Asiwaju: Celebrating an Icon of Democracy, By Philip Agbese

Tinubu said to be behind his emergence as candidate

By Philip Agbese

It is often said that success has many relations while failure is an orphan and recent developments since the March elections have more than proven this. Droves of repentant democrats have since jumped ships to sail on the wind of change ostensibly a confirmation of the profoundness of the concept of food is ready politicians. But one man stands a head taller above others even among those who had stayed true to the less taken path of progressives’ politics. Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu has proven to be a visionary, a persistent one, who not only charted the course but stayed true to it. He was never a convert but a pioneer democrat who conceived several years what some are just grasping today.

One can safely declare Asiwaju Tinubu as the unsung hero of the democracy dividends that Nigerians now enjoy today. In this case, dividends of democracy is construed in the true sense of what it should be – not public infrastructure or made for media hypes but the awareness led by this icon that has more than doubled citizen interest and participation in governance.

While some are repentant democrats, he was born and baptized to be a democrat for life. At great risk to his personal safety and comfort, Asiwaju Tinubu remained undaunted even when state apparatus was unleashed upon him in the run up to the elections. His stance came as no surprise as he had championed similar causes in the dying days of dark military rule when he was hounded into exile.

His stint as the governor of Lagos state was no less radical, people may remember him as the governor who laid the foundation for the emerging Lagos but discerning minds recognise him as the activist leader who provoked thoughts and discuss about the question of true federalism and fiscal independence of states under the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo presidency. But for this singular move of his, all of Nigeria’s thirty six states would have been consigned to an ugly past of whitewashed unitary system masquerading as federalism. Regardless the aspirations of their citizens, states would have been forced to adopt the same pace of development.

With ovation that greeted his service to Lagos state, Asiwaju Tinubu could have opted for retirement and spend more time with his family but he was resolute on bringing the development and change that are still being applauded in Lagos state to national level. Even in the face of stiff opposition he worked for the states of the south-west to migrate back to progressives politics – granted that two of the states were later manipulated and pushed under questionable governance.

At a time when even other radicals have given up on routing a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that vowed to own the country for 60 years, this visionary leader never gave up hope. He committed personal resources and time to cobble together what some referred to as a motley opposition at their own political peril. What has since followed is stuff that future generations will read in history books and marvel – how an opposition that was dismissed as inconsequential trounced Africa’s largest political party. In achieving this feat, Asiwaju Tinubu surmounted many odds and perils: from being needlessly hounded with state institutions like the Code of Conduct Bureau to using the military to harass him during the Ekiti and Osun elections and even threat to personal safety at times when aircrafts carrying him are denied take-off or landing.

The foregoing makes one wonder why or how mischievous elements can now contemplate trying to mudsling a man who has not only wished the country well but has also acted for things to go well for the populace. Part of the ploys of such people has been to twist national issues out context to make it sound like the nation is dealing with an overbearing party leader. The stand-offs at the National Assembly are ready examples of such attempts. At no time has Tinubu come out to openly announce a candidate for the Speakership of the House of Representatives nor the Senate Presidency but detractors found it convenient to manipulate and interpret the situation to suggest meddling from Tinubu.

They have even taken it steps further to make insinuations that involve President Muhammadu Buhari and how much room he has for making decisions without interference.

The import of the posturing from these elements would be for the APC’s national leader to distance himself from the affairs of the party. What they fail to explain is how the party will deliver good governance if its internal cohesion is not sustained and who else should drive the process if not its leader. Each time his enemies come to tell us that he is waning in clout and influence, the Asiwaju comes out bolder, larger and stronger like an Iroko tree.

For those who have been following the political career of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, it is apparent that recent events have only served to cement his position as an undisputed leader of progressives within and outside his party. He must thus be encouraged to soldier on in the interest of the country. He has already written his name in indelible medium and if the scenario were repeated a thousand times now and in the next world, Tinubu’s name will be synonymous with democracy.

Comrade Philip Agbese is a pro-democracy and anti-corruption crusader based in Abuja.