Obasanjo/Tinubu’s rapprochement and the shared values
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has dominated the country’s leadership space, more than any Nigerian leader living having been at the helms of affairs as military Head of State from 1976 to 1979 and two-terms President from 1999 to 2007 which gave him the rare privilege to be acquainted with the country’s social, political, economic and development-history, again more than any Nigerian living. It is therefore not surprising and unexpected, his burning passion for Nigeria, especially, her unity, economic growth, peace, stability, wellbeing of her citizens d ability to play a respected role in the international community. Unarguably therefore Obasanjo could be referred to as the father of contemporary Nigerian state.
It is gratifying too that Obasanjo has come to term with the new and challenging role history has bestowed on him and is not shying away from discharging this nation-father role which he formally accepted the day he tore his membership card of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a ritual that de-robed him of party partisanship and crowned him as father of the nation.
In discharging this fatherly role, senior elder-statesman Obasanjo has continued to play without bias, the umpire role as to how those trusted with the country’s political leadership and management of other essential and sensitive national life, are handling them. He started this from the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan and has sustained it till the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari; he never spared them the rod.
It is in the light of the above, that his Abeokuta home has become a Mecca of a sort for prospective politicians from different political parties jostling for the country’s highest office at Aso Rock, Abuja, the latest is former Lagos State governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is flying the flag of the ruling All Progressives Congress, who visited the Balogun of Owu, Abeokuta, on Wednesday August 17, 2022. The meeting is historic being the first of such in eight years and coming on the heels of the 2023 Presidential Election which Tinubu is contesting.
It is true Obasanjo is reported to have said that he did not say anything political during his meeting with Tinubu, but one thing that is very certain is that no nonsense Obasanjo must have thoroughly quizzed, screened and drilled Tinubu on his capacity to genuinely deliver without prompting and if he has the much needed magic wand, the courage and commitment required to pull out the country from the abyss.
As earlier pointed out, the political differences between Obasanjo and Tinubu is not severe going by the common passion, vision and values they share as revealed by the similarity of their legacy-projects when both were Chief Executives as Nigerian president and Lagos State’s governor respectively. Both leaders shared the same passion and values for good governance and delivery of democracy dividends when they were in power.
Like Obasanjo, Asiwaju as governor of Lagos was very passionate about security as the ultimate vehicle to access and tap into the latent resources in the state for accelerated development and for overall welfare of people of the state. This was what led to his establishment of the Neighbourhood and Security Watch, which his successors have re-branded and keep modernising. And to provide a solid financial bed-rock for security architecture in the state on a sustainable level, he established the Lagos Security Trust Fund funded by the state government in collaboration with corporate firms.
In the area of assemblage and mobilisation of best brain, the Balogun of Owu and the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom, did not only share the same vision, they both shared the same capacity to search for, locate and attract the best patriots around for the development. For instance Obssanjo as president sought for and got committed and knowledgeable technocrats like Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, late Prof. Dora Akunyili, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Nasir El-Rufai, Prof. Charles Soludo, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina while the then Lagos helmsman, attracted to his government knowledgeable technocrats like Babatunde Fashola, Fowler, Rauf Aregbesola, Prof.Yemi Osinbajo, among those who assisted him to making the state first among equals.
One other value they commonly shared is the establishment of necessary, relevant and lasting agencies/institutions to meet exigencies of good governance, generate income and at the same time provide thousands of jobs to the people. Two of the institutions established by Obasanjo were the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and allied crimes Commission. The same way Tinubu established the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, the state Waste Management Agency and many others that have created several thousands of job directly and indirectly for Nigerians. These are agencies which the rest 35 states and FCT Administration have replicated.
In the power and energy sector, it is a common knowledge that the two statesmen shared the same passion, vision and recognised the unique place of electricity to development, security, industrial growth, the individual and state’s economy. It was in furtherance of this that on assumption of office both took immediate steps aimed at increasing the volume of power and energy in their domain. To this end, Obasanjo embarked on unbundling of the then National Electric Power Authority, and aggressive privatisation of the sector, while in Lagos, Tinubu as governor pioneered the establishment of power plant by any state government, with the take-off of the famous Enron Independent Power Project.
The vision and passion for additional resources to fund and run governance were palpably displayed by the two leaders in their respective administrations. As part of his efforts to get extra funds, Obasanjo deployed his economic team to obtain debt forgiveness for Nigeria by foreign creditors, and went ahead to establish the Sovereign Wealth Fund (in dollar currency) for the country. Tinubu on his part, used his economic team to raise the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, from a paltry N6 billion to over N16 billion and also established the Lagos Internal Revenue Service. Again as trailblazer, other states have borrowed this model to establish their own and use it to improve on revenue generations
Talking about shared passion, one ingenuity of Tinubu that may not be lost on Baba Iyabo while quizzing Oko Oluremi is how he survived Obasanjo’s financial blockade for the years he embargoed the state’s local government allocations from the Federation Account and how Asiwaju got the Blue-print that has become the template/road-map for his successors which is missing in other states today.
Fanoro, a Journalist, wrote from Lagos.