The great Greek philosopher Socrates was once asked by Mano, one of his contemporaries, “How are you going to search for the nature of virtue when you don’t know at all what it is, Socrates?” What this rhetorical question was saying is that someone who knows no attributes about you will not recognise you and cannot, or is not qualified to speak of you.
This premise gives a perfect backdrop to my analysis of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It has come to a point where men like few others and myself who know this enigmatic fellow: Bola Ahmed Tinubu, must speak up.
First, I have to do this because millions of Nigerians who don’t know the man have said too much about Tinubu, and when they comment about him, it is usually out of malicious intent. Their falsehood about Tinubu’s personality and activities is born out of sheer ignorance, overshadow by unreasonable hate and misguided opinion by people who barely knew him.
I write about Asiwaju Tinubu as a man who knows him from close contact and has had many close interactions with him for decades. I first met Tinubu in the early 1980s when he was a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Then, he had a private residence in Ikeja. My encounter with him was good but ended after the military junta truncated the third republic and Tinubu and some democrats fought against the illicit military government system.
When he was forced into exile for his own safety, I had no contact with him till 1999 when he returned to contest for the Lagos State Governorship seat. I didn’t follow much of his political activities till after he won the party ticket in the state to contest for the governorship position. By the virtue of being a supporter of my cultural heritage, I declared support for the Alliance for Democracy, (AD) and worked for the party at the grassroots level.
After Tinubu won the election in 1999, I still didn’t have close contact with him until one faithful day when we met at a stakeholders’ meeting at his house. To my astonishment, he recognised me from our last interaction in the early 1980s. I was pleased that Asiwaju recognised me. Our relationship resumed again and we began talking.
This is one great quality of Bola Ahmed Tinubu that many people don’t know. He always remembers people and has a great memory, one of the requisite qualities of a great leader. During his time as the executive governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007, I never asked for a contract but kept close contact with him. I realised that Tinubu is a man who values and cherishes relationships and for me, this is very important than money.
An incident happened at the governor’s office one faithful day and that event opened my eyes to another great side of Tinubu. A family member of Bola Tinubu and party stalwart, Mr Kola Oseni, met me at the governor’s reception waiting to see Governor Bola Tinubu. Mr Oseni, who once picked offence in one of the articles I wrote on his bad behaviour, had grudge against me and felt he had found a good opportunity to embarrass me at the governor’s office.
On sighting me, Kola Oseni screamed at me and ordered the security to walk me out of the governor’s office reception. “Security, this man is a security threat, walk him out of here!”
He kept shouting at the security agents and me. The sudden tantrum puzzled the security agents at the governor’s office because they knew me from my frequent visits to the office. I was quiet and didn’t respond. Luckily for me, my former colleague, Dele Alake was discussing with Tinubu in the office when Mr. Oseni began growling. Dele Alake came to the scene and asked me to join the governor in the office. The man followed me and told Tinubu the same thing, “This man is a security risk, he shouldn’t be here,” he said fuming.
Asiwaju Tinubu remained calm in his seat and told Kola Oseni to calm down. He pacified the disgruntled man and had me seated in his office. After the whole scene, I began to think about the implication of what could have happened. Kola Oseni claimed to be a Tinubu family member and he is a big shot in the party as well. Tinubu could have listened to him by throwing me out of his office, but the governor didn’t do that. Instead, he resolved the grievances amicably and both of us had an audience. I learnt again that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a mature man gifted with emotional intelligence, a rare gift every leader must possess. How he treated me was so important to me that it remains one of my most cherished moments around Tinubu.
Another event I hold dear to my heart was during the installation of the incumbent Ayangbure of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotobi. This happened when Asiwaju was no longer a governor. The controversy over the choice of the monarch for the Ayangbure throne then became so intense that we were exploring every means to resolve the issue before it exacerbated.
Kaoli Olusanya, the late Princess Aderenrele Ogunsanya and I visited Tinubu over the matter and pleaded on behalf of Oba Shotobi, just like other candidates did. He asked us to wait for court judgment before he could do anything.
After the court judgment, he directed me to call Governor Babatunde Fashola who was the incumbent governor then. I did call the governor as directed by Tinubu and Fashola announced Oba Shotobi as the Oba of Ikorodu. I was so pleased and full of respect for Tinubu because he is a man of his word, and he treats his friends nicely even in times of crisis.
Bola Tinubu possesses all the right human qualities to lead Nigeria to become a successful nation. I say this not because I have any personal agenda, but it is only appropriate that those of us who know him from a close range must speak and do so with facts.
During his time as the executive governor of Lagos, Tinubu laid the groundwork for an efficacious Lagos.
He is a man who knows how to plan and how best to achieve positive results. His intelligence quotients, emotional intelligence quotients and social intelligence quotients are incomparable to many other contemporary Nigerians and I know these from my close interactions with him.
Many people are quick to criticise Bola Tinubu and use unsubstantiated cliché that he appoints people at will to rule Lagos. Nonetheless, on a closer examination of these accusations, people would see the truth, rare ingenuity and non-partisanship in Tinubu’s actions.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Kaaynan’s editorial stance.