By Femi Kusa
I am one of millions of persons worldwide who believe that there is something in a name. A name, to such persons, is a message, a code, a clue, a garments…or what have you! If a name is empty chaff, a meer tone without import, why are we so proud of our names and are guided as in the case of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, to give our children the names which befit them and the time and circumstance of their birth?. I hear People call Bola Ahmed Tinubu Asiwaju(Leader), Okanlawon (a special one among many) and Akanbi (special birth without much ado). I concede that, as a garment, the wrong name maybe a weighty oversized garment or a suffocating tight fitting garment. But where the name is right, it is a spring board for success upon success. My name is Oluwaferanmi (Olufemi or Femi). In the trajectory of my existence this time around on Earth, can I look back and say the LORD doesn’t love me. For my name reminds me always that THE LORD LOVES ME!
I thought about Tinubu and his assets, names of deeds, in the 2023 presidential elections recently when, as often happens whenever he speaks, persons who cannot stand his guts seek to bring him down. The speech I refered to was the one he made to sell himself as a political asset to Nigeria when he said he met Lagos city as a jungle city when he became Governor of Lagos State in 1999 and remodelled it into a a mega city by the time he stepped out of power 8 years after. What that portends for Nigeria is that, under a 2003 Tinubu Presidency, Nigeria can become a mega nation. Tinubu’s followers held the speech. But many persons who have been pathologically oppose to him from probably before he became Governor of Lagos State sought to take him to the cleaners or to politically devour him.
In the presidential election campaigns, Tinubu says his assets are befoundingly superior to those of other candidates because he as antecedent of successes which they lack. Thus, he says, he as a back office loaded with the credible presidential asset which are public knowledge and which he invite the voter to objectively scrutinize. This was a dare, confronting and angry lion with bare hands. Much airtime was spent on radio by the same persons who have been Tinubu antagonist since 1999 in their attempt to once again try to politically shot him down. I have been listening to this same persons on radio since the days of Jonathan presidency.
There are still hurt that Jonathan lost the election in 2015 to Muhammadu Buhari and that, in 2019, Muhammadu Buhari defeated their other candidates, Atiku Abubakar. Ever since this army of regular callers into radio programs have seen nothing good in the Buhari administration. I thought the radio stations where deaf and dumb in this matters until today 27 October 2022 when BABALOLA SAGE, an Atikulate presenter on Jordan FM radio station in Abulegba, Lagos, appealed to regular callers to give some way to new callers, apparently to make the station not predictable or stereotyped.
What are some of the traits Tinubu is bringing to the 2023 presidential election campaign table which his opponent are ignoring and seeking to sweep under the carpet?
President Olusegun Obasanjo who, hungry for Lagos votes but barred by Tinubu, sought to financially strangulate Lagos State, a ferocious an inhuman attack on the citizens of Lagos State which Tinubu’s government successfully rode over, earning more money on its own during the lockdown than Obasanjo was able to give each of several governor’s who did his bidding.
Tinubu is besides a generous builder of men, with an army of ETI OBA N’ILE, ETI OBA LI”OKO, ENIA L’ONJEBE (when a king as his ears on the ground about what is going on at home and on the farms, it is human beings who made this possible!). Tinubu is not that politician who, after an election, goes into the cooler for years only to resurface in another election campaign era. He goes on working underground “with various committees”of experts. I cannot stop myself from saying this. While other presidential candidates may be hurling unsubstantiated promises, Tinubu may tell the nation how much work he has done in Borno State about how solar energy generation in that state may solve much of Nigeria’s electricity production and supply problems. This may then Justify his preference for the former governor of this state as his running mate against all Nigerian religious odds.
We all know that Nigeria’s gift of sunshine energy is about the “mostest” in Maduguri. But how many of us or politicians or Government’s have set up a study on how to make Borno State generate it own electricity supply and have enough to sell to the national grid or even export to other nations? Time will tell in the campaigns if there will be no need to trade project for project and details for details and to see who among the gladiators is best prepared for the office? I can give a hint that Tinubu as been working on this project for years and, also, of how to generate some electric power for Lagos State by installing windmills off the Lagos Atlantic shore line. It may then become clear to many people that what Nigeria needs is not “YOUR TURN, OUR TURN politics” but the leadership of a man who as well prepared himself for the job.
Surprisingly, each time Tinubu reaches out to his back office for his credential some people seek to gag him. Such was the case recently when he said he met Lagos as a JUNGLE and turned it into a MEGA CITY in eight years in office. In my view, this critics lack a sense of metaphor. Tinubu was speaking metaphorically and in picturesque Language and they were seeing only physical images of what he was saying.
The spirit sees, learns and speak in pictures. Only humans who had said to be “Rich in spirit” will understand such language. Obtuse or heavy souls have lost or buried this attribute of the spirit in their dense material covering.They were pained that Tinubu would dare to call Lagos before his governorship as a jungle. I asked one of them without receiving an answer when European’s say, Africa is a jungle, does it mean we Africans live in forests or tree tops or in caves? No, they refer to our mind set and to the way we still do things which is an off shoot of the mind set. If an American and a Nigerian have only three days to process their passports for a voyage to the moon, will the Nigerian make the trip?. Every month electricity people brought me bills of about #40,000 instead of about #2,500. When my complaints fell on deaf ears, despite their evaluation of my electricity consumption, I angrily asked them to disconnect supply to me. They did. I did all my work during day hours and needed electricity only to pump water and charge my phones. So, I got an electricity generator for the water and solar power banks for the phones. Then, I borrowed money to pay off debts I did not owe, including for four month of the disconnection during which the bills still kept coming. Then, I borrowed money again to buy a private meter which is supposed to be free. Are we not living in a jungle? If it takes me three month to register a company in Nigeria but only three days in Ghana, am I not living in a jungle? If the Nigerian navy would bomb a pirate ship stealing Nigerian crude oil to destroy it when the ship could have been arrested for the identity of her owners and those of the pirates to be known, am I not living in a jungle?
Tinubu’s notion of the “jungle”is the way we do things which he says he transformed in Lagos State to make the business and living environment a mega city’s. Tinubu would be wrong, as his critics say he is, if he said Lagos was a BIG BANG creation of his thoughts and hands. But he didn’t said that. If he did not make reference to the Lagos of his predecessors, that was because they were not the issue now. The issue now was Tinubu and his credentials for the Nigerian Presidency. Has he no right to tell the voters who he was and who he could be? I have been living in Lagos for 63 years from 1959. The Tinubu story I know is that the he won the Lagos Governorship election, he set up committees of hundreds of prominent Nigerians to develop for him various work templates on every facet of Lagos life for the years ahead. It was like a WHERE ARE WE HERE? and WHERE DO WE INTEND TO BE WHEN? It was like Chief Obafemi Awolowo situation room.
Even small fries like little me made widow’s mite contributions. I was elated when Chief Bola Ige read some of my suggestions in a personal letter to him to a meeting of new governor’s and parliamentarians in South western Nigeria, Oyo state. There was no doubt that the new Lagos templates for sustainable growth factored into themselves magic wands of the past.
For example, we were all proud of Alhaji Lateef Jakande who, through the sales tax, so ballooned Lagos State internally Generated Revenue (IGR) that it provided #70 of every #100 the Government was spending with the remainder coming from the federal Government. This was an achievement no other state government could equal.
But did Tinubu not make Jakande’s Eldorado magic a childs play? To the credit of Tinubu, there has been no deviation from the Lagos Template since he left office. This month the government of Babajide SanwoOlu stretched it from 2022 to 2052, firing up new projects in the great plan. Lagos doesn’t deviate from his plans. The Federal Government abandoned dams that where begone in 1977 to prevent the floods we are experiencing today which, unfortunately, some of those who should know what as happened are blaming wholly on climate change to deceive Nigerian. Because no Lagos Government deviates from the Tinubu template, Lagos had been growing steadily and predictably. Tinubu choose Babatunde Raji Fashola to succeed him because Fashola was a technocrat. So while the new governor stuck to the template, Tinubu took care of the politics of Lagos State. He and Fashola, like the teeth and the tongue, would sometimes cross swords, no doubt but they managed to safely row the boat ashore for another Tinubu nominee, Akinwunmi Ambode, to take over from Fashola. Ambode an accountant, was not a politician and more of a technician like Fashola. His mistake was that he detached from his mentor, losing a second tenure when the politics of Lagos State swallowed him and threw up the present incumbent, Babajide SanwoOlu, a thorough bred party man who, even before the Governorship primaries which brought him in, was criticizing in public Ambode’s seeming deviations from the Lagos Template.
Look at Nigeria’s present flood situations. The Federal Government was to have built a dam as far back as 1977 to prevent it. But no succeeding government did. Each one abandoned the plans of its predecessors and embarked on its own. That didn’t happen in Lagos State. The Red and the Blue rail projects to be launched before December are part of the template. So are the fourth Lagos mainland Bridge and the Imota Rice Mill that will process about 30 times tonnes of rice everyday and create about 250,000 Jobs. So are the Badagry sea port that will cost 2.5 million U.S Dollars and the Lekki deep sea port which is three times bigger in commercial value than Apapa ports. So are the Lekki export free zone, which has attracted Dangote crude oil refinery, about the biggest in Africa, and the Lekki Cango airport.
Steadily, the Atlantic city project, brainchild of Tinubu is not dead or showed aside simply because he is no longer Governor of Lagos State. The development of Epe, Ikorodu and Badagry, three of the five divisions of Lagos State continue, unheated to catch up with the other two, Ikeja and Lagos Island. When a port will be developed in Ilaje, is still unclear, but the project is on the table. It right on the drawing boards since the days of Awolowo’s Western Region of Nigeria. Lagos did not suddenly wake up from a dream to collaborate with Kebbi state to produce LEKE (Lagos and Kabbi) rice. A fast thinking person wishing to bring two state of Nigeria together for the events of today may have embarked on this idea.
When I was in high school, my geography books taught me that Ibadan was the second largest city in Africa, after Cairo in Egypt. Tinubu’s critics may wish to find out exactly when and how Lagos overtook Ibadan to become the fifth largest economy in Africa.
Tinubu has not ceased to be a leader in Lagos simply because he is no longer Governor. The hundred of eminent persons he assembled to design a Lagos template or dream when he became Governor wired the dreams of past Governments and their own and his own into this template which has kept growing as one idea begets several ideas. There is one area Tinubu did not mention in his jungle and mega city throwback which I would like to mention.
His political adversaries accused him of being the godfather of Area boys and Agberos in Lagos. But they could not say he brought them about. They were a feature of the Nigerian Civil war (1967-70) and demobilization in the Armed Forces which he did not bring about.
Just before Tinubu, military governor Col. Muhammad Buba Marwa had tried with some success to contact them. At that time, I was Director of Publications/ Editor in Chief of THE GUARDIAN newspaper. I lived on Ajanaku Street in Awuse Estate, Ikeja, Lagos. Armed robbers came in about half a dozen of 52 seats buses or more with all sorts of professionals such as bricklayers, carpenters, iron benders etc to storm neighbourhoods in armed robbery missions.
In the house where one of my sisters lived, they climbed the roof of a storey building when the inmates would not open the door, and dropped into one of the rooms. They got another sister of mine who lived in Egbeda to knock on the doors of her house maters. She was pregnant. When they were done, they got her to carry on her head their loot to a waiting Bedford truck.
In Awuse Estate, they attacked the house beside the one in which I lived. Next, they attacked the house opposite mine, raped the European resident wife. Next day, husband and wife flew abroad. Soon after, the attacked the house next to that one. They broke down the perimeter fence and the sitting room wall. A bank manager who lived there died of shock soon after. Many of us residents no longer slept at home. My wife and our three children left home about 6pm everyday to spend the night in a bakery room behind Allen Avenue, courtesy of the owner, my uncle inlaw, until the attacks subsided. Every morning, we returned home to prepare the children for school. From about 4pm, I would begin to telephone my wife to remind her to not stay beyond 6pm at home. This was a Lagos State of Area Boys Tinubu inherited and quietened by integrating them into society. Isn’t because other governors did not do this that we now have Boko Haram, the Islamic fundamentalists, kidnappers and bandit on our hands in the north?.
We are told by UNESCO there are about 20million out of school children in Nigeria, most of them in the north. That is about 21.4% of the 93.5million voter population in the 2023 general elections or 74% of they population of Lagos State estimated at about 27million. That is a brewing human time bomb. We are told the other day that 81,000 Boko Haram insurgents surrended to Nigerian troops. If 1,000 soldier make a battalion, that is 81 battalions.
Nigeria had about 250,000 soldiers and Biafra about 100,000 at the end of the civil war in 1970. Boko haram, bandits, insurgents and kidnappers may number more than 300,000. How will they be rehabilitated?. In other words, we have in the north what looks like a young generation of Area Boys at war with the older generation over there. Who understands their language, who knows what they want, who can fix them into society and give all of us peace in our hearts and souls?.
If I have surgery, which I hate, I would rather submit myself to a surgeon general who has not lost a patient rather than to a general practitioner who has no surgery experience or accolades behind him. With his background experience in Lagos State, I like to believe that Tinubu, despite efforts by his critics to stereotyped him as an area father, may have a treasure trove of Lagos experience of the ways and means to fix insecurity not only in the North but in the whole nation.