• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ode to people’s President

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Today, I celebrate a timeless doyen of democracy and an astute mentor of many leaders, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR. By global standards, Asiwaju is truly a man of the people and the visionary of our times, who devoted his life to pursuing the greatest goods to the greatest number of people. This has been the core of his heart and life from when he was a boardroom guru in the 1980s to when he joined partisan politics in the 1990s.

Born on March 29, 1952, Asiwaju’s foray into politics in 1991 was never a mistake, though it came with a huge sacrifice that cost dearly. As a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I celebrate how Asiwaju firmly stood with the people rather than dining with the military oligarchy that annulled the outcome of the June 12, 1993 presidential election ostensibly won by Chief M.K.O Abiola (now of blessed memory), an annulment that set our fatherland back to the pre-colonial era.

I also celebrate how Asiwaju teamed up with the progressives to establish the National Democratic Coalition, a movement of like minds and progressives that fiercely challenged the regime of the late tyrant, General Sani Abacha; mobilised support for the restoration of democracy to our fatherland and campaigned for the recognition of Chief M.K.O Abiola as the winner of the June 12 presidential election. And this conviction and pursuit eventually earned him exile from the land of his birth. Yet, he was undaunted in his quest to see his fatherland liberated from the era of locusts that pitched us against the comity of nations.

I celebrate how Asiwaju returned to Nigeria in 1998 when the darkest era of the late tyrant finally folded into the abyss of extinction after fighting doggedly on the side of the people. The end of the dark era culminated in his election as the third civilian governor of Lagos State in January 1999. Though faced with diverse heinous challenges at the inception, Asiwaju came out strong and victorious, setting Lagos on the path of irreversible progress, reforming the coastal state to a globally competitive smart city and turning it to a constant destination of strategic investment. And the world can no more look away from Nigeria just because of the pro-people reforms he carried out in Lagos.

Asiwaju’s quest for the greatest goods for the greatest number of people pushed him to national politics, the kind of venture that consumed the nationalists and patriots who lived before him. At different times, he challenged the traditional forces that held our fatherland down. He first fought for the soul of our fatherland on the platform of the defunct Action Congress, and it did not entirely produce an enviable outcome. He later switched to the Action Congress of Nigeria, and banished the regressive elements from the six states of the South-west. Full of hope, Asiwaju stressed forth his hands across Benue and Niger, and together, they rescued Nigeria from the hands of the regressives.

At 72, as the President of Nigeria, Asiwaju has brought rare conviction and passion to the business of public governance, courageously daring the forces of regression and tirelessly pursuing the interests of over 227 million regardless of their faith, ideology and race. The task is truly daunting, but the victory is undoubted. Only within 10 months of Asiwaju’s ascendancy to the presidency, we have started witnessing the dawning of economic restoration and the ray of political renaissance under his watch.

As I nostalgically reflect on the journey so far, I remember his labour and toiling for our fatherland, even when most misunderstood. I remember his undying passion to lead the path to a greater nation, even when the future looks so bleak and always unsure. I remember his utter commitment to a movement of patriots and progressives eternally sworn to rescue our fatherland from the claws of the ageless vultures and the blood-thirsty beaks of mindless hawks that always seek to feast on the flesh of Nigeria. Despite their ferocity, he eventually subdued the enemies of our souls, even right in the midst of inferno they set ablaze for us all.

That is the reality in our fatherland today. Asiwaju is at the forefront of that reality. And we are all witnesses to this history, even from its making to its maturation. Now, as he graciously turns 72 on this auspicious day, I cannot, but earnestly pray God grants him longer life and inner strength to steadily paddle the ship of our nation to the coast of endless ecstasy.

Heartiest 72nd birthday, my leader and mentor.

· Bamidele, Leader of the 10th Senate, writes from Abuja