By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Gbenga Oke
He is a director of Tangent Construction, a building and civil engineering construction company, and also a partner at Covenant Consultancy Services, a tax advisory outfit that is retained by some of the country’s multinationals to advise or rather, help beat down their tax burdens.
Tunde Ajibulu, 43, shacks up in a luxury service apartment complex, off Bordullion in the Ikoyi area of Lagos from where he shuttles to his Ikeja office thrice or so a week.
Besides his business ventures, Ajibulu also plays politics, or in his words, moves in the background, being one the earliest to have registered for the All Progressives Congress, APC.
As the Vanguard team entered his office in his apartment last Wednesday for the scheduled appointment, conspicuously noticed was the portrait of Ajibulu in his Nigerian Defence Academy cadet uniform. The picture immediately drew the question. “Were you at the NDA?” For the young man who apparently has life running in the good direction for him, it was like an undercut delivered to a professional boxer.
“One of the regrets of my life, I walked away after four years,” he confessed. He eventually obtained his gruadate degree from the University of Illorin. Mr. Ajibulu who was a member of the 43rd regular course of the NDA continues to relish his life in the military. Many of his colleagues in the NDA are now in the Colonel and Lt. Colonel bracket.
Saraki as a mentor
A native of Ijumu in Kogi State, he, however, confesses to playing politics more in Kwara State, which he regards more like home. Unsurprisingly, he acknowledges Senator Bukola Saraki to be an elder brother, mentor and guide, affirming his unwavering commitment and loyalty to the Senate President.
Given his appreciation of the restructuring of the taxation regime by the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration in Lagos State, one was tempted to prod him on the relationship between the taxation wizard and his political mentor, Saraki. But not yet.
Ajibulu sees the current trials of the Senate President as political, asserting it to be one of the low points of the nation’s democratic practise.
He equals the present travails of Saraki to the pre-election hullabaloo on the certificates of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“That is pure politics for me. Politics is at play. Nigeria is a young democracy and we are bound to see all sorts of things. Everything that happens and how it is settled sets precedence. Let me take you back to the last presidential campaigns, there was a very low moment in the campaign, people came after President Muhammadu Buhari when he was a candidate, and the lowest point for me was the certificate scandal. It was low because I have a military background which is my first constituency, I felt bad because I believe the military should be apolitical and the politicians have used the military to do this. And if you look at it, Buhari was a former military President of this country, he is a hero, he was a warrior, he risked his life to defend the integrity of this country. Then you come 30 years after he has been head of state as a General and say he is an illiterate, and he does not have a school certificate?
“That is very low for me because this man went to a Staff College in India, he went to the United States Army College, which is an equivalent of the Nigerian War College, he had a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies, and then you now say he is not qualified,” Ajibulu quipped.
“So what is happening to the Senate President is also for me a low point at this time. I believe it is politics, and things have a way playing out. However, I will say what is happening is very obvious.”
On the sustenance of the Sarakis’ political dominance of Kwara, Ajibulu affirmed that a legacy built over 50 years would not be easily taken down.
“They have been there since during the Second Republic, Senator Saraki’s father started politics in the sixties and took care of his people, you cannot start to count how many people he sent to school and that is where the strength and loyalty stands and that is why the people who are supposed to be in opposition to him all the time stay with him.”
Given his admiration of Buhari, his response to recent flaks of the president’s handling of the economy and the repeated travels of the president was illustrative of a young man looking beyond the present.
“I think Nigerians needs to be patient with President Buhari, and I believe there are a lot of things going on underground, and that is why I said Nigerians should be patient,” noting that Nigeria was on a free fall during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Correcting the perception
Giving a robust defence of the president’s travel plans, he said: “He is just in Saudi Arabia, what is he doing there? He went to discuss how to stabilize oil prices. I think what the President is trying to do is to let the world know that Nigeria is a serious country. Before he came into power, Nigeria was a joke to the rest of the world, Nigeria was becoming a laughing stock, and this was set by the last administration.
“So he has to go to correct the perception, and that is why he has to travel, and I will support him to travel because anybody meeting the President will know he is not a joker. So I believe if he can achieve that, it will further stimulate the economy, and the money that is being retrieved from this anti-corruption crusade as well will also help the economy.”
While lauding Asiwaju Tinubu for his success in re-engineering the finance model for Lagos through taxation, Ajibulu commends the positive direction being taken by the Buhari government in the same direction saying that very soon, Nigerians would very soon, start flocking to tax offices to show compliance.
“The people have to see what the government is doing. Every one of us provides his security, provide water, power and these are three things that the government is meant to provide for you.
“So if you are securing yourself, powering yourself and drilling a borehole for yourself, so what are you paying tax for? These services have to improve, and when they improve, people will be too happy to pay tax.