As Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Visits Former President Obasanjo - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Friday, August 19, 2022

As Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Visits Former President Obasanjo

  •Tinubu & Baba Obasanjo

As a former military and civilian leader, Asiwaju believes that Obasanjo still has something to contribute to Nigeria. He believes that partisan politics shouldn't prevent him from tapping such contributions because petty partisan influences do not trap him. Asiwaju presents leadership and democratic winning as a framework that leading smarter is an effective way to push productivity and not to labour harder in vain. Nonetheless, recognising Obasanjo's achievement at this level undoubtedly gives further winning effectiveness to Asiwaju's inspiring and outstanding leadership prowess

The Daily Crucible | Saturday, August 20, 2022

By Professor Ojo E. Ademola

Some days ago, the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, visited the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in his Abeokuta home. Asiwaju stormed Obasanjo's home with an entourage of solid politicians drawn from within and without the South West on a visit, meant to further the pre-election consultation the revered democrat has embarked upon en-route the February 2023 presidential election where he is a leading front runner.

Asiwaju and Obasanjo were not the best of friends if we are to talk of the tempestuous politics of Nigeria.  Both served in the same democratic epoch. While Obasanjo was the president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, Asiwaju was the Governor of Lagos during the same period. While Obasanjo wielded the enormous power of the Nigerian presidency, Asiwaju wielded massive power as Governor of the richest, most powerful, most influential state in Nigeria during the same period. While Obasanjo was of the ruling PDP, Asiwaju was of the opposition AD at that period. 

But then, the character traits of the two did not match confluence. Obasanjo was an autocratic, forceful, removed and brash leader; Asiwaju was a democratic, humane, persuasive and urbane leader with a solid connection to the people. 

What's more, the kind of coercive politics Obasanjo chose to play as President and Leader of PDP pitched him strongly against Asiwaju, who was unofficially the Opposition Leader then and resented such forceful and coercive politics. So there was no love lost between President Obasanjo and Governor Tinubu as their reign lasted.

As a staunch democrat, Tinubu, as Lagos Governor, instituted and prosecuted many judicial cases that questioned the kind of suzerain rulership of Obasanjo. Such laws sliced through the absolute powers of the center over the states and to his credit, most of these cases were successfully prosecuted in favour of the states, thus nibbling off some of the centre's powers in the states' turn.  These judicial interventions have gone a long way to redefine the Nigerian federal structure. But Obasanjo and his PDP did not like this hence the frosty relationship they maintained with Tinubu. 

The high point of the cat-and-dog relationship between Obasanjo and Tinubu was the vexed issue of local government creation, which led Obasanjo to seize the local government allocations for Lagos in the entire years he was in power. Lagos, under Tinubu, created other local governments to augment the paltry number of local governments in the state. The Obasanjo-led federal government argued that Lagos was acting outside its powers by creating more local governments, insisting that the power to create new local governments resided with the federal government. Lagos went to court to establish its power to create local governments, but the Obasanjo government resorted to self-help by withholding local government allocations due for Lagos. Eventually,  the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Lagos, both on the right to create new local governments and the illegality of the Obasanjo government in withholding its allocations. Despite the Supreme Court rulings, the Obasanjo government still held on to the allocations to the end of Obasanjo's tenure.

We recall that during the 2003 elections, Obasanjo unleashed brute force and untoward acts to annex the entire South West for his PDP. These were successful as the five AD governors in the South West were brutally removed in that farcical election. It was only Tinubu that survived this onslaught, and this added to the anger of Obasanjo and PDP against Tinubu. Still, there was nothing they could do about it than live with the reality of Tinubu's impregnable political clout. This Asiwaju combined with a  consistent  demonstration of  the wisdom to place activity and achievement side-by-side without confusing action with achievement. 

With the scenario above, one would wonder why Asiwaju should visit Obasanjo in the process leading to the coming presidential election. For anything, Obasanjo is not really an active politician, having severally announced his retirement from politics and having publicly quit PDP. 

But those that raise this poser are ignorant of Asiwaju's liberal personality, which knows no differing boundaries. To Asiwaju, everyone matters, in apparent deference to his persona. Asiwaju believes that there are no permanent friends or enemies; thus, he believes in enlisting everyone that has something to contribute to the impending task of furthering the rebuilding and repositioning process in Nigeria.  Also, Asiwaju patterned his political strength on attaining excellence; he knows that if great minds chase perfection, they usually can catch excellence. As a former military and civilian leader, Asiwaju believes that Obasanjo still has something to contribute to Nigeria. He believes that partisan politics shouldn't prevent him from tapping such contributions because petty partisan influences do not trap him. Asiwaju presents leadership and democratic winning as a framework that leading smarter is an effective way to push productivity and not to labour harder in vain. Nonetheless, recognising Obasanjo's achievement at this level undoubtedly gives further winning effectiveness to Asiwaju's inspiring and outstanding leadership prowess.

Again, Asiwaju is noted for his broadmindedness in relating to people. Asiwaju is a man that won't hesitate to go to his opponents if they have anything to bring to the table. He does not shun someone who has something good to give to the cause because he doesn't share his political belief. That is why he easily forgives and has no permanent foe. Regarding the nation's interest, Asiwaju forgives and tolerates easily for many reasons best known to him but known to all because of his inspiring leadership quality and helping others to impress when it comes to performance matters. 

So, from the outside, Asiwaju's meeting with Obasanjo was a meeting of two political foes that stand on the opposite sides of the political spectrum, but in real terms, it was not. It was a critical engagement by two leaders that understood the need to interface for the good of the Commonwealth. It was a strategic move by Asiwaju to involve those that stand to enrich his ambition to advance governance in Nigeria through his well-acknowledged governance competence that excelled Lagos and has etched the state at the very zenith of development and growth today. Tinubu rightly needed Obasanjo's endorsement as those of other past leaders and rightly went for it for the greater good of the Nigerian state and all Nigerians.

One may ask if Asiwaju wanted to tap the political clout of Obasanjo during that visit. Still, the reality is that Obasanjo has more leadership notes to give Asiwaju than political clout. Good enough, Obasanjo had severally announced he had quit politics and even reaffirmed that position when Asiwaju visited. Addressing Asiwaju, Obasanjo once said, "๐™„ ๐™–๐™ข ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™– ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™˜๐™ž๐™–๐™ฃ, ๐™„ ๐™–๐™ข ๐™– ๐™™๐™š๐™˜๐™ค๐™ง๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™™ ๐™Ž๐™ค๐™ก๐™™๐™ž๐™š๐™ง, ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐˜ผ๐™ง๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™‚๐™š๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ง๐™–๐™ก. ๐™„๐™› ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ค๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™ง๐™ค๐™ช๐™œ๐™๐™—๐™ง๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™˜๐™ž๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ข๐™–๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™จ ๐™˜๐™ก๐™–๐™จ๐™จ, ๐™ซ๐™ž๐™จ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™‡๐™–๐™œ๐™ค๐™จ ๐˜ฝ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™™๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฃ, ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช'๐™ก๐™ก ๐™›๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š....."  This reaffirms the political superiority of Asiwaju this he didn't visit Obasanjo to cash out politically.

So as it stands today, Obasanjo has more value as an elder statesman, a two-time Head of State, and a veteran military officer with vast expertise in governance and nation-building than a notable partisan leader. That was why all the political differences between Asiwaju and Obasanjo never counted when Asiwaju visited Obasanjo.  That was why the meeting was full of conviviality and humour. Indeed it was a major political masterstroke that will further the interests of Nigeria in the long run.

Obasanjo was further reported to have said at the meeting; "๐™‹๐™ค๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™˜๐™จ ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ง๐™ข๐™–๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™ฃ๐™™๐™จ ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ข๐™ž๐™š๐™จ,  ๐™ž๐™› ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ง๐™š๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ข๐™š ๐™–๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐˜ฝ๐™ค๐™ก๐™– ๐™จ๐™–๐™ž๐™™ ๐™–๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ข๐™š 4๐™ฎ๐™ง๐™จ ๐™–๐™œ๐™ค, ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ง๐™š๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™จ๐™š๐™ก๐™› ๐™–๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™„ ๐™™๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™๐™ž๐™ข ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™‡๐™–๐™œ๐™ค๐™จ ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ซ๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ 20๐™ฎ๐™ง๐™จ ๐™–๐™œ๐™ค? ๐™„ ๐™–๐™ก๐™ข๐™ค๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™˜๐™ง๐™–๐™จ๐™๐™š๐™™ ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ซ๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š, ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฃ๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ค๐™ข 1999 ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™™๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™จ๐™ช๐™ง๐™ซ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™„ ๐™™๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐˜ฝ๐™ค๐™ก๐™– ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™‡๐™–๐™œ๐™ค๐™จ, ๐™‰๐™ค ๐™Š๐™ฃ๐™š.  ๐™ƒ๐™š ๐™จ๐™ช๐™ง๐™ซ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š๐™™ ๐™—๐™š๐™˜๐™–๐™ช๐™จ๐™š ๐™๐™š ๐™๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ข๐™–๐™œ๐™ž๐™˜ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™. ๐™„ ๐™๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™š ๐™๐™š ๐™œ๐™š๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ข๐™–๐™œ๐™ž๐™˜ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™‰๐™ž๐™œ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™–.."  

The meeting between Asiwaju and Obasanjo furthers the readiness and preparedness of Asiwaju to take up the baton of Nigerian leadership in 2023. It further consolidates his wide acceptance and cements his attribute as a consummate bridge-builder that has the capacity to bring everyone, tribe, faith and gender on board to advance the progress of Nigeria. To Asiwaju, no river is too deep to cross to give Nigeria the top-notch and enduring leadership he gave Lagos. The same attribute that made him engage and involve everyone to deliver a stellar record in Lagos is what Asiwaju demonstrated by engaging Obasanjo. This shows that he will never hesitate to engage other Nigerians, irrespective of political persuasion, in the task of governing Nigeria if he is eventually elected President in February. This is a fundamental trait in Nigeria, divided down the line by partisan inclination and interests.

With this latest outing, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has again shown he trumps other candidates in the presidential race, and this solidifies the cutting-edge advantage he has over them.  He has shown he towers above others in broadmindedness, which is a critical attribute needed to govern a hugely divided country like Nigeria.

So Asiwaju's meeting with Obasanjo was a significant score that resonated loudly in the Nigerian polity. The camaraderie that ran through the entire length of the meeting demonstrated the success of the meeting. 

By the time Asiwaju left Obasanjo's residence, an elated Obasanjo had pledged, "If you have any assignment for me, give it to me; I will do it". This could not have come from a former president to just anybody. It could only have been directed to an incoming President. 

Ojo Emmanuel Ademola

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