The evolution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) into the governing party and the emergence of its candidate, Gen. Muhammad Buhari, as the President-elect prove a fundamental truth. A single visionary blessed with courage equal to his vision is ultimately more powerful than a vast multitude that is devoid of sight, courage and sound counsel.
Gen. Buhari, a personification of integrity, stalwart patriotism and decency, was the inevitable candidate and is the right man to be President this time. Complementing him as the necessary strategic catalyst of this great democratic feat was Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Never in the history of our nation has an incumbent President lost to his challenger. For that to happen is a profound feat. For that feat to come about through a newly merged political party is something bordering on the edge of the impossible. Yet, in our Nigeria, that is exactly how our democracy has been secured and our chance for a better future revived.
As the primary architect of the APC, and a key strategist in its drive to become the government of this nation, Bola Tinubu has earned history’s verdict as a true and committed democrat. At moments when others threatened to quit or did quit, Tinubu stuck doggedly to the course. When the Alliance for Democracy (AD) ran into stormy weather and was hijacked by the reactionary elements funded by the government in power, Tinubu established another progressive party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN). From his solitary redoubt in Lagos, the ACN cast its progressive message and Tinubu attracted able and committed people to the democratic cause and to his course in it.
The epic turn from governing a single state to governing a nation had begun. Few believed, as Asiwaju did, that this achievement was within reach. The ACN went on to win six states and secure the Southwest for the progressive cause.
And when the time came to re-shape the opposition nationwide into one body, Tinubu took the lead in sowing together the different political parties into a workable whole. In the face of state-sponsored attacks and spirited attempts to scuttle the merger, Tinubu led the team of political fighters to make APC a reality. The period between the formation of the party, the inauguration of the party’s executive, to its convention in Lagos, the national presidential campaign and now the elections was one charactererised by dangerous moves, plots and turns against him. Tinubu survived them all and remained standing.
As the intellectual force behind the APC, Tinubu never waivered. Gen. Buhari and Chief Bisi Akande were the strongest and most faithful of allies in this great effort.
These are statesments of high-caliber personalities who never shook when the adverse wind blew.
If along the way Tinubu had wavered, many would have wavered with him. The story today would have been a different and inferior one. He remained standing even when many tried to make him fall. Tinubu is brave at heart and large in vision. He has the fortitude to stand when times get tough and when doubt becomes as thick as fog. He forges ahead while others succumb to fear. He stands alone when others are tired and sit down. This rare man chooses to take risks and stake everything he has for a just cause. He stands alone when he makes unbelievable sacrifices in order to achieve a greater goal. He excels in the wee, lonely hours; when others are asleep, he pours over Nigeria’s problems in search for solutions. He stands alone when he makes the tough and necessary decisions, not minding how he will be perceived. He stands alone when he refuses to join the doubters and holds on to the belief that it is possible.
For standing against the tide of greater power and might all these years, Tinubu has achieved something for us all. He is truly an architect of modern Nigeria, a driving force behind a new Nigeria and one of the fathers of a truly democratic two-party system.
Tinubu has ushered Nigeria into the meeting hall of democratic nations. By staying the course, by investing his intellect, experience and resources in the struggle for a better country and by working with people of like minds, Tinubu has helped lift the nation from its despair.
APC’s electoral success is not a fluke. It was earned. It came as a result of great sacrifices and through the effort of the key drivers and other leaders who kept steadfast even when hope seemed lost. The long hours on the road and in the air, crisscrossing the nation, spreading the message of change and urging others to join the party bore fruit. The APC ship got many on board. Not even the attacks from the PDP could sink it.
On the campaign trail, Tinubu was a firebrand. He easily excited the crowd whenever he spoke. People were sure to taste of his wit, his incisive political jabs and his commanding vision about what APC can do to change Nigeria. Perhaps the greatest lines of the 2014/2015 presidential campaign that will never be forgotten and will remain in the books for a very long time is that from Tinubu. Responding to attacks by the PDP that the APC presidential candidate, Gen. Buhari was a former general and should not be trusted, Tinubu had a reply for them in full measure that shut them up. Tinubu roared at the Abeokuta campaign: “When France needed to get out of political troubles, it tapped Charles De Gaulle; when America needed solid political leadership, it called on Eisenhower; Nigeria needs fixing and the man for the job is Gen Muhammadu Buhari”. This answer and analysis from Tinubu settled the argument. It won many over and shut the mouths of the politicians on the other side. On the campaign trail from the South to the North, Tinubu was a delight.
Fired up and in his elements, he was unrelenting. He saw what many did not see, that APC will form the next government and restore hope to Nigerians.
Whenever the history of this political era in Nigeria is written, it will be said that there was one man, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who stood firm in commitment and courage to make the difference for Nigeria. Tinubu is a class act and is in a class by himself. From the corporate world, he took the political storm by storm in Lagos. This was after a commanding performance in the pro-democracy struggle to liberate Nigeria from the clutches of military dictatorship. He was at the vanguard of democracy in the days of the National Democartic Coalition (NADECO) struggle. Since then, he has never looked back. As governor of Lagos state, he excelled in governance. He brought out the excellence in Lagos through a combination of pragmatic decisions and financial and social engineering that turned it into a model city.
Lagos, today, is a reference point. He took over the Southwest, reshaping the political landscape in a positive and dynamic way. He was instrumental in identifying six men, who today remain some of the best governors this country has ever known. On the national stage, he was a constant voice of opposition. Unwavering, unbowed, unbeatable, Tinubu was the fulcrum of opposition politics. His voice rang out loud and clear against injustice, impunity and miss-governance.
For his progressive views and opposition to government, Tinubu suffered. His businesses suffered. His political structures came under severe assaults. Enemies sought to ruin his reputation. They dragged him to court, hoping to jail him but failed. In all, he survived and remained standing. Through all of this, he has remained humble and self-effacing.
In the explosive celebration that followed the victory of the APC in the presidential elections someone in the tiny crowd that gathered in his office said: “Your Excellency Tinubu, this is your finest hour”. Tinubu shot back, “No. This is Nigeria’s finest hour and it is the best birthday gift I can ever wish for”. He went on in his major reaction to the victory to describe the victory of the presidential candidate of the APC, Gen Buhari as Nigeria’s finest moment in its political history. “It is a moment when hope is re-born, faith is rekindled and a fresh fire of patriotism is released for the task ahead”.
That is the measure of a man who sees ultimate victory in the emancipation of his people and the triumph of good over evil. Tinubu has seen it all. Today he stands tall in humility. He has survived where others were crushed. He has achieved what others failed to achieve for our country politically. He has been this generation’s’ most consummate and strategic political mind. History will record that.
If anyone ever doubted the veracity of a sobriquet – The Last Man Standing – given to Tinubu, they should doubt no longer. The title is more than valid. More importantly, this last and only man standing dedicated himself to a great and selfless task that we all may stand to feel the morning rays of genuine democracy shine upon us. This man is a hero. What no one dared to do, he did.
Now, friend and foe alike, we are all the better for it.
Sunday Dare is Chief of Staff/Special Adviser on Media to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu