Like a long distance runner, who does not give in to distractions, Bola Tinubu, who was recently declared President-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission, had his eyes focused on the Nigerian Presidency for over three decades. With the 25 February 2023 election, he clinched the trophy
BY RICHARD ELESHO
He carried the badge of a fast thinker from childhood. A desire to satiate his love for music led him to play one of his early pranks. This was in the 1960s when Nigeria was still in the euphoria of independence from colonial rule. Nothing in those years of innocence pointed to the life of service and statesmanship he would live. He was strong-willed but innovative. He roamed the streets, explored his environment and played pranks like other children of his age.
He loved music. It was his habit to trace notable musicians to wherever they had been invited, and enjoy their sonorous performances. Many times he had to gate crash by sneaking into the truck used for carrying their instruments, unnoticed. By so doing, he would enjoy a free ride to the concert in different parts of Lagos.
One day, he targeted the band of Roy Chicago, his favourite highlife sensation. Along with his friends, they watched for the appropriate time to sneak into the lorry and headed for an unknown destination. The journey was longer than anticipated, but they held their breath as the truck continued moving. At last, they found themselves at Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, hundreds of miles away from Lagos. That was not all.
The band was not due back in Lagos until many days. From Ado, the musician headed for a destination farther away from home, where he had the next engagement. “We had no money to return to Lagos and were stranded there. We couldn’t follow them back to Lagos because they were headed for another location, where they had a show. We managed to get to Lagos by jumping on a cocoa truck that was coming to Lagos.”
Fast track to scene two, 1994, some thirty years later! It was no time for musical escapades, or corporate dressing in suit and tie, as his profession demanded, but a season of anomie. A minute’s delay could spell doom and leave the pro-democracy activist captive to the enemy. Even the meek must apply coercion when the men of violence seize the kingdom by force. Our subject was an unapologetic convict of the maxim “from the beginning, the kingdom of God suffereth violence…”
Thus, in this dead of night, turbaned as a Muslim Cleric with huge headgear, and a flowing Babaringa to match, he hopped on a bike. Assuming the aspects of a hermit on a solo voyage, he followed a dreaded route and travelled under the cover of darkness. Taking the notorious NADECO way, he beat a labyrinth of security personnel, and at last, arrived at a safe harbour in Benin Republic. Propelled by further stint of luck, from there he made good his escape to freedom and democracy.
Welcome to the diary of a young Senator, turned Pro-democracy activist, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Yes, Nigeria’s President-elect, was neither an Asiwaju nor Jagaban at the time, but in his forties, boiling with the energy and idealism of that prime age. It is fortuitous, that some three decades down the line, he is set to assume office as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
For him, disguising to beat the enemy was not a one-off. It was second nature. He was regularly on the road as an emissary delivering messages from the outlawed Pro-democracy movement to Kudirat, wife of the billionaire and winner of the June 12, 1993, Presidential election, Bashorun Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola. Often, he had to disclose his identity before his associates could recognise him, due to the heavy costumes.
Tinubu had always been an innovator, but it was during the heady days for the actualisation of June 12 that his talent as a dependable guerrilla fighter, commander, man hunter and selfless inspirator came to the fore.
Before his entrance into the murky waters of Nigerian politics and activism, Tinubu was a successful professional. Let us visit his metamorphosis from an accounting wizard in the board room to public service.
Seeking Greener Pastures Abroad
Born on March 29, 1952, Tinubu’s story reads like a well-crafted Nollywood script. After receiving basic education in Ibadan and Lagos, young Ahmed realised early that his fortunes lay in learning more about the white man’s ways and exploring his nativity. He shared his dream with his parents.
Four of his close friends Folabi, Tokunbo, Nurudeen and Shola had travelled, two each to Germany, and the United States, creating more hunger for overseas in his mind. As birds of identical plumage flock together, his remaining two friends, Tunde Badejo and Bolaji Agaba also intensified plans to leave Nigeria.
Tinubu’s eventual departure was however partly a fortuity. He had narrowly escaped a stray bullet during a trip to Ikenne, the home town of the foremost nationalist, the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo. To avoid such grave foreboding, his mother, the late Habibatu Mogaji former Iyaloja of Lagos, bought into his plans. Tinubu recounted this to The News.
“Based on the sad incident and how I had narrowly missed death, my family said to me: ‘This boy, you have always said that you wanted to travel out of the country, it is time to do so.’ So, my mother gathered some money, sold her trinkets to make up for the remaining part of my allowances and joined it with proceeds from the sale of the Volkswagen Beetle given to me by my uncle, the late Ganiyu Tinubu, who used to work at Simpson Street, Ebutte-Metta.”
Chicargo State University where Tinubu studied
Anyway, Tinubu and his friend, Bolaji left for the US on the same day in 1975. He survived over there by driving cabs, washing dishes, working as a guard and doing other menial jobs. But he didn’t allow the search for survival to becloud his quest for learning.
His intellect was above average. He, therefore, enrolled first at Richard Daley College and later at Chicago State University. He studied Accounting. His impressive academic prowess earned him a scholarship and a teaching job while still a student. Tinubu came out not only with honours, but also top of his class.
Mobil headquarters Lagos
Five jobs, from frontline accounting firms, were waiting for him on graduation. He was recruited from campus. Listen to him.
“I was on the Dean’s list; I was in line for the award for the overall best Accounting student as well as that of the university scholar’s award. With that, the big firms would continue to woo you. Despite the five job offers, I was equally offered employment by IBM and others. Professor Jesse called me and advised me that I should not be arrogant. He asked that I remove my name from the career placement centre because, according to him, the more they saw my grades, the more I would be sought after. He said that might hinder other accounting graduates from being recruited and that the faculty wanted as many accounting graduates as possible to be recruited by the big companies. So I went and removed it.
“But when Arthur Young saw the money I was offered, they offered an additional $3,000. My adviser told me to consider an offer that would make me function effectively in my country, particularly given that the country is blessed with crude oil. I wondered what I would be coming back to do. The career placement officer called me again and asked me what I wanted to do. I said they just spoke to me from my department.
“Unlike what happens here, universities in America prepare the students for the future; how to dress, how to face job interviews. The third day after that, Deloitte, Haskins and Sells, now Deloitte and Touche Consulting Group, gave me another offer. They said they were not just going to hire me, but develop me. They asked me to take the salary I was being offered or forget about the job.
“I went back to Professor Jesse and said: ‘Look at what these people are offering, I would rather go to Arthur Andersen because they were offering to pay more’. But he said that I should not. He said he had always advised me that my career and professional development were more important. He said Delloite had clients like General Motors, Procter and Gamble, and National Oil and worked with Aramco Exxon, etc. He said I should consider that my country has crude oil and I might want to return someday. He said I should consider a firm with clients in the manufacturing and oil sectors than Arthur Andersen, which only dealt with financial institutions and banks.
He took to his teacher’s advice. Tinubu resumed work at Deloitte training school in June 1979. By April 1979, when he was graduating, he had his future charted. And that was the greatest thing he achieved in America.
With education and a good job in the kitty, prosperity hugged him. He started investing his extra income in property abroad. He changed jobs with ease gaining more international exposure. It is instructive that throughout his years of bloom in foreign lands, Tinubu did not disconnect from his roots.
Homecoming and politicking
No matter how exciting living abroad might be, a time must come when a patriotic traveller would return home. Tinubu, who was never too detached from his roots, kept abreast of political developments and regularly visited home. Around 1986-87, he was also a victim of job discrimination which reminded him of home.
Chief Pius Akinyelure was the Finance Director in Mobil when Tinubu said he wanted to join politics
As time went by, his job as an Auditor connected him to several individuals and blue-chip companies. From an assignment in National Oil, he was employed by Mobil Foreign in London. He rose to become the General Auditor of the company in just about two years. Of course, money was not his problem.
His official engagements within and outside Nigeria quickly brought Tinubu to public notice. As it is difficult for a golden fish to hide, then President Ibrahim Babangida could not hide his admiration for the whizkid. It was only a matter of time before he was tempted to join politics, which he started by providing reasonable financial support to politicians in need.
A sociopolitical group, Primrose, opened a serious discussion with him in 1991, encouraging him to seek political office. That was not all. The group went to town to market their product.
Tinubu’s deep intellect was an instant magnet. When IBB’s transition program got underway, Tinubu was part of the People’s Front, the Shehu Musa YarAdua faction of the Social Democratic Party. Among other members of the group were
Ibrahim Babangida annulled the June 12, 1883 election won by Abiola
Musa Yar’Adua, Atiku Abubakar, Baba Gana Kingibe, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Magaji Abdullahi, Dapo Sarumi and Yomi Edu. Primrose and other Lagos stakeholders pressured him into the race for Lagos Central Senatorial District, under the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
“Gradually, I moved from raising funds to getting involved. I brought some money to Nigeria out of my dividends. I was comfortable because my investments in America and London were already yielding dividends.
“They started touting the idea that intelligent, brilliant and dynamic people like me should be in the Senate and must change Nigeria. The idea gradually started coming into my head. People like Kola Oseni, Alhaji Hamzat, Busurat Alebiosu, Demola Adeniji-Adele, and Prince Olusi, who were members of the Primrose Group at that time, started persuading me to go to the Senate. The Primrose Group was piling so much pressure on Alhaji Kola Oseni to persuade me.”
Ibrahim Babangida annulled the June 12, 1883 election won by Abiola
Tinubu gave in to the pressure, but there was a snag. “The MD of Mobil, Bob Parker, thought I was crazy when I told him I wanted to join politics. I also told the Finance Director, Akinyelure, that I wanted to join politics and use my brain for my country and that I couldn’t continue to be an armchair critic. The two of them could not believe what I said. They said, given my career path in Mobil, if there was any chance of anybody becoming something there, then I would be the one. I stood my ground and said I would give it a try.
General Abdusalami Abubakar. He organised a transition program after Abacha’s death
“I told them that people do it in America and Bob Parker agreed. They said they would give me a leave of absence for four years, during which they would not fill my position. They later said that they would not stop me because it would rub off positively on them if I became successful in politics. They told me to come back and take my position if I found it uninteresting and unchallenging. So I contested the Lagos West Senatorial district election.”
He won. Tinubu has not looked back since then. Instead, with each passing day from 1991, politics has continued to shine brighter and brighter into his path, as light into a new day.
He was a very strong Senator, fully involved in every major decision of the legislative arm of that period. He was close to then-Senate President Dr Iyorchia Ayu, a fellow member of Gen YarAdua:’s structure. Tinubu was Chairman Senate Committee on finance, banking and appropriation.
June 12 crisis: From lawmaking to activism:
The June 12 1993 Presidential election was adjudged the fairest and most credible in the history of Nigeria. It was organised by the dribbler and military tactician, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, who was Military President for eight years. The country had been on a long spell of military interregnum since 1983, when IBB’s dictatorial forerunner, General Muhammodu Buhari seized power from elected President Shehu Shagari in a coup, thereby truncating the nation’s four-year-old democracy.
Chief Ernest Shonekan, Interim National Government President
IBB staged a palace coup in 1985 and began an unending transition program, which earned him the nickname Maradona, after the Brazilian footballer Diego Maradona, legendary for his dribbling talents. After a season of banning and unbanning politicians and political parties, the junta implemented a gradual return to Democratic rule, under a two-party structure, Social Democratic Party, SDP and National Republican Convention, NRC. They were both formed and funded by the government.
General Sani Abacha. He shoved Shonekan aside and took over power
By 1991-92 full Democratic structures were restored in the states. Governors and House of Assembly members were in control of the then 22 states of the federation.
The National Assembly was also inaugurated, awaiting the election of the President. Tinubu, a top technocrat, was representing Lagos West in the upper level of the bicameral legislature. His pleasant personality turned out as bait that attracted not a few of his colleagues across party lines in the National Assembly.
The lawmakers who had become suspicious of IBB’s lip service to military disengagement from politics as a result of a sudden change of the rules and outright disqualification of old politicians urged the military to respect the timeline. For instance, during his inaugural visit to the National Assembly, Tinubu in a remark on behalf of SDP members boldly told the military to return to the barracks. Similarly, in 1992 the lawmakers were unanimous in a resolution that the transition program should not extend beyond August 93.
IBB left the field open for the Presidential poll after banning old politicians like General Shehu YarAdua from the contest. Abiola entered the race with a bang. He consulted widely. For instance, accompanied by Jubril Martins Kuye, Abiolas traced Senator Tinubu to a hotel room to seek his support in the Primary.
The young Senator advised the presidential hopeful to seek peace with the family of Awolowo, leader of the Yoruba race, as a condition for his support. That done, he went all out in favour of the ambition. He also understudied Abiola and horned his political tooth under his tutelage.
The much-awaited Presidential poll eventually came. It was contested by Abiola of SDP, and Bashir Uthman Tofa of NRC. Abiola, a Publisher with wide international recognition was coasting home to victory. However, midway through the declaration of results, Humphrey Nwosu, a Professor of political science who headed the National Electoral Commission, NEC, halted the process. The election was then annulled by IBB, plunging the country into a novel political impasse. The stage was set for a major constitutional crisis.
Tinubu, behind Abiola, right and Abacha, left
By the time the election was cancelled, Tinubu, who had jettisoned his dream for the Senate Presidency in the greater Yoruba presidential agenda, had become very close to Abiola. When the dictator announced the abrogation, Tinubu was one of the few people in Abiola’s Opebi palace.
The group got to work immediately resolving to resist the men in Khaki by insisting on reclaiming the electoral mandate. It turned out to be a long struggle that not only gulped enormous fortunes but claimed many lives. In the beginning, Tinubu rallied other members of the National Assembly to reject the annulment and urged the electoral body to conclude the process.
General Oladipo Diya promised Tinubu that Abacha would soon announce his cabinet, made uo of June 12 people
Things took an uncertain dimension, with pockets of protests against the state. In a face-saving move, IBB stepped aside on August 27. He left behind a contraption in the name of Interim National Government, ING, headed by the respected industrialist and Abiola’s kinsman, Ernest Shonekan. He also installed notable coupist, Gen. Sani Abacha, as a gatekeeper.
The ING did not last more than three months before it was toppled. Abacha after manoeuvring Shonekan to resign, took the rein of power, thereby returning the country to a full-blown military dictatorship. All Democratic structures were suspended as the taciturn soldier settled into a most heinous reign.
The military had partly deceived key members of the legislature that it was going to restore June 12 after sacking the ING. Tinubu was not fooled and he tried to liberate his colleagues from the deception. He was right. Abacha’s maiden broadcast was blank on the annulled poll.
Tinubu became the arrowhead of the defence of the civil rule. He coordinated a successful reconveyance of the Senate in Lagos, with a makeup maze. The lawmakers flatly rejected military rule or diarchy.
“On the night the government was to be changed, Abacha outsmarted everyone and installed himself. These people I mentioned are all alive to testify to what I had said. I can say categorically that I was even called to leave my office because, as they claimed, that night was a dangerous night for them and that everyone’s life might be in danger. Abiola was told not to sleep at home until the broadcast had been made. We were all fooled! Big time deception.
“When we heard the broadcast the next day, there was no mention of June 12 and no proclamation of Abiola. I was mad but was still determined. I rushed to Diya and he was still saying that there was no problem and that they were planning to announce the cabinet containing eminent June 12 people. Abiola said what? I said no, announce Abiola’s victory.
“Diya told me that I didn’t know the military and that things were not done like that in the military. But I insisted that it was deception. I said I know the military. I called Okadigbo to my office in Lagos and I put the plan before him that we had to confront the military and we had to declare Abacha himself illegal.
“I got members of our group together; we wrote the script declaring Abacha’s government illegal. Since we could not get to the National Assembly, we opted to hold our session at the Tafawa Balewa Square. We had gotten Dele Alake to be the media coordinator. We told him to get CNN and other foreign media ready. I put the coat of arms on a rod! That was the mace. We created our mace.
“After the broadcast, everybody took off, because the SSS and other security agents were combing everywhere for us. I went underground, using the 090 mobile phones. I was still granting press interviews to foreign media. The military people were mad. I became a thorn in their flesh and they arrested some of my colleagues, including Abu Ibrahim, the late Polycarp Nwite, Ameh Ebute and Okoroafor. I was still underground, holding press conferences. The military declared me wanted.”
Pa Anthony Enahoro. Detained with Tinubu
The National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, yielded a formidable opposition as most of the political class cringed. Abiola who had retreated abroad to drum international attention later returned home and in the famous Epetedo rhetorics, declared himself President. The night of the long knives entered a new face.
Abiola was arrested and thrown into detention, but Tinubu and his colleagues mounted the barricades. They were declared personal non-grata by the reckless regime. Right from his days in the Senate when he used his Toshiba laptop to churn out press releases with the speed of light, Tinubu displayed an unequalled commitment to the Abiola electoral victory and survival of democracy.
Professor Bolaji Akinyemi escaped abroad
He once refused to recognise IBB as President at a public function in Katsina. He led a group of thirty Senators, G-30 on a most ferocious resistance to the military. He mobilised women led by his mother to protest to IBB in Abuja, to no avail. Further, he opposed the ING and ignored a Ministerial offer,putting his life at risk. He disguised variously as Chef, malam and whatnot to beat assassination plots.
Detention, Jungle Justice and Trial
Tinubu has declared wanted. He went under but later turned himself into his tormentors. He was detained and maltreated to break his resolve. But he remained undaunted. Bombs were planted in his name and his family was targeted for attack, yet, he did not abandon the struggle. He recalled his detention experience at Alagbon, a facility notorious for torture and other forms of jungle justice.
“The AIG then was very nice and they put me in the cell. They poured water into the cell room and said, ‘sleep there’. That was the nastiest experience I had within the first 48 hours that I was there. It was on a weekend. I told them I would embark on a hunger strike. The late Anthony Enahoro was on the stairway and Beko Ransome-Kuti was at another angle on the stairway.
“They brought me out repeatedly for interrogation. They asked me to renounce but I said no, I would not recognise Abacha. They took me and my colleagues to court. People who were supposed to meet their bail conditions were stopped from doing so immediately after they saw me. They cancelled everybody’s bail because they could not isolate me.
“They gave an order that we should be taken out of court, but kept in the police custody at Alagbon. They kept about eight of us in a photocopying room, an eight-by-eight room. We were sleeping across one another. It was a matter of the first to sleep would maintain the position. If your head was this way, your leg would be there and so on. It was a nasty experience.”
It was indeed a dark moment for the human rights community in Nigeria. A killing squad commanded by Major Al Mustapha the Chief Security Officer, CSO to Abacha and Segt. Kabila Rogers as pointsman was on the loose. Many people like Kudirat and Pa Alfred Rewane paid the supreme price while others like Pa Abraham Adesanya narrowly escaped the bullet. Life was cheap and miserable for those opposed to military rule.
Pa Alfred Rewane assassinated
Tinubu and others suspects were charged. After a gruelling legal procedure, Justice Sulu Gambari (now Emir of Ilorin) admitted them to bail. However, they were once again declared wanted and a fresh manhunt resumed against them. They went underground and many other democracy advocates including Bolaji Akinyemi, Bayo Onanuga, etc escaped abroad.
Their houses were raided and properties confiscated. Tinubu after a series of luck and diplomatic assistance reunited with his wife in the US following about two years of separation. The activists from abroad were broadcasting Radio Freedom and Radio Kudirat.
Meanwhile, Abacha was on a mission to transmute to a life President, something completely alien to Nigeria. He was implementing a self-serving transition program in which the participating political parties, succinctly described as ‘five fingers of Abacha’s leprous hand’ had endorsed his agenda.
Dr Bekololari Ransome Kuti suffered detention
The politicians were still in disarray when things started happening fast. Abacha died suddenly while in the company of foreign women of easy virtue. In his place, power fell on General Abdulsalam Abubakar, a core professional. He was yet to restore Abiola’s mandate when the politician also suddenly died in prison in in controversial circumstances in July 98. The nation’s democracy went on auto-reset.
From NADECO chieftain to Lagos Governor
Tinubu was in exile when Abacha and Abiola died. With the death of Abiola, the new Junta implemented a transition program to the letters. The struggle for power under a Democratic setting began in full.
The activists in exile did not rush home, choosing to assess the situation studiously. Abdusalami’s decision to grant state pardons to the political detainees and fugitives was reassuring. After a thorough review of the situation, they accepted the Olive branch and returned to rebuild their fatherland.
Tinubu who had become a force to reckon with in the political space pitched a tent with the Alliance for Democracy, AD. The party was dominant in the Yoruba-populated southwest, having been formed mainly by Afenifere and NADECO lords in the geopolitical zone.
The day he returned and anywhere he went thereafter, yells of Governor, Governor, Governor rented the air. After much consultations, he threw his hat into the ring for Lagos Governorship.
The bridge builder that he was, Tinubu reactivated old relationships, presented his blueprints and won his party’s nomination. He proceeded to win the main election landslide in 1999.
Achievements as Governor
It is a mark of his statesmanship and performance that he won his second term in 2023. It is instructive that Lagos was the only state retained by the AD, as the People’s Democratic Party, PDP tsunami swept other states in the southwest.
The new Governor had a nose for identifying and attracting good hands-on merit. He gave everyone a sense of belonging, irrespective of tribe or religion. He built people and reunited the cosmopolitan population and his administration brought unprecedented development to the state, transforming it from one of the dirtiest in the country to Nigeria’s centre of excellence. He initiated reforms that improved the efficiency of the civil service and improved infrastructure.
Listed below are some of the numerous achievements which stood him out as governor, among his contemporaries.
Lagos was notorious for excruciating traffic holdups, largely due to the driving habits of many motorists and poor traffic management by the overwhelmed police traffic wardens. To tackle the problem, Tinubu established the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA.
Besides bringing sanity to the roads, the agency has continued to generate employment opportunities for thousands of unemployed people and at the same time contribute to the revenue generation of the state.
Determined to improve the irrational power supply from the national grid to the millions of residents of Lagos state, Tinubu’s government in 2000, contracted AES to build an independent power project, IPP, the first of its kind in the country, to generate 270MW of electricity. The 270MW is now part of our national grid.
Besides that, the Tinubu electrification project covered over 100 communities, including Egan, Atewolere, Ifesowapo, Aboru, Agbado Ayetoro, Akorede, Isheri Ikosi, Orile Aguntan, Rofo, Borokini, Omologbede, Araromi, Oke Agbo, Erekusu, Logberu, Okegelu and Ebute, Lekki. Others were Origanringan, Onigbolakowe, Oke Odo Elemoro, Ipaja Isale odo, Agenuba, Ajelogo, Mutaku, Egansando, Ayanfe, topo and Ikola Agbenaje.
Decentralization and local govt administration
With a population of over 10 million then, Lagos was officially divided into a few local government areas, but to bring governance closer to the people, Tinubu’s administration created extra 36 LCDAs. This, however, led to a sharp disagreement between the Lagos government and the federal government then headed by President Olusegun Obasanjo, which resulted in the withdrawal of local government funds.
The matter was taken to the courts, including the Supreme Court, for adjudication. After many years, it was decided in favour of Lagos with a consequential order on the Federal Government to pay all the withheld funds. The LCDAs which are fully funded by the state government are still functional to date.
The monthly internally generated revenue, IGR, of the state stood at a little over N600 million when he was sworn in as governor. That amount was far too low to meet the growing budgets of the state.
The Governor was boiling with ideas on how to reposition the state. Putting on his thinking cap, Tinubu reorganized the Lagos Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, and, before long, he grew and started growing the IGR. By the time he completed his tenure, the state was taking in over N7 billion as monthly IGR.
The health sector also witnessed tremendous improvement. The Health Management Board was decentralized, leading to the creation of LASAMBUS, an ambulance management scheme, the Lagos Hospital Services Commission and the Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency. In addition, policies such as Roll Back Malaria, Jigi Bola, Free Health Policy for children below 16 years and adults above 65 years were implemented by Tinubu’s administration.
Enabling Business Environment, Infrastructure
Under Tinubu’s watch, the Lekki Free Trade Zone opened Lagos to investors and now several top companies/bodies have their headquarters there, including the biggest consulate office of the United States, Lekki infrastructure company, Eko Atlantic.
The administration laid the blueprint for Lagos development. Infrastructure like roads, water, housing and rail lines received proper attention.
Decentralization of the ministry of works and housing gave birth to the conversion of the housing department into a full-fledged ministry, which was charged with providing 500 units of houses yearly.
The Lekki corridor has been described as the fastest-growing real estate investment haven in Nigeria. The housing sector was opened to private investors and Lagos became the highest destination for real estate investors in Nigeria.
The spelling bee competition introduced by Tinubu’s administration gave birth to the One-Day governor programmer, the first and only one of its kind in Nigeria. Besides building several schools across the length and breadth of the state, Tinubu paid the WAEC fee for students from all walks of LIFE, so far you live in Lagos.
In addition, Tinubu built new schools, upgraded many and paid attention to the human capital component of education from Primary School to University levels.
The closest thing to state policing started in Nigeria under Tinubu, with RRS in 1999. The prison reformation to curb the activities of criminals led to the conversion of Ita Oko Prisoners Camp into a Youth Skill Acquisition Centre. RRS is now the most performing police force in Nigeria.
To make things work, he created the Lagos security trust fund where the private sector come together to invest in Lagos security in conjunction with the government.
The creation of several agencies led to several openings in the government which led to jobs in LASTMA, LAGBUS, LASEWA etc.
The former Governor summarised his achievements in office, thus:
“My best legacy is the financial engineering of Lagos State, especially to bring financial autonomy to Lagos State and eliminate wastage and mismanagement. That was just one aspect of it.
“My greatest legacy is Governor Babatunde Fashola. I identified and endorsed him. That was when my corporate background as a recruiter and talent seeker for Deloitte came to play. Part of the training when you go on an operational audit is that the first things you evaluate are the personnel and the questionnaire given to them and how they answer it. You look at the ability of individuals to take and develop others. There is nothing unique about any leadership. Everybody can come up with different ideas. You can take different routes and arrive at the same answer.
“No matter how much steel and metal you put together, the greatest achievement and legacy is the ability to develop other leaders who can succeed you, otherwise your legacy will be in shambles. It was a very difficult and challenging period for me. I thank God I stuck to my guns.” That is vintage Tinubu.
Presidency, Marriage, Networth
Character, as they say, is fate. Tinubu’s character as a builder of men is most probably the strongest single factor that propelled him to the horizon of the presidency. His is a study of tenacity and purpose. A look at the trajectories of his existence at once reveals an enigma.
From his pranks, student days overseas, career growth, politics and statesmanship, traces beyond the ordinary are apparent. Who would not be amused by his hold on Lagos, southwest and now national politics? Or the ease with which he stitched rickety platforms together to form the juggernaut that APC has become, under his supervision?
His recent struggles for power, with a sense of entitlement as evidenced in the infamous emilokan rhetoric and later a maa dibo, a ma wole rendition, not minding the Frankensteins of Muslim- Muslim ticket, currency change and fuel scarcity herald Tinubu as a Lion’s heart, with the tricks of a Tortoise.
He has never been anything less, though. He played football, rode a bicycle and was an aspiring musician. Indeed, Tinubu was a respected DJ, before dropping out of his musical ambition.
“I was interested in music. I enjoy music, since the days of James Brown. I told you I followed Roy Chicago to Ado-Ekiti, without knowing. I was just lucky. God just made me a professional because I could have ended up with the late Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister!
“We used to follow him about during Ramadan, to the extent that I would be locked out. Whenever there was competition around Lagos Island or anywhere, we were always there. There was always the possibility of violence because of the competition.
“But when I was an in-house DJ, not a commercial DJ. Teddy Pendergrass was my favourite and I kept myself updated on the music scene in America. You don’t have music now. You now have O for sibe, O gbona feli feli. I love listening to jazz a lot.”
That is now history. Tinubu won the ticket of his party landslide in June last year. Other politicians on the ballot included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan and former Governor Rotimi Amaechi, who came second. He went on to win the February 25 Presidential election against all odds. He defeated long-time political associate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of PDP, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi of Labour Party, LP and candidates of fifteen other uninspiring political parties.
Matthew Hassan-Kukah, Arch Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, during a Channels TV interview, summarised Tinubu’s journey this way. He said no President or Head of State in the history of Nigeria “ever came prepared for the job of the number one citizen of the country except the President Elect Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu who had been nursing and preparing for the task decades ago.
Bishop Kukah. Tinubu the most prepared for the job
“You can go all the way down in Nigeria, you’re not going to find one single person who has been President or Head of State in Nigeria that came prepared for the job.
“I always say to people, as a priest, that the solution to a bad marriage is not a new marriage. It’s often an attempt to look at what has gone wrong. And if you jump into a new marriage very quickly, after some time, you become nostalgic about the first marriage.
“A lot of these changes that we have seen in Nigeria are largely unprogrammed.
“Military coups by themselves that stretched over 20 years were just glorified banditry and armed robbery because you pull the gun and became a Head of State.”
Above is the reason we’re saying that only Asiwaju Tinubu is prepared because he has been preparing himself way back since 1990 for this act of service as a president so he knew what to do in making this country to be peaceful, prosperous and industrialized.
Awolowo was also to perform very well as premier of Western Region then because he was prepared for the job. Awolowo started preparing for this job when he was studying in UK and at same time studying how UK government was running perfectly well then so he could have a better understanding of how to run a government like that in his own country.”
The President-elect is married to Oluremi, a Senator of the Federal Republic. She was born in
September 1960 and they got married in 1987. She is a trained nurse, educator, mobilizer, and Pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God. They have children. Although Tinubu is a Muslim, they have successfully kept their love and home far above the corrosive tendencies of religion.
Presidential Polls, Spirit that has Refused to Rest
More than 40 days after the conduct of the 2023 Presidential Election, its ghost has refused to rest in peace. Apart from the series of petitions being filed against its outcome, the poll’s odoriferous remains, foul the air like a poorly buried corpse. The putrid air has no respect for space and boundaries.
Tinubu, Atiku, Obi, Kwankwaso
Since the dying days of February when the results of the poll started trending, many groups have taken to the streets and airwaves in condemnation or commendation. There have even been talks of the military takeover or Interim National Government, at high places. And barring last-minute changes the protests threaten to resonate in foreign lands in the coming days.
Not surprisingly the audible post-election voices have been those of supporters of the main candidates. Obidients for Peter Obi’s Labour Party, LP; Atikulate for Atiku Abubakar ‘s People’s Democratic Party, PDP; Batified for Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress, APC; and Kwakwanso’s for Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso’s New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP.
Asiwaju Tinubu receives his certificate of returns from Professor Mahmud
Tinubu won the election by a wide margin according to results declared by the umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. His declaration has generated hot reactions.
On Friday, 31 March, the reactions entered a more scary dimension, in a completely unexpected quarter. That day, an Abuja to Lagos flight on Ibom Air suffered one hour delay, due to political agitations by one of the passengers. The aircraft was set for take-off when the drama started, according to a video.
The religious among those on board would have committed to the hour-long trip to God. Then suddenly one Mr Obiajulu Uja, from Oji-River Local Government Area, Enugu State, stood up to address fellow travellers, like a vendor of assorted items in a Lagos Molue bus.
He reportedly introduced himself as an Obedient. Then, he marvelled at why his audience was seated comfortably on a flight, while preparations for the inauguration of Tinubu as President come May 29 were in top gear.
He warned that the inauguration must be halted and more or less called people to action. The scene created panic and the Airline made resisted attempts to disembark. Group Manager, Marketing and Communication, Aniekan Essienette in a statement gave details.
She said, “We wish to inform the public about an incident on our 6 pm flight from Abuja to Lagos on Friday, 31 March 2023.
“A passenger stood up and began addressing other passengers in a manner considered inappropriate and unruly, as he was making other passengers nervous.
“Our crew deemed his continuous unruly behaviour unsafe and called on airport security to help with the situation. Upon his refusal to stop or disembark peacefully, the security operatives were left with no choice but to forcefully disembark the passenger as a last option.
“We are aware that several videos and reports of this incident are circulating on social media and wish to provide the right perspective.
“Ibom Air wishes to assure our passengers that we maintain very high safety and service standards and will never compromise the safety and security of our passengers.
“We apologize to the affected passengers for the time it took to disembark this passenger, which caused an otherwise on-time departure to be delayed by an hour.”
The News reports that the airport security handed over the suspect to the police. He has remained in detention and is expected to be charged on Monday.
His lawyer, Ejike Ugwu, however, said the man is mentally unstable, calling for his release to enable him to get treatment.
“The man worked with Zenith Bank until he developed some health issues. Some days ago, Riz Continental Hotel, Abuja, chased him away from the hotel because of his mental instability,” the lawyer added.
He further stated that Uja bought three tickets on Friday for Lagos State, noting that on getting to the airport, he (Uja) had issues with almost all the airlines before he eventually boarded Ibom Air.
Ugwu said when he asked him what happened, “he told us that he wanted to market his products and that he was just trying to get the attention of the passengers when he raised the issue of Asiwaju will not be sworn in.”
He will explain that in the courts.
Balance of protests
Not a few groups have staged demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on the result as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC. Obidients, Atikulate and Kwakwansiya members have rejected Tinubu’s victory in protests across the country. Supporters of the President-elect have been responding in equal measure.
The protests are going beyond the shores of Nigeria. For instance, the United States has given approvals for anti and pro-Tinubu protests. Obidients, as Obi’s supporters are called, are drumming up international rejection of the declaration of Tinubu. The group will demonstrate on Monday, 3
April at the iconic Lafayette Park opposite the US seat of power, the White House.
The following day, Tuesday, 4 April, will be the turn of Tinubu’s supporters at the same venue. A notice of approval by the United States Department of the Interior NATIONAL PARK SERVICE tagged “Permit: NCA-NAMA-EVNT23-0889” showed that the approval to the pro-Tinubu group was granted Friday, March 31, 2023.
The document indicates that the protest is being organized by the APC USA, with one Adeleke Lamoriyv as the Person in Charge, and will be attended by 100 persons.
There may be more drama ahead, as we approach the terminal date of President Muhammad Buhari’s administration.
Additional reports by Jethro Ibileke
Elections Are Over: Healing Process Must Begin
By Bola Tinubu
With the conclusion of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, I congratulate all the elected governors and assembly members for earning the mandate of the people. The March 18 governorship election held across 28 states and the state legislative poll across the 36 states of the federation have brought the 2023 election circle to a fitting close.
I must praise President Muhammadu Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies, Observer Groups, Civil Society Organisations, development partners and the electorate for the success of the elections. The election is pivotal to the growth and sustenance of democracy and democratic governance at the state level.
Consolidating democratic governance at the sub-national level will bring more development and improved quality of life to the masses. The more we entrench and consolidate the gains of our democratic venture across the length and breadth of our country, the more our people benefit in terms of dividends of democracy and good governance.
However, I’m saddened by the reported isolated infractions during the elections and its aftermath in some states. I strongly condemn it. Also, the report of arson after the announcement of governorship results in one state did not represent who we truly are: peace-loving people.
The physical and verbal assaults committed are unacceptable and antithetical to democratic ethos.
Elections should be a celebration of our maturing democracy and freedom of choice and ought not to be moments of grief. I am particularly pained by cases of ethnic slurs, which are capable of creating needless mis-characterisation reported in some locations.
President Elect Bola Tinubu
My appeal is for us to rise above our differences, which, in reality, are fewer than the valued strings that bind us together as a people irrespective of the circumstances of our births.
As former governor of Lagos State, I can attest to the strength in our diversity and togetherness. As your President-elect, it is that spirit of inclusiveness we engendered in Lagos that I intend to bring into national governance so that together we can attain our full potentials.
I will give priority to expanding the civic space and safeguarding citizens’ freedom to exercise their rights within the bounds of the law.
Indeed, the elections are over. The people have voted to elect their governors and state legislators that will serve them for the next four years. The time for leadership and governance is now upon us.
In a democracy, majority would have their way but that majority must not suppress the minority from having their say. As democrats, we have to safeguard free expression. Winners must be magnanimous and those who did not win should have a large heart for tolerance and respect for the greater interest of the nation.
As the elected, the only way to justify the trust and confidence of the people and the mandate entrusted in us is to commit ourselves to the service of the people. We must all work diligently and sincerely to make life better for the masses. As elected officers, we have no other assignment than to be burden-bearers for the masses and ensure they have better life that we promised during the campaigns.
We must take urgent steps to unite the people; those who voted for us and those who did not. We must champion the healing process by embracing the opponents and their supporters. As I have stated previously, the time for politicking is gone. This is time for nation building, a task beyond one individual or a section of the society. We need every hand from wherever it may come to be on deck.
I am ready to work with you all as your President. I will be a worthy partner you can trust and rely on as we all bond together, in unity of purpose and renewed hope for, the betterment of our blessed country and beloved people.
What do you think?