Whoever renders service to many, puts himself in line for greatness – great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy. – Jim Rohn
This can be said of the Ex-Governor of Lagos State and APC national leader, Bola-Ahmed Tinubu. In fact, you could say those words barely capture all that the Jagaban of Nigerian Politics has experienced.
The Presidential candidate has successfully positioned himself as a political, social, and economic giant in the history of Nigeria. It’s no doubt that the infrangible image he has built will outlast his existence.
Tinubu is known to be a courageous man who is ever willing to deploy his resources to achieve his goals for the good of Nigeria, and he continues to prove that even as he works towards becoming the next president.
Asiwaju is a generous, committed, humane, compassionate, and brave leader. He has rightfully earned the title jagaban which contextually means a powerful and influential being.
Although there are varying opinions about him, everyone recognises Tinubu as a phenomenon. No one is oblivious to his popular political slogans such as jeun soke (eat up), wonshimapeyin kotikanyin (They will still call you, it’s not yet your turn), and Emilokan (It’s my turn), which he has used to herald in great political change over the years.
Despite people’s clashing opinions about him, he has managed to build large followership that cuts across ethnic, religious, social, and economic strata. Tinubu’s character and leadership style can be said to be his most attractive traits.
Growing up, Asiwaju admitted that he was a perpetual prankster and a complete menace to a lot of people. He used his allowances to rent bicycles, buy sneakers, and hang out with friends, seized his classmates’ football at school, trespassed into people’s gardens, sneaked into the truck of musicians, and so on. As expected for a child who grew up in the 1950s, Tinubu did not go unpunished for his misdeeds. Even as a child, you can trace the pattern of a formidable, risk-taking, daring, and gregarious man. All he needed was to channel it towards the right course, which he was opportune to do when he stepped into adulthood.
As a young man, after missing death narrowly at a ceremony, his mother decided to sell all her substantial materials including a Volkswagen beetle that he, Tinubu, inherited from his uncle, towards granting his wish to travel out of Nigeria.
As a fresh immigrant in the United States, Tinubu became a cab driver in Washington DC before heading to Chicago where he schooled at Richard Daley College and then Chicago State University, paying his tuition and rent from his income as a door guard and security man. These are days that prepare and build up a man for the path of greatness that he envisions.
Tinubu had unpleasant experiences that stood out for him, such as being hit in the face by his passenger, being at a gunpoint, and losing his job as a security guard while sleeping at his post. Striking a balance between menial jobs and academics can be a great challenge for anyone in this digital age where technology is advanced, how much more back then?
Even in a foreign land, he was able to work his way through his academics and land a great job. As an outstanding Accounting graduate with honours, Asiwaju was employed by one of his professors at Chicago State University to manage the Accounting laboratory of the institution which was soon approved by the dean of the faculty.
Being a brilliant student on the Dean’s list, Tinubu was one of those who got great job offers from huge companies – five at that. Soon enough, he resumed work at Deloitte training school to upgrade his career and professional development, which according to him was the greatest thing he achieved in America. Delloite had clients such as Procter and Gamble, General Motors, Aramco Exxon, National oil, and other giants in the oil business, so that was an exceptional choice to make which was a result of advice from his superior. From Delliote he achieved huge career and financial breaks. This allowed him to make profitable investments and yield dividends.
Despite all his achievements abroad, Tinubu was not exempted from discrimination as he began to chart different water in some oil companies. Coming home to Nigeria, met a poor and discouraging system, but pressed forward by using his accounting and auditing skills to strengthen Mobil’s financial base and treasury activities. Since the company depended on rent, he was determined for it to have a fixed asset in Nigeria, and he achieved it. This according to him was the revolution of real estate in Lagos.
Now, you may wonder when and why he chose to dive into the turbulent sea of politics after such great achievements in his career. The Managing Director of Mobil as at then thought Tinubu was crazy for switching to politics. Every great man will make decisions that may seem foolish to others.
Tinubu started out by raising funds for his cousins who wanted to contest for governorship. Together, they had a common goal to improve the quality and standard of service delivery in Lagos, especially in estates. Asiwaju and his cousins were aiming at civilization and quality control
Gradually, he transited from raising funds to getting involved. He stood behind people like Yomi Edu, who lost his electoral bid.
He was eventually persuaded to contest for a senate position at the Lagos West Senatorial district election. However, he requested that Mobil keep his position vacant, which they did approve due to the fact that they would benefit from him succeeding in politics.
Tinubu has a desire to build a body of resourceful technocrats to instigate an advancement in the technological space of society. Additionally, he created a great foundation for road infrastructure and delivered impactful projects that are incomparable to the “Operation 100 potholes” of Mohammed Marwa who is also a former governor of Lagos state.
Daring with a calculated outlook that is impossible to predict, is but one of Tinubu’s many descriptions. So much so that people were surprised when he pulled in the expert hands of a contractor that is considered too expensive. People once presumed that Julius Berger only handled projects for the federal government until Tinubu appointed them to dualise the Kudirat Abiola way, Itire road from Yaba to Lawanson, up to the royal palace of Oba Onitire of Itire. He ensured the reconstruction of Inner Marina and Broad Street including the erection of drainage systems at Awolowo road, Ikoyi. These projects still stand for well over two decades.
As an apostle of fiscal federalism, he became the earliest advocate of state police such that people assumed LATMA was established as a preparation for the state police force.
Asiwaju assisted a man in getting into Aso Rock, just as he continues to do for many who aspire for positions of impact and power. He was side-lined despite this gesture, and he never spoke ill of the government, instead, he advised them on the many ways they could keep the body strengthened. However, as the popular saying goes you can lead a horse to the water but you can’t force it to drink.
An age-long political ideology by Tinubu is that power isn’t served Á la carte. This encourages power seekers to go after it with all they have within them by taking it by force and owning it.
Counting down to the APC presidential primary, Tinubu was not conceded a good chance by the political cabal. Although many choose to play up his weaknesses against his strengths, Tinubu triumphed through a tortuous and undulating path. He pulled it off majestically with a resounding message I am the master of the game.
Alongside Asiwaju’s staggering network, he was able to deploy his long-built alliances to work for him at the critical junction of winning the APC presidential ticket.
One can’t help but give Tinubu his flowers. He worked hard for the Presidential ticket. His convictions shifted mountains; his determination shattered ceilings and his confidence stood firm.
He had said to the delegates in Abeokuta, Ogun state Emi lo kan, e gbe ki ni yi wa. These words came from a frustrated and desperate heart that yearned to change the tide.
Asiwaju luckily won the primaries and if this progress continues and he becomes the next president, which seems conceivable at the moment, he would have achieved his long-term goal.
Many say he is weak, old, unhealthy, and unfit, forgetting the street slang that says legelege can destroy.
From childhood mischiefs, and then working with major players in the oil sector to contesting for senate, going through exile, and eventually becoming the governor of Lagos state, it’s not by chance nor a coincidence that Tinubu is where he is today.
Tinubu is a master of the game with massive political influence and network at the moment; the biggest issues in the chronicles of Nigeria’s polity. You can agree that Asiwau Bola-Ahmed Tinubu is a living legend and a force to reckon with. He has defied many odds and weathered the storms of life to become an immovable pillar in the history of Nigerian politics.
Nigeria surely awaits his good luck charm to come to play again in the coming election.