The Enigma Called Tinubu

AS I switch on my laptop to do this piece on Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former two-term governor of Lagos State and leader of the APC, a word suddenly came to my mind. That word is ‘enigma’. But I really wanted to be sure that I am choosing the right word which would aptly describe what I think he is- without missing the real him or over-rate him.

In order to achieve this I went straight to the Encarta Dictionary already installed in my computer system in order to be dead sure of the chosen word. And “Eureka! That is it” I silently said to myself. The word- enigma- perfectly suits my thought. The Encarta Dictionary describes an enigma as a ‘mystery’- that is- somebody or something that is not easily explained or understood.

As I ruminate over the current political climate of Nigeria, especially the quiet but pervading revolution and inevitable change going on vis-à-vis the dwindling fortunes of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, and the rising profile of the opposition (in whatever name it is previously or presently called: AD, AC, ACN and APC) under Tinubu, I cannot but see an enigmatic profile of a man popularly known for political sagacity: A man who has been able to trounce all opposing persons and institutions standing against his cause and came out stronger than before; a man who has been able to proof that the end actually justifies the means even if that ‘means’ is seemingly unpopular or undemocratic. With his 2007 deft choice of Babatunde Fashola as his successor against all known democratic procedures, and this successor coming out to be a blessing to Lagos State and a pride of his party, one needs look no further for a visionary.


Through human history, nature (or God) has always thrown up some specially favoured individuals destined to champion the cause of their people and change history. These individuals have always been endowed by Mother Nature (or God) with the intellectual, spiritual, human and material resources to carry out this assignment, sometimes with little efforts and other time the hard way. Tinubu is certainly one of them.

Napaleon Bonaparte, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther, William Shakespeare, Noah, Moses, Orunmila, Jesus, Mohammed, Azikiwe, Awolowo, Balewa, Abiola etc are just but few to mention, who have been endowed to lead at particular time and place. With all difficulties and advantages placed on their part, they were able to wither the storm to become historical personalities. No wonder history has refused to forget them.

Tinubu arrived from self exile to contest and win the governorship seat of Lagos State in 1999, as one of the then victorious Alliance for Democracy, AD, party candidates mainly of the South-West states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun. But just after one term of the regional governments of AD, the tsunami of the rigging machinery of PDP and the then Preident Olusegun Obasanjo, with the desperation to proof a point that a sitting president ought to ‘capture’ his geographical area of origin, had to dislodge almost the entire South-West governors of AD, except Lagos.

Well, it is left to posterity and history to judge whether Lagos was deliberately left alone to make it seem to the outside world that all went well and fair, or whether Tinubu was smarter than his contemporaries as well as the PDP rigging brigade. Some commentators however believe that Obasanjo deployed some crafty, Marchiavailian   tactics to dislodge the five AD governors through deceptive collaboration with Afenifere chieftains like the late Chief Abraham Adesanya, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Olanihun Ajayi.

Whichever way it was, Tinubu became what was later popularly referred to a ‘one-man-standing’ or, one-man-brigade amongst the raging population of PDP governors of the South West, of the nearly entire nation and even the Central government.

Some pundits even suggested that Tinubu should decamp to the ruling PDP so as to ‘join’ the bandwagon, throwing the bait of federal largess at him. But, instead, he chose to fight his battle all alone, with few of his progressive friends. And indeed, he did fight the battle. He fought the then President Obasanjo to a stand-still that both hardly see face-to-face.  Even with the with-holding of Lagos State allocation from the federal purse meant to stiffen Lagos administration, to the constant threat of the anti-graft agencies, even to betrayal by once loyal aids, Tinubu marched on undeterred.

In the 2003 elections, Tinubu had pulled out of the AD to form Action Congress sensing that his continued stay in AD might compromise his political ambition of reclaiming the South West from PDP. Once beaten, twice shy. This decision would enable him have a firm grip of the political machinery. He was right even though the efforts initially seemed ineffective as the PDP gained a pyrrhic victory of retaining the 5 states in 2007. Tinubu had to deploy the legal option which made PDP to lose Edo, Ekiti and Osun. The same option, with Tinubu as the anchorman, led to the Labour Party victory in Ondo.

Tinubu saw the need to bring some progressive forces into the fold, even from the ruling PDP. This led to the metamorphosis of Action Congress to the Action Congress of Nigeria. Within a very short spate of time, the ACN became a formidable opposition force to reckon with in the political landscape of Nigeria.

In the 2011 elections, the ACN party led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had regained the entire South West states with the exception of Ondo, which keen watchers have described as a case of political betrayal.

One thing that stands Tinubu out is his readiness to pull political heavyweights, even from the ruling PDP. He believes so much in the cliché that politics is a game of numbers. Your ideology is one thing; you still need the numerical strength from diverse entities to birth it. He was wise enough to invite Ibikunle Amosun of the then ANPP and Adams Oshiomhole, then of the Labour Party to his fold, just to mention these two.

With the winds of discord and disintegration plaguing the ruling PDP, the Tinubu political machinery saw the need to take advantage. The ACN saw the need to still further form alliances across the geo-political regions where the ANPP, CPC and others hold sway. Tinubu’s ACN had to lose identity to galvanise other political parties to give the PDP a run for its money, culminating into APC. This was done successfully without the usual rancor often associated with such coming together of strange bedfellows.

Two things would definitely be to the advantage the Union, if I may refer to it as such. One is internal and the other, external. The internal factor has to do with the perceived good governance in most of the states controlled by the defunct ACN states which has endeared many to the alliance. The other, external, has to do with the intractable intra-Party rancor within the PDP which has made many of its states to seek alternative and more viable platform in APC. As at the last count, 5 governors (or states) of the PDP have decamped to the APC. Same goes for their state and national legislators.

Well, all said and done, the APC led by Bola Tinubu, is set for a battle to claim the Central government in 2015. It is only providence that can deny it.

As I sit on my table to appraise all this, one thing keeps reverberating in my innermost recess. That is: how? How did a single individual do it: a party with just one state to control in 2003/07, now has almost a whole region in its kitty and host of others in other regions. While APC is waxing stronger, PDP is dwindling in fortune. Providence?

Tinubu has almost a cult following in the APC controlled state governors and their local government political apparatus’. Same goes for all the legislators in the States and federal assemblies. His words and thoughts are laws; he inspires awe in friends and foes alike, a trait very rare in our clime and history. The nearest to him is in the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

What other evidence do we need to prove that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is enigmatic?

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