Bola Tinubu: the kingmaker who want to be The King
By Oludare Mayowa
Though the former two-time governor of Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) is yet to openly declare his interest in running for the presidency in 2023, speculations about his ambition to become the next president are all over the place.
His activities in recent time, from his 69 birthday colloquium held in Kano, donation of N50 million to a burnt market in Kastina and sundry political maneuvering are the telltales that bear credence to his subtle campaign for the next general election.
Tinubu remains the most visible politician and well-positioned to occupy the highest position in the country going by his antecedent and political trajectory since the advent of democracy in 1999.
He was the arrowhead of the collision that formed the nucleus of the ruling All Progressive Party (APC), which snatched power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
Many political analysts have attributed the ascendancy to power by the incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari to the political sagacity of BAT, who is fondly referred to as Jagaban of Borgu by his loyalists across the country.
His tenure as the governor of Lagos state between 1999 and 2007 was eventful as it witnessed a number of innovations in model governance, turning the state into a reference point in governance.
His political sagacity was further enhanced when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo withheld the federation revenue allocations to the state local governments because Tinubu pioneered the creation of Local Government Development Areas (LCDA) to expand the existing local governments’ structure in the state.
Tinubu fought back through the court and won the case against the federal government, setting the stage for other states in the South West and beyond to adopt the same policy of creating LCDAs.
His encounter with President Obasanjo on the LCDA was not the first of such titanic fight. Toward the end of his first term as president, Obasanjo had approached the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) for cooperation to enable him to get a political foothold in the South West.
However, it was only Tinubu among the five governors elected under AD then that was able to see through President Obasanjo’s political shenanigan and escaped the routing defeat suffered by his counterparts in the region, who lost their second term bids to the rampaging PDP.
For surviving the Obasanjo’s hurricane, he became the rally point for the progressive who now look up to him as a great strategist and leader who can confront the marauding conservative.
From being the only surviving governor of the opposition in 2003, he was also able to rally support using his new political platform, the Action Congress (AC) to chase away the PDP governors in Ekiti, Osun and later Ogun states and also help the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Ondo State to take back those states from PDP.
His role in the returning of the South West states to the ‘progressive’ fold equally helps to strengthen his political invincibility. He also reached out for broader alliance with the other part of the country, especially the north and later morph of the AC to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which provided the platform for ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar and ex EFCC chairman Nuru Ribadu to contest the presidency in 2007 and 2011 respectively.
His role in helping Buhari becoming the president after three failed attempts further pushed him into the mainstream political platform and entrenched him as the foremost political leader of the APC.
His reign in Lagos has brought some positive development and continuity in the administration of the economic centre of the country.
However, many of his opponents would regard his stronghold on Lagos as a curse rather than a blessing for the state. He is reputed to have cornered the resources of the state for his personal use and enrich his stooges in the process to the detriments of the growth of the state.
Nobody gets anything politically in Lagos unless such consult Tinubu, know him or chosen by him and this has attracted odium from his political adversity.
His domination of Lagos politics has put him in collision with those who think he was exploiting the resources of the state for selfish means without adding much value to the state.
But those who are his ardent support will always point to vast development in terms of infrastructure and improved revenue generation his administration and that of his successors have brought to the state as glaring examples of his quality leadership.
Love or hate him, Tinubu has become the issue in Nigerian politics and he is seen as the one to beat in the race to occupy Aso Rock come 2023.
However, political observers said Tinubu, who is reputed to have made political kings, among who are the present Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, all his successors in Lagos and some governors in the South West and many more may not get to be the king himself due to many factors.
Many believed that he is a corrupt politician who may corner the resources of the nation, the same way he had done to Lagos State’s resources. It was also believed that his political alliance with the North may not pay him the desired dividend as both President Buhari and the northern power brokers may not be able to trust him with political authority.
Already, many people are saying Tinubu may have been aware of all the odds that stack against him but decided to embark on the voyage to grab power with the hope that he could successfully sway the majority to his side by deploying his political strategy which helped him survive Obasanjo’s brutish attack in the time past.
Other school of thought believed that his quest for power is more of keeping his political relevance to ensure that he play a significant role in the choice of who eventually get the ticket of his party and the position at the end of the day.
More than any other contenders and pretenders to the highest position in the land, Tinubu has the largest war chest to prosecute the battle ahead. He has also built more political disciples who can help him spread the ‘gospel’ of his political messages beyond the rivers of Niger and Benue.
But his good political attributes may not be enough to fetch him the ticket to the throne that means he may require more than what he has done in the time past to be able to reach his goals.