In 1990 during the heady days of the political transition programme of the then Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida led Presidency, an unknown ‘38’ year old accountant in Mobil Oil Producing decided to throw in the towel to join the murky waters of Nigerian politics. At the time it was akin to committing hara-kiri given the fickle mindedness of the regime with its banning and unbanning of politicians. Political pundits and historians will recall the banning of gubernatorial aspirants like Joe Nwodo, Hyde Onuaguluchi of Enugu State, Atiku Abubakar and Bala Takaya of Adamawa State, Dapo Sarumi and Femi Agbalajogbi of Lagos amongst many others. Who in his right senses will give up a lucrative job in Mobil with numerous perks – fat salary, global opportunities for worldwide travel, hefty allowances for the unknown cloak and dagger world of politics? That man was Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In 1991 he contested the Lagos West Senatorial District Election and scored the highest votes in the state known with the sobriquet ‘Centre of Excellence.’ When IBB annulled the June 12 1993 Presidential Elections, he joined the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and battled the murderous regime of General Sani Abacha from exile in the United Kingdom.
When democracy returned to the country in 1999, he battled the gubernatorial ticket of the Alliance for Democracy with the Late Engr. Funsho Williams. The latter won the primaries but was prevailed upon to step down for Tinubu because he wasn’t part of the democratic struggle and was seen as an ally of the military since he served as the Commissioner for Works under Brig-Gen Olagunsoye Oyinola and therefore couldn’t profit from the blood and sweat of the democracy ‘martyrs.’
That decision to deny Williams the gubernatorial ticket led to the entrenchment of the Tinubu hegemony which has now had a 22 year old stranglehold in the nation’s richest state.
On January 10, 2022, Tinubu tired of being the Kingmaker decided to metamorphose into a King by notifying President Muhammadu Buhari of his intention to contest the 2023 Presidential elections to succeed him.
It was the biggest news of the day and many political pundits and analysts are jostling to air their views on the burning issue.
Some of his die hard supporters throw his credentials as an economic miracle worker in raising the state’s internally generated revenue from 600 million naira when he first came into office to 10 billion naira monthly and ensured that the state was independent of the centre when he had a brawl with the then President Olusegun Obasanjo over the funds meant for the local government councils which was denied his administration. He is also said to have produced many leaders – Babatunde Fashola, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Ahmad Lawan, Femi Gbajabiamila etc.
His declaration was said to have drawn the ire of the Ohaneze Ndigbo who have been clamouring for power to shift to the south east. Why nobody is denying the fact that the Jagaban Borgu has the right to contest for the presidency which he said is his lifelong ambition, certain questions begging for answers need to be asked.
There is a lot of controversy about him: who are his real parents? What are his real names? Which primary and secondary schools did he attend? When was he born? Did he really school in the University of Chicago given the scoop that the News Magazine did on him which alleged that he didn’t go there which saw the late radical lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi heading to court before the story was infamously killed?
These answers are important for Nigerians to make a highly informed decision as we are still battling with whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari met the constitutional requirement of possessing a secondary school certificate. The office of the President makes him a public property of all Nigerians and we deserve a satisfactory answer to the nagging questions raised above.
I watched in disgust yesterday the Arise News Interview where one of his vocal supporters, Abdulmumunin Jibril nauseatingly avoided the recurring question of how he made his stupendous wealth and whether a bullion van was actually in his famous Bourdillon residence in the 2019 elections. He didn’t answer the questions which made Rufai ask him twice before the intervention of Dr. Reuben Abati who counseled his media colleague to let sleeping dogs lie. That was arrogance on the part of Jubrin as Nigerians deserve to know the answers on how Tinubu a non businessman before he became Lagos State Governor is now allegedly a dollar denominated billionaire. In a country plagued by so much corruption, is this the best candidate we can offer with the plethora of star studded candidates especially in the Diaspora?
Another grey area is his health that a cross section of Nigerians has raised questions about. Some of his critics contend that he looks frail and is far from being fit to handle the rigours of the highly demanding office of the President of the most populous black nation on earth. They also opine that his ideas especially on battling the hydra headed monster of insecurity and insurgency are anachronistic. We recall that he advocated that fifty million Nigerian youths be drafted into the army to help fight Boko Haram before his media team withdrew the hilarious faux pas which became the butt of jokes in national and global circles. He also mentioned that he wants to build on the achievements of President Buhari and one wonders what are really the achievements of the ill fated Buhari regime? Is it the massive youth unemployment at about 33% with the figure much more if you add underemployment? Is it the ravaging insecurity which sees the insurgents get more emboldened by the day with abductions even of pregnant women and babies now making the news on a daily basis? Is it the scorn that foreign investors hold the Nigerian State as the last place to invest? Is it the media clampdown which saw Twitter being banned for months now despite the economic importance in the lives of the youths of the bird app? Is it the comatose health sector that has seen even Buhari flee to the land of our erstwhile colonial masters for his health needs? Tinubu himself fled to France and the US for his knee surgery. Couldn’t he have built world class hospitals in Lagos having controlled the wealthy state directly and by proxy for over two decades? Lagosians recall with gusto that the late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande nearly built a metro line in 1983. Why didn’t Tinubu do so when he was in office or get his successors to do so in 22 good years?
Nigerians who have been at the receiving end of misrule and terrible leadership since the Union Jack was lowered should be wiser next year and look beyond empty rhetoric to vote rightly. If they allow sentiments and emotions to becloud their sense of reasoning or hamper their judgement, they will only have themselves to blame.
For how long will we be a sleeping, crippled giant? For how long will we be a beggar nation on the verge of a pariah status? For how long will our youths dream, live and breathe of a better life in exile faraway from family, friends and their loved ones? Permit me to seek an answer from the famous song – ‘The answer my friend is blowing in the wind’.
Over to you my fellow countrymen!
Tony Ademiluyi is the Co Founder of The Vent Republic Media and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and 08167677075.