Home Op-Ed. Charting the Yoruba cause: The Asiwaju model

Charting the Yoruba cause: The Asiwaju model

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By Adebayo Obajemu

Executive governor of Lagos State, Tinubu brought a novel development to national politics, the intellectualisation of governance along popular participation. As a visionary, the new governor of Lagos State understood the power and significance of intellectualising governance and courting critical segments of society, all these he achieved with maximum success.

On the core area of intellectualisation of governance, Tinubu assembled young brilliant intellectuals poached from different walks of life as members of his cabinet and advisers, and the team was able to envision credible programmes of action and feasible roadmap of development for the state.

Many of these are practical men of ideas and pragmatism such as Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Tunji Bello, Dele Alake, Muiz Banire, Babatunde Fashola and others who are successful men in their own right. These men were able to successfullly drive a developmental vision into actuality in the eight-year that Tinubu was in power as governor.He empowered them and from them and through them, he began to expand the recruitment exercise of the state’s intellengentsia , and in the process he marshalled an organisational and strategic skills  that were a rarity among politicians.

Tinubu came to power riding on the crest of his glorious contribution to the struggle for democracy as NADECO stalwart, and this ensured his acceptance among the core Afenifere/NADECO elders who controlled Yoruba politics such as Adesanya’s.Having become governor through the help of these old men, he was wise enough to start erecting his own political structure as a countervailing force to the hegemony of the old men, and this proved strategic and a great political foresight.

No sooner had he got to power than the old men wanted mould in their shadows and image, but as a man destined for great role in the Yoruba politics and even great destiny in national policy, Tinubu refused to play the old game but rather chose to fashion a new ethos for the Yoruba , an ethos steeped in pragmatism and rare understanding of Nigerian politics.

Many enamoured of the old guards started criticising Tinubu, for his subtle defiance of the old guards of the pan -Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere. Contrary to their position and projection of sudden political fall of Tinubu, the man has steadily been rising in political stature, beyond the shadows of the three most credible Yoruba political leaders in recent times: Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Senator Abraham Adesanya and Chief Bola Ige. Honestly, if not for his being the Vice- Chairman of the Federal Executive Council during the Nigerian civil war, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, would certainly have been included in the list , thus making Tinubu the most outstanding political leader the Yoruba has ever produced in recent history.

It would seem beyond the crises associated with the annuled June 12, 1993 presidential election won allegedly by Abiola and the process tortuous as it was, leading to Nigeria’s transition from military to democratic rule in 1999, Ajasin, Adesanya and Ige may not count much in national reckoning Awolowo sought Nigeria’s leadership repeatedly but failed. The late Sage was well-respected all over the country, no doubt. But he never had any influence on the emergence of leaders at the national level in a democratic Nigeria.

In contrast, Tinubu is not overtly seeking to be Nigeria’s president , but he’s much sought after at almost every level of the country’s leadership. He’s today a strong national force, and any aspiring contender for presidential office in Nigeria must seek his consent. No aspiring senate president and speaker of  the House of Representatives can ignore him. He is truly an apostle of federalism and a man of the people with a charm and charisma that mesmerise the masses. Tinubu’s path to political stardom is strewn with challenges from the old guards who inherited the  Yoruba political leadership mantle from Awolowo, and he remains the scourge of the Afenifere old guards. He was, is and will effectively most likely remain -for the rest of his political life -their nemesis.

Way back in 2000/2001, three negative issues were identified by the sagacious Tinubu’s supporters about the  Alliance for Democracy,(AD)/Afenifere leaders, branding them as persons without an ounce of credibility. The old men were a lot tribalistic and not interested in national vision given the fact that AD/Afenifere was unable to exert much political influence after two years of democracy beyond the Southwest , and even at that they were dictators who unilaterally imposed candidates on party members without their consent and also refuse to give room to a democratic discussion of issues. It was widely believed that the old men were only after their personal economic salvation using the AD governors and other institutions of government within the Southwest as conduits to get funds. The loss of the Southwest to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was the final nail in the coffin of the Afenifere old guards, who many, especially Tinubu’s supporters blamed for AD’s woes , and as fate would have it, Tinubu, the only AD governor implacably opposed to the old men won his reelection to begin a political ascendancy that has now firmly placed him where the old men were in 1999 at the beginning of Nigeria’s fourth attempt at democratic practice. The AD governors who the old men campaigned for were routed from their seats by the PDP who held sway until Tinubu brought forth the Action Congress, AC, and later Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, both of which acknowlege him as national leader. To many, especially in the Southwest, Tinubu has succeeded where the old men failed .