Which other past leader in this country has shown more love for his people by privately investing in massive employment opportunities within his jurisdiction?
Today, the winner of the bragging rights of this series is arguably the most prolific, the most tested and (if you like) the most daring Nigerian politician alive. That counts for much, because an alarming majority of our political elites are self-centred, infertile, lily-livered, random and fairweather friends. The man has done so much for our politics that even the worst partisanship cannot deny it. My PDPishness accepts that this APC mogul deserves a front row seat among our political mentors.
Strangely, defending this iconic progressive’s nomination as a political mentor would be better served via attacking the notoriety of most of his co-captains of the political class. How many of them stand for anything and can fight for it? How many of our so-called leaders show positive consistency? How many of these pretenders to our mentoring throne have produced others outside their family?
They neither produce nor give back: unlike that of the man in focus which has created tens of thousands of jobs within and without Lagos, a larger chunk of Nigeria’s in-office wealth wastes away offshore, lubricating foreign economies that don’t need it. Which other past leader in this country has shown more love for his people by privately investing in massive employment opportunities within his jurisdiction? Which public office incumbents are strategic and futuristic in governance? Which past or present Nigerian political godfather was ever stoical during a chasm with his protégé?
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The foregoing battery of enquiries speaks to the near lack of quality and humanity in our body politic. We may persist with our hypocrisy, but the truth is that while the led show no class in our leadership recruitment process, leaders show no love in governing. We grope about like morons, here today and there tomorrow. Yet, too sick to understand our precarious situation, we smile our frown and laugh our cry!
Here’s the last man standing, though; someone who has weathered the storm of Politics Nigeriana. Unlike the planless, opportunistic and lazy bunch of crosstitutes who populate our political space, our man kept calm through the craziest haze, the darkest bends, the worst thanklessness. You may not like his political party, but love and admiration overwhelm you when it comes to the maturity and patience and tact and value he has brought or added to our politics. Dear Nigerian Youth, whatever your political persuasion, this is one man from whom you should borrow more than just a leaf!
Born on March 29, 1952 in his native Lagos, this award-winning socialist attended St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya,
Lagos and later, Children’s Home School in Ibadan. In 1975, he defected – educationally speaking – to the United States of America where he spent the first two years at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, Illinois and subsequently at Chicago State University from which he graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. Thereafter, he stayed on in that country to work variously for Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, Haskins & Sells as well as GTE Services Corporation. He returned home in 1983 and joined Mobil Oil Nigeria; rising to executive rank.
In 1992, our man fell to the temptation of politics, and became a member of Social Democratic Party on which platform he ran and won as senator for Lagos West. Alas, that Third Republic complete with his senatorial tenure was short-lived. But, ever the fighter, the perennial man of courage co-founded the pro-MKO Abiola National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) which sought restoration of democracy and de-annulment of the June 12 presidential ballot result. At some point when the Sani Abacha-generated heat became unbearable, this great leader preferred self-exile to jumping ship; unlike many others then and now!
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Strength of character is one of the traits that budding politicians must emulate from this extra-successful trailblazer. Having consistency, loyalty, stoicism, patience or maturity in stupendous abundance, he readily flaunts this uncanny capacity even in his current testament. When the People’s Democratic Party – the way then President Olusegun Obasanjo wanted it – transmogrified into a tsunami through the southwest in 2003, only this man who was seeking re-election as governor had enough good sense, foresight and commensurate counter-strategy to insulate his state. As the only surviving governor of Alliance for Democracy (AD), he refused to join the ruling party, choosing instead to stand up to it; eventually (in 2015) gathering and nurturing the opposition dry bones into the national governing party!
Furthermore, no matter how poorly he gets treated by beneficiaries of his political dexterity, he never walks away. He had issues with his Chief of Staff-turned successor, Babatunde Fashola, but he stuck with the party. He also survived the very provocative humiliation in the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari at some point. There’s also so much to lift from the governorship heyday of this enigmatic maestro of politics: his astounding ability to procreate quality leaders. Which other past leader threw up personnel who have remained useful and relevant nationally to this day?
Today, his former Attorney-General is our Vice President; his successor and former Chief of Staff are our ministers; his former commissioners are state governors; what other proof do you want to be convinced that this man is too much? And, just in case they refuse that he produced them as is their wont, he was smartly careful enough to also make his wife, Oluremi, a senator. Now, for these and other reasons, it is my privilege to recommend to those who need a political mentor, Nigeria’s most politically-active former governor (Class ’99), national leader of APC, His Excellency, Sen. Bola Tinubu, Asiwaju of Lagos and Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom (Niger state). God bless Nigeria!