By Hon. Olumuyiwa Jimoh
At every moment in the history of a people, nation or infact the world, men and women of outstanding or rare qualities emerge to lead the people either to the Land of promise or to their doom. Every situation or circumstances therefore throws up appropriately men and women of courage to articulate, project and defend their causes. They become rallying points upon which the society builds its core and strength with which it launches itself on the path of revival and self – renewal.
It is when societies are in disarray, lacks direction and are floundering that men of valour are created. They emerge to give direction and impetus to the peoples hunger for change from despondency, hopelessness and squalor to socio-political wellbeing devoid of manifest inequities and deprivation.
Each generation thus throws up its heroes who in turn impacts and dictates the path, colour and character of development in that society. Ideas and Philosophical thoughts are products of social and historical conditions of the people. It is the prevailing social life, conditions and contests for power that determine and shape political thought of great personalities. The thought and ideas of great African heroes and martyrs like Patrice Lumumba, kwame Nkrumah, Leopard Senghor, Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Malam Aminu Kano, Nelson Mandela are all rooted in the social milieu in which they lived. That explains the role of Pa Awolowo, the great Zik of Africa and Ahmadu Bello who were all leaders of the nationalistic struggles that laid the foundation for modern day Nigeria.
The history of Nigeria especially that of the South West is replete with the emergence of great leaders who have defined and shaped the Ideology and the developmental trajectory of its people. Although Asiwaju himself Called it Progressive Capitalism while our generalissimo sees it as Socialism or postmodernism.
Today history has thrown up another illustrious son of Africa as one of the great minds in the democratic liberation struggle of the people in Nigeria and the Diaspora.Hence to understand the political thought of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu it will be important to critically x- ray the prevailing social conditions in the Nigerian-state and the role of Jagaban in its reconstruction.
The incursion of military into Nigerian politics led to the subjugation of democracy and the rule of law. The military coup that led to the collapse of the second republic leading to the emergence of Buhari -Idagbon regime; created in its wake, the obnoxious Decree 2 which severely abrogated the rights of the Nigerian people.
With the Buhari regime toppled by Babangida, a regime of Machiavellian political manipulation ensued entrenching systemic corruption which has become the norm today in Nigeria. With his Political reconstruction and gerrymandering coming to an end and having come to the end of his tethers, IBB’s endless transition programme conducted an election that was then adjudged to have been the best in Nigeria.
Nigerian people voted massively for chief MKO Abiola across ethnic, religious and class divide. The June 12 election marked a turning point in the political consciousness of Nigerians to live above primordial sentiments in their choice of leadership. Surprisingly IBB annulled the mandate of over 14million Nigerians without any genuine reason. This led to massive and protracted revolt by the people in Nigeria and the Diaspora for the re-validation of the mandate and the declaration of Chief MKO Abiola who was subsequently arrested and incarcerated in prison, as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The historical task to coordinate the liberation struggle fell on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others in a popular front known as National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). This daring and courageous move led to the sinister agenda to terminate the life of most of their members including Bola Tinubu. He was then forced to move outside the country to mobilise Nigerians in Diaspora and the international community to isolate the fascistic military regime that annulled the elections. It is on record that the June 12 struggle coordinated by the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Frank Kokori, Beko Ransom Kuti, Late Chief Gani Fawehimi,Late Alfred Rewane, Ndubuisi Kanu, Pa Enahoro, Mokwugo Okoye,Femi Falana,Ismail Olawale Shina Loremikan and the civil society groups led to the exit of the military from Nigerian politics thus becoming the crucible for the birth of our current democratic experiment.
The second face of the periodization of history that shaped Bola Tinubu political thought was the period of civil rule without democracy that started in 1999 under the former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The ascendance of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the Governor of Lagos State in 1999 became the launching pad for the democratisation and consolidation of democratic dividend in Nigeria. The unprecedented radical political and socio-economic reforms evolved in Lagos State under Bola Tinubu laid strategic framework for the rapid development of Lagos State. The provision of modern infrastructural facilities such as roads, qualitative and affordable health care with provision of medical equipment and qualified personnel revolutionalised Medicare in the State forcing patients from other States to come for advanced treatment in Lagos State teaching hospitals. Education was given deep and strategic attention while pro-active structural security where maintained in Lagos State and the crime rate became reduced to the barest minimum.
He also strengthened judiciary through appointment of jurors on the basis of merit and culture of respect for the rule of law and due process, the establishment of additional local councils with subsequent vindication of the correctness of that decision by the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The victorious battle of the creation of additional local councils marked Tinubu out as an advocate of praxeology of true and genuine federalism in Nigeria and one of the cardinal solutions to the problems of the Nigerian state. He has sustained the advocacy for fiscal federalism till today.
The critical appraisal of Jagaban world view reveals that Tinubu is not just a nationalist of high repute but equally a democrat to the core. The liberation perspective of Tinubu is fast taking after Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Chief Obafemi Awolwo of the blessed memory and the living hero Nelson Mandela. Tinubu has come to represent and encapsulate the synthesis of philosophical “consciencism” of Kwame Nkrumah; Social Democracy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the fighting spirit and sacrifice of Nelson Mandela in shaping the new Nigeria. Tinubu is undoubtedly the living legend of national liberation struggle for the popular restructuring of Nigerian state. In the process he has become the voice of the voiceless, the hope of the oppressed and the disadvantaged Nigerian people.
He has come to occupy the enviable position thrust upon him by history, his passion for great mental latitude as propounded by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo where knowledge, intellect and scientific thought will provide the framework for governance has been demonstrated through arrays of credible intellectuals around him, his detribalised world view is rooted in Pan Africanism of Kwame Nkrumah while his ability to accommodate the social reality of Islam and Christianity as part of African experience and reality is predicated on philosophical consciencism of Nkrumah. The exemplification of skilful management of a complex and diverse society like Nigeria is marvellous. His love for the poor students, workers and underprivileged is unparalleled among his contemporaries.
Pa Awolowo emerged to define Colonial and Post – colonial Yoruba Politics and philosophy – giving it its present character and essence upon a foundation that is undeniably rooted in the fine attributes and desires of the peoples’ of the region.
At his passing, his immediate apostles such as Pa Abraham Adesanya and Bola Ige inherited the mantle with which they sought to consolidate the work of the late sage by redefining it and making it more congruent with the demands of the period. Despite all the perceived weaknesses of their construct, they were able to keep the people together and focused ideologically at their departure.
However, since their passing, poachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing have invaded the region and scattered the flock threatening the very foundation upon which Pa Awolowo’s vision and legacy for the Yoruba race was built – robust, aggressive and unrepentant pursuit of egalitarianism for all no matter who is standing in opposition.
Fortunately, this slide into the abyss has been confronted, queried and interrogated by the newest forces generated at the very belly of Yoruba Idealism and ethos and catalysed by the exigencies of time, propelled by a vision that is patriotic and nationalistic but orchestrated and led by a master visioner, leader and patriot – Bola Ahmed Tinubu; the Asiwaju and the Jagaban.
Asiwaju has emerged as a true giant in the nation’s political ferment; a colossus that has bestridden the socio-political landscape; mastering it and turning the turf into a vibrant contest driven by progressive ideas reducing the hegemonic dominance of the party at the centre that has continued the ruination of Nigeria and equalising the contest for political power in Nigeria.
Tinubu remained the last man standing to survive the brutal and fraudulent displacement of the AD controlled states in the south west by the PDP rigging machinery under former president Olusegun Obasanjo. He evolved a master strategy through depth understanding of the rule of law and the power of judiciary in the service of popular democratic liberation which finally rescue south-west people from the clutches of PDP. The liberation of south-west using the platform of Lagos State as a model State is fast transforming into unparalleled dividend of democracy for the people of the south west and Nigeria as a whole. The blueprint of the socio-economic integration will definitely place the region as a bastion of industrialisation in Nigeria and Africa by extension.
His rising through the singular resistance of the forces of retrogression as represented by the PDP and their regional garrison commanders and collaborators, that produced aberrant regimes which besmirched the political history of the people reversing the gains that the region had hitherto made under the AD, signposted a halt to that slide into the cesspit of backwardness. Without creating a remnant and bastion of hope in Lagos State, which became a beacon that has been used to shine the light of revival and renascence in the rest of the South West, the region would have ended up amongst the vast empires, regions and vassals of deprived, misgoverned and impoverished citizens under the discredited and rotten umbrella called the PDP.
He has provided the platform needed for the resurgence of the South West, building Solidarity, hope and Cohesion once again amongst the people; giving it an internal capacity that has been untrammelled in our recent history.
He is a game changer and at 61, remains a catalyst for political action based on the exigent needs, desires and expectations of the majority of the Nigerian people.His recent bold outreach and foray beyond the confines of the South West is an expression of a Master strategic thinker who is driven by the undiluted desire to change the politics of Nigeria for the better. It is a further expression of his political philosophy that is anchored on the time tested belief that no man can develop a people except the people themselves as he espoused during the recent launch of his book …..that Nigeria can only be developed by Nigerians.
It is this principle that has consumed him and endued him with great passion for the masses of this country who are undergoing untold suffering and squalor in the midst of glaring abundance of resources and unbridled profligacy amongst public officials. His abiding faith in project Nigeria has become unquestionable with an unflinching support for every progressive framework that is designed for the emancipation of the masses. He has remained amongst the few leaders with the belief that Nigeria is worth dying for and is ever willing to remain on the side of truth and the masses at all times no matter the degree of personal sacrifices that such stance demands of him.
His quest for power therefore and his dynamics in the contestation for public office are all rooted in his desire to use them to creatively mobilise local and national resources for the benefit of the majority and transform the nation into one of the leading nations of the globe. His quest and desires are therefore not selfish but centred on service to Nigerians and Nigeria; our future and the fulfilment of our destiny as a glorious nation.
As he turns 61, we join Nigerians from all walks of life, especially the youth that he has provided a robust political space to express themselves, to celebrate this great icon and son of Nigeria. Our God will surely give him more wisdom and understanding to continue doing more for the people of this country and expanding the democratic space to give the greater majority the platform for deeper participation in the nation’s socio-economy. It is our strong belief that when great patriots are recognised and celebrated, they will be encouraged to do more while others will be inspired to be like him.
May the Jagaban live long to see Nigeria become the nation of his dreams – a land standing amongst the best in the whole world delivering increasing wellbeing to its people and impacting the rest of the globe positively.
Honourable Olumuyiwa Jimoh is a member of Lagos State House of Assembly Representing Apapa Constituency 2