Tinubu as 2023 choice for genuine change
These are remarkable times. A time for Nigerians to decide who rules them for the next four years. A time for sober reflection and decision-making; when decisions indeed would determine the destiny of the country big time. It is a time for change, genuine change, not the time chanted about in ignorance in 2015 but a change for the rebuilding of the fallen walls of Nigeria.
There is no gainsaying that to carry out conviction into action is a costly sacrifice. The country’s experience these past eight years make necessary renunciation and separations, which leave one to feel a stranger sense, both of deprivation and loneliness, yet deciding who rules the nation state is a must, for we who will fly as an eagle does into the higher level, where cloudless day abides must be able to make cogent selection from the trio parading the campaign floors, appealing to our consciousness for votes.
Today, former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, youngest of the trio assails us with his eight- year tenure as governor and successes in family business as his greatest asset. The American readily warns, “He who feels it knows it.” Indigenes of Anambra who lived through the eight years of Obi’s tenure insist he did nothing to aid development, denied teachers’ salaries, no infrastructure addition to the state, and that he allegedly invested state funds in a bank where he had substantial interest. Do Nigerians wish to continue to have presidents who do not care about what is happening in the country, and who would not care a hoot if the country ends in a sham? Despite the cry of “obedient,” are Nigerians considering the future of their children and future generation?
Let’s take a cursory look at some of the challenges staring Nigeria in the face: Massive corruption at a scale never heard of in the country, nepotism on a grand scale, unemployment in a magnitude never heard of in the country, hyper inflation, capital flight, insecurity on a ludicrous scale, zero level economic management and so on. How capable is Obi when the chips are down? Here is a man who sat as governor for eight years and had little to point at as an achievement. If he was overwhelmed ruling a state, out of 36 and a Federal Capital Territory, what would the situation be when he rules the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory? Your guess is as good as mine.
Also contesting for the number one seat at Aso Rock Villa is former number two man, reputed for having presided over national resources at give away prices in the name of privatisation, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. A Fulani man who wants to succeed another Fulani in a multi-ethnic contraption called Nigeria. In the past two elections, Atiku had returned home from Dubai to contest for the presidential election in Nigeria. Some grapevine sources are of the opinion that having failed to impact the country’s development when he had the opportunity, maybe he wants to come back to make reparation.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo who appointed Atiku second in command in 1999 lamented the decision in his memoir, My Watch Volume II, pages 31 and 32 thus: “I settled for Atiku Abubakar. Some of the reasons were that he worked hard for the project, he never indicated an interest in the job to me, he had worked closely with Shehu Yar’Adua and Shehu never passed any adverse comment on him, he had been elected as a governor which already put him on the pedestal to move up politically, but he had been short-changed in the election that would have put M.K.O Abiola in power, and he seemed to have some national outreach.
“What I did not know, which came out glaringly later, was his parental background which was somewhat shadowy, his tendency to disloyalty, a propensity for poor judgment, his belief and reliance on marabouts, his lack of transparency, his trust in money to buy his way out on all issues …” Obasanjo noted that these negative traits in Atiku were not easy to see until one works with him.
The profligacy of Atiku shows in the sales of the Aluminum Smelting Company, NEPA, and many national monuments at ridiculous prices with an eye on personal gain.
No bird is as solitary as the eagle. Eagles never fly in flocks; one, or at most two, are seen at once. So is the life of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Criticisms against him are numerous and include insinuations that he did not seem to have a past showcasing his early education and that he has not adequately addressed his source of wealth. But no one could deny that Tinubu’s life is lived for the service of humanity. A former governor of Lagos State, whose achievement remained unbeatable in health, education, human resources development, infrastructure elevation and so on. In 1999, Tinubu initiated and commenced reforms and rehabilitation, rebuilding of the education sector in Lagos State with a view to making public schools attractive to the populace. By 2006 and 2007, he activated the injection of massive funds to the tune of billions of Naira for the Lagos State University and commenced free education in all divisions of the state, backed with the construction of school furniture and equipping of laboratories. Tinubu, in July 1999 directed that his monthly salary be paid to Pacelli Schools one and two, Modupe Cole Children Care and Treatment House, Yaba and the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Nigeria, Ikeja in support of handicapped and extremely indigent children in the state.
One of the contraptions in Lagos State before his era as governor was transportation. But within six months in office as governor, Tinubu systematically confronted the hydra-headed transportation challenge in Lagos State. The attendant reforms introduced included a hub and spoke rail-road-water transportation system, which endures till date. Through the reforms, he was able to pioneer the Lagos State Bus Rapid Transportation System and established the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA). Tinubu’s emergence as governor led to the construction and rehabilitation of more than 450 roads spanning more than 250 kilometres across the state in the first three years of his administration. Tinubu resuscitated the moribund Lagos State Ferry Service by rehabilitating the grounded five ferries in the fleet and increased their capacity to 1000 passengers. Besides, he created the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (LAMATA) through a public-private partnership arrangement that subsists till today.
Prior to Tinubu’s assumption of office in 1999, he constituted a transition working group to look into the health situation in the state and the recommendations led to laying a foundation for a substantial reform in the health sector in the state. He created the Ministry of Housing on assumption of office in 1999, a precursor to construction of 1,059 units of two-bedroom bungalows of low income housing units at Abraham Adesanya Estate, Aja, 160 units of two-bedroom bungalows at Ibeshe low income housing scheme, 114 duplexes, high income units at Oba Adeyinka Oyekan Estate, Lekki, 163 units of two-bedroom low income housing at Ayanshurin Phase 2, Ikorodu among many other schemes in Lagos State.
There is a tribe in Nigeria. If you recommend a drug to a sick member, they would ask if you had suffered similar ailment in the past and if the drug was the remedy to the ailment. If Tinubu had been this pragmatic in Lagos and remain influential in the affairs of the state till date, there is every likelihood that he would bring about positive change if elected Nigerian president. The taste of the pudding is in the eating, beyond rhetoric; Tinubu’s magic wand is what the nation needs now. There is no doubt that if anyone covets genuine change, it is in Tinubu to change negative situation to positive.
• Ayela is a veteran journalist based in Lagos.