Tinubu: A master planner Nigeria needs

Why Yoruba must back Tinubu

In starting this piece, I call to mind the testimony of the great thinker, leader and irrefutable achiever. He contributed significantly to the Lagos master plan and is doing very well in the nation’s Works and Housing sector, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). Asked what made Lagos such a monumental success story today, the erudite lawyer, seasoned technocrat, and astute builder said, “Tinubu gave us a MASTERPLAN and Foundation with which Lagos will be developed continuously without interruption. That was the plan I followed as Lagos Governor and my successors. The evidence of Lagos development is glaring to all today, and we are just beginning.”


Fashola, known as The Actualiser, served as Asiwaju’s Chief of Staff mainly in the second term of Asiwaju’s governorship of Lagos. He is noted for his carefulness, thoughtfulness, and detailed and meticulous approach to governance issues. The lot fell on Fashola to continue where Asiwaju stopped in 2007, to tend the great seeds Asiwaju sowed in Lagos and which are yielding great fruits in Lagos today. Asiwaju planted, Fashola tended and watered, Ambode pruned, Sanwo-Olu harvested, and Lagos has been in rich harvest today. That’s the great Lagos Story that is working for the glory of Nigeria today.


If we recall that the choice of Fashola as Asiwaju’s successor was stormy and tempestuous, we will acknowledge the depth of Asiwaju’s political judgment. Fashola was not a top-decked and loud politician of that era. If anything, he wasn’t a politician, in the real sense of it. He was just a dutiful Chief of Staff, attending to the needs and interests of his principal as his brief demanded. At the time Asiwaju chose him to be a frontrunner in the contest for Lagos governorship, Fashola was not a household name in the political turf of Lagos. Sure, many well-known, heavyweight politicians jostled for the plum office, and they had ubiquitous political reach. They had made far-reaching efforts to succeed Tinubu before the actual contest began.

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When the race for succession to Asiwaju kicked off, Fashola was neither in the hustling nor was he mentioned as a possible successor. It was doubtful if Fashola nursed the ambition at this early stage to succeed his eminent boss. But then, Asiwaju, the master planner and leader of men, knew what he wanted and was the best man to continue his Lagos master plan. He knew the best hands to deploy to actualise his grand vision for Lagos. Being an astute administrator, a proven talent hunter and an adroit human resources manager, Asiwaju was very clear on whom he needed to further a long-term dream of actualising a grand plan for Lagos that surpassed the dim and blurry visages of the average politicians at display in the Nigerian political space at that time.


So from nowhere, Asiwaju settled for a little-known Fashola as his preferred successor amidst a considerable bevvy of veteran and tested politicians in the race. He pushed him forth as “the best man for the job”. He backed him up with his rich and impregnable political clout to succeed.


All hell was let loose as Asiwaju settled for Fashola. There was heavy tumult both within the ruling Action Congress and the opposition, which desperately tried to cash in on the discontent in the ruling party as a result of Fashola’s choice to gain an electoral advantage in Lagos. All manners of propaganda and spurious jeremiad were sold against Asiwaju for side-stepping several eminent political veterans in favour of a political greenhorn.

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Asiwaju received countless jabs as interested individuals and groups threw several jabs against him, leading to the 2007 election. In the heat of the hustling, many well-known but disappointed politicians left the ruling party in protest. Many doomsday prophets wrote the obituary of Tinubu’s party as the election drew closer but being a leader with uncanny foresight, who saw way ahead of his opponents and was gifted with a rare vision of leadership selection. He could have easily keyed his opponents’ views. Still, the sense of astuteness and some self-observational data inside his area of expertise as a master planner strengthened him to do the right thing, as we all witness today. Also, the molecule of greatness in him was too important, and he was too enthusiastic that having the right mind to execute his plan was as exciting as doing things himself. What’s more, Asiwaju stood his ground and pushed for the election of Fashola against all odds.


Fashola was emphatically elected and performed so creditably that he is rated as one of the best performing governors of his era. Lagos continued its giant stride as a centre of governance excellence in his eight meritorious years as governor, while the Lagos master plan got a gigantic boost in his eight glorious years as governor.


Similar scenarios repeated during the election of Ambode and Sanwo-Olu, and both put up equally stellar performances as Lagos governor, such that Asiwaju’s leadership school has become a reference point in leadership recruitment in Nigeria today. That school has become more reputable with the quality of leaders it has churned out for Lagos, and the exponential growth Lagos continues to record in economic, political and human capital development speaks so certainly of the reputation of this school.

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So, in discussing how Asiwaju conceptualised and pursued the master plan that has made Lagos an oasis of growth and progress today, we must note that he paid meticulous attention to who governs Lagos after him and the qualities such a person possesses. He ensured that in choosing who to back as governor, competence and commitment to pursuing the Lagos masterplan were primal factors. That all those who came after him have not deviated from following the master plan is why Lagos is enjoying such unassailable robust status among states in Nigeria today.

Because Asiwaju is ruled by the triangular focus of knowledge, vision and the will to make things work, he never failed in bequeathing Lagos with competent, dedicated and determined governors that have ensured that his original ideas, visions and roadmaps, as contained in the Lagos Masterplan, are pursued to the letter. His leadership succession plan remains the best Nigeria has ever had, and the success of his master plan couldn’t have been achieved with leadership laggards and incompetent misfits that could not key effectively into the master plan.


So, Asiwaju showed his depth, vision and competence not only in conceiving an enduring masterplan for Lagos but following through with the identification, recruitment and supporting of a string of successors that are not only competent to follow up the masterplan but dedicated to its execution and implementation. So a combination of these triangular leadership qualities will always give the same positive result that Lagos is producing. This is the power of Asiwaju’s brand. He is knowledgeable; he is competent and able to draw a masterplan, get the right people to drive that masterplan and ensure such masterplan is pursued over a while to gain fruitful results. This is the unchallengeable edge he holds over and above all others presently competing with him for the presidency.

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For Nigeria, Tinubu will surely call these rare qualities to action; to fangle a durable Masterplan for Nigeria, recruit competent and capable drivers to pursue it and get the same great fruits Lagos is harvesting presently.


It is, therefore, not surprising that in his quest to get the best for Nigeria, Asiwaju chose as his deputy a suave, brilliant, competent and capable hand, Senator Kashim Shettima, who had an equally glorious reign as the Governor of war-torn Borno and returned bountiful harvests to that state. Tinubu leveraged on his qualities as a talent hunter, a human resources guru and an adroit finance manager to go for Shettima, who not only performed very well in Borno but raised a very competent, capable and knowledgeable successor, who has leveraged on his vision to wrought incredible achievements in Borno today. So the choice of Shettima is in league with Asiwaju’s own commitment to getting the bests for the task of nation-building. Being an astute manager of men, Asiwaju not only went for someone that would complement his broad vision for leadership, but he also went for someone with the requisite competence to drive a larger vision of a grand masterplan for Nigeria, as was with Lagos. Asiwaju is not a trial and error candidate. He has achieved very gargantuan dreams in Lagos. Unlike his co-candidates who slithered through the government with virtually nothing to show for it, Asiwaju parades perhaps Nigeria’s best achievement in government. The meteoric rise and growth of Lagos is an impregnable testimonial that speaks of his competence.


So, like the choice of Fashola, Ambode and Sanwo-Olu, the choice of Shettima is from the master of the art of leadership recruitment himself. It came with the same considerations that decided the choices of the trio as Lagos governors, which are competence and dedication to the task of producing resounding results. Considering Asiwaju’s redoubtable qualities, we will know he could never have been wrong in his choice of Shettima. If we recall that naysayers and opponents who barely know about governance damned and thumbed down on Asiwaju’s choices in Lagos but ended up constantly humiliated, we would realise that the opposition to Shettima’s choice by the opposition and naysayers flows from the same lack of knowledge and will surely fail at the end of the day.


Tinubu has proven that with foresight, vision, competence and dedication, resounding results are inescapably always achievable in every context of governance. Shettima also did similar things in Borno, making the duo proper and fit choices to further the growth of Nigeria at this period of our history. The choice of Shettima was a masterstroke coming from a veteran master planner that knows how to juggle the aces to produce fantastic results. It was hewn out of the same mind that scripted, planted and nurtured the growth of Lagos from the seedy past before he became governor to the prosperous present, where it offers hopes for a Nigerian economic renaissance.


Shettima is a round peg in a round hole. He is a credible compliment to Asiwaju. He is a proven achiever in government, a deep, robust and convinced technocrat equipped to read the Nigerian Masterplan and offer the credible backup a Tinubu presidency needs to change the fortunes of Nigeria for the better. With his honing as governor of Borno State at its most turbulent and critical time, Shettima has proved that he is equipped with the requisite competence to enrich Asiwaju’s deep understanding of governance and employ the governance tools to strike productive results, as happened in Lagos. Given his impressive stewardship in Borno. Shettima will doubtlessly offer to Nigerians equal pallets of competence that Asiwaju is noted for, so the Tinubu/Shettima ticket would be a double package at the price of one!


So in the choice of Shettima, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu showed his deep understanding of leadership and its requirements. He showed that rare feature that made him a script and nurtured a productive, durable and practical roadmap that has taken Lagos to the zenith of growth and progress today. Asiwaju, by choosing Shettima, is preparing to equally gift Nigeria with a team that will oversee the Nigerian masterplan even after he finishes his tenure as President, as was the case in Lagos. By choice of Shettima, Asiwaju is preparing the stage for a grand developmental blueprint that will unleash Nigerian potential in the foreseeable future. He knows the way. He knows the means to navigate that way. He knows the right people to drive it. He knows the results to get. On these, he is a veteran; he is a professional; he is a guru. Lagos is a testimony of Tinubu’s vision and capacity. No other candidate in the hustling has any record that nears this.


Tinubu can never be wrong on governance and the choice of competent people to run it. He was never wrong on Lagos. He cannot be wrong in Nigeria, especially when his choice of deputy is a proven administrator himself. So with Tinubu and Shettima, Nigeria is good to go on the journey of growth and development. Asiwaju is a tested, established, astute master planner who is equipped with the competence, vision, intellect and will to take bold and decisive actions on issues of governance. He is poised to replicate the giant strides he made in Lagos in Nigeria.


Asiwaju’s foresight is consistent with the scientific model of solving governance problems. When science resembles knowledge acquisition, the freedom to deviate from supposition can quickly become seen as an unnecessary delay and distraction, reducing scientific progress beyond currently predictable applications; more consideration for individual freedom to think laterally or “ outside the box” is beneficial as it encourages corporate ventures into the collectively unknown. Overall, Nigerians owe themselves the onerous duty of electing him to come in February 2023 so that he can do what he knows to do best to initiate and pursue a grand master plan for Nigeria as he did for Lagos between 1999 and 2007.


• Ademola Ojo, is a professor of cybersecurity in the United Kingdom

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