By Abiodun Komolafe
The sole essence of a man or the sum total of his personality profile is to be located in his character! In Bola Tinubu, as in other humans, the attributes of this character are consistent. Therefore, no matter what the naysayers may say, once one is able to reach him, Tinubu has such a large heart that he gives to people compulsively. Of course, whether he becomes Nigeria’s next president or not, those good deeds are to his credit!
Unfortunately, none of the other presidential candidates currently jostling for the key to Aso Rock Villa could come near half of what the presidential flag-bearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has done, both in his immediate environment and outside his domain. It is even doubtful if any of his 10-for-10 kobo critics could even come to 25% of what he has done for humanity. After all, the facts are there, even from unexpected quarters; cutting across religious, ethnic and political divides. It also transcends professional lines. If it is just that alone, then, it can be safely said that the APC chieftain has a cosmopolitan worldview.
It is widely believed that Tinubu has raised people of other tribes than those of his Yoruba descent; that, once one gets to him, one is bound to smile! It is even on record that majority of those who are currently fighting his political battles are those who have in one way or the other benefitted from his unselfishness. Yes, one of his major challenges is that of his minders who more often than not go beyond their briefs in the discharge of their duties. But, once that hurdle is crossed, there’s always a story to tell! Accept it or not, Tinubu is on ground for anything that has to do with the society. Is it about a chieftaincy title? Or societal recognition? Or an act of benevolence that comes from the society? Name them! The APC standard bearer is richly qualified. Away from the notion that he has come to take our sins away or that we should hand our future to one man who knows it all, available indices point in the direction of Tinubu not betraying humanity; that his own is not by mere words but things he has done, or got involved in doing that were outlandish.
Olusumbo Olugbemi and yours sincerely met at a programme some years back and the member representing Oluyole Federal Constituency in the 8th House of Representatives recounted how Tinubu assisted him financially, thrice, on his political journey to the House of Representatives, even without knowing him from Adam; including even after they were no longer members of the same political party. From Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, to Kanu Nwankwo of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, the story the ‘Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom’ has been from one of ‘the milk of human kindness’ to the other of ‘raising champions.’ One evidential consideration is that, before an enigma like Wole Soyinka could identify with an achiever like Tinubu, he’d have already seen it that the APC standard bearer’s portfolio was filled with noble activities; and that, no matter what anybody can say, he (Tinubu) is not just anybody but one who has won gold in his chosen field of human endeavour.
Tinubu gave everything selflessly for the survival of the system. Remember the girl who withdrew from school due to her parents’ inability to pay her school fees! Remember that the fortunes of other students in the state changed for the better through her accidental contact with the then Governor of Lagos State! Remember the conjoined twins whose lives were saved through his intervention! The twins – two beautiful girls – are now grownups, doing well in life. Remember also how many Nigerian youths have become great through the Spelling Bee Competition’s ‘Lagos’ One Day Governor’, a project that has outlasted its promoter! Lots more!
Character is a consistent currency! A man will not just change his character overnight. In our part of the world, where politicians rarely keep promises; where it is even a ‘sin’ for promises to be kept, it is believed that Tinubu’s love and concern for humanity will not disappear if and when he becomes Nigeria’s president. In other words, Asiwaju of Lagos will still be kindhearted, because that’s who he is!
‘Asesile labowaba. Eni to su sile a pada bo wa ba esinsin.’ (Everyone will experience the consequences of his or her action. Whoever defecates on the floor will later have to contend with flies). The tragic truth is that some political mentees benefitted from Tinubu’s kindness without learning the strategy or philosophy of his approach to life. Unfortunately, those attached to these failed leaders are always left abandoned and disillusioned, thus becoming a burden to the society. Beyond reasonable doubt, Tinubu didn’t teach them that way! After all, history has shown that, even where the former governor found it difficult to ‘direct the wind’, he assuredly adjusted ‘the sails.’ He always sees masses suffering as painful and unnecessary.
Against the backdrop, it behoves the political class to really sit down and think, because the survival of the country depends on it. It is important to note that most of our leaders are so selfish that, even when they are leaving office, they also carry along with them, till eternity, all the other privileges they’ve ever tasted. But for the hangers-on, they are on their own, coming home from a failed mission into a hostile and highly expectant society with nothing to show for their industry and fidelity to the cause! Well, I intend to dwell more on this aspect of ‘service’ in the coming days!
Finally, let me state that it is the ambivalence of our social structure that has made it difficult for us to recruit the right leadership. And that’s a major bane of development in Nigeria. The reality of our Nigerianness is such that leadership recruitment is more or less induced by advanced and generous gratification permutation by the critical stakeholders. Stretching the argument further, in the same country where N100 million is being charged for the presidential nomination form, some people cannot even afford N1000 to eat a day! So, the poverty factor is always there, running upandan, looking for whom to devour. What it therefore means is that, if it continues like this, we will never get the best of candidates, because, even if a candidate is good, he may not have the kind of money needed to access the desired office. Except we want to be economical with the truth, what has happened in Tinubu’s case is that he is a good man and he also has the money to fight for the political office of his choice.
Another challenge is the low premium placed on citizenship in Nigeria. Government policies are always at variance with the needs and aspirations of the mass of the people. Take for instance, the cashless society envisioned by the government to regulate the physical movement of cash within the system. Truth be told, powerful politicians will always find a way around the policy before the elections while the poor become poorer! And that’s where arbitrariness and despotic tendencies derive their oxygen for survival: when the people have lost their voice and government can no longer be sanctioned.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
*Komolafe wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (firstname.lastname@example.org)