By Bayo Onanuga
A lot of people, not close to Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, often wonder what makes him tick; why there is so much buzz around him; and why he seems to have rabid supporters all over the country. He has some rabid haters as well, some of whom have promised to relocate to hell when he becomes Nigeria’s next president. Of course, you know they won’t!
We’ve heard in recent months some of the reasons for the passion he generates: Senate President Ahmad Lawan said it is Tinubu that members of the APC caucus know, among the contenders for the APC presidential ticket because of his past political deeds. We’ve heard the testimony of the famous footballer Kanu Nwankwo, who said Tinubu helped his Kanu Heart Foundation 22 years ago. JJ Okocha said Tinubu is the reason he calls himself a Lagos boy today. We’ve heard the testimony of Pastor Taribo West who prayed spiritedly for the fructification of Tinubu’s political ambition.
What we may not have heard was Tinubu’s experience with a Chicago medical professor and surgeon, who he needed to do a friend a favour, some years after he left office in 2007. The surgeon was the best in the world in his field and when Tinubu got to him, the surgeon had booked his yearly summer holiday with his wife and didn’t want to change it. Tinubu begged the doctor that the operation was crucial to his friend and asked him to shift his holiday a bit.
But this American doctor didn’t budge. As Tinubu was trying to leave, in came an African doctor, indeed a Nigerian, who shouted “Asiwaju”, in excitement, asking why he was in Chicago and what he wanted from the American doctor.
The American was surprised that his Nigerian junior colleague knew Tinubu and asked about their relationship. The Nigerian went into stories, how Tinubu, in his words, is like the Mandela of Nigeria, how he helped his mother with flight money to join him in the U.S. Tinubu did not remember the guy or remember helping the mum. But the story of gratitude resonated with the American, who immediately dialled his wife, pleading that their holiday getaway be postponed by another two weeks. He had a task to do. He agreed to help Tinubu’s friend.
Many stories about Tinubu’s generosity abound. They are some of the nuggets of his legendary status and why with just some slight push, his wish to become Nigeria’s next leader, is getting a lot of traction. Admirers are simply paying him back for his past good deeds. While haters are also circling on social media, wishing him the worst.