By Prof. Ojo Emmanuel Ademola
The campaign for the 2023 election is gathering steam as the nation is awash with the usual displays that follow political electioneering, and the battle for the votes of Nigerian electorates is raging. Between now and when the election is scheduled to hold in February 2023, this scenario will prevail, and Nigerians will juggle their considerations for various political officers but most significantly, the most coveted office, which is the office of the president.
Among those jostling to get the presidency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu stands head and shoulder above the rest. If we, as a nation, are ruled by the desire to tap our most competent, most able, best tested and adroit consideration for the presidency, Asiwaju is the impeccable choice.
I have dealt extensively with this in my last piece, that tackled the religious dimension of the impending election. So my views today are focused on addressing the Yoruba on the need to rally around one of our bests in his quest for the nation’s top job.
The aphorism goes that all politics is local; thus, for a people, the fad during elections is to weigh the contending candidates and how best their programs and manifestoes positively benefit them. That is what I am doing in this piece for my Yoruba people.
In pursuing the task ahead, I must state that I am a full-blooded Yoruba, a Prince in Yorubaland, born and bred in Yorubaland; thus, I am schooled in the cultural norms of my Yoruba people.
Among the Yoruba, it is taboo to sell a bad product or lend support to any Yoruba son or daughter that will eventually bring shame to the Yoruba race. The Yoruba are very much rooted in cultural competence that demands them to put their best foot forward and avoid those that stand to bring shame and reproach to their race.
Even in my long years of living and working in Europe, I am guided by this moral code and this etiquette guides every Omoluabi that it requires us to put forward our best and go all out to support such choice.
I am wholly convinced and sure that Asiwaju is Yoruba’s best foot in 2023. In saying this, I consider his antecedents and his fruitful governance history, which Nigeria, as a nation, is wholly tapping from today.
In taking Lagos from a run-down slum, he made it to the fifth largest economy in Africa; Asiwaju had worked out an oasis of growth and economic development, which has benefitted and continues to benefit other states and other ethnic groups apart from the Yoruba. Lagos today serves as a refuge to other Nigerians who are fleeing from the farcical misrule and gross incompetence in their home states. Lagos is not playing this role by accident. Tinubu deliberately planned Lagos for this role when he involved other tribes in the governance of Lagos and ensured that the all-encompassing policy was enduring to date.
So as a Yoruba man, I am not supporting my tribesman because he is Yoruba but because I know he has the capacity to serve other Nigerians in equal measures as his Yoruba tribesmen. If Tinubu is elected president, he will be a Nigerian first before being a Yoruba man, and he did demonstrate this cosmopolitan carriage when he was Lagos governor. Lagos benefits the Yoruba as it benefits other Nigerians-thanks to Tinubu’s liberal persona and conviction.
I am appealing to my South West brethren that we must unreservedly speak with one voice in support of the Tinubu-Shettima Ticket because it represents the best for us as Yoruba and for the rest of Nigeria.
I have noted the desperate efforts of the opposition to demarket a Buhari government that has achieved massively in building a modern Nigeria and employing the same to demarket the Tinubu candidacy because they belong to the same party and because they say that Tinubu brought Buhari. These efforts are based on wildly false, skewed and syndicated premises that take hostage of facts and figures but are aimed at making cheap political gains by the opposition. While this is not for the enumeration of the Buhari government’s achievements, I boldly say that no regime in the history of Nigeria has achieved more than the present regime, and no regime in Nigeria’s history has benefitted the Yoruba more than the Buhari government they said Tinubu brought.
The Yoruba are significant beneficiaries of the APC government, which had recorded massive developmental feats in Nigeria and the South West despite the global economic and security challenges.
I will proceed to enumerate what the Yoruba as a race has gained in the past seven years that makes the support for the Tinubu-Shettima ticket very imperative.
Firstly, for several years, there had been this veiled conspiracy to conceal the importance of June 12 and inter the considerable sacrifice made by the late Chief MKO Abiola to secure the present democracy we have in Nigeria today. Even when a Yoruba man, Chief Obasanjo, was in power, he never mentioned June 12 and his government for the entire eight years he was president; despite that, he remains the greatest beneficiary of the sacrifice of Chief Abiola. To Obasanjo and his PDP, June 12 was inconsequential and didn’t deserve any attention despite the loud plea of pro-democracy agitators.
But Buhari came and, in a revolutionary manner, reverted all the neglect and scorn with which June 12 was treated. Buhari not only validated the annulled victory of Abiola, but he also bestowed on him the highest national honour reserved for only Presidents and Heads of State, named the National Stadium Abuja after Abiola and declared June 12 the real democracy day for Nigeria! This singular act not only restored the wounded feelings of Abiola’s family, associates and friends, but it also restored the potency and pride of the Yoruba race and healed the deep wounds of the June 12 annulment.
Do I need to talk about the massive infrastructural investment the current government has made in the South West? A regime that has gifted the South West with an ultra-modern Standard-gauge rail line that runs from Lagos to Ibadan, a brand new Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, a new Benin-Ore -Shagamu Expressway, Ibadan-Ogbomosho-Ilorin Expressway, Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki expressway, among many other heavy infrastructure projects, never ever seen in the history of the South West has unlocked the potentials of growth the Yoruba needs to excel. Presently a dry port is being established at the Ibadan end of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Guage rail line, direct from the Apapa seaport to freight imported goods, through rail, from the port to the dry port at Ibadan for clearance! You can imagine what a Tinubu presidency can do to advance and add to these solid investments to drive a resurgent South West as the hub of growth and prosperity.
In the area of appointments, never has the Southwest enjoyed its golden era in political appointments and placing during the Buhari/APC regime. Before Buhari, the highest ever appointment a South Westerner held was Minister of State for Works under the past Jonathan/PDP era.
In terms of the top ten positions in government, South West had no representation. But these dramatically changed when APC came to power. The South West got the Vice Presidency (No two position), Speaker of the House of Representatives (No 5 position) and is about to get the Chief Justice of Nigeria (No 4 position) in the country’s power scale. Today, South Westerners hold key ministerial posts and head very many powerful parastatals in Nigeria, all thanks to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Even when Obasanjo, a Yoruba man, was president, Yorubas never recorded this massive mileage in the power organogram of Nigeria. What will happen with a Tinubu Presidency could better be imagined by every Yoruba man.
I have enumerated these merits Yoruba got from the Buhari/APC government to show that in leading Yoruba to APC, Tinubu charted a positive route that will lead Yoruba to glory. The zenith of that glory will come when Tinubu himself becomes president, and he needs the total support of Yoruba for that ambition.
I leave the right thinking Yoruba to imagine what a Tinubu presidency would impact on the general human capital development of the country, which provides the right atmosphere for the highly educated, sophisticated Yoruba race to excel in their various endeavours. Good enough, Tinubu’s massive success in infrastructure capacity development, education, security, economic growth, and the justice system in Lagos shows what every Nigerian stands to gain from a Tinubu presidency; the reason why every Yoruba must show total support to the project. Given the massive success Tinubu wrought in Lagos, it behoves every Yoruba man to see the dawn of a golden future not only for Yoruba but all Nigerians with a Tinubu presidency.
The South as a whole and indeed every Nigerian must now see this season as an opportunity we cannot afford to miss in the interest of the entire country.
Good enough, the North had taken the lead by giving the proper support to the Asiwaju-Shettima ticket; that was why he won the APC presidential primary with such a significant margin. Key and viable political leaders from the North have equally made a key commitment that power must go to the South after eight years of stay in the North. Despite the cheeky political antics of PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to violate the power rotation commitment for purely self-serving ends, the North has shown irrevocable commitment to support the South to take over the presidency in 2023.
The North has demonstrated, in act and deed, that Asiwaju is their preferred choice to take over from President Buhari in 2023. That was why things happened the way they happened at the APC presidential primaries. If the Northerners were not in full support of Asiwaju, there was no way for him to win the primary with such margins as he did. Democracy remains a game of numbers, and Asiwaju is in a pole position to emerge as the next president.
It will be a monumental tragedy if the South West refuse to reciprocate the positive reach-out from the North and shoot itself in the feet by pandering to the invidious propaganda of those few Yoruba black legs who are still smarting from the rot lodged in their teeth after devouring a poisonous PDP apple in 2015. We need to mass in great numbers, as Yoruba, to support our very best chance at the Nigerian presidency in 2023.
So, to my Yoruba kith and kins, I want to conclude by saying; The match has started again. We are on course, and Asiwaju is the man. Therefore, the Yoruba must unite behind the Democratic jewels in Asiwaju/Shettima ticket and bring unprecedented block votes as had never happened in the history of the South West.
The North is ready to deliver for the progressive ticket to win. All Yorubas must be prepared to deliver massively too. Let us recall that Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief MKO Abiola strived bravely in vain for this golden crown but missed it by inches. Asiwaju is a man of destiny, our golden boy, our star, our jewel, our diadem, the pride of the Yoruba nation. He is at the very door of success. The least every Yoruba owe him is our total and unalloyed support as history beckons in 2023.
Prof. Ojo Emmanuel Ademola.
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