It is exactly 10(ten) days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria, and candidates, political parties, stakeholders and sundry other actors are putting finishing touches to campaigns, consultations and engagements, in the closing moments, before the actual ballots are cast.
Many Nigerians are (or appear to be) uninformed, underinformed, misinformed, or outrightly disinformed about the major Candidate in the presidential election; ASIWAJU Bola Ahmed TINUBU, more popularly called the JAGABAN…. the flag bearer of the ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC). Rather than ask, to know what he brings to the table, his unfriendly friends and outright detractors have twisted the narrative and made it look as if it was some kind of beauty contestation the candidates for the presidency of Nigeria In 2023 were vying for.
We shall proceed to adumbrate what a Tinubu presidency will portend for Nigeria, using his background as a parameter, to gauge what he has done, what he is capable of, and what we should look forward to, in his likely presidential dispensation. We SHALL use these broad parameters; A). Vision B). Capacity C). Track Record, D). Inclusion/Talent Hunting, E). Incentivization, F). Temperance/Accommodation, to continue this conversation.
Beginning from the first parameter, Vision, we are straight away taking a kaleidoscopic view of his occupation of the Governorship position of Lagos State, Nigeria, between May 1999, to June 2007.
A very close associate of his, who is now the deputy governor of Lagos State Obafemi Hamzat, an engineer, recalled in a recent interview with Television Continental (TVC) that Tinubu had drawn up a massive and very detailed master plan, encompassing ALL sectors of the economy, including infrastructure, transportation, health, education, housing, communication, the financial sector(particularly revenue generation) and others, which he deployed to manage the State, during his very eventful dispensation as governor.
Besides drawing up that master plan, he had sized up Lagos, as a growing megalopolis, with the challenge of a sprawling waterfront and waterways to manage. He had therefore taken the trouble to seek out the iconic and celebrated father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, to inquire how he built Singapore, to make it possible for that hitherto backward country, to emerge (transform) from her Third World status, to be one of the go-to nations, rubbing shoulders with the technologically savvy nations, like Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the almighty USA.
It is disclosed that one of the most searching questions the Avatar asked Tinubu when he went on that pilgrimage, was about the sustainability of Tinubu’s proposed plans, as it related to his plans for succession (after he must have finished his tenure, or transited, even if in a permanent way). In fact, Lee Kwan Yew is said to have asked him; who will be your successors?
After that engagement in Singapore, to which he was accompanied by some of the government operatives who are even now, still functioning in some more advanced ways in the government of Lagos State and at the Federal level, Tinubu is said to have formed his governance teams, with an eye on the future, and posterity.
It was against that kind of background that Tinubu’s Lagos took off, in 1999.
In addition to the Singaporean expedition, the Jagaban is reported to have studied many contemporary and successful governance and development models, which were used as a canvas, to develop the new Lagos, whose development trajectory has been on the forward March siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiince.
Tinubu came into politics straight from ExxonMobil, where he served as Treasurer, for a good number of years, before resigning, to contest elections as Senator, for the Lagos Central senatorial district. That district is reported to be the biggest, most populous and most challenging electoral district, in the state. He is reported to have been directly involved in the planning and ideations, which led to the construction of Mobil House, the headquarters of THAT company, in Lagos, while he was in charge of the treasury.
His in-person testimonies indicate that purchases for the materials used in the construction project were made in such a way that the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), which ensued immediately after the project commencement between 1983 and 1989, when the local Nigerian currency (the Naira) was devalued, had almost nil effect on the costs of the materials used to do that construction work, even as prices had doubled, and in some instances tripled during the period.
Having come into government as a Senator in 1992/93, the June 12 crisis shortly erupted, upon which his fidelity to democratic values and friendship, were severely tested. He evidently acquitted himself creditably. This phase of his life has been severally confessed to, by no less a personage than the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka himself, as well as many notable Nigerians and nationals of other countries, who played some parts, in the epic struggle that ensued, to validate the mandate of Chief MKO Abiola(the winner of the June 12,1993 elections) who eventually died, to water the seeds of democracy that Nigerians now enjoy.
As a governor, he proceeded to run Lagos State, using technology that was at the time novel. Tinubu is reported to have been one of the first government operatives across the globe, to have engaged the services and technology of ORACLE, at a time(1999) and in a dispensation, when even the state of New York, had not understood, let alone take the risk to engage with the tech wonks. The subsequent digitization of the operations and machinery of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (Lagos IRS), saw the internal revenues generated by that State, take quantum leaps, from around N600million per annum, to over N24 billion before Tinubu left office.
C) Track Records;
It was Tinubu’s Lagos State government that set up the legacy agencies that turned Lagos into a more liveable place. Lagos Transport Management Agency (LAMATA), Lagos State Environmental Management Agency (LASEMA), Lagos Waste Disposal Agency… Etcetera were established during Tinubu’s time. The institution of the Lagos State Rails Transportation system was conceived by Tinubu. Today, THAT rail infrastructure is undergoing tests, and will soon become operative, and it is estimated that the rail system in just the first phase, will transport over 500,000(five hundred thousand) passengers daily, in comfort.
The Eko Atlantic City, which converted the misfortunes of annual over flooding, into fortunes for both the Aboriginal owners of that stretch of oceanfront, is now shared by even distant shareholders living in distant continents, countries and cities, and who may never have set foot in Lagos, save to invest their money into the futuristic investment, which has begun to yield returns already. In those projects, the original owners of the land were said to have been offered 5% in a going concern, that evidently has a bankable future, different from the wild and hopeless, and futureless landmass which these locations were, in the very recent past.
The same can be said for the Lekki Free Trade Zone, where the biggest refinery in Africa(Dangote Refinery), and the biggest fertilizer company in Nigeria (among other signature investments) are located.
D) INCLUSION/TALENT HUNTING;
No State government in Nigeria has been so far, reported to have engaged talent, like the Lagos State government under Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s dispensation. Excellent and talented persons were engaged either directly by him in the cabinet, as Commissioners, Special Advisers or Special Assistants, or as civil servants, judges and other professional development areas. It is to his credit that from THAT government that he superintended, a vice president emerged, just as a speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, ministers, permanent secretaries, and many other leaders emerged.
In Tinubu’s Lagos, consultation with relevant stakeholders was a major feature of governance. For instance, the famous Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), was conceived, activated and instituted, comprising elders and notables from that state, who gave counsel to Tinubu, his successors and mentees, up to the present; men and women of intellect, wisdom, substance and depth. Little wonder that the puzzle of governance succession and regimes sustainability, which was the worry of Lee Kuan Yew, when his counsel was sought, has thus far been managed… seamlessly.
Beginning from his tenure as governor, the Lagos State government is said to have instituted a dispensation where the health sector, the education sector, and other professional services delivery sectors, were INCENTIVIzed, such that people who offer professional services, were adequately remunerated. Salary increases almost always begin from Lagos, before other states copy the trend. Whenever and wherever a medical doctor resigns or disengages from service, he/she is replaced automatically. This feature is also said to be operative in the ministry of education.
Tinubu, a minority Muslim, from majority Christian Lagos State, is married to Oluremi, a Christian, a Pastor in one of Nigeria’s biggest Pentecostal denominations, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). She is a Senator of the Federal Republic. Tinubu has managed this marriage, without incident, for more than four decades.
His running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, is a Senator of the Federal Republic too. Incidentally, the government of Borno State, where SHETTIMA was governor for eight eventful years was one in which the inclusion of other Nigerians from different tribes, ethnicities and cultures, were actively sought out, to participate in governance, during Shettima’s tenure. Could Shettima have used a crystal ball, or Nostradamus’ binoculars, to gaze at the future?
Tinubu’s signature can be said to include; the deployment of relevant human resources, accommodation of contrary opinions, planning, implementation, monitoring and tolerance… dispositions anyone ascending to the Nigerian presidential office, sorely needs to have, in 2023 and going forward.
Lagos occupies just 0.4% of Nigeria’s landmass, but it caters to the needs of over 11% of Nigeria’s population, a situation that Tinubu inherited and was capable not only to manage but recorded remarkable improvements, which have been built on, by his successors since he exited the office of governor, in 2007.
THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENCY;
Many have raised issues about the fact that Tinubu is advanced in age, and therefore cannot perform the arduous duties required of an occupant of that office. To that question, many have offered reasonable explanations, to the effect that the job is not a 💯 meters dash, or a sapping lawn tennis duel, or a boxing or wrestling tournament, where participation is predicated on physical fitness of the musculature.
Our take on this issue is this; Governance is about ideas, experience and capacity, not about brute, physical force. Indeed in these kinds of matters, the older one gets, the soberer he/she becomes, and the more tempered, to be able to manage people and situations.
The question which naysayers must necessarily answer is; who among the other contenders, can match Tinubu’s track records, capacity, disposition and provable trajectories in public office and management of governance infrastructure?
Indeed, if not Tinubu, who else?
The writer is Deputy Registrar, Planning Research and Statistics, Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic Ikot Osurua.
The opinions and views expressed in this write-up are entirely that of the Writer(s). They do not reflect the opinions and views of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or any of its employees. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of materials herein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or its employees concerning the legal status of any country, its authority, area or territory or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers. Equally, the sketches, images, pictures and videos are gotten from the public domain.