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Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the burden of leadership

Agba t’o w’aiye; Agba to w’aiye t’omode o bu, aiye asan lo wa o; E je kan ma bu wa, e je kan ma bu wa, Ebu i ma e so laaraa.”

I first heard this song rendered by the inimitable and immortal Iyaloja-General of Nigeria and Asiwaju Tinubu’s mother, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji in 1978 at a UPN campaign rally at Isale-Gangan on Lagos Island where Alhaji Lateef Jakande went to market his governorship candidacy to the people of the area. That song was Iyaloja’s response to the aggressive and provocative campaign strategy of the younger elements of the opposition NPN. It was a song that had a restraining and salutary effect on the UPN leadership and followership, not to allow themselves to be ‘done in’ by the provocative pranks of the NPN men and women on the hustings, who at that point were panicky of imminent defeat at the polls. LKJ and all the Assembly candidates from Lagos Division then – Prince Yaya Dosunmu, Lateef B. Odunsi, R.A. Balogun, R.O Balogun, Ojekunle Pereira and the Senatorial candidate, Alhaji Sikiru “Jabita” Shitta-Bey – bought into the moral of the song, kept their heads while their opponents were losing theirs to intemperate behaviour; the very main reason why the UPN swept all those seats, as in the other constituencies in the state, at the general elections. I made that short excursion into history to advance my point that the “Jagaban Borgu”, Nigeria’s most successful and living politician (after President Muhammad Buhari who’s on record to be the only Nigerian politician – dead or alive – who made conscious and determined effort to be president and succeeded); has invested so much into the Nigeria project that he cannot and must not allow himself to destroy the edifice he helped build and which I know has been publicly acknowledged in very high places. If he thought he had been undermined by people God used him to nurture politically, he won’t be the first to be so affected. Awo had similar experience, although at some cost but succeeded in the end, though he ended up as ‘the best president Nigeria never had’, courtesy of the now late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu in a tribute on the passing of Pa Awo in the 80s. “Inu bibi dakun ma ya l’odo mi o, aibinu laa jeere; inu bibi dakun ma ya lodo mi, suru lo n se ongbogbo ..”, was rendered by Fuji Exponent, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister to emphasise the virtue in patience and endurance. Your enemy or detractor yesterday can be your friend today and vice versa; were it not so, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti, who was reported to have held his predecessor, Gentleman Niyi Adebayo and Asiwaju Tinubu himself on house arrest in Iyin Ekiti in Fayose’s first coming, will not be standing up for Asiwaju today in the political space. The situation on ground is not one that permits of pontification or the beating of chests. I’m even pressured to ask where are the elders of our party in Yorubaland I don’t know Ekiti’s Dr Kayode Fayemi intimately but I know much of Dr Muiz Banire and a little of Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola in Lagos; these guys used to be reliable assets to Asiwaju when he nurtured them in government. They must not be done away with at this time because what lies ahead is far more than what lay behind. Some people may find this as bad music to the ear but I stand by it because whoever has seen thunder strike before, will never join in abusing his wife, Oya. If these matters are delved deep into, Asiwaju and his enstranged men will be found wanting in some areas, it is just the degree of guilt that will vary. There should be give and take on either side, in the larger interest; and there should be no problem in making concessions, where necessary. The situation on ground is not one that permits of pontification or the beating of chests. I’m even pressured to ask where are the elders of our party in Yorubaland. They should please step in before it is late and avert what may be costly to the Yoruba in the medium and long run. If all these don’t work out, can’t Asiwaju, being a crack political tactician that he’s reputed to be, come on top of the situation and play the maturer and older combatant among the lot? This is the time for Senator Bola Tinubu to prove himself the true Asiwaju of Yorubaland by meeting with all politicians of worth in the land, whatever differences he might have had with them in the recent past and rally them to the end of having a solid, united front that can be a crucial bloc of a national political arrangement. If he does this, his rating can only soar, not dip. Or, didn’t the Yorubas say the elder that has a broad and forgiving mind has the chance of his coast becoming wider and larger? Agba ti o binu, l’omo e npo joojo”, I so submit and whoever calls for my head for this position must belong in the rank of those Yorubas call ‘arije-ninu-madaru’; and these are the spoilers we must not allow to continue their business as usual. Those who goaded Chief Ladoke Akintola into defiance at that time were the first to flee into exile when ‘trouble break’ and I’m not too sure that if Pa Awolowo were to rethink his method in those heady years, he wouldn’t have acted differently.

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