By Femi Salako
By Femi Salako
A head that is destined to wear a beaded crown will definitely do so irrespective of the high level opposition. Also, an individual destined to sit on a throne will surely do so, no matter the depth of conspiratorial opposition to the ascension. These aphorisms best describe the circumstantial events leading to the electoral victory and inauguration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forced of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Against all oppositions, the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom was pronounced as the President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu on March 1, 2023 having won almost 37 percent of total valid votes cast. He had also satisfied the requirement of winning at least 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of the country’s 36 states of the federation. This undoubtedly must have been the happiest day in the life of Bola Ahmed Tinubu because it marked the fulfilment of his lifelong ambition.
The first leg of the ultimate victory of President Bola Tinubu was secured on June 8, 2022 when he won APC primary election with 1,271 to defeat Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who scored 235 and Rotimi Amaechi who scored 316. This was of course the day that he officially became the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress.
Earlier, Tinubu had breasted the presidential contest tape on January 10, 2022, when he formally made his intention to run for the office of president known to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock. Despite all the obstacles and high level conspiracies thrown up to bungle the chances of Tinubu in the February 25, 2023 presidential elections, he eventually triumphed by polling 8,794,726 votes to defeat his opponents Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoplees Democratic Party (PDP) who came second with 6,984,520 votes. Peter Obi of the Labour Party came third with 6,101,533 votes.
Unknown to many people, Bola Tinubu set out on a journey to become Nigerian president in 1991 when he resigned his job as the Treasurer of Mobil Oil in his bid to venture into partisan politics. This was a decision that many people, including the boss of Tinubu at the oil company had thought was unwisely made by the City Boy. As a mark of underscoring the resignation decision of Tinubu that was deemed unwise by his boss, the man promised not to employ another person until he decided to return to his desk. Surprisingly, Tinubu Nigeria never looked back.
The road to political ascendancy was quite rough for Bola Tinubu, but he kept pushing on. Despite contesting and winning election to represent Lagos West Senatorial District on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992; life of Nigerian Third Republic was cut short by General Sani Abacha’s coup of 1993. Even before General Abacha made incursion into governance, the annulment of June 12 1993 presidential election won by Chief M.K.O Abiola had compelled Tinubu to become a founding member of pro-democracy group, National Democratic Coalition. It was a group that mobilised support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of Moshood Abiola as the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 election.
At a point, Nigeria had obviously become extremely hot and dangerous for Tinubu to live and he and other members of NADECO were forced into self exile in 1994. Even while he was outside Nigeria, several attempts were made on the life of Tinubu by the military junta of General Abacha; but he was lucky to have escaped unhurt while other NADECO members could not live to tell their own stories. Eventually, Bola Tinubu returned to Nigeria in 1998 after the demise of General Abacha. Coincidentally, death of the dark-goggled military dictator also ushered in the transition to Fourth Nigerian Republic.
Upon the return of Bola Tinubu to Nigeria in 1998 as a protege of the two key leaders of Alliance for Democracy (AD), late Chief Abraham Adesanya and Pa Ayo Adebanjo, he went ahead to win the AD primaries for Lagos State governorship elections by defeating the late Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu. The Accounting graduate of Chicago State University won election as Lagos State Governor in January 1999 on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD). He won a re-election in 2003 with another Deputy Governor, Femi Pedro on the platform of same Alliance for Democracy. Unfortunately, other South West AD governors fell by the way side because they could not survive the onslaught of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The Asiwaju of Lagos fulfilled nearly all his electoral promises during his eight-year rule as Lagos governor. More important was the developmental blue-print that he developed for the Centre of Excellence. He also constructed new roads that were required to meet the needs of the fast-growing 25 million population of Lagos State. He equally brought about exponential increment in the revenue of Lagos State. He likewise improved security of lives and property of Lagos residents as well as initiating several transformative infrastructural projects in Lagos State.
The most important of Asiwaju’s achievements in Lagos were the environment-inclined projects. Chief among this was the successful taming of the Lagos Atlantic ocean at the Bar Beach. What used to be sight of regular oceanic surge has today become the multibillion dollar Eko Atlantic City. The vision driven Bola Tinubu also proffered a lasting solution to the traffic nightmare of Lagos with the establishment of LASTMA and Bus Rapid Transport system.
Meanwhile, he became embroiled in a constitutional crisis during his time as Lagos Governor with President Olusegun Obasanjo’s controlled Federal Government. The then President was of the opinion that Lagos State Government does not have the right to create new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs). However, the Supreme Court differed and eventually ruled that Lagos has the right to create LCDA to meet the needs of her large population. This controversy sadly led to the withholding of statutory funds meant for Local Government Areas in Lagos State; but Bola Tinubu managed to survive the fund starvation unleashed by the then President.
The genius in Tinubu helped him to govern Lagos successfully for eight years and he still produced his own successor on May 29, 2007 in the person of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of the platform of Action Congress. Upon completion of his tenure as governor in 2007, Tinubu shifted his attention to Nigerian national politics. While he was on the verge of completing his tenure, Bola Tinubu offered his party’s presidential ticket to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was then a sitting Vice president on the platform of PDP.
Soon after, he became most uncomfortable with the landslide victory of PDP in the 2007 presidential election and went some steps higher in 2009 to facilitate negotiations that would bring fragmented opposition parties together into a political “mega-party” with the aim of challenging the then ruling PDP. Tinubu stepped up this initiative in February 2013 when he joined other politicians that created a “mega opposition” party at the time. Four notable legacy parties came together to eventually form what is now the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). The political parties that birthed APC in 2013 were the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Also, the new PDP (nPDP), which was a faction of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party equally fused into the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The most strategic political decision of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was the support he gave to General Muhammadu Buhari in 2014. The support paid off and Buhari was elected Nigerian President in February 2015 on APC platform after three unsuccessful attempts. The former Lagos Governor initially planned to deputise President Buhari but he later threw his weight behind Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was his commissioner for Justice and Attorney General. The victory of Buhari over Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 significantly ended the 16-year rule of PDP and it was also the very first time that incumbent Nigerian president would lose an election to an opposition candidate.
Yet again in 2019, Bola Tinubu played significant role in the second term victory of Muhammadu Buhari. He also used every opportunity to support and defend policies of the administration of Muhammadu Buhari. Meanwhile, Asiwaju ensured that he held very tightly to internal party reins of the APC. Although what seemed to be a tight grip of Tinubu on APC suffered a setback when the then party chairman and his strong ally, Adams Oshiomole was forced out of office.
Meanwhile, as the date of February 2023 presidential election was itching closer, the spin doctors expectedly got to work and came up with all sorts of disparaging allegations. But Tinubu was able to surmount the propaganda hurdles because of his goodwill and influence that has become extended across the South West region of Nigeria. The fact that he has also been able to make very committed and loyal friends in the Muslims dominated northern region equally worked to his advantage.
However, when the political heat became most unbearable on Bola Tinubu, he prophetically pronounced during a campaign rally in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State that it was his turn to become the president of Nigeria. The pronounced “Emi lokan”—Yoruban for “It’s my turn”
soon became the Tinubu campaign slogan. Although this slogan did not go down well with some of the electorate, because they felt it signalled Tinubu’s sense of entitlement to Nigerian presidency.
Curiously, Tinubu also unsettled the Nigerian political landscape when he chose a fellow Muslim, Senator Kashim Shettima from Borno State as his Vice presidential candidate. Although this choice was perceived contrary to the religious balancing of tickets by the major parties in Nigeria. Still, ‘ Akanbi Omo Olodo Ide’ went ahead to defy religious conspiracies by winning the presidential election.
The hitherto APC National Leader and soon-to-be 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has indeed broken jinxes and records. Bola Ahmed Tinubu must be a special being that enjoys total backing of the Almighty God. He has often dared to walk where even angels fear to thread; yet the man has always come out unscathed.
He is the civilian that dared a military General over election annulment and still managed to escape from another military General over insistence on revalidation of June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Chief MKO Abiola. This same Tinubu equally managed to outsmart another military General in the art of politicking and went ahead to install a military General as civilian president. To the glory of God Almighty, Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu has now succeeded a military General as a civilian president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Hearty congratulations to the ‘Akanbi Omo Olodo Ide’ on his impending inauguration as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Yet the inauguration honeymoon of Tinubu may not exceed few days because of the serious work ahead of the new president. He has an uphill task of unifying a badly divided Nigeria that is also fast retreating into regional lines and religious blocs.
It is a fact that Tinubu is a leader of leaders because he holds the enviable record of being a living Nigerian to have produced the highest number of leaders in their own rights. He is very much aware of the rot in the system and this must have informed his avowed promise of economic prosperity, institutional revamping as well as infrastructural improvements across the country. There is no doubt that the 71-year-old Bachelor of Science in Accounting graduate will birth a new and better country that all Nigerians at home and in diaspora will be proud of.
Femi Salako is Publisher, Triangle News Media