BAT: Tribute To An Enigma By Philip Agbese
The result of the APC presidential primary election was received across the country with an exclamation of “Jagaban!” He proved his mettle despite the avalanche of hurdles that sprang up since he indicated an interest in the number one position in the country.
The emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a political lesson that should be learnt by those in politics and leadership in the country. It emphasized the importance of building bridges as a critical component of our collective existence.
This is instructive, mainly because the total votes garnered by Asiwaju dwarfed the total votes by the four other aspirants. It was indeed a trouncing made possible by decades of political relevance, some overtly and some covertly, across the country. That is not it for me.
The shocker is that delegates were not fickle about the choice of Asiwaju. I dare say that in the political journey of Nigeria, I haven’t seen such an enigma that commands respect and followership, such as Asiwaju. His name reverberates across the country. And I gathered that one of his major strengths is that he is a man of his words. He does whatever he promises to do.
Yes, he is a trustworthy individual; little wonder why his support base cuts across all parts of the country? That is the quintessential Asiwaju. I recall days leading to the APC primaries, where he made some utterances projected in the media to look like he was denigrating President Muhammadu Buhari, but it was far from the truth. It was the typical Asiwaju, though a hardcore politician but does not behave like the typical politician that is crafty in his words and actions.
What most Nigerians do not know about Asiwaju is the fact that his doors are always open to all. His residence is a mecca to the young and old, rich and poor. Aside from this, he is also a talent hunter who believes in identifying and supporting talents across the country. I might not be able to provide all the details. However, I can confidently say that there is hardly any political office holder in Nigeria that hasn’t benefited from the insights and magnanimity of Asiwaju in the past decade. I stand to be corrected.
Asiwaju has contributed immensely to building institutions that directly benefit the ordinary man and woman on the street. I recall on a day I went for research on a topic that was of academic interest to me. I experienced a paucity of research materials, not until I decided to visit the Arewa House in Kaduna.
Arewa House was established in 1970 and is a centre for research and historical documentation under Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. As a centre for historical documentation and research, Arewa House is concerned with procuring, preserving, analyzing and discussing issues of national and international interest and, in particular, with issues of specific interest to the development of northern Nigeria.
When I visited Arewa House, I was surprised by the Centre’s transformation. It was such a beauty to behold. All the structures were completely renovated, and the archives persevered in line with modern times. I was curious that I asked what happened. I was informed that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu gave the Centre a new lease of life in 2017. Again, that is Asiwaju for you. He is such an individual that does the unlikely things, things you would ordinarily think would not be of interest to him. One can only imagine the numerous other interventions he has undertaken across the country in these critical areas of national interest.
You might not necessarily like Asiwaju, the way he speaks or looks. However, there are very few Nigerians with his intellect and sagacity. Not many Nigerians can boast of tangible investments in human capital development in Nigeria like him. Those privileged to share a table with him can testify to his capacity to listen and make optimistic projections in a jiffy. He is such a fast thinker that one could be tempted to think he is a seer. He gives you a paragraph in return if you give him a sentence. And effortlessly.
I am glad that he overcame the first hurdle of securing the ticket of the APC in the forthcoming presidential elections despite the myriads of challenges that confronted his aspiration from different quarters. We would agree that he didn’t chicken out despite the pressure and didn’t take it as a do-or-die affair. I recall watching a clip where he addressed his supporters in the thick of events leading to the primaries. He said, “calm down, if I lose the primaries, I will return home, and life continues.”
Thank God he won and convincingly. This is indeed a testament to the political rigidity and strength of the character of Asiwaju. In truth, these are the attributes we need in a leader to pilot the affairs at this critical point of our existence.
This is the time to move to the realm of ideas in addressing the country’s myriad of challenges. And Asiwaju will lead that charge if Nigerians give him the mandate. I do not entertain any reservation regarding his ability to hit the ground running with ideas that would translate our hopes and aspirations into tangible reality.
At this point, and after all is said, I have an advise for Asiwaju with regards to the choice of his running mate, as this has been a subject of debate in recent times. Some say he might pick Northern Muslim as his running mate, which would mean a Muslim-Muslim ticket. This might not be suitable given the present realities in the country.
Asiwaju must do well to avoid the apparent banana peel. I advise him to look for a well-accepted Christian candidate from the middle belt. Someone who is not necessarily a politician but can galvanize massive support commands followership across the diverse faiths and religions, who would be able to complement his efforts with undiluted loyalty.
This way, he can be sure of having a good outing in the presidential elections. In all, I am convinced that Asiwaju has something interesting under his sleeves. Nigerians must see his aspiration to lead this country as a good omen and extend support. The Asiwaju that I know is an enigma. Everything about him says so—my two cents in celebration of a man that understands what leadership entails. Our fingers remain crossed in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Agbese is APC House of Representatives Candidate for Ado/Okpokwu/Federal Constituency and wrote from Otukpa