IF you want to read the mind of APC Presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as a strategist, the book to read is: “FASHOLA, THE NIGERIAN DREAM—A Political Biography.” It’s a book that makes me cry because my coauthor Dimgba Igwe did not live to see this book published. Another reason for my tears is that on July 23, I will be 70 by God’s grace and Dimgba will not be around to organize my platinum jubilee as he did when I was 40, 50, and 60. My friend did not live to see 60. So sad.
Inside our 476-page Fashola biography, we saw Tinubu as a worried Lagos State governor looking for the right successor knowing that a leader without a good successor is a failure. We talked to everybody there is to talk to, using our investigative and literary skills to weave a thriller filled with drama and intrigues, a book that Prof. Paul D. Ocheje of the University of Windsor, Canada, describes as “a compelling read.” In it, Tayo Ayinde, former Chief Security Detail to Governor Bola Tinubu told us: “A contractor in appreciation sent N20 million through me to be given to Fashola, the then Chief of Staff who facilitated the project. This is the first time I am revealing this incident to anybody. He rejected it outright asking: ‘What for?’”
Asiwaju Tinubu told us that after completing his son Fashola’s biography, he would want us to write his own biography. “It would be my turn,” he said. Here is Chapter 17 titled, “THE ANOINTING OF FASHOLA.”
Now, having exhausted his list of aspirants and finding none that met his exacting requirement, Tinubu found himself in a quandary. Who next? The burden haunted him everywhere.
At home, Tinubu who was ordinarily taciturn when it came to discussing his politics and public office became even more withdrawn into his inner turmoil. His wife, Oluremi, found him very remote and deeply worried. In such a mood, Tinubu was not easy to penetrate. “When I saw that the issue of successor was getting him very worried,” the First Lady told us, “I decided not to add to his problem or pressure him into choosing anyone. He is a very quiet man at home. The only time I get him to speak is when he is on the toilet seat. I will sit in front of him—by then he can’t move around. This is the only time I get his attention. And when he is on his feet, it has to be very few words. It has to be intelligent questions. Don’t come to him with silly questions. The silly ones he can endure while he is on the toilet seat. He would say: ‘Oh, go get me my coffee. Get me my newspapers.’ I would say no. And we would talk. But this is more serious.”
From Oluremi, you get a sense of his deep concern and conviction that “a leader without a successor is a failure.” He was haunted by his own credo, “Any leadership which fails to develop other leaders has achieved nothing.” She noted that after five years of exile in societies where even your best efforts were not enough to earn you recognition mainly because you were a stranger, and after a vengeful military junta had ruined whatever the family left behind, leaving them on return “to live in our suitcases”, Tinubu was determined to make a difference in governance, to inaugurate an era of the planned development process. But this dream was stymied by the terrible state of the government they inherited from the military.
“What we inherited from the military was really so bad,” she said. “The amount of work and passion my husband had to put in to reverse the state of things, the planning and foundation he laid, the massive work he did, aging in the office, became a matter of great concern. What do you now say is your legacy, if you don’t have capable hands to bring your efforts to light? If you don’t have capable hands to hand over such work you’ve put in, it’s terrible. It can even make you die. It can kill. It wipes out everything. All your efforts wasted, it’s like what else? Look at President Obasanjo today. When you look at the PDP government, who has succeeded Obasanjo so far? That is the tragedy we were trying to avoid.”
Even though he had many trusted confidants in his cabinet, especially non-Lagosians like Rauf Aregbesola and Lai Mohammed, he became distrustful of almost everyone’s counsel because of a suspicion that almost everyone was supporting one person or the other. Tinubu, for instance, believed that BRF (Fashola’s acronym) was supporting Aro Lambo! He said, “I think he believed in Aro Lambo. He was already holding meetings on that with Rauf Aregbesola and others.” Such assertion was also favoured by Adebola Agunbiade who recalled asking his brother Fashola in London who was going to be the next governor and he replied, “Aro Lambo.” If that be the case, events soon would prove that such support was an unrequited love.
But in any case, BRF conceded that he had his own favourite candidate, but bluntly declined to disclose the candidate, leaving people to speculate about names like Aro Lambo, Tola Kasali, and Remi Adiukwu. But (Fashola’s dad) Pa Ademola Fashola’s perspective on the question of whom BRF supported was that to the Chief of Staff it was a matter of duty rather than preference for any particular candidate. “There were about a dozen candidates grooming themselves to take over as governor,” he said, “but he was not among them. In fact, he made the innocent mistake of trying to correct a poster preparatory advert by two of his colleagues who wanted to be governor. He paid for the photograph of one of them because he condemned the posture, trying to advise that the picture was not good for campaign purposes. He paid for a fresh photographer to retake the picture of Gbajabiamila. Then he did another correction for Aro Lambo.”
BRF confirmed his father’s version of the events, stating that he was basically “everybody’s friend, so I helped with Aro Lambo’s photographs and I also helped with Adiukwu Bakare’s too. I saw her poster and I said I didn’t like it. We were all members of one family and anyone who becomes governor from the family is OK with me.”
He admitted that he actually mentioned his candidate to Tinubu but the governor’s response was an emphatic, “No, shut up!”
(To be continued)
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