By Muyiwa Adetiba
One man who has shot into political prominence—and stayed aloft—is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man variously and fondly called BAT, Asiwaju, Emeritus, Jagaban or Leader. Some simply but aptly call him Eko because of his almost complete hold on Lagos, the nation’s richest and most influential State.
Many books and articles will be written to explain this manfs rise to relevance in the political terrain of our country. Many of the words that will be used will likely include courage, doggedness, ruthlessness, a good understanding of the uses and abuses of power, a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of human beings great and small, a tactical and strategic mind, a political sixth sense and most importantly, luck—which can be read as the ability to seize the moment.
My curiosity this morning concerning this man who has seized many important moments— from the NADECO days when he made himself a rallying point, to the AD days when he exploited the fault lines to emerge as a formidable power broker, to the Obasanjo days when he virtually became a lone voice against PDP domination, to the merger of three main opposition parties in Nigeria which gave Jonathan and PDP a lot of sleepless nights—is about the legacy he is leaving behind.
Don’t get me wrong; I do not wish him dead. By his own accounts, he is still under 65 years which means there is still a lot of fight in him. Besides, whatever the trajectory of his life at the moment can be altered by one momentous action. Like it did in the life if Dr Stella Adadevoh who was an accomplished professional minding her business and that of her small family until a certain Patrick Sawyer happened to pass by.
Very few things have hit me as hard as the death of that woman; someone I didnft even know. I kept hoping she would survive given what she did for you and I and what she did to extend the life of a dying nation.
As it turned out, many of my friends in the medical profession knew her well in her formative years. Many testified to her beauty as a young lady; beauty that is still discernible even in her middle age photographs. But what was exhibited at that moment of critical decision was the beauty of the soul; a passion and compassion that went beyond the call of duty. Someone said she was only doing her job. Wasnft Dr Sam Emenuo, another doctor whose decision at a critical moment has brought death to his family and community also doing his job?
Her death, and the manner of it, has not only saved lives, it has given life and hope to a nation in search of new ethos, and young despairing people in search of new heroes. *She has shown that despite the greed of our political and professional elite, all is not lost in Nigeria; that Nigeria is still worth dying for.
As she is mourned by her family and friends, one positive stands out from this needless death; it doesnft matter how long but how well. She could have lived for another 50 years in a quiet, nondescript existence.
Now, she is emblazoned in the hearts of grateful nation. It does not matter whether the nation honours her, whether her profession honours her, she will always be honoured by the rank and file whose lives she saved. She will also be forever remembered alongside her illustrious grandfather. Hers is an enduring legacy.
That said, Tinubu is also a man who is being mentioned alongside some of our successful political fore-fathers especially Chief Obafemi Awolowo on account of his hold on the politics of the Yoruba nation.
I was lucky to have met the two of them and came away with favourable first time impressions. I can also see some similarities. Both are loved— and hated with a passion. Both have deep political insights and have gone to great lengths to defend the Yoruba nation. Both have also shown fearlessness and courage when necessary. Both have strong loyalists but have suffered serious betrayals. But there are glaring differences as well. One was a political purist while one is, well, a pragmatist. One guarded his political legacy carefully and kept his children well away from political largess while the other has been rather careless on that front.
But it is in the area of personal integrity that the difference has been more glaring. The Chicago episode was an unnecessary one that showed a deep character flaw. Unnecessary because the law of the land didnft raise the bar for elective positions that high. Alhaji Lateef Jakande didn’t parade a string of degrees, yet he is one of the most politically and professionally accomplished leaders in Nigeria.
Also, nobody could seriously accuse Pa Awo of corrupt enrichment. Yes, there were a few aspersions like papa’s land (Maroko) and huge retainerships from big multi-nationals. But they were straws in the wind; completely weightless.
The allegations against Tinubu are not so weightless and could, if care is not taken, affect his legacy. The social media is currently awash with a list of prime properties that are said to be owned by him. The titles are so massive and the method of acquisition so steeped in corruption that only a compulsive land grabber with no thought to his name and reputation will attempt such a thing.
I hope the allegations are not true because nobody can lead the Yoruba nation talk less of matching Awo’s legacy with such a deficit in probity. Also the allegations of Chief Tom Ikimi on his wealth and deals should not be wished away. He must look beyond the messenger.
Would Tinubu wish to be remembered as a man who used politics to enrich himself or as a man who used politics to empower his people? The choice is his.
Dr Stella Adadevoh has earned the right to be in the same room with her illustrious grandfather or indeed any great Nigerian leader and it was not down to money.