A Transition Model To Copy

Lessons can be learnt in the way Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu picked a successor now deemed by many as worthy

Some weeks back when controversy raged over who should inherit the stool vacated by the late Chief Abraham Adesanya, the Yoruba leader, TheNEWS was the guest of immediate past governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose opinion we sought on the matter. This writer told Tinubu bluntly that some people see him as attempting to force himself on the Yoruba race as its leader. •Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

• Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola Tinubu, a usually calm interview material, became very angry. “I don’t respond to foolish analysis. I say it is foolish and senseless. I have antecedents that you can review and evaluate politically in this country,” he remarked. He added that he can be used effectively as a case study in Nigerian politics and spoke of how he laid a solid foundation for growth and development of Lagos State, and that he has successfully “engineered” a transition.

Tinubu’s blood may have boiled, prompting an angry response to what his traducers were saying, but by that response he subtly yielded the inner recesses of his mind – the fact that he thinks his successor is a worthy one, and that he feels justified to have backed Babatunde Raji Fashola all the way, ensuring his landslide victory last April. Tinubu, by saying he can be used as a ‘case study’ was inviting his critics to see how it is done. He remains convinced that not only has he laid the foundation for enduring growth in all spheres in Lagos State, he has equally engendered a noteworthy transition from a good government to a potentially very good government.

A man with an eye for the spoken word, Tinubu in those few lines would like his traducers to know that even if he is “too young”, as he claimed, and disinterested in assuming Yoruba leadership, if a poll of potential candidates were taken, (by his antecedents) he will not be a pushover.

When Tinubu picked Fashola to succeed him, he, Fashola, was such an unpopular choice, a situation not helped by the fact that he was not the archetypal politician. He was a technocrat who operated behind the scene, and made telling contributions. But Tinubu knew who he wanted and what he wanted, so against all odds, despite being called names for not picking any of the better known politicians, he stuck to his man on the way to a stunning victory in the 14 April 2007 election.

The lesson is that Tinubu never picked his best friend. Neither did he pick a clone of himself, for it is as apparent as daylight that Fashola and Tinubu are very different men. Tinubu’s overriding desire was to pick a man who would best sustain his legacy or even surpass him. If Tinubu ran Lagos State in a manner that ensured that his private sector background was brought to bear on many facets of governance, Fashola is doing exactly that and is desperate to bring about changes in record time. So it is credit to Tinubu that he saw what others did not see.

Fashola is unquestionably brilliant, like Tinubu his mentor, but lacks Tinubu’s electricity on the soapbox. He also apparently lacks Tinubu’s tactical nous as a politician, but he has the right mix of leadership qualities, the impatience to achieve results. Aides testify that Fashola has boundless energy, determination and endeavour, qualities that made a journalist to liken him to Wayne Rooney, the soccer star who plays for Manchester United, the English club Fashola has supported for years.

Tinubu is the ultimate winner. He can sleep easy knowing he could not have made a better choice. Nothing compares to the joy a man feels when he looks back and discovers just how right a crucial decision he has taken is. So far, Fashola has done great credit to his former boss, building on the foundation he laid. Fashola may well be Tinubu’s greatest legacy to Lagosians.

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