By Wahab Alawiye-King
On Friday 29th March, the National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and two time Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will clock 61 years on mother earth. The man at the forefront of the emancipation of the common man from the clutches of poverty through enduring democratic ideals and values will thus add another eventful year to his industrious and selfless career which has seen him carry the lorry load hopes of the Nigerian common man wholly on his shoulders.
Right from his sojourn into the murky waters of Nigerian politics, Tinubu’s policy has been to serve the people irrespective of race, religion or creed. He has always shown the willingness to abandon a personal cause for a collective one even if it is obvious that he is going to achieve the personal without any challenge. Through actions and utterances, Asiwaju Tinubu has put himself forward as a man the common man in the country can trust to lead the battle against neo-collonialism of the seeming bourgouisse in the country.
To achieve his aim, Tinubu is always ready to humble himself alligning with people and groups of like minds who believe in his selfless ideas. Therefore to him, race, religion, status and creed do not matter; inasmuch you are ready to serve the people.
The writer will never forget the events leading to the election of the Senate President during the aborted Third Republic during the transition programme of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
Tinubu came into the Senate then as the favourite to clinch the position. He had the highest number votes among senators; he was representing the biggest and most influential senatorial district in the country; he is rich; and above all, he had in his firm grip more than the needed number of senators he required to win. Therefore, the position was his to be taken.
But when the leadership of then Socialist Democratic Party (SDP) decided that the southwest should stake a claim for the presidency and it became obvious that taking the senate presidency will jeopardice the region’s strong claim for the nation number one office, within seconds Tinubu jetissioned his ambition and handed over his political machinery to the annointed candidate of the party; in this case, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.
Asiwaju has also shown that he is a man who will never waiver in his determination to ensure that the generality of the people do not suffer even at expense of his personal comfort. One can still remember the persecution he faced during the Abacha regime. He was declared wanted, arrested and detained and later hounded into exile for his belief even when he had the option of joining Abacha government and accepting other juicy carrots thrown at him by the agents of that particular government.
Suffice to add the role he played in financing human rights and pro-democracy activists in exile with his personal money even when his investment at home is being decimated by the agents of the military junta. His simple message has always been, “we have to liberate the common man and we will not relent until this is achieved”.
The advent of the current democratic dispensation has more to the fore the selfless trait of the ex-Governor.
He excelled during his eight year reign as Governor of the most populous and most important state in the country. And when the two term the constitution allows him to spend expired, the thought of giving the people the best always galvanised him into single-handedly recommending a successor many do not even thought of.
In making his choice, Asiwaju jetissioned friendship, sentiment and selfish interest to settle for Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN. Today Lagosians are praising him for his foresightness and majority of the people of the state have come to realise that rather than pursuing selfish agenda, Tinubu really has their interest at heart.
Since his sojourn into party politics in the current dispensation, he has always been yearning for a party that will be people-oriented and take interest of the people as the fulcrum of its manifesto.
Not a few Nigerians believe that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which controls government at the centre has nothing positive to offer the country. After more than 13 years of controlling administration at the centre, PDP has left the country worse off which makes it imperative to dislodge the ruling party from the centre through legal democratic means.
For Tinubu, the task of emancipating the people should be undertaken with all seriousness and commitment. He has successfully achieved the southwest part of the task but going national is more onerous task. He would not shy away from associating with people and groups of like minds, the result being the formation of the mega party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
Asiwaju has not relented cris-crossing the lenght and breadth of the country to sell the gospel of APC to the people.
Indeed, this consumate bridge builder deserves all the best wishes on his birthday and I can only wish him many more happy returns of the day in his chosen profession serving the people selflessly and tirelessly.
Asiwaju ride on, Almighty Allah is with you. He is your strenght.
Alawiye-King, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, writes in from Lagos.