First, my prejudice: I am committed to the promotion, elevation and celebration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Just like lovers of Chief Awolowo, I wear caps with his chain logo.
I understand him and I have written tonnes of articles to try to make people see him in as best a light as possible.
I should remind you. I was his Deputy Chief Press Secretary from 2003 to 2005 and his Chief Press Secretary from 2005 to 2007. When he left office in May 2007, I continued as his media adviser until I was elected into office as Executive Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA.
As a media and political strategist, I understand perfectly that the Presidency knows that Tinubu is one of the key strategists of the APC. He thinks outside the box and has rare expertise in plotting the logistics of electoral campaigns. So strategic that if his services to the party could be neutralized, the Presidency’s plot to overrun the APC will be easier to achieve.
Second, Tinubu is one of the key grassroots mobilizers of the APC, particularly in the Southwest where he has demonstrated capacity to roll back the territorial gains of his party’s opponents.
Politics is competition for power. The nearer to the election, the more desperate is the urge to put down your opponent. Because voters determine the outcome of election, the battle for their minds is critical to the battle for their votes.
The social media and online journals have been awash with syndicated negative bombardment of Asiwaju in recent weeks. The aim is to alienate him from his teeming followers, demonise him as someone undeserving of their affection and devalue his political stature and by extension the attraction the APC generates.
Much of the content in the media are the rehash of stale rumors, efforts to convict by association. They have been on the media shelves since 1999. But their purveyors sell them because Tinubu continues to be relevant in the country’s public life.
When such incredible falsehoods no longer jelled, the alchemists of hatred have come up with noxious fallacies. It is to these fallacies that I now turn.
The Tinubu Dynasty
Yes, it is true that Oluremi Tinubu, his wife, is in the Senate. It is true that Hon.Oye, his son-in-law is in the House of Representatives and it is true that his daughter, Mrs Shade Oye is the Iyaloja -General of Lagos.
What ratio of the senators who have represented Lagos State since 1999 belong to Tinubu’s family? Do the Maths: 16 senate seats have been occupied since 1999. Answer: 1 -15. If you take the members of House of Representatives from Ekiti State since 1999 and rate one seat occupied by his son-in-law to the number, the ratio is much higher: 1 to over 60. And each of these two family members have not even completed a term! Certainly it is a mischievous exaggeration to describe this as a family dynasty.
The antagonists are silent on hundreds of politicians such as Kehinde Bamigbetan from ILE-Ife, Osun State, who were spotted and supported for public office yet have no blood relationship whatsoever with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. When the Iyaloja issue came up, I asked as many of them as I could to know the situation. I was told that the departed matriarch had expressed her wish to be succeeded by her and that had been the understanding at least a year before she passed on.
Asiwaju is undemocratic
As Chief Press Secretary, I got used to a ritual.Asiwaju would invite me into his office and the first question would be: what are people saying?He always made sure he stood on the popular side. As the party grew and became a popular platform, managing electoral contest became more difficult. The campaign of AD in 2003 witnessed clashes among followers of aspirants because everyone knew that once you got the ticket, you would win. Primaries were held amidst heavy security. Even party members began to fear the risk of attending primaries.
To reduce the conflict of inter-party primaries, elders and leaders were encouraged to manage competitors within their constituencies. Groups were encouraged to hold shadow elections. Still, there were complaints of abuses and peddling of influences. These disagreements were ultimately resolved at the apex leadership. It was never a one man show. The idea of a “a capricious Tinubu fixing candidates in his bedroom is a romantic misrepresentation, a perversion based on ignorance and mischief.
Happily, by 2011, internal audit of the party’s electoral process led to reforms. The party, now ACN, held primaries. I know as a matter of fact that delegates queued to vote at the party’s secretariat in Lagos to vote their choices. The event took the whole day. The fact is that all the members of the House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate representing Lagos State today were elected at the primaries.
Furthermore, the party has responded more by ensuring that the recent ward and local government congresses were duly held. In fact, only 153 of the 377 ward chairmen were returned.
The untouchable: Tinubu’s legacies
Those who seek to demonise Asiwaju Tinubu attack his person to destroy his value because they know there is a place they dare not go: his legendary achievements. Who built the finances of Lagos State that it became the only state independent of federal receipts? Tinubu. Who initiated a mass employment Programme that mopped unemployed graduates from the streets of Lagos through KAI, LSTMA etc. Tinubu. Who began the infrastructural renewal -Kudirat Abiola/ Oregun, Agege Road-Lawanson-Itire, Egbe-Igando- LASU-IBA and brought private tectorial into road intervention and refuse clearing? Tinubu.
There are many reasons the Federal Government would have axes to grind with Tinubu. He asserted the right of states to control vehicle registration and produce plate numbers within their domain among so many others. The antagonists know very well that if they succeed in neutralizing Tinubu, a defender of the people, there would be fewer men of courage with the financial capacity to fight the lords of Aso Villa.
This conspiracy must not be allowed to stand because of the danger it posed not only to Tinubu as a person but to the poor and helpless Nigerian.
Tinubu is not perfect. But he has shown that he believes in Nigeria. His investments are here and they provide employment for thousands. The local governments and LCDAs created by his administration have increased the human and material development of Lagos State.
This is the Tinubu I celebrate everyday and night. This is the Tinubu that deserves our solidarity at a time those who have no vision seek to blur our vision of a great statesman and man of the people.