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President Tinubu At 72: Celebrating A Life In Forward Motion

By Keem Abdul He will be turning 72 on Friday, March, 29, 2024. But in a nod to the current mood across the nation (occasioned…

By Keem Abdul

He will be turning 72 on Friday, March, 29, 2024. But in a nod to the current mood across the nation (occasioned by the hardship and insecurity in the land) President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has said he wouldn’t be celebrating that auspicious day. Instead, according to a release from his media office, he has told his friends, well-wishers and associates to donate to charity, rather than spending valuable resources placing goodwill messages and advertorials in print and electronic media outlets to mark the day.

The President, according to the release, made particular reference to the tragic killing of a number of soldiers and police officers in Delta State, as well as the serious security breaches by criminal elements in various parts of Nigeria (which has led to an unnaceptably high toll of death, injury and loss of property) as reasons why a celebration at this time would be grossly inappropriate – if not downright insensitive.

In place of a celebration, Tinubu says he would use the day to reflect and re-dedicate himself to the task of building a more stable, secure, prosperous and united Nigeria – in line with his mandate as the leader of the commonwealth, namely, to make life better for all her citizens. He, however, acknowledged as some sort of a birthday gift, the recent release of the students kidnapped some weeks ago in Kaduna and Sokoto States. But a gift of far greater import, he added, would be the emergence of a more stable, more secure, virile, prosperous and united Nigeria.

That being said, though, even as the President reflects on his life’s journey so far and his ascendance to the highest office in the land at this time, many Nigerians and even non-Nigerians will also be pondering the phenomenon called Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, the combination of qualities and attributes (and the unique set of circumstances) that have brought him to this moment in his life and in the evolution of the Nigerian nation.
It is hard to measure the essence of a life as multifaceted and dynamic as that of the man Bola Tinubu. Suffice it to say – as those who know him well have repeatedly done – that he remains an enigma. That description of one’s essential character may be a cliche, but in the case of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, it is all too true.

Since the advent of Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation in 1999, Asiwaju Tinubu has become perhaps the most constant factor in defining the outcomes of electoral contests in the country – and even more so in his home state of Lagos. His almost 100% success rate in this regard is not by accident. A great writer once said that the heights great men attained are ‘not by sudden flight.’

Tinubu’s success as a politician testifies to his capacity for deep reflection and prompt action in equal measure.
On one hand, he has always been deliberate and intentional in the planning and execution of his strategies, doing nothing that is superfluous or forced. His caution, in other words, is matched by his ability to execute his plan – in a way that meshes into the whole vision which he has crafted for himself and the people that he leads. Every step he takes has been methodical and fills a gap in his overall quest for the enthronement of a continuous cycle of progress and prosperity within his sphere of influence.

He’s a man with extra ordinary sensory perception who’s in tune with his inner self thus making him understand that there’s no force on earth strong enough to restrict the procession of promises of God. His perception wasn’t tainted by experience of betrayals rather he recognised that’s there’s no betrayal that he went through that didnt work together for his good, that there’s never a dagger thrown at him that God didn’t convert to a stronger him.

1999 to date has been a time of almost constant struggle for Asiwaju Tinubu. His battles with the federal government, and with the internal opposition in Lagos, are too well-known to recount here. But the question is: Why does he fight so hard, For whom, or what, is he fighting? Wealth? Power for power’s sake? Fame and recognition? If so, why does he still keep fighting NOW, even AFTER having acquired these things in some measure?

One unmistakable answer to these questions – no matter one’s background or political and religious affiliation – would be that Asiwaju Tinubu is a man driven, not just by personal ambition or group interest, but by the altruistic desire to confront the forces of economic underdevelopment and social rot, no matter what it may cost him personally. His willingness to go all out in pursuit of his goals and convictions – even if it means sacrificing himself for others and the society as a whole, is truly remarkable.

In the rough-and-tumble of Nigerian politics where elections are usually a clash of weapons rather than a contest of ideas and ideologies, and most politicians are devoid of both, Tinubu’s principles and idealism can be hinged on the simple South African maxim of “Ubuntu” (I am because we are). This understanding of the value of an unshakable bond between brethren is what has shaped the dynamics of Tinubu’s actions and engagements with other stakeholders. On more than one occasion, he has professed a desire to build the community; the people in it and the institutions and traditions that govern them – based on his belief that once a society is healthy; all elements within it will be significantly impacted.

It is also the reason he has built the careers of so many other leaders, men and women who have gone on to become political giants in their own right since 1999 – again, based on his belief that various people with diverse capacities in various places can coalesce to build a better and stronger society. No matter what his detractors may say, Tinubu’s investment in the lives and political fortunes of others is far from personal or individualistic, far from it.

Many distinguished persons in the society are the products of this investment. The results so far are a demonstration of the fact that the power to make a difference in the lives of Nigerians is within his grasp – and in our grasp if we all make an effort.

Much has been said about the Jagaban’s unique combination of fearlessness and humanity. Though he never goes out of his way to court controversy, he never runs away from one, especially when he has restrained himself and sought all ways to seek rapprochement with the other party. His capacity for compromise and respectful dialogue is how he has been able to build a team of highly dedicated men and women around himself.

As his close associates mark his 72 years on earth (one way or another) or join him in his reflections on the state of Nigeria and his mandate to lift the country and its people out of our present quagmire, it’s the prayer of all right thinking and patriotic Nigerians that the good Lord who has seen fit to allow Tinubu to occupy that lofty position will keep him in good health and preserve him so that he can fulfil the purpose for which God brought him into existence, that God will strengthen him, equip him with the physical energy and profound wisdom, understanding and knowledge that he needs to drive the vision that transformed Lagos into a globally-competitive megacity and the 5th largest economy in Africa.

His promise to replicate that transformation on a national scale is still on track, and with the help of God and the committed cooperation of the Nigerian people, the mission will be fulfilled.

Happy birthday, Mr. President!

May your strength be Renewed. God bless Mr. President. God bless Nigeria.

Keem Abdul, publisher and writer, hails from Lagos. He can be reached via +2348038795377 or [email protected]

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