That former Lagos State governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, is the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a close confidante of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) is widely-known.
As 2021 draws to a close, leading to the year in which prospective successors will emerge, it is now also quite clear that Tinubu would like to substitute the title of “National Leader” with “President of Nigeria.”
Last Tuesday, he seemed to bite his tongue. “I am not going to turn (Nigerians) down,” he said in response to a question, “but I will still […] widely consult, particularly brainstorm with my friends and find a date to come out openly and tell Nigerians.”
There is good reason to believe he was referring to a date on which to announce to Nigerians that he would like to become the APC standard bearer. If a politician is not running, there is usually nothing to “come out openly” to announce.
As often happens in these things, however, there was another important figure who was not paying attention to Tinubu’s political consultations on Tuesday.
That man: Ayo Adebanjo.
Chief Adebanjo is the current leader of the Yoruba interest group, Afenifere. In Bisi Akande’s “My Participation,” a book launched recently, he is alleged to have written that Adebanjo’s prized home in Lekki was built for him by Tinubu.
That would appear to be why the Afenifere leader must have missed Tinubu’s announcement on Tuesday as he worked on a response. On Thursday, he offered a detailed account of how he built his Lekki home.
Adebanjo then offered a declaration, before setting a bait for Akande and the man who wants-to-be-president.
“The Lekki property, the house in my village, Isanya Ogbo, and a three-bedroom flat in a town house, at Omorinre Street in Lekki are the properties I have in the whole world.
“I hereby authorise the EFCC to verify the above facts.
“It is alleged that Chief Bisi Akande’s building at Ila-Orogun, which I understand is more than double in expanse of my house in Lekki and some other properties he has in Lagos and abroad, were financed by Bola Tinubu. His house in Ibadan was also alleged to have been built by the contractor that built the secretariat in Osogbo, when he was the Governor of Osun State.
“I hereby challenge Chief Bisi Akande to clear the air by disclosing the source of financing these properties as I have done above.
“Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the great philanthropist, should also disclose the source of his wealth with which he bankrolled the elections of APC in the South-West and that of General Muhammad Buhari and his various properties in Lagos.
“He should also authorise the EFCC to verify such details as I have done above.”
As of the time of writing, nothing had been heard from either of those camps. My focus here is on Tinubu.
What kind of man is he? Last April, as it began to emerge that Tinubu was indeed eyeing a presidential run, I said he might be the first man to win the presidency of any country despite obstacles and doubts about who he really is, where he has been, what he has achieved, and what he owns.
“Think about it: there are questions about how old Tinubu is, where he was born, and where and whether he went to school in Nigeria and abroad,” I wrote. “The Jagaban, as he is called, has parlayed all of that into political and economic “success” at home, seizing control of Lagos State, Nigeria’s richest, and manipulating its politics and processes into a ‘Democracy of One.’”
In a remarkable four-part portraiture of Tinubu, “Portrait of the tiger Ambode rode,” written by the late Yinka Odumakin four years ago on the basis of his experience of Tinubu beginning in 1999 when he became governor, the presidential hopeful was profiled as a conniving and ruthless anti-democrat to whom only his interests and desires matter.
For those who argued that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s fate might have been different had be played his cards differently, Odumakin explained that they simply did not understand “the tiger” he mistook for a horse.
“Towards the end of his first term as governor, Tinubu impeached his first deputy, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele,” he explained. “An Afenifere panel of Chief C.O. Adebayo, Mr Jimi Agbaje and my humble self were asked to look into the feud between them. After talking to both of them, our verdict was that they could no longer work together. It should have really been no deputy with a mind of his own can work with Tinubu. He replaced her with Chief Femi Pedro. You would think Pedro dropped from the sky the day he introduced him to me in Bourdillon before he nominated him. He impeached him also before the end of his second tenure and replaced him with Chief Abiodun Ogunleye, who stayed for a very brief period to suffer impeachment. Let the Tiger make [Mrs] Oluremi Tinubu governor, they will fall out!”
In the final part of that series, in which Odumakin pledged “10 bombs of truth” for every lie the Tinubu camp aimed at him, he questioned every aspect of the life of a man whom, he said, “people know under different identities depending on where they met you in your about 80 years on earth. Yes, 80!”
Sadly, Odumakin is dead. But Adebanjo is not, and last week, his press statement provided the opportunity for Tinubu to win the ultimate lottery of his life in one move: educate the world about himself, and win the presidency of Nigeria in the process.
The two-part challenge is not complicated. In the first, Tinubu would provide a foretaste of what his eventual assets declaration would look like by disclosing “the source of his wealth…and his various properties in Lagos.”
In the second, he would authorise the EFCC to verify the details of his claims.
This is a remarkable opportunity not simply for Tinubu to clear all the cobwebs concerning his character as well as reassure his supporters, but to win the presidency easily. Should he accept this challenge — and I see no reason why not — he would have mapped out the future of Nigeria and of its leadership: a nation of men who lead by the strength of personal example, not preachments; men who are afraid of neither men nor facts nor detail; men who have nothing to hide.
Adebanjo provides a template. His account was loaded with specifics he has publicly invited the EFCC to verify addresses, sums, dates, names, locations, architects, contractors, surveyors, measurements, all aimed at setting the records straight.
Although Nigeria has been overrun by filth and decay, this is always how we measure a man. It is what a father proudly tells his children. It is still how a man might convert the entire country into his own private constituency just because he is who he says he is, or a politician win an election without rigging the vote.
Tinubu should do the press conference and take questions. It is his best political move. Somewhere in Lekki, Adebanjo is probably betting everyone that the president-in-waiting is not man enough.
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