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Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s Jibe

By Tony Ogunlowo
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Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state is no stranger to controversy. His controversial book ‘Accidental Public Servant’ sparked a lot of outrage as he ruffled some feathers in high places. We also recall that in 2003, he alleged that the then Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu asked him for a bribe in order to confirm him as a minister. The allegation sparked a lot of furore at the time. In the build up to the last elections, he said that the international observers would have their bodies sent back in sacks if their verdict was unfavourable to the powers that be.

Speaking at the Bridge club in Lagos where he was a guest of the President, he told the audience how he retired four godfathers and how Lagosians can permanently end the menace of godfatherism in the Centre of Excellence once and for all. He said that whoever wants to contest elections in the state in 2023 should inquire why only one million out of five million registered voters voted. The person should make strident efforts to convince at least two million voters to vote which will nail the coffin on godfatherism.

This advice sparked a lot of outrage as many politicians saw it as an affront on the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has held Lagos in his palm for the past twenty years. The supporters of Jagaban fell over one another to defend their principal whose patronage has sustained them over the years. In the words of the Lagos state publicity secretary of the APC, Joe Igbokwe he said: “That was what happened; he was making reference to Asiwaju Tinubu. The person that threw up the question is Muiz Banire, and you know the relationship between Banire and Asiwaju. But Lagos is not Kaduna.

“They want to be like Asiwaju, they want to command respect, they want the world to accept them the way they have accepted Asiwaju, they want to get great followers like Asiwaju BAT, they want to be admired the way people admire Asiwaju, they want the people to love them the way they love Asiwaju, they want to stand tall anywhere they go like Asiwaju, they want to attract attention like Asiwaju, they want to be celebrated and honored like Asiwaju, they want to be worshiped the way Asiwaju’s great followers worship him, they want to be lifted up the way God has lifted Asiwaju up, they want to be noticed like Asiwaju, they want to stand out like Asiwaju and they want to influence decisions at all levels like Asiwaju, etc.

“But in actions and deeds they are not like Asiwaju. In character and in tolerance they are not like Asiwaju. In commitment and hard work they are not like BAT.

“In grace and empathy, they are not like BAT. In temperament and love for humanity, they are not like Asiwaju. They cannot surrender their home to the people the way BAT has been doing. They cannot fight for others the way BAT does.

“They cannot deny themselves freedom for the sake of others the way BAT does. They cannot stand for the ordinary people the way Asiwaju does. They cannot be trusted the way we trust BAT.

“They cannot give the way BAT does. They cannot sacrifice what BAT has sacrificed for humanity for close to 40 years. They cannot live for others the way the way Asiwaju has done for years. I can go on and on but he who must lead others must first lead himself.”

El-Rufai’s observation was right despite the criticisms against him. Lagos state has been groaning since 1999 as a result of the overbearing influence of Asiwaju Tinubu on the polity. What really were Tinubu’s achievements whilst he held sway in the Round House at Alausa? One cannot really pinpoint to anything tangible that he left as a legacy. His ardent supporters love to compare him to Awolowo but the whole world knows the legacies of the latter despite the fact that he ruled a much larger territory with no resources coming from the centre. We can point to the Cocoa House, Liberty Stadium, Western Nigeria Television, free primary education and various scholarships to foreign universities. The only thing I can remember about Tinubu’s rule is the Jigi Bola (Free Eye Glasses Scheme) that he did. I am trying extremely hard to remember any gargantuan legacy during his eight year rule of the former capital of Nigeria. The whole world recalls what Lateef Jakande did in only four years. But for the coup of 1983, Lagos would have had a metroline which would have greatly eased the transport malaise in the smallest state in the federation.

The so called mega city is under the grip of touts popularly known as area boys or agberos who are a menace to the city. Their presence is incompatible with the plan of Lagos to becoming a mega city modeled after Dubai. One key reason why trains aren’t built around Lagos is because it will kick out the agberos out of business. Agberos are considered key strategic partners rather than the hapless Lagosians who groan day and night with all sorts of taxes and levies that they are slammed with.

There is nothing wrong with godfatherism as all men will never be equal even though in theory we are all supposed to have one vote. Some will be much more influential than the others. There is nothing bad in being an opinion leader who can massively mobilize votes for candidates. What is harmful is if the godfather breathes down the neck of his godson to govern according to his dictates. This has tragically been the case of Lagos that ironically has the highest amount of human capital in the entire country.

Lagosians have heard about Alpha Beta which is linked to Jagaban as the revenue collection agency usurping the powers of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS). The pension plan for governors and their deputies across the country started from Lagos state. A report from the True Face of Lagos shows the obscene wealth of the former governor turned godfather. How did he acquire such largesse from his legitimate earnings?

Lagosians must stop sitting on the fence in nauseating docility and extreme helplessness. History has shown the rise and fall of empires with godfatherism being no exception. Lagos is the melting pot of all tribes in Nigeria. It is too cosmopolitan and sophisticated to be under the thumb of one man whose origin is said to be traced far from the state.

Let the O toge movement start in Eko as soon as possible.

Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Tony Ogunlowo and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."