BY IDOWU AJANAKU
Ever since he became the first aspirant on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Progress (APC) to inform President Muhammadu Buhari of his readiness to throw his iconic hat into the red-hot presidential ring, Nigeria’s political equation has never been the same again. That it has come ahead of the party’s convention to produce the candidate for the 2023 general elections is instructive. Both the political landscape and the mass media have been abuzz with swirling waves of intrigues, innuendoes, and even insults from his unrelenting traducers. But from his legion of die-hard admirers and supporters now is the time for the gong-clanging tolls. They insist that his time has finally come and he should, therefore, go ahead and do the needful.
To this set of Nigerians, in and out of party politics, spanning all the six geo-political zones of the country and even in the Diaspora, this man is not only eminently qualified to contest, as he has recently indicated, but he stands tall, head and shoulders above his peers. Some call him “the icon of Nigeria’s democracy”. Others state that he is indeed, the “political Jagaban, the juggernaut, the master strategist and political enigma” of modern politicking in our dear nation, Nigeria. These are but a few epaulets that adorn the shoulders of the one-dogged fighter who, today, stands on a high moral ground to speak on Nigeria’s democratic dispensation – its norms, mores, codes, evolution, development, and sustenance.
In fact, they go further to state that given the current trying socio-political and economic times Nigeria and indeed the world has found itself in, their candidate possesses the proud political pedigree, the steel mindset, and largeness of heart to steer our nation beyond the raging storms to a safer harbour of hope. They insist as well, that within the paradigms of political competence and as a matter of gratitude from patriotic Nigerians now is the time to say a hearty “thank you” to the man who epitomizes democracy in Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria.
His astounding political profile looms so large that it triggers some pertinent questions. For instance, who else amongst those currently angling for the presidency has sacrificed so much precious time, so much energy, and valuable resources to ensure the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria? Was it not so obvious that NADECO/Afenifere chieftains such as Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosumu (both of blessed memory) rewarded him with the Alliance for Democracy (AD) party ticket for his loyalty during the struggle against Abacha? Which notable politician teamed up with Abubakar Atiku and others to form the Action Congress (AC)? Who out of the politicians later expanded the vision of the party to make it more nationalistic; to form the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)?
With the current democratic dispensation in the country, who else can boast of having raised up well-heeled, dedicated political disciples such as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), and the Ekiti state governor, Kayode Fayemi all who are also eyeing the plum political post of the presidency?
But for now, his ambition is gathering more momentum than that of others. For instance, a pro-Tinubu support group, ‘Patriots of Bola Ahmed Tinubu’ has been inaugurated in the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja since October 30, 2021. The event took place at the Graceland Gardens and Park event hall, Wuse II, along Sanni Abacha Express Way.
In response to his recent declaration one Yuxuph Oladimeji said: “More than qualify, we are ready to support your mandate sir anybody wey no like u …. Make them present their father”. On his part, Prince Horlawoyin Yusuf Ado said: “Jagaban …. On your mandate Bola, on your mandate, we shall stand”. Expectedly, MC Oluomo is rallying Yoruba for Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition. Not done, a Facebook user by the name of Majesty’s King said: “Victory is the name of the King”.
Outside the shores of the country, the Nigeria Diaspora for Aṣíwájú (NDA) led by Akin Badeji, its director-general, has lauded the APC national leader for not rejecting calls by patriotic Nigerians to offer himself to lead the inarguably most populous black nation in the world.
He said: “I would like to state that the board, executive council, the steering committee as well as thousands of our members are particularly grateful that you responded to our I insist, We insist, Nigerians insist call to run for the country’s presidency”.
It is significant to know more about this one unique patriot that has consistently remained the game-changer in Nigeria’s volatile political environment as it has evolved over the decades? Born on March 29, 1952, the trajectory of his political career took off in 1992, when he was elected to the Nigerian senate representing the Lagos west constituency. That was during short-lived Nigeria’s third republic. After the results of the June 12, 1993, presidential election were crudely annulled during the time of the military president, Ibrahim Babangida, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). The well-coordinated group effectively mobilised a groundswell of public support for the restoration of democracy and the validation of the June 12 election results.
Let it be known that at that material time, he had all the opportunity to sell out as some fair-weather friends did, to betray our common cause. But Tinubu chose, and wisely too, to stay on the people’s side while the struggle lasted. Had he been a political turn-coat, we would have no moral ground to identify with him, least of all, urge him to contest for the presidency.
One reason why he can lay credence to being a true-born democrat is his salutary efforts to redefine the concept of party politics in the effervescent terrain called Nigeria. From the Alliance for Democracy (AD) through the Action Congress (AC) to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now, the All Progressives Congress (APC) his rare managerial acumen of men and materials all come to the fore.
Another reason is his exemplary style of governance. According to the former Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode: “His blueprint has continued to serve as a road map to achieving the Lagos of his and our dreams. This same political product without doubt traverses the Nigerian landscape and that is evident with the emergence of the APC at the centre in 2015. Asiwaju is a made-in-Nigeria product. We should make more products out of him”.
Notably, he made governance more participatory and introduced measures to increase the internally generated revenue. The measures included the electronic banking system/revenue collection monitoring project (EBS/RCM), which enabled the utilisation of high-level technology to create a robust database of tax payers, eliminate ghost workers.
Another was the state’s Board of Internal Revenue (BIR); an outfit that used to be a centre of corruption was re-engineered to enhance its revenue collection capacity through greater autonomy, professionalism, and motivation the introduction of the electronic tax clearance cards (eTCC), which is a fraud-free and convenient method of keeping taxpayers records.
There was also a deliberate policy to sensitise the public on the imperative of paying their taxes willingly, voluntarily, and promptly as a precondition for the delivery of quality infrastructure and social services by the government.
In addition, was the new land-use charge law promulgated in 2001. It stipulated that once land use charge demand notice is levied on a property, ground rent, development charges, and the neighbourhood improvement charge law will cease to apply. This innovation led to the collection of the sum of over N3.5 billion as land use charge between 2001 and March 2007 and the value of this revenue source keeps rising.
Tinubu as the governor who took the mantle of Lagos state amidst monumental filth that clogged the drainages and the highways swept it all with the introduction of LAWMA. Other creative organs of government such as LASTMA, KAI, LAMATA that his pragmatic administration established brought sanity and safety in the critical areas of public health, transportation, education, and massive infrastructural development. They have been copied by governors from virtually all the six geo-political zones of the country.
His eight years administration saw the revitalisation of the machinery of state. All these made the desired impact in “qualitative service delivery in diverse sectors including education, health, justice, roads construction and rehabilitation, traffic management and public transportation, agriculture, environmental renewal, rural development, housing, job creation, women empowerment, local government administration, and poverty alleviation among others.
In simple terms, Asiwaju has distinguished himself as a visionary politician armed with the 5-C concept of character, commitment, creativity, courage, candour, and charisma. With regards to core competence, knowledge of the political terrain, being a force of unity, taming the monster of insecurity, capacity for job creation, and stabilising the economy, he has the wherewithal. If and when he becomes the APC flag-bearer, he will be the candidate to beat.
Idowu Ajanaku, a journalist, writes from Lagos