I Read Shaka Momodu’s diatribe against former Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu entitled “Flawed Progressive” in a ThisDay opinion column recently. Of course, Shaka’s right to write whatever he feels like writing cannot be begrudged. Let us look at how the world web defined the word progressive: “Favouring or promoting progress, advancing, forward looking, and forward thinking. A person who favours a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties.” That Tinubu is hated is true. What reformer is not hated by the guardians of the status quo? The issue is not whether Tinubu is hated but by whom and for what reason? Those who don’t want equality and change hate him.
Those who want it like him. Tinubu is one of the few Nigerian politicians who can walk freely among the people and also who likes to do so. Can the same be said of those hiding behind the high walls of Aso Villa?
The truth is the PDP never gave the APC a chance to survive as they wrongly assumed that key APC figures were like them and would place personal ambitions above national purpose. But now that the PDP have been caught unawares, they are flailing like drowning minnows.
Tinubu has never laid claim to being the present day Awolowo. Infact, he is on record to have said, “I have read Awolowo in several books, and he is our hero and mentor, but I cannot but be Bola Tinubu. I can only tread the path of Awolowo, without his shoes. I don’t know his size, I can’t step into his shoes because they are either bigger or smaller, and his image and legacy are bigger than me. I can only use and share the vision. He went away with his shoes and his cap but he left a legacy, a vision”. Here is one thing that is unassailable. When the PDP used hook, crook, ladder, hammer and nail to monopolize the Southwest, Tinubu and Lagos stood as the lone survivor of these machinations. Had Tinubu fallen? The PDP would have swept the South West in its entirety and would have made a substantial down payment toward its objective for a one party State. However, Tinubu did not crumble. Not only did he hold ground, he used that foothold to claim more space for progressive politicians. From Ekiti, Osun, Edo, Oyo and Ogun came into the progressive camp. Would Shaka dare say that governors Fashola, Aregbesola, Fayemi, Oshiomhole, Ajimobi, Amosun are not progressives? In politics as in other things, the fruit falls not far from the tree. Since these fruits are progressive, then the tree from which they appear must be likewise for a mango cannot be grown of an orange tree or a cashew of a lemon tree. Tinubu has the ability to fight any battle he believes in. When the South West crumbled to the garrison politics of the PDP, Tinubu was the only man standing and that eventually made him a rallying point for the Progressives across the country.
I trust that the judgement of your paper was a sound and timely one and it was fully independent. Tinubu has earned his place of honour in Nigerian history. He is the single person most responsible for preventing the creation of a one party state and thus the person most responsible for salvaging Nigeria’s democracy from the PDP dictatorial inclinations. No other politician can boast of such a progressive achievement, particularly none in the PDP. The trajectory of his leadership skills is well documented. As Governor of Lagos, despite being starved of legitimate funds by the Obasanjo government, Tinubu dug deep and as a result of his resourcefulness and due to his shrewdness, Lagos state was the only state in Nigeria that could and can survive and even thrive without federal allocation. If that is not an achievement, then one must change the definition of the word.
He ensured that Lagos became financially buoyant because he achieved a massive increase in the states internally generated revenue. Few men in politics can compare to Tinubu’s depth and expert use of words, certainly not the current President. Tinubu has mastered and understands the power of words and ideas.
Another oft used but tired accusation used to accuse the Asiwaju and his party is that it lacks internal democracy. There are no hard and fast rules as to how candidates can emerge in a political party. Consensus, the last time I checked, has been a way by which parties in Nigeria chose candidates so as to limit acrimony and other negative fallout of primary elections. The PDP uses it a lot in picking their candidates and come out to conduct phony primaries but to appear democratic.
Accusing Tinubu of handpicking candidates is lowly hypocrisy. Was Oluremi Tinubu duly qualified to run for the Senate? Should being the wife of the biggest opposition figure in the country deny her of her constitutional right? Why is Bill Clinton’s head not on the chopper because his wife first became a Senator, later a Presidential candidate and later US Secretary of State? Because in America, your right as a citizen cannot be mortgaged because of your association by marriage, religion or other non-violent persuasions.
Tinubu did not get to where he is today by accident. Here is a man, who at great risk to his life, withstood the brutal Abacha and his goons and ultimately was forced into exile to avoid certain death. He is not without flaws, as only God is flawless. But as a man, his achievements are numerous and for all to see. When Tinubu became the governor of Lagos State, the state was internationally known as the dirtiest city in the world. Lagos has been improved, cleaned and made better. Take a drive round Lagos metropolis today and judge for yourself. At the end of his two terms, while the PDP gave Nigerians Yar’Adua then Jonathan, Tinubu gifted Lagosians with one of the best administrators in Babatunde Fashola. Tinubu has done excellently. The people of the Southwest recognize that but for his astuteness, courage, presence of mind and commitment to a better society the Southwest would have been overrun by the destructive and negative force called the PDP and other reactionary elements.