A Time To Talk About “Jagaban” – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
My decision to discuss Bola Ahmed Tinubu is based on the level of his influence and zeal in mobilizing a national coalition against the ruling People’s Democratic Party. For now, he is the most sought after Yoruba politician in the odyssey of political calculations against the President Goodluck Jonathan’s led PDP government.
He recently celebrated his 61st birthday with a colloquium put in place to exchange views and cross fertilize ideas on issues of and relating to national concern. Bola Tinubu has been a rallying point for the progressives in the south west since the unfortunate death of Chief Ajibola Ige. Although he is believed to be leading a faction of the depleted yoruba socio – political organization Afenifere.
The crack in Afenifere negatively affected the organization’s leadership roles often adored by the Yoruba especially as witnessed in the days of the fierce battles against military dictatorship under Late Gen. Sanni Abacha.
The Yoruba nation has been in search of a leader since the demise of Late Pa. Abraham Adesanya. Historically, the first leader of the Yoruba was Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Asiwaju omo Oodua). The decision to make him the leader of the Oodua generation was borne out of his sincere commitment to the advancement and progress of the Yoruba race. He was not elected from his Action Group party, he was unanimously elected by all stakeholders and leaders of various groups in the Yoruba race both political and Social.
Chief Awolowo stated in his book “Adventure in Power” thus: “After my release, Colonel Adebayo who was Military Governor of the region convened a meeting… leading Obas (Royal Majesties) in the region were also there. Leaders of all shades of political opinions in the region were also there… I was elected by the governor to preside over the deliberations at the meeting.
At the very onset, the question of electing a leader for the Yoruba people was raised. I ruled it out of order. The vocal among them were former members of NCNC and NNDP and as the debate proceeded, certain thought ran through my mind. When one of the speakers pleaded that I should reconsider the ruling, I gave in. there was a big applause for my compliance and so without any further debate, a motion was proposed, it was seconded by – acclamation and unanimously passed, electing me the leader (Asiwaju) of the Yoruba people.
His leadership role was exeplary and after him came Pa Adekunle Ajasin, another sefless, dogged and committed crusader of the Yoruba course. After Pa Ajasin came Pa Abraham Adesanya. The house of Afenifere collapsed after Pa. Adesanya’s death. Although, the cracks within the fold became exposed shortly after Late Bola Ige was allegedely betrayed in the presidential primaries conducted to elect/select Alliance for Democracy’s presidential flag bearer in 1999. Events that later came up after the fall out of the alleged betrayal contributed largely to further cracks.
Our leaders have always emerged from circumstances and situations of their time and as exemplified by courageous roles played at such period. One important thing of note is that from the various emergence, their has been a need to elect a leader who stands tall in the midst of daring challenges. Yoruba leadership will never sail through by choice of the stakeholders alone, it must be subjected to a test of trueness in the midst of killing challenges.
When I talk about the stakeholders, I mean some of our leaders whose selfish analysis of whom a Yoruba leader will be is more reflected in their own ambition than the interest of the race itself. For those who have clamoured, insulted and chastised Bola Tinubu, let such one who is a saint cast the first stone!
I do not stand to propose Bola Tinubu as a substantive leader of the Yoruba race, the circumstances of the past should be a guide to how Tinubu has been a mobilizing force to restore the Yoruba pride.
In 2003, the PDP took advantage of the cracks within Afenifere and the Alliance for Democracy by romancing the bulk of vendetta seeking erstwhile AD loyalist that included Otunba Gbenga Daniel of Ogun, Engr. Iyiola Omisore of Osun, Segun Agagu and Segun Mimiko of Ondo not forgetting late Funso Williams of Lagos amongst lots of other interest groups, to hijack the power base of the south west except for Lagos state which was firmly protected by Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He was then popularly referred to as “the Last man Standing”.
Lagos state became the power base for the progressives and Bola Tinubu became the leader of the fold to the irritation of some elders of the Afenifere group and some political rivals both at the federal and regional levels.
The perception that they had lost the AD’s control to a Bola Ige’s lieutenant made some leaders take the leadership battle of control to Afenifere which was unfortunately made vacant by the demise of its erstwhile leader Papa Abraham Adesanya.
Bola Tinubu did not waste time in taking advantage of the moment to exert his authority. He courageously recruited young vibrant lieutenants and mobilized them for the 2007and 2011 elections.
Whilst every Yoruba man has continued to praise the lasting legacies left by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo for his exemplary positive impact on the socio-economic and political life of the geo-political zone, there has been serious castigation of Bola Tinubu who claims to be an Awoist by some critics who believe he has turned the ACN to a personal venture without party democracy. He has been criticized for using the party machinery for his selfish political agenda.
Some analyst have maintained however that the ACN structure and practice is found in a model seen in the famed Obafemi Awolowo’s recruitment and presentations of outstanding personalities discovered to fill capacities of leadership. Such persons included but not limited to the former outstanding south west Governors of the early 80s in Bisi Onabanjo of Ogun state, Lateef Jakande of Lagos, Adekunle Ajasin of old Ondo, Bola Ige of old Oyo and Olawoyin of Kwara states (all of blessed memory except for Lateef Jakande) to political limelight not.
Bola Tinubu is praised in some quarters for following the same strategies adopted by Papa Obafemi Awolowo in the discovery, mobilization and presentation of quality minds like the Sen. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, Raji Fashola (SAN) of Lagos, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbeshola of Osun, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Com. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo states respectively.
In all of the critical leadership affecting the Yoruba nation and the role of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is pertinent to ask what kind of assessment a potential Yoruba leader has to go through before becoming one?
The yoruba nation require a leader that has gone through the cultural training at the feet of a revered leader. It is known that you do not become a leader by mere acquisition of wealth, Political ambition and political affiliation. The expected Yoruba leader can’t lead without having the requisite courage and fortitude required of such capacity.
Without courage, a leader becomes irrelevant in the capacity he occupies because he would not be able to withstand the challenges such role demand. That Yoruba leader sees beyond the immediate. He discovers, mobilizes and influence others through an inspiration ignited by a positive purpose.
The most unfortunate in the choice of a leader for the Yoruba nation is the role some elders have chosen to play. They have taken sides with different choices not minding the consequences of their various choices primarily due to personal disagreements.
Our warring leaders especially as it relates to Afenifere need to understand that a group is successful when group members believe preserving the integrity of the group has an overriding importance to each of them and they desire to stay and work together. They may not hold strong affection for every member in the group, in fact they might dislike a member or two, but the group is more important than any individual differences
Segun Gbadegesin’s expose in search of Agbasanko brought some memories to life, “When two young people are felling a tree in the forest, the elders are expected to watch and see where it might land. To watch for where it would land is to advise the youths on the consequences of their actions and do whatever is necessary to prevent chaos. An assembly of elders cannot misjudge a case. It is worse if they complicate a case they are supposed to resolve by enmeshing themselves in it as accomplices”.
Why has it gotten so bad for us? The qualities of leaders we have are supposed to be harnessed for the development of the region and not allowed to be given as willing tools in the hands of political bigots in search of territories to conquer and without a mandate of developing the region.
Since the vacuum was unnecessarily created and the south west left in the hands of selfish politicians, Bola Tinubu stepped out to lead a mission of total recall.
Against the claim of participating in “mainstream politics” that served a personal ambition than collective interest of the South-West, Bola Tinubu emerged as a leader who believes in the region’s integration and development. As it stands, regional integration is more formidable within the fold of a federation. Development at the region will be an eye opener for other regions to emulate just like Chief Obafemi Awolowo inspired.
The present mobilization of other progressive parties to form a formidable opposition against PDP’s dominance is a major step taken by Bola Tinubu and his forces of quality Governors. The move if eventually successful will rob his ego against critics as a true and committed leader. Bola Tinubu has always been a fighter and he’s seen in some quarters as a good replacement for the Late Chief Ajibola Ige’s dogged leadership.
Bola Tinubu has paid his dues with a political career that began in 1992, when he was elected to the Nigerian Senate representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic. After the results of the 12 June 1993 presidential elections were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of the June 12 results. He went into self exile in 1994 and returned to the country in 1998 after the death of military dictator Gen. Sani Abacha, which ushered in a transition to civilian rule.
In the run-up to the 1999 elections, Bola Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He won the AD primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial elections in competition with Funso Williams and Dr Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing. In April 1999, he stood for the position of Executive Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket and was elected.
If he succeeds in the current political sojourn of leading a coalition of progressives against the PDP while maintaining the grip on the south west, Bola Tinubu may eventually emerge as an undisputed Yoruba leader.
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