By Eric Elezuo
If there is one thing the 2019 General Elections revealed, apart from the shambolic organisation and execution, it is the fact that godfathers of whatever kind, can be uprooted and disgraced.
As a result, age long godfathers of Nigeria political landscape, such as Bukola Saraki, Rochas Okorocha, Ibikunle Amosun, Rabiu Kwankwaso among many others met their waterloo in the just concluded elections when the people decided that their monopoly of political events in the country is over.
However, one name is has remained the shinning light of political godfatherism. He has in the last 20 years held sway as the political be all and end all of Africa’s commercial capital, Lagos. He is the Jagaban of Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
It is known that Tinubu, has singlehandedly picked almost every political office holder in Lagos State since 1999. His invincibility in the state became more pronounced when in September, 2018, he pulled the carpet off the incumbent governor of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, ruling that he will go serve another term of office. Ambode, even with his power of incumbency and and all the state’s machinery within his disposal and use, could raise a finger in challenge of the deprivation. He succumbed like a puppet on a string; a man without origin. Today, another governor has been elected, and Ambode is on his way out.
Such is the power that Tinubu wields in Lagos State.
While the likes of Saraki, Kwankwaso, Amosun and Okorocha were depending on their hitherto waning popularity, Tinubu used every means possible, including the ones not found in the books, to retain his headship of Lagos politics. Many political analysts have pointed to his direction as the cause of the intimidation unleashed on non-Lagosians, especially of Igbo origin, thuggery during election, snatching and burning of ballot boxes and papers among others.
Tinubu is also known to be a big and generous spender, a quality that has put him in the good books of almost all Lagosians of diverse profession. It is no wonder that many see him as a demi-god, converting instantly his words to action.
But Tinubu has a history before reaching the height he found himself today:
Many has seen Asiwaju as a political godfather today, and justifiably so, but not many knew he had for years been a political godson, even a godservant. In the run-up to the 1999 elections, he was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He paid his dues. He won the AD primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial elections in competition with Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing. In April 1999, he stood for the position of Executive Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket and was elected, and there extended his larger than life existence.
Following the victory by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the April 2007 elections, Bola Tinubu was active in negotiations to bring together the fragmented opposition parties into a “mega-party” capable of challenging the PDP in 2011. In July 2009, he called for implementation of electoral reforms spelled out in the Uwais report to ensure that the 2011 elections would be as free and fair as the elections of 1993 had been. In December 2009 Tinubu supported Fashola’s candidature for a second term in office which was adjudged by the public as good.
In 2015, Tinubu and Fashola threw their full weight behind Akinwunmi Ambode, the then gubernatorial candidate of the APC who is today the performing Executive Governor of Lagos.
Tinubu is married to Oluremi Tinubu, the current Senator representing Lagos central. His mother, Abibatu Mogaji died on June 15, 2014 at the age of 96.
In giving back to the society, Asiwaju Tinubu has established industries, and employed thousands of Nigerians. His investments cut across the media, aviation, finance and many more.
His Bourdillon Ikoyi home is home to many individuals who throng there on a daily basis for one directive or assistance or another.
Asides giving employment to thousands of Nigerians, Asiwaju has uncountable unrepentant political godsons including the current governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who made the confession recently during his speech at the Bola Tinubu ninth colloquium to mark Tinubu’s 65th birthday, and former Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Comrade Ayodele Adewale, who had said that ‘wherever Asiwaju is, there will I be’.
Tinubu’s acceptance by his people is showcased wherever he goes, and it has once again been demonstrated in the election of another of his handpicked croonies, Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the next governor.
Who knows if Tinubu, in his unilateral wisdom, will find him wanting by 2023 as he, against all odds did concerning Ambode. The world is waiting to see who his latest victim will be.
And who knows if the people of Lagos would one day rise to reclaim their state as the people of Kwara did.
Time, like they always say, will surely tell.
Somali Jihadists Kill Three Americans in Attack on Kenya Military Base
Jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group on Sunday stormed a military base used by US forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region, killing three American citizens and destroying several aircraft and military vehicles, officials said.
Attackers breached heavy security at Camp Simba at dawn but were pushed back and four jihadists killed, said army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna.
The American military, however, said three US citizens died in the attack including a service member and two civilian defence contractors.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said in a statement.
Two other US Department of Defence personnel were wounded, the statement added, without giving further details.
Al-Shabaab has launched regular cross-border raids since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force protecting the internationally backed government — which the jihadists have been trying to overthrow for more than a decade.
The Lamu region, which includes popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.
Njuguna said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip” at 5:30 am but it was repulsed.
“Four terrorists’ bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said, adding that a fire had broken out but had since been dealt with.
Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.
An internal police report seen by AFP said two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.
Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.
Shabaab claimed to have killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers after the attack.
The nearby civilian airport at Manda Bay, which brings tourists visiting Lamu Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — was closed for several hours after the incident, according to the civil aviation authority.
Al-Shabaab said in a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base”.
AFRICOM accused Al-Shabaab of lying in order to create false headlines.
Shabaab countered with a second statement, saying it had been a 10-hour firefight and mocking the US “inability to fend off an attack by just a handful of steadfast Muslim men”.
The group referred to an uptick in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing the US of “strafing villages from above and indiscriminately bombarding innocent women and children.”
AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.
US military network
The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia as well as to target foreign interests.
The group has been fighting to overthrow an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2006, staging regular attacks on government buildings, hotels, security checkpoints and military bases in the country
Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.
The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.
In a November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.
On Thursday, at least three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.
According to the Institute for Security Studies, the United States has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, direct action and humanitarian activities”.