I was already a veteran resident of Lagos in 1999 when Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu became the governor of Lagos State.
One thing I did not fail to notice was the team he set up to push forward his vision for the state. I had an opportunity to meet him in 2005 in the company of Senator Muhammad Adamu Aliero. He was magnetic and enthusiastic in rolling out his vision for Lagos State.
He listed the obstacles and challenges before him but he expressed absolute determination to succeed and push through them. One of the statements he made that has stuck with me up to this moment was his vow to turn Lagos into a rich state.
According to him, Lagos and Nigeria had no cause to be poor. To him, a city like Lagos with such a vibrant youth population cannot be poor. He was defiant and evidently not distracted by the policies of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo against Lagos State. I left with an impression of a man who was fanatical about the development of Lagos State. I saw in him a personality that was out to impact Lagos with a compelling vision.
In January 2006, I wrote about “that average-sized man with the heart of a lion and the deeds of Samson called Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is playing the yeoman’s job of selling modernity to good old Lagos and setting it firmly on the path of global glory and esteem.” I concluded my article by wishing Tinubu and his team of technocrats a prosperous and revitalised 2006. Expectedly, I got many knocks for that audacious “Season’s Toast for Bola Tinubu.”
However, the prize I got from it was that immediately thereafter, Tinubu was christened the Lion of Bourdillon. I returned to that toast in 2016, with “Another Toast.”
You cannot, therefore, imagine how proud and gratified I am today. Ten years after that toast, Tinubu stands out as one of the greatest politicians and leaders of his generation. Through deliberate and well thought out policies and sustained hard work, he was able to put Lagos State on the path of sustainable development and growth. His choice of lieutenants and aides defines him as developmental-minded and merit-driven.
He works with men and women of quality capable of adding value to his political profile. Unlike his contemporaries who worked with servants and surrounded themselves with praise singers, Tinubu has always been a leader of winning teams.
Before I sign off, I will urge you to assess the political ethic he has reintroduced into the mainstream politics of this country. When last did you experience this swell of aspirants visiting and soliciting support from political stakeholders before party primaries? When was the last time you witnessed these robust and engaging preprimary campaigns?
What is the difficulty in acknowledging the benefits of having a seasoned politician in the presidential race? Can you imagine the rhythms and blues of the campaigns that we will have with a Tinubu on the ballot? I can’t wait.