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Bola Tinubu: The kingmaker will now bear the crown

ASIWAJU Bola Ahmed Tinubu has won the contest to stand as the 2023 candidate of the party he helped form and nurture to success, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Securing an overwhelming victory that mocked previous speculations of political vulnerability, he pulled 1271 votes, with former Rivers Governor Rotimi Amaechi coming a distant second with 316 votes. Vice President Osinbajo placed third with 235 votes.

Tinubu’s accession would mark the culmination – and a remarkable climax – of an illustrious and storied political career, including unyielding activism for the restoration of democracy and an end to unconstitutional military interventions, as well as the ideation and planning of the economic success of Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos state.

Renowned for his ingenuity, Bola Tinubu first won an elective position in 1992 as a Senator representing his home state of Lagos in the National Assembly. But that dispensation was cut short by the overthrow of Sani Abacha, the brute dictator who dissolved the National Assembly, set aside the constitution, and enacted a military dictatorship that forced avowed democrats into exile.

Similar to other democracy activists of the era, Tinubu sought refuge in the United States of America where he had obtained his university education and garnered professional experience across multiple prestigious firms. There, he spearheaded efforts for the restoration of democracy, proving a thorn in the flesh of the Abacha regime and mounting different forms of pressure and protests that finally brought down the iron curtain in 1998, before the fourth republic was ushered in in 1999.

The fourth republic saw the emergence of Tinubu as Governor of Lagos State, a role in which he made his mark as an exceptional administrator and bona fide progressive. His reforms and insistence on true federalism, in which states are afforded the independence to demonstrate authority in key areas as outlined in the constitution, laid the foundation for Lagos’s phenomenal growth and eventual rise as the largest 7th economy in Africa.

At the end of his tenure in 2007, he had successfully established himself as the leader of the South West region, based purely on his allure as a globally respected democrat and reformer, a courageous and skilled politician, and a principled change agent.

Unlike other Governors of the era who faded into insignificance, Tinubu would go on to mentor and guide the political rise of his allies and star followers, some of whom won elections as Governors and National Assembly representatives in their respective states.

At great personal cost – including a chance to emerge as the Vice President – Tinubu embraced the kingmaker label and position, selflessly offering his talent and resources to help others clinch their goals.

The sacrifice bore fruits for Asiwaju, the political genius, at the APC’s special convention for the 2023 race, as some of the beneficiaries of his long-suffering and self-denial cleared the path for his emergence, despite uninformed rumors of a rift.

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, former Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, former Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, all shelved their ambitions and stepped down as aspirants of the APC to back and endorse Bola Tinubu.

Such is the level of goodwill and respect that he commands, and the depth and breadth of his support across the country’s six geo-political zones. He is a deep-rooted tree with many strong branches.

Governor Fayemi and former Governors Amosun and Akpabio deserve commendation for their sensible pragmatism and good-natured decision, having recognized the need for southerners to unite around the most likely aspirant to go the long haul and secure the victory of the APC at the main event.

And so does Governor Badaru of Jigawa State whose decision, in contrast to the opposition PDP, illustrates the commitment of the APC to equity by ensuring that power returns to the South after eight years in the north.

The northern Governors, whose voices Governor Badaru echoed in the speech announcing his step down, were united in their respect for the sensitivities of the south, refusing to surrender to an unrestrained craving for power that animated Atiku Abubakar’s run in the PDP and has rendered the party unelectable in large swathes of the south – as well as swing northern states – where Tinubu and the APC will expectedly coast to victory.

If the Special Convention is anything to go by, it is that the APC has yet survived another testy period in its history and amicably managed an intriguing power scuffle. It has once again defied the analysis of the bookmakers who – unwilling to learn from past failures – predicted doom for the party. The APC, its northern and southern extraction, stands united behind Bola Tinubu.

It is a coalition necessary for victory, and one the opposition will not enjoy. If you consider that alongside Tinubu’s personal renown as a master strategist capable of pulling off audacious victories even when the odds appeared stacked against him, the Nigerians should perhaps start getting familiar with the term ‘President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’. The kingmaker will now bear the crown.

*Mayaki is a Journalist, Historian, Diplomat, Archivist, Documentalist, Communication, Culture and media expert

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