For a man who has never lost any personal election since his first foray into partisan politics in the early 90s, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be marching into the 2023 general election with hefty credentials, laced with excellent report cards during his years as the governor of Lagos state between 1999-2007.
From Lagos to Kano, to Kaduna to Ondo, to Ebonyi and the rest of the country, his message has been on how to retool the country to adjust to the recent realities that are facing the country. As an administrator and politician in a class of great men like Nelson Mandela, Obafemi Awolowo, and Tafawa Balewa, Tinubu holds a strong belief just like other unbiased politicians that, Nigerian has not yet arrived at its destination of eldorado, or safe to say, the country has not yet surmounted all her albatross but, she’s making significant progress in spite dwindling resources.
But, Tinubu’s audacious steps and utterances need to be interrogated or at least questioned by people who have sworn with their life to sink him, which by all glaring indications may never be possible. For Asiwaju, his personal conviction is that for anyone to stand credible and worthy to run for public office, he or she is expected to submit himself for proper scrutiny so that people can examine how he was able to do better in his previous public assignments.
Asiwaju has reeled out his achievements at every opportunity he has to arouse Nigerians’ consciousness on how he transformed Lagos from a point of abysmal development to one that can now stand to compete with not just other states in the country but with other African countries, priding herself with a revenue base larger than over 20 African countries.
In the face of this issue-based campaign, what his adversaries have resorted to is riding on emotionalism, hatred, and campaign of calumny but deliberately rendering abeyance debates on policy frameworks that can help the country bounce back.
For instance, one of the presidential candidates, who traveled to Egypt in an attempt to learn the working mechanism of the power sector of the country, swore with everything he had that Nigeria can never surmount his electricity challenges( forgetting to ask the ex-president who endorsed him on why his administration mismanaged $16Billion power fund) when shown how Egypt emerged to become one of Africa’s energy leaders. But it shocked many of us when he failed to reel out how to surmount the country’s perennial electricity problem, only to tell his uninformed audience at Chatham House, London, that he would secure and complete the Siemens electricity project of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
In contrast, documented evidence has shown myriads of Tinubu’s legacies, for instance, how he was able to withstand the intimidating forces of the federal government (at a time when no governor dare to argue with the ex-general) when the Obasanjo-led FG withheld the state allocation for attempting to create more local government to bring dividends of democracy closer to his people. His magic wand according to him was to widen the tax net of the state and digitalize tax remittances, thus putting the state in the position to generate exponential IGRs.
I believe that was the same reason why the former vice presidential candidate of the defunct CPC and the founder of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, queried those masquerading themselves as self-appointed foes of Tinubu to leave their comfort zone and use the resources in their state for economic transformation. He asked them why they can’t strengthen their local economy and invest in human and capital development. He reminded them of how Asiwaju used the instrument of the judiciary to reclaim stolen mandates of governors of states like Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, and Edo, among others.
However, one can further examine Tinubu’s audacity as the only man in the history of modern Nigeria to have defeated the Atlantic ocean, not because he has the muscular and tactical power like the invincible boxer Muhammad Ali, or the ancient sword fighter Miyamoto Musashi of Japan, to fight an aggressive wave power of 50KW/m and one of the biggest oceans in the world but, for his intellect and foresight to birth out a new city from the sea. Despite the stiff red-tapism of the Obasanjo-led federal government, Tinubu went ahead to break all impediments to present a lasting solution to the perennial ocean surge. Defending this legacy, Babatunde Fashola, the former governor of Lagos, revealed that about 4 billion nairas were being spent annually by the federal government for land reclamation without it yielding any sustainable results.
History, therefore, has always been a good way to retrospect one’s trajectory, failure, regrets, and perhaps prospects. For someone like Asiwaju, the 2023 election presents him the opportunity to reflect on his giant strides whether as governor, democrat, or nationalist who rescue the nation from a single-party system under the notorious People’s Democratic Party. For instance, as a democrat, he led the forces who fought the military juntas to a standstill for more than five years even to the detriment of his life and family. While wrestling with men wielding sophisticated weapons with bare hands, other notable leaders, part of which the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was one, were busy frustrating the efforts of patriots. But the rest is history.
Nevertheless, if one should go ahead to examine Nigeria’s existential debacles, one would quickly come to the conclusion that, aside from the perennial problem of corruption, we are facing an emerging problem of revenue shortage occasioned by the global oil price fluctuation and the problems of oil saboteurs in the creeks and swampy terrains of Niger Delta. A cursory overview of the FAAC revenue for December 2022 showed that the country shared almost 1 trillion nairas across the 36 states with a larger chunk of it coming from the non-oil sector. Recent data from Federal Inland Revenue also showed that the country generated 59% tax remittance from the non-oil sector, amounting to 6 trillion nairas in 2022. This shows that the Buhari-led government has started taking steps to migrate the country from one that overtly depends on oil to one that can survive should the oil dries up in the future.
Therefore, Asiwaju’s success in Lagos as a leader who changed its economic outlook is a justification that he is well-equipped to expand the revenue base of the country to one that can compete globally. Nigeria currently sits on a GDP of $ 440 billion and a per capita income of $2081 and may find it hard in coming years to meet her urgent national needs. One major economic problem that analysts have put to the fore is the problem of uneven distribution of wealth in the country. To address this, Asiwaju has continued to make a case for more wealth creation via massive job creation, access to soft loans for business owners/civil servants, exploring our agricultural potential in the North, and leveraging on the technological potential of the southeastern part of the country to make places like Aba, Nnewi the new Asian tiger of Africa.
Already, he has demonstrated his visionary trait in one of the most influential cities in the world. In 2006, a former president and one of the unrepentant opponents of Asiwaju, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo described him as a “brilliant governor” for attempting to conceive a multi-billion dollar project that is, the Lekki Free Trade Zone. LFTZ is poised at being the powerhouse of west Africa’s economic hub, with investment and legacy projects like the Dangote Refinery( which will refine 650,000 barrels of oil daily), Lagos deep sea port, and Real estate projects, among others.
How then will the prophecy of late Africa’s sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, during his incarceration, on the future of Ibeju-Lekki would have come to pass if not for a man who created an enabling environment for the emergence of a new and flourishing city?
The 2023 election, therefore, throws up myriads of questions on the legitimacy of who takes over from Buhari come May 29th. It raises the question of development and legacies, as against mediocrity and ineptitude. There are hidden potentials in the country that are largely underutilized largely because we do not want to pass through the rigors to go for the most sought-after natural resources in contemporary societies, or may be too scared to take the risk. Therefore, a policy wonk like Asiwaju may once again dream and manifest on how the country will permanently surmount many of our long-age problems, given the resolve of millions of Nigerians to elect him as the 5th executive president since the coming of the 4th republic in 1999.