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Special review of Asiwaju Tinubu’s biography, by Ogbeni Lanre Banjo

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I totally disagree with the position taken in the book that Asiwaju is a Yoruba leader. Yes, you have to be a leader in your locality before the nation, but having been with Asiwaju several times and seeing all ethnics coming for advice and assistance, which are readily available, I personally regard Asiwaju as a National and continental leader

Book title: Asiwaju: The biography of Bolanle Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu

Pages: 507

Reviewer: Ogbeni Lanre Banjo

Publisher: The Jesus Christ Solution Center, Cameron Texas in collaboration with Alternative Lifestyle Communication, DBA, Illinois; Booklocker Publishers, Tampa, Florida and Strategic Book & Publishing Rights Agency, LLC, Houston, Texas USA.

Authors: Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo, PhD & Margie Neal-Fayemiwo, Ed. D

Date of Publication: May, 2017

Synopsis

The book is the biography of the Governor-Emeritus of Lagos State and a National Leader of the ruling party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress. The authors chronicled the early life of Asiwaju Bolanle Tinubu from childhood in Lagos to his sojourn to the United States of America, back to Nigeria and to date. After birth, the young Bolanle attended schools in Lagos, Ibadan and then the United States of America. Like many of us, he drove a taxicab in Washington, D.C. before proceeding to Chicago where he graduated in Accounting and secured a job at Deloitte Touche Tohamtsu Limited and General Electric before he was reminded that he was an alien resident.  From that point, Asiwaju remembered what Prince Bade Ojora told him that “home is home.”  “No matter how you rise high in the States, it is not your country and you’ll still be treated as a black man.” Prince Bade Ojora averred. This is still a statement of fact that our brothers and sisters who were born in the United States still live with every day.as black people. The man who was later bestowed the title of Jagaban by the Emir of Borgu responded that he could not live in Nigeria with all the chaos going on. Man proposes, God disposes. Asiwaju at that time gave God his plans, Olorun said “hell no.” My plans for you are different and better.  You shall proceed to Nigeria to be my veritable tool. Little did Asiwaju know that he would be a tool in the hands of God to nip in the bud the unrealizable dream of those who thought they could perpetrate themselves in power in Nigeria for 60 years. Today, Asiwaju has built a prevailing and outliving vestige     

The Biography also docketed God’s plan for Jagaban with his adventure into murky waters of politics in Nigeria which has made him one of the powerful men in the world. This enterprise which he began as a Senator to a staunch supporter of June 12 political logjam culminated in his being one of the best state governors and visionaries who was not interested in sycophancy to determine who would succeed him but someone who could outperform him.  Such a state governor is rare in Nigeria of today.  The book also narrated how his political exploit became a catalyst for his determination to end the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by putting a coalition of political parties together, jettisoned his personal ambition for the nation, spent millions of Naira and ensured victory for the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Beyond Asiwaju’s life, the book delved into history of who the inhabitants of Lagos were. “Traditionally and from various historical archives, the Bini people were regarded as the early settlers in central Lagos. The Enu Owa area bearing the national shrine of “Oju Olobun” is an unmistakable imprint of the Oba of Benin in ancient Benin Kingdom in the history of Lagos.” Also, the book records how the Portuguese arrogantly changed the name from Eko to Lagos, just like the British changed the name of Chief Idahosa to “Idaho” because of their imperious unwillingness to say “sir” to a blackman. “The Oba of Lagos in 1704 and was on the throne for five years. By the 1770s, the Portuguese traders were the early foreign explorers and for convenience sake, had changed the name of the city from its traditional Eko to Lagos.” The book discloses. Many Nigerians, especially the young of today would not have known this, if not documented in Asiwaju’s biography.

The book informed readers that Asiwaju could legitimately lay claim to Sagamu in addition to his qualification to be from any Yoruba land as an Oduduwa son. Asiwaju’s maternal grandfather, “Pa Gbadamosi Mogaji hailed from the Ita Faji area of Lagos Island. Her maternal grandmother, Mama Alhaja Saidatu Akoya Mogaji had the blue blood of the Ereko family history of Lagos Island. Tracing the family line of the Mogajis back to five generations would take one back to Ijebu land. The family historians, who spoke to the authors, explained that the Mogajis of Ita Garuwa initially came from both Remo and Ijebu land in present neighboring Ogun state. They were the first early settlers that carried their trading activities from Ijebu Land, first to the current Oyingbo Market at Iddo in Lagos and later migrated to Ereko and Ita Faji and Ita Garuwa on Lagos Island.”

The book speaks about several illegal immigrants, who were not citizens of Nigeria, who did not have work permit and who turned to be governors and even have the audacity to name the country in 1914. One of such was the British governor; Mr. Glover who oversaw the Lagos colony and who instructed that the fleeing refugees from Lagos be accommodated in the present-area known as Ebute Meta in central Lagos. One of the most famous and popular Lagos families, whose lineage began in Egbaland is the Tinubu family.  The other historical perspective that the book narrated was the early wars in Yoruba land and the role of women in our society. This just makes me wonder, when today those with slavish minds express unwarranted gratitude to the United Nations for requiring certain percentages of participation in politics for African women. Throughout our history and before the arrival of these leaches in our society, history, as documented in the book, reflects the participation of our respectable mamas-mothers- in politics.  “In 1853, the stag conspiracy of the Lagos high chiefs against Madame Tinubu succeeded under Oba Dosunmu who never liked Madame Tinubu compelling the powerful woman to finally return to her Abeokuta ancestral home. For someone who had tasted power and played hostess to the high and mighty, it was not long before Madame Tinubu’s influence pervaded the royal court in Abeokuta. But first, she had to prove her power to her Egba kinsmen and women. In 1864, the King of what was then known as Dahomey (now Republic of Benin) decided to attack the city of Abeokuta.”  The book makes one think of why we now need the United Nations to plagiarize on what we have been doing before many of those making these laws were conceived, born and bred in sin.   

Without reading the book, I would not have known that Bourdillion is named after an undocumented alien in Nigeria. The book states: “Britain successfully welded all the centrifugal and centripetal territories of Nigeria into a single whole. In 1922, the Clifford Constitution was born. It allowed Nigerians to stand for elections as legislative members for Lagos council. The signals that the British colonial government gave it was preparing Nigerians for self-government, coupled with the push on the path of the early Nigerian nationalists led to the formation of Nigeria’s first political organization; the Nigerian Youth Movement -NYM- by Mr. Herbert Macaulay in 1936. For administrative convenience and to ensure the autonomy of the constituents’ parts of Nigeria, Governor Bernard Henry Bourdillion (1935-1943), who took over from Mr. Donald Charles Cameron (1931-1935) in the fall of 1935 divided southern Nigeria into two separate entities known as; western and eastern regions in 1939.”  Whao! Big thanks to Dr. Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo & Dr. (Mrs.) Margie Neal-Fayemiwo, the authors of the book.

Similarly, from the biography, I would not have known that an Akarigbo of Ijebu-Remo colluded with the British to cede Ikorodu to Lagos. “In 1892, the cession of Ikorodu to the British Government by the Akarigbo of Ijebu-Remo occurred. The signatories to the cession document were the then Akarigbo Oba Oyebajo, the then Olisa of Ikorodu (Olomu), the Mosene of Ikorodu, (Chief Aina Odukanmade), the then Balogun of Ikorodu (Chief Akin Jaiyesimi) and Sir G.T. Carter, Governor of Lagos colony. After the death of Madame Tinubu in 1887, Madam Jojolola stepped into her shoes as the Iya Lode of Abeokuta but no woman could rival Tinubu’s power” the book discloses.  What an interesting Biography?

Theme of the Book

The Biography of Asiwaju Ahmed Bolanle Adekunle Tinubu educates, informs and entertains readers – inspiration, determination and doggedness to not only the youth of any generation as exemplified by the authors; it educates readers on Nigerian history.  This history predates independence and post-independence. It also beckons to those of us who are applying to serve the masses to be careful of our utterances to elders and human beings in general. This is amplified with Chief Bode Thomas story which the then Alafin of Oyo felt he shouted at him, and commanded him to continue to “gbo” bark. This incident in the historic town of Oyo that led to the demise of Chief Bode Thomas and brought in Chief Ladoke Akintola which now climaxed into the first coup in Nigeria. Forgetting the event that led to the woes of Chief Bode Thomas, I almost felt into the same shoes in the hands of an Oba in Ijebu years ago, not for the fact I am covered by the blood of the lamb.  This is a big lesson the biography teaches all of us essaying to get into public office.

The biography reveals that Asiwaju is an exemplar of accounting profession with peculiar discipline.  It depicts Bolanle as an achiever who is too legit to quit.  The authors present a mental image of Asiwaju as fanatically impassioned about a potent, portentous, political opposition in Nigeria. The book unearths his master strokes strategies which any student and scholar of politics must read.   It teaches any reader that the road to success in any venture or undertaking is not a smooth one.  Asiwaju’s Biography educates that breakthrough in life is the harvest of persistence. One other theme of the book reveals Asiwaju’s political father that shaped his worldviews, his dream for Nigeria, and his political future. Undoubtedly, after becoming familiar with his formative years documented in the book, one will be  conversant with the secret of how Asiwaju became quintessential.

Plot

The authors engaged a simple plot to advance the story of the then Mr. Bola Tinubu from embryonic state to akuko gagara (in Governor Tinubu’s case) to nfe ki kekere ko. (Big corks that inspire and encourage little corks to crow) The authors grew the book from Mama, Alhaja Mogaji’s fear to be under the control of a man to the birth of the great man simply known today as Bola Tinubu. “Madam Alimotu Pelewura, Mama’s mentor was the only one that Mama Mogaji confided in, the enamored relationship with Ahmed Tinubu Senior when it began. Mama Pelewura brought up Abibatu and groomed her to succeed her. Successful women in those days that struck out on their own were too independent and financially stable, thus Yoruba men avoided them out of prudish disposition.  As the then Master Tinubu was growing, Alhaja Abibat Mogaji was so concerned about the many troubles that her only son was getting into that she tabled Bola’s case before her in-laws and relatives. She was advised to send Bola out of Lagos.”  This is how my brother whose root was traced to both Abeokuta and Ijebu became an Ibadan student. From St. John’s Elementary Primary School, Aroloya to Children Home School, Ibadan which was founded by a Remo woman/educationist, Madam Tanimowo Ogunlesi from my own Sagamu.

The biography is compartmentalized into fourteen chapters. Chapter one reminds us that even though, there are indigenes of Lagos, Eko appears to belong to all. Chapters Two and Three discuss his growing up in Lagos Central and Ibadan.  Chapters Four and Five apprise readers of his life post -Ibadan years and the United States of America where he resided long time before Donald Trump arrived to “drain the swamp” of corruption.  Chapter Six revealed how Mr. Tinubu returned home from the great United States of America to submit himself for use by Olodumare.  It speaks about how Mama Mogaji reminded him that he could not marry to his profession and Baba Asiwaju did not waste time in ensuring that Oluremi Folashade now Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu did not leave his sister’s house in Ibadan when he first sighted her without her being in his net.  The King of boys used Lagos style and the audit program learnt from Deloitte to audit Oluremi, once issued unqualified audit opinion, the best Dee-Jay in Lagos employed Ogun State charming attribute to court Oluremi by all means necessary and today the marriage is blessed with three children. That innocent Remi and beautiful damsel is now a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The book speaks briefly about this decent woman in a manner that I can testify to. One day, Asiwaju was so busy attending to visitors in their home. The first lady turned distinguished Senator said in Yoruba, fun ra ara mi ni mo ma se onje oko mi. (I will prepare my darling’s food myself). Within minutes I saw her bringing the food herself.  She confirmed what President Buhari said that our Sweet Mamas belong to the kitchen, and the other room, in addition to being a public figure. Emphasis is mine. The authors were current on events in this biography that the adulation of Gov.  Kashim Shettima of Borno State to Asiwaju and his better-half featured in the biography.     

Chapters Seven and Eight highlight the Jagaban’s struggles to be a Senator and begin to make political impact.  The chapters picture his role in establishing democracy in Nigeria and his principled stance on June 12, 1993 elections. Chapter Nine highlights his role in Exile where I first met him.  I must admit that Asiwaju did a lot to assist Papa and Mrs. Anthony Enahoro whose quasi confidential assistant I had the privilege to be during this period. Chapters Ten and Eleven record his achievements as the Governor of Lagos State and his metamorphosis into the rock of Gibraltar in Nigeria’s political scene in my own great country Nigeria. These achievements which included his survival to be the only Alliance Democracy Governor in Yoruba land in 2007, coupled with his leading others to nip the misrule of the PDP in the bud probably became the basis for local singers to sing this laudable song to which Asiwaju displayed his dancing steps on Ileya day in September of 2016 with me right behind him. “Ope ni nwon o nwon o mo, nkankan, Ope ni won o, won o mo nkakan, Ajanaku yo l’okere, nwon lo m’ore lowo, Erin koja eran a nf’opalu. Ona wo le o gbe gba bawo le o se se. Ope ni nwon o nwon mo nkankan”.

My political father, Alhaji Aminu Kano, once said: “He who allows himself to be arrested for a crime he did not commit will be expelled from the party, but if he resists and comes to us on a stretcher, he is a hero.”  These chapters recorded how Asiwaju was able to resist the political arrest of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and did not come to Lagosians on a stretcher, thus becoming a hero. PDP is not only out of power but may soon become history. Chief Obafemi Awolowo said and it still resonates today: “There are times when even the greatest tactician in diplomatic cunning is outclassed in his own game. It is then that he discovers that all that he thought he had gained is but loss, and that what is left of national honor and dignity is but the shadow of an illustrious past that is gone forever, or of a potentially great future that will never come.  These chapters disclosed how Asiwaju used his prowess to beat those who thought they are greatest tacticians, now PDP is going and may be gone forever. When Nigeria’s contemporary political history will be re-written as the authors stated, Asiwaju Tinubu must be credited with not only sending the PDP into a coma, he may be credited with its final death and obsequies.

Chapter Eleven peeps into his political future. One needs to read this book to be familiar with the secret. Chapter Thirteen contains moving selected speeches of King of Governors. The last Chapter puts my brother, Asiwaju, yet to be crowned Ikemba-Nwanem of Igbo kwenu land, Jagaban of Borgu, the Baba Oba of Ikorodu formerly part of Sagamu, the Areago of the capital of my State, Egbaland and the Aare of Ile – Oluji, on the marble.

Language of the Book

The language of the book is simply a dialogue.  The authors did a lot of research about Nigeria, events that led to the first coup in Nigeria, interviewed elders with knowledge. Those who did not know much about Nigeria will get more than four in this pioneer  Biography of Asiwaju. The Nigeria travails, tribulations and eventual coming to stable democratic country have been well documented in a simple past tense, simple past continuous tense and past perfect tense. The language of the book is comprehensible, instructive and prescriptive. The lead writer of the book is not lazy, well read, he has command knowledge of Nigerian history and is a patriotic Nigerian.  The language employed by the authors easily transports the reader to the scenes of the event as though they were fresh. The writers brandished a good command of grammar and syntax. The co-author brought her American historical background and language for international audience. No wonder most of the reviewers of the advanced copy of the biography awarded the work 5 stars.

Style

Drs. Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo & Margie Neal-Fayemiwo who are the distinguished authors of the Biography of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu engaged a simple narrative style requisite for the biography of a man larger than life.  Proper diction, punctuation and choices of sentences are appropriate. The authors are consistent in employing the American style at one point referring to our National Assembly as Congress.  One thing that impressed me though, is the amalgamation of Yoruba with English in this piece of writing. This enhanced the eclectic appeal of the biography, especially for Nigerian audience and pointedly the Yoruba speaking people.

Critique

By and large, no amount of critique could water down the strength of this book, and the abundant knowledge one would acquire if he/she buys and reads this book.  The Nigerian and Yoruba historical perspective of the book is overwhelming. Apart from Papa Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikwe’s books, I have never read a book that is so captivating. I finished 100 pages within five hours. However, I totally disagree with the position taken in the book that Asiwaju is a Yoruba leader. Yes, you have to be a leader in your locality before the nation, but having been with Asiwaju several times and seeing all ethnics coming for advice and assistance, which are readily available, I personally regard Asiwaju as a National and continental leader. I have seen presidents from other African countries seeking his help and majority of those at the helms of affairs today throughout Nigeria sought and got his help. He doesn’t look at Nigeria from the ocular of ethnicity and tribal tint. Asiwaju should be celebrated by black folks. This leads me to the second issue that I disagreed with. It is not true that Chief Bode Thomas slapped the Alafin of Oyo, and we should not allow that misinformation to tarnish his memory.  He was a highly intelligent man. To Chief Thomas, docility was a scourge and fumbling constituted an abomination. Like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he was a genuine leader with keen belief in hard work. Yes, he addressed the revered King in a rude manner.  The reaction is now a lesson for all of us.             

I also disagree that former President Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan deserves more credit than Asiwaju for the assumption of power by President Muhammadu Buhari as vaguely implied. The Constitution requires the loser in an electoral contest to hands off governance.  In a sane society, anyone who runs afoul of such legal requirement is expected to be tried and imprisoned  to serve as a deterrent to others.   It does not need the kind of celebration that attends Jonathan’s discordancy from power to the extent that the nation is afraid to prosecute him for the horrible mismanagement that occurred during his administration. Well, in our own society of the blinds, a one-eyed person is the King of rabble-rousers.  In contrast, there is no constitutional requirement for Asiwaju, the Colossus, to step down for anyone.  He cannot be punished by law if he insists that if he would not be on the ticket there would be no show.  If he had done that, many in position today would not have been, and Nigeria under Jonathan would have been totally drained.  Instead, he jettisoned his personal ambition for the greater goal and he achieved it.  He refused to be a leper for many to “eat.” In my humble view, he deserves all the accolades. The authors recorded for history sayings and statements made by leading politicians on the character of Asiwaju, including his traducers. For example, hear my brother governor in Ibadan as recorded in the book. “Senator Abiola Ajimobi, governor of Oyo state put in proper perspective, the political enslavement Asiwaju had recently fought and won like his great, great paternal grandmother: “But for the intervention of God and Asiwaju’s divine usage by the Creator, Nigeria and the south-west (political zone) would today be languishing under the rule of those whose major love is self and family.”  How then can we reduce such a great man to a Yoruba leader?       

My other historical disagreement with the authors is recorded in Chapter Three where they state thus “The NPC knew this game plan and moved in to kibosh and separate the talks between Chief Awolowo and Dr. Azikwe. While Chief Awolowo was having a discussion with Dr. Azikwe in Lagos on how his party; the AG would enter an alliance with the NCNC, a telephone call came from Kaduna. Dr. Azikwe picked the telephone and spoke with Sir Ahmadu Belo, who in turn requested to speak to Chief Awolowo. Dr. Azikiwe handed over the phone to Chief Awolowo informing him that Sir Ahmadu Bello wanted to speak to him. When Chief Awolowo picked the phone, it was not Sir Ahmadu Bello that was on the other end of the phone in Kaduna, but Chief Awolowo’s deputy; Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola. What was going on? Chief Akintola answered that, the NPC government had made offers to concede to the AG ministerial slots in a national government of coalition, if the AG was ready to play ball. Chief Awolowo was taken aback; he was the leader of the party and, if there was going to be any talks of political alliance with any political party for that matter, he should be the one to lead the negotiations. What was Chief Akintola doing in Kaduna without his knowledge? If the NCNC agreed to a government of national unity with the AG, which faction of the AG: the Awolowos or Akintolas?”  This story is partially true.  As relayed to me both by Chiefs Obafemi Awolowo and Anthony Enahoro.  The meeting referred to had in attendance, Chiefs Ernest Ikoli and Anthony Enahoro, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory was not in attendance.  Both Chiefs Ikoli and Enahoro were tactically chosen by the Action Group because of their closeness to Dr. Azikiwe. While they were meeting with Papa Zik, it was true that Chief Akintola phoned from Kaduna misrepresenting the facts.  Part of the message delivered to Zik of Africa was that the alliance was necessary to be able to put Nigeria on a strong footing and that Chief Awolowo was willing to hold the finance portfolio while Papa Zik became the Prime Minister.  Papa Enahoro told me that both he and Chief Ikoli failed to convince Zik of Afrika that Chief Akintola was at the meeting where the discussion was held but was not authorized to discuss with the NPC.

Conclusion

The book is handy and crispy. The picture of Asiwaju on the cover depicts an achiever and goal-getter of the century. Other historical pictures that will be invaluable to historians and general readers commend this beautiful work to readers. After the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, President Barrack Hussein Obama in announcing to Americans said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we got him.” He really needs to learn how Asiwaju Tinubu “got them” in Eko-Lagos- style.  The book is both a delight to read and an asset on the book shelf. The biography is indeed, the definitive political crusade of Bolanle Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu as the chief executive of Lagos state, between 1999 and 2007. The biography lay to rest the rumors, hearsays and innuendos surrounding the persona of Bolanle and his style of politics. I whole heartedly commend this authoritative, well researched and well-written biography of the King of boys, King of Governors, Senator Bola Ahmed Adekunle to all, not only for reading pleasure but to acquire historical knowledge about Nigeria, the role our women had played to liberate us and the political maneuver that led to the first coup in Nigeria. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe said “Any people that is starved with books, especially the right type of books, will suffer intellectual malnutrition, stagnation and atrophy.”  You don’t want to suffer intellectual malnutrition, stagnation and atrophy.  It is the right book to get so please get the book and read it!

* Ogbeni Lanre Banjo is a three-time governorship candidate of the National Conscience Party in Ogun State in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. He got an advanced copy of this biography from the authors in Maryland, United States of America. The North American edition, according to the authors, are expected to be released to the reading public in June 2017.

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