There is a popular aphorism that postulates that an individual is either born a leader, made a leader or has leadership thrust upon him or her self. But out of these three paradigms of leadership acquisition, where do we begin to situate a man like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu? Like all charismatic leaders and avatars that have passed through the earth, the person and subject Bola Ahmed Tinubu generates intense emotions among friends, followers and foes alike.
Indeed Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has become a phenomenon within the context of Nigerian politics and national affairs particularly since the advent of the 4th republic. Born on the 29th of Mach 1952, his first shot at national politics was when he was elected a senator of the Federal republic to represent Lagos West Senatorial District under the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party [SDP] in 1992/93. His brilliance and forthrightness shined across the firmament of the National Assembly then. However his abhorrence for injustice in whatever form was brought to the fore after the criminal annulment of the June12 1993 Presidential elections believed to have been won by the late MKO Abiola.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu , along with other patriots picked up the gauntlet and stood up against the military regimes then that stood to benefit from the annulment. He demonstrated one of the rare qualities of leadership by not only providing financial assistance for the resistance movement, he also joined the foot soldiers of the popular resistance against the annulment of the elections by organizing rallies and demonstrations across the globe to garner international support for the resistance movement. This he did at great personal risks.
With the advent of the 4th republic, in May 29th 1999 he was elected governor of Lagos state. The template which Bola Ahmed Tinubu set in governance which has been ably replicated and continued by Babatunde Raji Fashola has become a model of governance which is being understudied and copied by both the federal government and other state governments across the country. It is also significant to note that it was Bola Ahmed Tinubu that stood firm against the “rampaging reactionary political train” of the Obasanjo government particularly in the south western part of Nigeria not only containing it but also effectively rolling it back. It is also to his eternal credit that the entire south west of Nigeria with the exception of Ondo state has once again returned to the familiar path of progressive welfare politics.
Indeed as the years roll by and the Asiwaju clocks the significant age of 60 years on earth, it may not be trite to say that he has become a phenomenon in the politics of Nigeria, and as he celebrates, he can only be wished nothing less than more years of active service to his fatherland.