. Indeed, the eventide in a man’s life is obviously more important than his beginning or his days of struggling in mid years.
Asiwaju Tinubu is having a rosy eventide, after a midyear filled with struggles for the enthronement of a right direction in the political journey of our land. It is my prayers that he continues this joyous ride till the sun sets on his life, when his record shall begin to speak for him, and about him.
One lesson the younger generation must learn about Tinubu is the power and benefits of altruism and doggedly pursuing the visions that will empanel such principles in the larger society. Tinubu is a lesson in doggedness and charisma. This is why many would easily concede today that the Jagaban Borgu is the man for today’s Nigeria.
Right from the days of his foray into the challenging task of fighting the military via National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, to his emergence as governor of Lagos state, his subsequent exit after a tenure characterised by sophistication, resourcefulness, and unrepentant pursuit of what is right for the people, and now his continued influence on the successes of the state and latterly to the larger body polity, Tinubu has demonstrated a commitment to the principles of fairness, constitutionalism and welfarism.
As the world celebrates this man of vision, I would love to add my voice to honouring a special specie of politician on the benevolence he has received from the Almighty. Truly, Tinubu has received kindness from Allah that would be the envy of many. At 66, Asiwaju is more relevant in the country’s political trajectory. Asiwaju is able to understand politics beyond ordinary eyes, dancing the rhythm beyond imagination. Asiwaju takes steps ahead of his peers with tested political theories. He is a master of his game. He was the brain behind the emergence of the mega party call the All Progressives Congress, APC, realising immediately after the 2011 that only a combination of forces can halt the shenanigans and arrogance of the People’s Democratic Party, the PDP. His efforts yielded the greatest fruit when Saraki led other members of the then PDP to the mega coalition. It was the beginning of a new beginning.
I love the clamour for the institutionalisation of his ideals as canvassed by a group that organised a birthday event for him, apart from the annual Bola Tinubu Colloquium. Although the annual event is also a way to studying and preserving his principles and ideals, I support the call for the use of several other means of building younger generations of Tinubus, not only in the field of politics but other areas of human endeavour, in addition to using the Colloquium to navigate directions for the political prosperity of Nigeria.
But as we celebrate Asiwaju at 66, the APC National Leader must not lose sight of the weight of expectations surrounding his position and the current position of his party. While Nigerians celebrate him always, Asiwaju should use the occasion to reflect and work out a proper reformation of his party, the APC, by reconciling the various contending interests in the party in order to leave behind a legacy that would make the party what a truly democratic entity should be. Internal democracy must be enthroned in the APC. The lack of internal democracy contributed to the defeat of the PDP in the 2015 election.
Today, the APC is, in reality, a shadow of what it was in the build up to the 2015 elections; interests have been shattered, hopes and expectations lost and in the aftermath, enmity made to brew in the hearts of many, against the party’s leadership. That Asiwaju accepted the role of national reconciliatory, even when ordinarily it was a role beneath his status, is a pointer to the fact that he is willing to stoop, in order to conquer. I have earlier looked at this assignment from the viewpoint that it was meant to distract him politically, and even though I still have that gut feeling, nevertheless, I concede to him the sagacity to navigate the murky waters and literarily bring water out of the rock ahead of him. Asiwaju should stoop to conquer.
While his followers and admirers seek to bless him with different gifts on this occasion, it is my desire that Asiwaju will give to us a better APC; the kind of APC that enthralled the whole of Nigerians as we marched towards the last election. It will be my joy if he can make it possible for the factions in Kaduna, Rivers, Kano and Kogi among others to sit around tables, look each other in the eyes, tell the truth and to march forward again as one, united family. It will be my joy if Aswiaju would leverage on the joy of his birthday and work out a pragmatic approach to reconciling with the National Assembly by working out a genuine reconciliation among the fronts in the two legislative houses.
Should I repeat the obvious? That Nigerians are eagerly waiting to see how Asiwaju plays the game of ensuring that APC, the brand he brought to them in 2015, remains the same at the close of the election tenure. It is my prayer that this shall be the story, for that is what will give us another impetus to further blow the trumpet for omo Alhaja, the last man standing.
As poisonous and deadly as snakes are, they become vulnerable if they move alone. But no one dares the linearity of rattlesnake, death adder, vipers and cobra. While we wait with bated breath for the APC’s unity as a surest hope for a better Nigeria, shall we please celebrate this cerebral politician, accomplished tactician, human resources manager par excellence and a gift, no doubt, to Nigeria of this generation. Once again, I sign for the generalissmo. May your sunshine continue to dry many more clothes for many more years.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail: email@example.com