By Afolabi Ogundimeji
Having survived the worrisome essay by titled “Bourdillon Bullion Vans and Tinubu’s Uncanny Affront on Lagosians – This Madness Must End”, I decided to write this as a public service in hope of convincing the writer and others like her to stop wasting paper and cease boring us with her stale screed.
This essay, another unwarranted and untruthful attack on Asiwaju Tinubu, traffics exclusively in the same tired, old and debunked accusations most of us have grown bored of listening to. Some people seem wedded to the idea that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. Myself, I am more inclined to follow a rather different path. That someone who repeatedly sells falsehoods moves further from the truth with each word she utters.
The article, and I use that word reluctantly, fits into the desperate efforts by Tinubu’s opponents to draw parallels between Lagos and Kwara and between Bukola Saraki and Tinubu. This is a textbook example of false equivalency.
Asiwaju is not Saraki and Lagos is not Kwara. Since the return of democracy in 1999, Lagos has steadily improved and grown to become the 5th largest economy in the whole of Africa. It is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. It is the centre of business and culture, the centre of excellence. Every day, 8000 people come to Lagos to make it their home. If, indeed, Lagos has spent the past 20 years under the guidance of one man, that man deserves a good deal of praise, not censure, for helping to make Lagos State a catalyst for progress and the envy of all the others.
Indeed, Lagos has seen progress and development unmatched by any other state in the whole of Nigeria. Lagosians do not want freedom from the sustained progress and development that Asiwaju and his allies have brought any more than they want freedom from democracy or from good governance. Such a move would not be freedom, it would be failure.
The simple truth, the truth that these naysayers seem unequipped to grasp is that there can be no comparison between Asiwaju and Saraki, no comparison between Lagos and Kwara. While the former gives generously of his time and money to improve and advance Lagos state, the latter has spent the past 16 years ignoring the people of his state. Asiwaju is friendly and forgiving even to those who have attacked him.
The O’to ge movement has spectacularly failed to take off in Lagos. The people pushing this agenda may be confused as to why but the people of Lagos are clear. Let me now be equally concise. We simply have not had enough!
The images of bullion vans heading into Asiwaju’s residence, allegedly the inspiration for the latest round of hit jobs, are obviously doctored. Anybody who drove past Asiwaju’s residence in Ikoyi in the days leading up to the February 23 election would have seen massive barriers in front of his gate. Strangely, these structures are nowhere to be seen in the fake images now doing the rounds online.
But instead of simply pointing out the obvious fake, Asiwaju chose to make a more enlightened statement. Some have taken this to be an admission of wrongdoing. It is not. As a private citizen Asiwaju is free to do as he pleases with his lawful assets. Transportation of his assets from point A to point B, even if ostentatious, is not evidence of any crime. Earning money is also not a crime. As has been proven time and time again, Asiwaju’s wealth has been earned, indeed, largely before he ever set foot into the political arena.
As the man himself has said, he does not hold any government office and hasn’t received any government contracts, whether from Alausa or Abuja. These people would have us believe that everything he has, he earned since 1999. This is errant nonsense. Before becoming governor of Lagos State Asiwjau worked as an accountant in one of the world’s most prestigious accountancy firms and held high profile positions in Mobil Nigeria. He was a respected Yoruba leader and a man of means.
Without his background and personal resources, one wonders how he could he ever have hoped to become governor of Lagos in the first place!
It is clear from the way that Tinubu’s detractors conflate merely having money with corruption and looting that Asiwaju’s real offence in the eyes of these people is being wealthy and generous. They envy him because they are too selfish to do as he has done even if they held twice as much as he does.
The truth is that these people clearly lack the vision and drive to even conceive of his success. Since they do not know and cannot see how success is achieved, they must attack those who have scaled the mountain they fear to climb. Instead of learning from or trying to emulate the success of others they look to bring everybody down to their level.
Well, on March 9, 2019, Lagosians do indeed have a golden opportunity. They have the chance to reject this doctrine of woe. They have a chance to send a message that Lagos State is not finished with its pursuit of a greater future. That enough is NOT enough. Lagos seeks more prosperity, not less. It seeks more jobs and economic opportunities, not fewer. It wants improved education to better equip the next generation for the complex challenges they will face and must solve.
The people of Lagos, most especially the poorest in our society have not had enough! They want more progress, more development, more opportunities, more infrastructure, more good governance, more leadership.
Under Asiwaju’s leadership in erecting the institutions of progressive governance, Lagos has prospered. If that is madness, long may the madness continue!
Afolabi Ogundimeji, a lawyer, writes from Lagos