Bola Tinubu: Of Opportunity and Responsibility – by Remi Oyeyemi
In the days and months leading to the elections of 2003, there was a lot of confusion in the political firmament of the Yoruba Nation. Main reason was the prevarication of the Yoruba mainstream political leadership on whether to accept their wayward son, Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, and support him for the second term elections or field another candidate on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). At that time, the political leadership in Yoruba Nation operated under the dual auspices of Afenifere and AD.
There were contending schools of thought on this dilemma. Some felt that an incorrigible prodigal son was a son nevertheless and the baby ought not be thrown out with the bathwater. Others believe Leopards never change their spots. They insisted Obasanjo could not be trusted and should not be touched with a long pole. The latter group were very vociferous but were in the minority. They lost out. Bola Tinubu was among the minority that lost out. The elections of 2003, lent credence to the fears expressed about Obasanjo as pinpointed by Tinubu et al. All those who gave Obasanjo benefit of the doubt were betrayed, stabbed in the back and rigged out of office to pave way for the members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). It was only in Lagos State where Bola Tinubu held sway that the PDP did not have the chance to wrought their ruins. This, to a great extent, attested to his political sagacity.
After 2003 elections, Tinubu began to build a new coalition consisted of a new generation of Afenifere as evident in the birth of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). It was a timely task embarked upon. It was the new direction that the people of the Southwest needed in the aftermath of the Obasanjo’s treacherous earthquake. Tinubu tapped into the psyche of the people and got a very favourable response. The results of his efforts were denied him in 2007 across the Southwest, except Lagos. This was followed by series of court cases that restored Osun and Ekiti States to the ACN. In 2011, Oyo and Ogun joined the ACN train. Today, the rest, as they always say, is now History. But that History, obviously, is yet to be concluded.
Right now Tinubu is arguably the de facto political leader in Yoruba nation because of the fact that the majority of the people in the Southwest have chosen the ACN. He is the leader of the party and all of the governors and other elected officials defer to him. Even, Governor Segun Mimiko of Labour Party has been careful enough not to be on his wrong side, at least openly. Tinubu looms large in the present political equation and this portends of great opportunities as well as grave responsibilities.
But the question now remains: How is Tinubu himself seeing his role presently? Is Tinubu a man of History, destined to leave indelible marks in the sands of time? Or is he just another “flash in the pan” politician, favoured by providence and happenstance? Is Tinubu seeing his role as an opportunity? If he sees this as an opportunity, of what kind is it? Does he see this as an opportunity to amass more wealth and create more cronies? Is this an opportunity to extend his tentacles just for the sake of it? Is this an opportunity to create a political Mafia in Yoruba Nation that opens its doors only to its cohorts and their hangers-on? Does this look like an opportunity to be a political godfather or a political leader? Does he want only those who see him as a tin god around him or those who would be willing to make him greater with great ideas? Or is his main goal to take over Yoruba Nation and use this as his negotiating chip on the wider Nigerian political pedestal?
Is this, to him, an opportunity to pull his Yoruba people to their destiny? Is he really out to use this opportunity to break a new dawn for the Yoruba Nation and set it on the path to greatness? Is this an opportunity to liberate the Yoruba Nation from economic stagnation and worsening social malaise? Is this an opportunity to foster the positives of Yoruba culture in lieu of modernity and racy technology of today’s world? What kind of opportunity does Tinubu considers this to be?
Does Tinubu see his present political preeminence as a responsibility? A responsibility to give genuine, sincere, committed, and dedicated leadership imbued with clear vision for the Yoruba people in the context of Nigeria? Is he really ready to lead the Yoruba people and by extension be a historical leader? Does he have the ability to bear the responsibility that comes with this political preeminence?
Does he have the moral discipline to lead the Yoruba Nation? Is he able to engage in self-denial as some situations would require, thus immunizing himself as a leader? Is he willing to deny himself gratifications of any kind? Is he willing to pay any price for the liberation and revitalization of Yoruba greatness? Or he is only concerned about what could accrue to him as the leader of the Party controlling the governments of the Yoruba States and elsewhere? What responsibility is he willing to undertake and what sacrifices is he willing to make to pilot Yoruba Nation in the way and manner its people would like? Is Tinubu willing to accept the responsibility for the consummation and the realization of the heartfelt dreams of Yoruba Nation in the context of Nigeria or his plans is to drag them along in the ambit of his personal interest and ambitions?
Or has Tinubu performed the providential role he is destined to play in Yoruba politics, in which case, he is not able to move the cart beyond liberating the Yoruba Nation from the stranglehold of the PDP? Will Tinubu be relevant in the immediate future calculation of the Yoruba Nation? Is Tinubu willing to consummate a consensus about the future of Yoruba Nation or it has to be the Gospel according to Tinubu, regardless whether that is what the cross section of Yoruba Nation might and or would want? Must the Yoruba Nation be ready to have a more adequately prepared and more suitable leader for the immediate future? Is Tinubu and his party just concerned about the Fiscal Federalism of the Nigerian state? Does that mean that the ACN does not share the yearnings of the average Yoruba about the structure of the Nigerian Federalism? Is this just all about money and not political self- determination per se? What is the agenda of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu?
Bola Tinubu is the Asiwaju of Lagos. Circumstances seem prepared to make him bigger and greater than that. But is he prepared for the concomitant responsibility that goes with that bigness? Is he disciplined enough to ascend to that greatness? Is he able to make enough sacrifice to attain that greatness? Is he pragmatically principled enough to climb onto that greatness? Is he selfless, committed, dedicated, dependable, reliable and clairvoyant enough to soar to this greatness? Right now, Tinubu has the “gift” of “life” as Anthony Robbins called it. This “gift” is resting on Tinubu’s laps as we speak. This is a “gift” of “privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” Does Bola Tinubu has the ability to “become more?” Does he have the character to “become more?” Has Tinubu the endowment to “become more?”
Tinubu has the ability to exercise a lot of power in Yorubaland today. To what end is he willing to use that power? How responsibly is he going to deploy this power? It is hoped that it is not in Tinubu’s character to exercise power without responsibility akin to what Rudyard Kipling characterized as “the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.” How much responsibility is Tinubu willing to take on for the future of Yoruba Nation? How far is Tinubu willing to “carry the water” for the Yoruba Nation? How much inconvenience – social, financial, political, economic, religious and family – is Tinubu willing to suffer for any Yoruba cause that might emerge in the nearest future? Should the majority and or cross section of Yoruba people want self-determination in whatever colouration, is Tinubu willing to throw his hat into the ring?
It is fervently hoped and prayed that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu would not take the Yoruba people for granted in his calculations as he makes political forays into charted and uncharted waters. He needs to err on the side of caution and not see politics in everything. He needs to base his calculations on the yearnings of his Yoruba people. He needs to be able to isolate the desires of his people and contextualize his ambitions in such. If his ambition is contextualized outside the aspirations of the Yoruba Nation and its people, he would have himself to blame. The Yoruba people are long-suffering and patient, especially if they admire you. But they would not follow you to Golgotha, especially, if they perceive, rightly or wrongly, that you do not have their interest at heart.
Winston Churchill once contended that “responsibility is the price of greatness.” So, the question still remains: What kind of opportunity is this to Tinubu? Does he see any responsibility in his present opportunity? How much is Tinubu willing to give for the yearnings and aspirations of the Yoruba Nation as opposed to how much he could appropriate in terms of perquisites of whatever genre? Time will tell.