Bola Tinubu, the 12th governor of Lagos State, was a co-governor with me (1999 to2007). As colleagues, we worked together in pioneering the first meetings of the Conference of Southern Governors, which we interchanged hosting the first and second, and visited Enugu for the meetings. That meeting brought to the front burner issues of federalism, both physical and fiscal. I still remember the educative contributions of Governor Bisi Akande.
I must confess of occasional envy as we interchanged ideas and implemented reform decisions. He had more resources and quickly implemented the full requirements of the Access to Justice reform project. Making the Lagos State criminal justice system one of the best in Africa. The judges stopped writing physical notes. More advanced vehicles were provided and participation in conferences guaranteed. Our two attorneys-general worked closely. Mrs. Gloria Egbuji steered us through the Access to Justice programme, the now famous Dr. Joe Abah assisted and supervised, under the direction of the DFID.
I recall a national competition on reform advances among states covering governance, transparency, budgeting and ease of doing business. Supervised by the Economic Adviser to the President (a guy from Benue State), DFID and other development partners also participated. Enugu emerged tops, followed closely by either Lagos State or the FCT. Enugu also established the first Poverty Reduction Study, Review, Guidelines and Implementation, before the Federal Government or indeed any other state, verified by Dr. Abah, former DFID staff in Enugu. Enugu tried, considering our financial dilemma. The justice system also paid close attention to women and children’s welfare.
Both governments pioneered development centres. For obvious political reasons, he was denied due federal allocations for years. He kept ploughing on! His justice sector also provided jobs to many spouses of non-Lagosians working and residing in Lagos. I had cause to engage with him on jobs for Enugu spouses. In the education sector, he introduced the tutor-general and raised the bar for earnings by teachers. In Enugu, we approved that primary school teachers could rise to level 16.
We also approved elevation for those who obtained graduate qualifications. I also admired his Pupil Governor for a Day. Somehow, I never got to it. Tinubu also directly intervened in Enugu spouses who had issues as teachers. In the health sector, I faintly recall a Soyinka heading his HIV programme and later becoming health commissioner! As a doctor, I kept tabs on his strides in my professional area. With a modern disease surveillance system and emergency medicine programme in place.
He put in programmes coordinating health and justice for abused women and children. Tinubu had a first class social work response programme. His reform advocacy was second to Enugu State’s. I had the advantage of background but was gravely limited by resources. He left a lasting legacy of hard work in Lagos State in infrastructure (roads and housing).
When Tinubu was governor, Lagos State’s IGR rose from N600 million per month to over N8 billion per month. He had an impressive track record as a governor; his state contributed more than 30 per cent to our country’s GDP, accounted for more than 65 per cent of industrial investment in Nigeria, 80 per cent of its international trade, and collected more than 60 per cent of the country’s value-added tax. In the area of human capacity, his mentorship was first class and his mentees have spread out and, like little acorns, many have become giant oak trees in Nigeria’s political firmament.
Just like in Enugu, we appointed non-Enugu people (avoiding the meaningless and retrogressive anathema “non-indigene”). I recall my brother, Ben Akabueze, being a repository of the financial and economic secrets of “Yoruba” Tinubu Lagos State government.
Babatunde Fashola, Yemi Osinbajo, Rauf Aregbesola, Kayode Fayemi, etcetera. All first class, with A-game always.
I vigorously oppose, protest and detest the shameless campaigns and parody targeting Tinubu’s health. As a health worker, I am amazed by the ignorance, foolishness, wickedness and callousness of these idiotic operators. I believe they are unwarranted, extremely unprofessional and have no place in our polity. As the GenZ grow and Nigeria merges with the new world, they will cry at the foibles of their progenitors. Get it, folks, life is ‘Turn By Turn Limited’ (apologies, Uncle Bode). These actions, which bleed my heart personally, are of public records. History and The Almighty will be very harsh to these bad political comedians. Since we all desire a better Nigeria, our politics should be grounded on facts and reliable evidence. This is the only way we can advance this nation. Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the MOST successful governor in modern Nigeria bar none. Result of combination of many truisms, some beyond him.
Permit me to mention some past Presidents who stood out for being able to contribute to the growth and greatness of their countries despite health issues. The first person on my lineup is: John F. Kennedy (JFK). JFK actually experienced almost daily discomfort. He had digestive issues, allergies, and a persistent back condition that necessitated several operations and was made worse by his participation in World War II. He had medical sequelae of hypoadrenalism, anemia, low blood pressure, etcetera, essentially later determined to be Addison’s disease. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), the longest-serving President of the United States of America, served his term as President on a wheelchair; this was as a result of polio diagnosis when he was 39 years old in 1921.
Despite his health, Roosevelt guided the country through the Great Depression and World War II, two of the biggest crises of the 20th century. He significantly increased the federal government’s authority through a number of initiatives and reforms known as the New Deal. He was also a key figure in the successful campaign to eradicate Japanese militarism and German National Socialism.
Woodrow Wilson: After World War I, Woodrow Wilson founded the League of Nations (1914 to 1918). He oversaw the passage of laws outlawing child labour and the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Wilson’s mouth was sagging at one end in 1919, a sign of a partial stroke, according to a doctor. By October 1919, he was partially paralyzed.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected in 1952, and Americans remembered his era as the “happy days” in which they enjoyed nothing but a booming economy. It is important to note that he was already suffering from abdominal adhesions resulting from a 1923 appendectomy and, in 1956, during his second term, he was diagnosed for having Crohn’s disease, a severe digestive condition that called for surgery. Eisenhower had a stroke shortly after that in 1957. Americans were able to enjoy a booming economy regardless of his health.
Ronald Reagan: Even though there isn’t much proof that the 40th President of the U.S. had Alzheimer’s while he served as commander-in-chief, suspicions of dementia followed Reagan during his first presidential campaign, where the 69-year-old attracted a lot of attention as he was the oldest incoming President. Regardless, being referred to as “the great communicator” by negotiating effectively with Congress, Reagan was able to pass legislation that boosted employment, reduced inflation and strengthened the nation’s defense.
H.E. Bola Tinubu needs to work on improving relationships with many others, especially my people, the Igbo. He needs to lead by advocacy, example, practice and open-mindedness in assuaging the feelings and ongoing hostility to the Igbo in Lagos.
I also condemn the castigation of the Igbo by my highly distinguished colleague, H.E. Oluremi Tinubu, done under whatever circumstances. The Igbo cannot apologize for exploring the limits of achieving the Trinity of their character: Igbambo (hustle), Njepu (Travel) and Ako na Uche (cot of reason).
The accomplishments (Ntoozu) and summation of the parts is irrevocable. The celebration of the Trinity and crescendo, Odenigbo, draws jealousy and hostility from those who claim to own Lagos. Guess what, the Igbo are not going anyway. Rather, in the spirit of their fathers and forefathers, more are pouring into Lagos every day.
Tinubu is qualified to run for President of Nigeria in 2023, as there is no evidence that he has dementia. While my vote is covered by the Umbrella, per my party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and our candidate, H.E. Atiku Abubakar, I take a bow for the hardest working Politico of this generation. He patiently paid his dues.
I pray he recovers from his alleged ailments, as many humans do.
May God and posterity visit Bola Ahmed Tinubu with mercy, peace and kindness.
•Dr. Nnamani, former governor of Enugu State, is senator representing Enugu East