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Life Achievement Award: Bola Tinubu- A colossus politician of repute

Nigeria is a country where heroes are scarce and visionary leadership is even more rare. However, Nigeria can still take pride in one leader who has demonstrated rare courage and commitment to justice.

One who has made personal sacrifices to advance the common good, and who remains unrelenting in the search for good and responsible governance.

That leader is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a two-term former Lagos State Governor and the national leader of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Tinubu is that rare leader who combines practical political acumen, strategic vision and moral principles. When the history of the first score years of the 21st century in Nigeria is written, it will state that Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s rare courage and foresight in guiding his party abolished the determined efforts of the then ruling party to turn Nigeria into a one party state.

More than any person since the return of civilian rule in 1999, Tinubu’s actions in maintaining his political party and helped salvage multiparty electoral democracy in Nigeria.

With this contribution alone, he has helped his nation keep to the path leading toward good governance, human rights and prosperity for all.

While Nigeria still has far to go to reach these objectives, it would have turned toward a less just and democratic without Bola Tinubu.

In a political culture where most members of the political class gravitate towards the ruling party to ease the path towards fulfilment of personal ambition or for pecuniary reward, Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s resilience and steadfastness in giving inspirational leadership to the APC is remarkable.

It is a testimony to the depth of the convictions that have motivated and sustained him in politics over the last two and a half decades.

One of Nigeria’s leading national newspapers in a published piece described him as Nigeria’s Political Samurai. “…By his focus and determination, Senator Bola Tinubu, has over the years carved out a distinctive personage for himself in politics.

With a towering political stature, former Lagos State Governor and one of the national leaders of the former Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), now the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, isn’t just a household name; he is an authority in the artery of the nation’s body politics.

He may have attained his enviable status through consistent ideological standing; it is certainly a journey of many years of struggle and the grit for change”.

As each day passes by, Tinubu thinks new strategy, options and style in both politics and governance. He envisions and muses with deep reflection, the Nigerian problems as well as the best approach possible.

He knows politics much as he understands the game of power…” Indeed, Tinubu’s democratic footprints go beyond Nigeria; it spawns the continent, especially in the immediate West Africa Sub-Region where he has helped sustain democracy and popular participation.

The virtues of courage, determination, commitment, vision, focus and strong sense of purpose that have characterised Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s politics drove his emergence as one of the country’s most successful governors after Nigeria’s return to democratic governance 13 years ago.

His stewardship of Lagos State for 8 years remains a reference for good governance in Nigeria and across the region.

A first class financial strategist, Bola Tinubu, overhauled and reformed government and revenue collection in the state, taking Lagos from a yearly Internally Generated Revenue of N14.64 billion in 1999 to N60.31 billion in 2006.

By March 2007, the state had achieved monthly Internally Generated Revenue of N8.2 billion. His innovations laid the groundwork necessary for Lagos to have the revenue to improve the state and modernize living conditions of all of its inhabitants.

An irrepressible fighter for democracy and protection of civil liberties, Bola Tinubu endured political persecution, including numerous arrests and detentions, harassment, constant threats to his life and years in political exile.

Despite the wrongs done to him he never has sought retribution. He has forgiven those who did injustice to him. Instead he has chosen to focus on the future by building a democratic and peaceful nation.

Leadership newspapers, one of Nigeria’s national dailies, said it best when it conferred on its “Person of the Year” on him in 2011:

“Out of the socio-economic and political fog that 2010 represented, at least three great themes emerged: the struggle between the search for democratic legitimacy and subsisting electoral injustices; the tenacious resolve of courageous characters who dared hypocritical authority to prove points of principle; and a pervasive sense of self-doubt as the nation marked its 50th anniversary of independence.”

“Within this context, the year spawned a welter of heroes and villains from various arenas of human endeavour. But while some forces remained apostles of socio-political stagnation and retrogression, others represented untiring catalysts for progressive change.

It is from this puzzling canvass that we must make our choices as to which personality impacted Nigeria most, for good or bad, in recent times. As it were, justice still remains the country’s most powerful idea, but the struggle is far from over.

After almost 12 years of unbroken democracy, impunity at various levels of governance remains a defining feature of our national life.

The successful reversal of some of the subsisting injustices, within the period of this assessment, through the influence of some courageous individuals, in the face of dangers to life and limb, sets Bola Ahmed Tinubu apart as a leader of note.

Through his tenacity and uncommon focus in guiding the reversal of electoral impunity across a wide swath of the nation’s political landscape, he reaffirmed the enduring fact that, indeed, justice is the first condition of democracy.”

Tinubu remains Nigeria’s most relentless fighter for democracy, justice and the rule of law. No history of modern Nigeria can be complete without giving due regard to his contributions to safeguarding the democratic aspersions of an entire nation and its people, regardless of creed and ethnic background, at a time when those aspirations were deeply threatened.

Today, he remains the most vociferous voice in the call for Nigeria to return to the path of true federalism and for him, the star prize is the enthronement of fiscal federalism that will give governors and Chairmen fully funded mandates and accelerate grassroots development.

One of Nigeria’s leading daily newspapers, ThisDay, in 2013 selected Bola Tinubu as its “Man of The Year”. The paper described him as the man who rebuilt Nigerian Opposition.

In the words of the Newspaper, Tinubu “from the scratch he built the Action Congress of Nigeria to a formidable political party that within a short time became the major opposition party in Nigeria.

He deployed his resources, energy, and political acumen to give the ruling party a fight in the political space”.

The altering of Nigeria’s political landscape and balance of power that occurred in November 2013 had Tinubu’s imprimatur all over it. The political merger that produced the All Progressives Congress is Nigeria’s first and Tinubu was its chief architect.

Thanks to Bola Tinubu’s untiring political maneuvers and nationalistic approach to politics, Nigeria is now a 2-party state presenting Nigerians with clear choices.

This is in tandem with his tradition of selfless sacrifice, political foresight and unequalled commitment to progressive and people oriented politics. Bola Tinubu has served the cause of humanity and expanded the frontiers of freedom and democracy in Nigeria and the African Continent.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is one of Nigeria’s foremost nationalists and champions of federalism. He is one of the few leaders and champions of democracy with the potential and experience to take Nigeria to the next level.

Tinubu was born in Lagos on March 29, 1952.

He is married to Senator Oluremi Tinubu while the couple are blessed with children.

Graduated 1979 Sumna cum laude (with First Class Honours) in Business Administration (Accounting and Management) with cumulative weighted average point of 3.54 out of a maximum 4 points) from Chicago State University, Illinois, USA.

Chicago State University Dean’s List (throughout his stay at the university).

He received Outstanding Student’s Award and Certificate of Merit in Accounting and Finance

He was the President, Chicago State University Accounting Society, in his final year in 1979.

He worked with Arthur Anderson, Delliotte, Haskins and Sells (now Delliotte and Touche).

He also worked at Mobil Producing Nigeria as Senior Auditor and Company Treasurer.

He joined politics in 1989 and elected as Senator on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992.

He later joined the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) in opposition to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which SDP candidate, the late Basorun Moshood Abiola won.

He was elected as Lagos State Governor in 1999, and served two terms till 2007.

As Lagos State governor, Tinubu carried out educational reforms, under which mission schools were returned to their original owners, after decades of government take-over.

The Christian mission schools handed back were CMS Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos, St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka, Yaba, Igbobi College, Yaba, Aunty Ayo Girls High School, Keffi, Ikoyi, Lagos, Maryland Comprehensive High School, Ikeja, Lagos, Howells Memorial Grammar School, Lagos, Methodist Boys High School, Lagos, Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, Lagos, Our Lady of Apostles Girls School (Primary and Secondary), Yaba, Reagan Memorial Baptist Girls Secondary School, Yaba, Baptist Academy, Shepherd Hill, Obanikoro, Lagos, St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, Holy Child College, Obalende, Lagos, Agbowa Ikosi Baptist Grammar School, Agbowa-Ikosi, African Church College, Ifako, Lagos, Aladura Comprehensive High School, Lagos, Apostolic Church Grammar School, Orisigun, Ketu, Lagos, African Church Grammar School, Lagos, Eva Adelaja School, Gbagada, Lagos.

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