Asiwaju … Not What They Think By Mobalaji Sanusi
The Nigerian political terrain is replete with various shades of people. In my country, every Tom, Dick and Harry calls himself a politician, but one man stands out among the pack. Hate or love him, his place in history is already reserved. Through admirable political sagacity, open-heartedness and sheer political industry, he has been able to extend handshakes across the Niger. To the chagrin of his political adversaries, he is leading a team that is determined to re-engineer the entire national political landscape.
To the progressives in the east, north, south and west, the man is one to be adored and “soaked” in panegyrics; but to the conservatives in these regions, the man is secretly revered but openly detested for being their nemesis. The conservatives and their kindred could not fathom why one single individual called Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu, could successfully rally the whole country against the ruling party – a situation that is sending jitters down the spines of occupants of the Presidential Villa.
No wonder they are secretly jubilating, albeit fleetingly, any time they remember the perceived prolonged overseas medical trip of Asiwaju. His absence from the nation’s political turf is not difficult to notice. Some politicians could afford to leave the scene without being noticed but not an Asiwaju, whose political clout and philanthropy, have defied ethnic/tribal boundary. His political adversaries recently went viral in the public domain with satanic speculations about his state of health. In market places, clubs, offices, Government Houses, homes, newspaper houses, newsstands, airports, government offices and public transportation among others, busy bodies at every opportunity talk about the Jagaban. Some idle talkers reportedly said the man could not walk; others maliciously concocted in hush tones – Parkinson, where none existed. God forbid!
The truth is that Asiwaju is hale and hearty in London, where he is relaxing after a minor surgery on his leg in America. Yours sincerely, being an avid admirer of the great political leader, went searching for him during my on-going annual vacation in London. Any reasonable person would show admiration for the man for championing the ongoing political revolution in the southwest and Edo State. Sincerely, no one would have believed that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tyrannical grip and political tomfoolery, using the visionless platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), could end so soon and abysmally too. To me, Asiwaju deserves all encomiums and support for having assembled a steadfastly committed team, using his resources and vast contacts in the process, to rescue a sizeable part of the country from political exploiters…and at the moment, extending the frontiers of such revolutionary onslaught to the entire country through the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The journey to Asiwaju’s London residence began when l left Essex last Sunday with my elder brother and a junior one. I gave the address of his residence to my brother who inserted it into the satellite navigation of his car. The trip was smooth and in barely over 30 minutes, we were in the heart of West London. The ancient architectural splendor of that area’s buildings was a beauty to behold. The visit was unscheduled and behold, l was at the entrance of the building.
My mind was wandering over all the lies of peddlers in Nigeria who derive joy in spreading negative things about their fellow being. At the entrance, I pressed the bell and the voice from the other end, surprisingly, was that of Jagaban himself. “Who is that?” He asked with bewitching humility. I answered: “I’m Mobolaji Sanusi from Nigeria sir.” Then, his reply: “Ooh, you are the one; push the door and come upstairs.”
I ascended the stairs, knocked and opened the door to his apartment. Standing before me were Asiwaju and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. After greeting the duo, my host asked me to take my seat in one of the sitting rooms where I met some guests waiting to see him too. Later, Mr Dele Alake, the brilliant and highly revered information strategist of our era came in and went straight to where Asiwaju was seated with Ribadu.
Jagaban donned a Tee shirt with blue sports shorts to match. On that day, yours sincerely watched with others, the Manchester town derby, where Manchester City devoured Jagaban’s favourite Manchester United Football Club team. In his boisterous mood, he admonished that no one should write off his darling team because it could be too early as the premiership is still open. Later, I sat alone with him to have general discussions before l left. He personally directed me to come back and I was there. In his routine morning exercise, he did seven miles on the bike. In the evening, he had another one-hour vigorous exercise that, honestly, made me green with envy.
Afterwards, I commenced intense reflection on where peddlers of that unfounded rumour about Asiwaju’s health got it. The esteemed Asiwaju, on my first visit to his apartment, personally opened the door for me and was intermittently walking round the house to do one thing or the other with no sign of strain on his leg or any part of his body. Also on my second visit, I closely watched the political icon engage in intense exercise that any physical instructor of high stature would marvel at. His photograph with General Mohammadu Buhari at the train station was even published.
I also sat with him alone, spending quality time in the process and could say that he is by the grace of God, as fit as a fiddle. His brain remains as sharp as before; his intellectual reflexes are still swift; his voice remained coherent and as loud as ever and his movement steady and balanced. He displayed in my presence, rare energy in hosting the deluge of very important guests from all over the world that visited him. H exuded coherence and mindfulness while receiving the avalanche of significant phone calls. He churned out specific instructions to his able aides, including Sunday Dare and youthful Oyefemi Oyatolu that are always with him round the clock.
The Nigerian polity, because of lack of ideas by the ruling party, is fast becoming fertile field of damaging rumours and speculations. Most Nigerians, especially idle politicians, derive pleasure in peddling slander as news against the person of Asiwaju. But it is not what Jagaban’s visible and surreptitious adversaries are thinking by spreading rumours with bad intents about him. Their evil thoughts had been perished and the man is in good health condition and in very high spirit, waiting to come back into the country stronger than before in the next couple of days. My averment: Asiwaju, take heart because scandalous rumours were peddled against that great Nigerian nationalist, Nnamdi Azikiwe and he outlived his enemies for several decades. This is the price of leadership and greatness.
May you live long, Asiwaju. Amen.
Mobolaji Sanusi is a member of The Nations Editorial Board
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