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Bola Tinubu in the ‘loose grips’ of cynics

By Rasheed Ojikutu
25 February 2022   |   3:00 am
Bola Ahmed Tinubu is certainly one of the most talked-about politicians of our time. His friends and detractors are generally in the extreme edges of the ropes.


Bola Ahmed Tinubu is certainly one of the most talked-about politicians of our time. His friends and detractors are generally in the extreme edges of the ropes.

For his friends, he is a messiah and redeemer and a person worthy of being defended with the last pint of blood. This is not unexpected because rarely would you come across anyone who had been Tinubu’s follower or loyalist and had not derived a direct or remote benefit from the friendship. He rarely forgets his followers or leaves them behind in the race of life.

On the other end of the twine are those who would demand his head even when he is serving them the most sumptuous meal. This set would see nothing good in him or his deeds. For this group, one would say “Esin eni kii ga l’oju ota eni” meaning “There is no way your horse can be the best runner in the estimation of your disparagers”. Also, in the centre of this arrangement are the “traitors” who will dine with him and still go ahead to demand his crucifixion. All these are part of human tendencies.

The concern here is not fixed on the latter because “Judas Iscariot also has a reason for betraying Jesus Christ” but on the ignoramus, the halfwits and the clod who peddle falsity in a market populated by cretinous creatures. Those who would say it almost convincingly even when it is obvious that it is not true. Like those who would say “Bola Tinubu did not attend the Chicago State University” when all that they needed to do is to verify the fact from the registry of that university. The aforementioned categories of people have an axe to grind with Bola Tinubu on several fronts that are based on hatred, sheer sentiments and political adventurism. As for the confusion between Chicago State University and the University of Chicago, we cannot continue to dwell on that to the extent of losing the good values that Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu could offer Nigeria because even right in our own country highly educated people confuse the University of Lagos with the Lagos State University. The question is: “Does Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu possess a degree from a Chicago University?” Yes, he does. This case has been closed by a court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria and whoever wants to stay on it has the freedom at his disposal.

Senator Bola Tinubu’s health calmness and fitness to occupy the impending vacant position in Aso Rock have been of contemporary discourse in the public domain. Those that are postulating that his health is not good enough for the rigors of the presidency have failed to come to terms with the fact that debility and morbidity are not necessarily a function of age. Physicians and underwriters of health insurance will affirm to you that anyone irrespective of age could fall ill or drop dead anytime and anywhere. They will explain that there are empirical evidence to show that many old men and women are relatively fitter and stronger than several lads walking on the surface of the planet. Therefore, while good health and physiological fitness are essential to good performance in the office, it will indeed be strange if we are looking for a stony body as a pre-requisite for the presidency. Babies have diabetes. They suffer from cardiac insufficiency and also die of many other ailments that are generally reserved for the old members of human society.
A very important issue that has been continuously debated in our political forum is the dichotomy between the old and the young. The younger elements of our society (probably “the under-60” by our societal definition) have continuously demanded that the over 60 years old should vacate the political scene for the seemingly younger generation. This issue has been properly addressed in my article titled: “Elders have rarely governed Nigeria” in the opinion page of The Guardian Newspaper of 26th October 2020.

The submissions therein are quite factual and straightforward. Tracing the history of the presidency, the article explained that people over 60 have rarely been in charge of the affairs of this country. The first President and his Prime Minister and the Premiers of the first republic were all below the age of 60 years. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the Premier of Eastern Nigeria in 1954 at the age of 50 years, while Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister at 48. Sir Ahmadu Bello became Premier at 44, Chief Obafemi Awolowo at 45. While they were trying to bring to bear the experiences bestowed on them by their middle ages, their tenure was truncated by a group of schoolboys in their 20s and 30s. Chukwuma Nzeogwu staged the coup when he was 29 years, Emmanuel Ifeajuna was 31 years.
The counter-coup that followed was staged by another group of boys who were all in their 30s with one of them Yakubu Gowon becoming the Head of State of Nigeria at the age of 32 years. These young men pushed aside Aguiyi Ironsi who was at that time 42 years. The subsequent coup following this brought in the 37-year-old General Murtala Mohammed with his 38-year-old second-in-command, General Olusegun Obasanjo. It was not until 1979 that he handed over power to the 41-year-old Shehu Shagari, who was overthrown by the 41-year-old Mohammadu Buhari. His successor, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, was 43 years old.  General Abdulsalami was Head of state at 56 years when the 49-year-old Sanni Abacha died. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan entered Aso Rock at the age of 53 years.

Research has shown that the human brain, contrary to widely held belief, seems to be more functional around middle age and at 60-plus. Barbara Strauch of the Harvard Business Review in her title: “Brain functions that improve with age,” observed that neuroscientists have found that contrary to stereotype, results of long-term studies show that we grow smarter in many key areas in the middle ages to our mid-late 60s’. So, why criminalise age in the appointment of the president of Nigeria?
It could be reasonably inferred too that the first civil war would have been averted if the leaders of that time had the advantage of age and maturity at their disposal. Imagine a 32-year-old Gowon on a negotiation table with the 33-year-old Ojukwu. No wonder the Aburi Accord broke down before it could see the light of the day. For stability and progress, Nigeria will certainly be better governed by those who are more advanced in age.

Professor Ojikutu is of the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos.


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