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In the matter of presidential pendulum

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The current election season has thrown up a lot of ideas on who is best suited to govern Nigeria. Many, from different parties are jostling for the number one job. In the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu stands out. As two-time governor of Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial capital, his achievements speak volumes.

In the Nigeria’s political landscape, the issue of where the president should come from, after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari, has generated a lot of debate. Buhari is from the north; the question is, should power remain in the north or should it go to the south?

By convention, zoning has become an acceptable practice in our politics considering the heterogeneous nature of our society. And particularly in the APC, it is common knowledge, the efforts of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) bloc, the dominant party in the West before the merger in 2014, in the eventual emergence of Buhari as president. Therefore, it should follow that the south should be considered to rule after him.

As governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Tinubu implemented a lot of reforms in all sectors in the state. He assembled the best brains into his cabinet. A federalist to a fault, he fought the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo in many fronts to claim the rights of his state through the law courts. At a period when our nation had just emerged from military rule with its garrison command structure where governors take instructions from Abuja and a president with military hang over, Asiwaju stood tall to demand independence under a federal system, though not yet perfect.

Asiwaju was a senator during the aborted third republic, as such, he understands how democracy should work. He is a grassroots mobiliser, manager of men and materials. After his first term as governor, his party, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) lost all the state of the southwest to the opposition PDP, courtesy, Olusegun Obasanjo who was seeking relevance in his southwest home base, except Lagos under Asiwaju. The states were later returned to their progressive fold by Asiwaju who prompted his disciples to go back home and contest for elections in their various states.

In Lagos, his legacies have endured as he ensured that his party remained in power. A lot of landmark projects were achieved which transformed the economy of the state. What is happening today at the Lekki corridor is part of Asiwaju’s revolution in the state. The free trade zone, Lekki Deep Sea port, the proposed new Lagos Airport, the billion dollar investments in the corridor including the Dangote group with its refinery, (one of the largest in the world with a capacity to refine 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day and the fertilizer blending plant) are among many of his legacies. The astronomical increments in the state’s IGR (internally generated revenue) from paltry N600million a month to about N40billion in a month has placed the state in good stead ranking as the third largest economy in Africa. At this point in the history of our nation, who else do we need to re-energise the economy, shore up the revenue of the country and place us on the path of growth?

In any endeavor, there are adversaries and critics. What are the critics saying that Asiwaju has cornered the wealth of Lagos? Where is the evidence? Is it a crime to be conscious of creating wealth? Or even to be an entrepreneur in politics? In the first republic, Chief Obafemi Awolowo achieved a lot in the southwest; he created wealth for the region. Was he poor? Till today, you can point to his vast estate. Did he put his hand on the commonwealth? The answer is no. It takes someone who knows how to create wealth for self to create wealth for the state. When Donald Trump became American President, his impact on the economy was instant; unemployment dropped drastically and the economy rebounded. You cannot wish away his experience as a business man. Asiwaju’s experience in business, politics and even activism makes him stand out among the pack.

The other day, he said that he sees no reason why Nigeria cannot compete with Russia in gas. To him, Nigeria is more of a gas country than an oil county. Does that point to something? Now Europe is already looking for alternative to Russia gas, can Nigeria fill the void? Asiwaju is already thinking about that. Some says he is too old and he is not healthy as if they have his medical records. In the United States of America, our model presidential system, Joe Biden, the president, is 80 years old. Is he stronger than Asiwaju? You cannot wish away a man’s experience in any endeavor. Why do we fix the retirement age of our judges and that of our academics at 70? It is because men of knowledge are like wines, the older the better.

No one is not without a shortcoming. We are all humans, we are fallible but when it comes to nation building, that is a rare gift endowed on some people by God almighty. It was Asari Dokibo, the fiery former Niger Delta activist who is not given to praising people that said; that the only person among the former governors who can boast of having transformed his state is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The transformation is revolutionary. It is left for us to give him the chance to do the same to Nigeria.

  • Raji is director, Tinubu Youth Support Organisation, Kuje Area Council Zone, Abuja chapter.

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