OPEN LETTER TO ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU
I trust that this letter will meet you in the best state of health and in highest form of sound mind. I am also hopeful that your family is doing well in all ramifications.
I will like to congratulate you, on the success of the APC in the 2015 general elections. No individual in modern day Nigeria has worked as much as you did to get us to where we are. This is some considerable level of success. Never in Nigeria's political history has the progressive taken control of the centre until now. I believe this would not have been possible without your immense sacrificed and doggedness. For this, I want to thank you and express my profound gratitude for helping us in seeing a matured democracy. Without mincing words, your role as a democrat and a leader of a virile and strong opposition has helped us sustain our democracy and build a solid nation.
Also of note is your role in the deliverance of Southwest from reactionary politics. Since the year 1999, you have continued to provide vision and leadership to the region. You have been able to guide us from the era of serial embezzlers to an era of serial performers. The quality of leadership you have provided has resulted into tremendous development within the region. Across the Nation, Lagos has become the template for infrastructural development and Osun has become the acceptable template in social welfarism. You have redefined political leadership, and have put Southwest on the front burner of Nigerian politics. This is evident in the emergence of the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket, which defeated a sitting president and demystified the power of incumbency.
As we set gaze on the horizon for the dawn of the new administration birthed from your struggle for a better Nigeria, I am taking the liberty of this medium to call your attention to two salient issues. These issues are crucial to our beloved Southwest. The timing of this letter is based on the recent release of the proposed APC's zoning formula. The choice of the medium is founded in your open-mindedness and your positive attitude to receiving different viewpoints and putting them into consideration for decision making. The first issue bothers on the election of the leadership of the National Assembly while the second issue relates to nominations and appointments into the Federal Executive Council of the incoming administration.
With the inclusion of Prof Yemi Osinbajo on the presidential ticket of the APC, the leadership of the party in the Southwest has set the tone for other regions to follow. This inclusion meant that the South western axis of the party is committed to putting credible candidates forward to represent the region in the pursuit of national development. The vice-president elect is an erudite lawyer and a man of integrity – whose vast experience in legal practice and as the attorney general of Lagos State speaks volume on the caliber of service he can render to Nigeria in his new office.
It is on the foundation of his inclusion on the ticket that I now seek to build my discussions on the two (2) issues for which I write. Regardless of the zoning of leadership roles in the national assembly or whatever positions the party decides to zone to the Southwest, it is important that the region continues to provide the best hands for such roles. This is important because of the marginalization and the not-so-good representation of the Yoruba race in the outgoing administration. Yes, we were marginalized – the Southwest did not get enough quality roles in both the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council. Where Yorubas were appointed for roles in government, they were people of questionable character and dubious history. How shall we describe the role of Senator Hosea Agboola as a Deputy Majority whip of the senate? Or how do we describe Jelili Adesiyan's appointment as a minister of the federal republic? These are men who cannot express themselves in a logical manner and whose speech were never articulate. Or how shall we classify Senator Musiliu Obanikoro's role in the outgoing government?
These men, by their roles in the outgoing government, have placed heavy question marks on the sophistication and educational prowess of the Southwest. Consequently, now that we have a voice in the national government, we must put the best men forward, to bring back the southwest's reputation for being the intellectual brain box of our dear nation.
Specifically, we must seek to provide representations with good quality in the leadership of the lower and upper chambers by ensuring a merit-based emergence of members as leaders. Based on house rules and practice, members are appointed into leadership position based on their legislative experience and their rank in any of the Houses. An analysis of the newly elected Senators revealed that only the duo Senator Sola Adeyeye, and Senator Jide Omoworare meet the said requirements. A comparison of the legislative credentials of these two (2) lawmakers, using legislative experience and performance in the chambers, points to Jide Omoworare as the most qualified for a leadership position in the red chambers.
Apart from being young, Omoworare has a combined legislative experience of 12 years covering his stints at both State and Federal legislature, making him the Senator from the South West with the highest legislative experience. In terms of performance, information has it that he sponsored about 9 bills on the floor of the Senate in the last four (4) years – the highest of all the senators from the Southwest. Omoworare played crucial roles in the exposure of the scam and fraud dubbed as “subsidy” in the petroleum industry. He displayed so much unrivalled courage and bravery in a PDP dominated Senate, and remained the only lawmaker to have called for a division in the 7th Assembly. The call for division is a line toed by only astute and recognized lawmakers in developed democracies. The profile of this young man shows he is a qualified lawyer who holds a masters degree in his profession. Truly, Asiwaju, I think he deserves to occupy the highest leadership position coming to South West in the 8th Assembly of the Senate.
In the same vein, the indefatigable Femi Gbajabiamila qualifies for the highest leadership role zoned to the Southwest in the House of Representatives. Like Jide, Femi has about 12 years of legislative experience and he is also a seasoned lawyer. No one can argue against his effectiveness in the 7th Assembly, first as a minority leader and later as the majority leader after the formation of the APC. His stellar performance, quality of delivery on the floor of the House and courage in front of a federal government backed opposition has carved a pan-Nigerian outlook for him.
Of course, it is certain that nothing I have stated in this letter will be new to you. You know both of them – as a matter of fact they were under your tutelage during your tenure as the governor of Lagos State. However, I believe that it is only important that you receive an outsider's perspective and opinion of the legislators that the leadership of the Southwest APC will tap for leadership roles in the 8th Assembly. As a matter of fact, both candidates provide for a balance in the internal politics of the Southwest region. While Jide hails from the Oyo-Osun axis of the region, Femi represents the Lagos-Ogun Axis. It is my projection that this selection will allow for more inclusive political interplay within the region.
In the same vein, the Southwest leadership should also nominate and support credible, experienced and cerebral individuals for ministerial, federal board and parastatal appointments. Federal appointments should be merit-based. APC cannot afford to adopt the model of the outgoing party were men of questionable characters were appointed as ministers just to fulfill the wishes of some demi-god. How shall we classify the tenure of Senator Ogunlewe, who was the Minister for Works at one time and could not find a lasting solution to the Lagos – Ibadan expressway? Or what was the impact of the late Haruna Elewi who believed that GSM is not for the poor while serving in the ministry of communications.
Lastly sir, you are revered by the people in my generation as the greatest manager of human resources in Nigeria. We believe in your ability to spot talents in people and put them in positions where the best of their abilities can be used for the greater good. In the light of this, we have a firm believe that you and the APC leadership will select people with proven track and public records to take strategic positions in this new government. Asiwaju, please, bring back our Southwest of intellectual and effective political actors.
Let the best men represent us in the Buhari/Osinbajo government.
Written by Dr Adedayo Yusuff, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Tshwane University of Technology, Emalahleni, South Africa.