Nigerian Untouchables (2): Bola Ahmed Tinubu

By Adeola Aderounmu

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, just like Orji Uzor Kalu, has a moral burden. If he is innocent, he should be suing Ribadu’s ass too up to hell. Early in 2007, Ribadu the EFCC boss said the commission was investigating Tinubu in a case that had an international dimension. The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) also accused Tinubu of operating some 16 foreign accounts in the names of his wife and children, as against the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which bars serving public officials from operating accounts outside the shores of Nigeria.

Tinubu had challenged the EFCC, the ICPC and the other anticorruption agencies to provide evidence of his wrong doings or go rot in hell. However, this kind of allegation is not something that someone should deny on the pages of a newspaper, it behooves on the person being accused or indicted to seek redress using the judiciary in this case.

From another angle, it appears that the EFCC may have given the glory to the looters. I have predicted that it may take 9 years to bring all the corrupt 35 governors to justice if the operations of the EFCC continue at the current rate. It is not still clear what has happened all of a sudden to the May 29 deadline that Ribadu was chorusing. There was a lot of anxiety created by the media hype concerning the destiny that awaited the likes of Tinubu.

But was Tinubu actually corrupt? This is left for Ribadu and the other agencies that rang the bell to prove in the court of law. Until that time that Tinubu would be in the same shoes as we now have Ibori and Fayose, let me continue to describe him profusely as an untouchable.


Tinubu became the governor or Lagos in 1999 and vacated the seat after 8 years as the number one man in Lagos. For 8 long years, Lagosians were steered and directed by Tinubu. What can a person achieve in 8 years? I know 8 years is long enough to earn 3 academic degrees or a dozen of it if we follow our illiterate politicians to the online approach. In 8 years, a medical student should have become a medical practitioner if he or she is successful. A child born in 1999 would be in primary 3 or 4 in 2007.

To some people 8 years means nothing! It seemed like yesterday to them and therefore they don’t expect any meaningful progress in governance in 8 years. Some people don’t think 8 years is long enough to touch positively on all aspects of our lives. Clearly, Babangida used 8 years to destroy Nigeria, Obasanjo did the same in his smuggled 2nd and 3rd terms in office as a politician and virtually all the governors and local government chairmen followed the trend of spending 8 years or less to confine over 90% of Nigerian permanently below the poverty level! Tragic!

People who live in Lagos will have to counter the opinion of some of us who are no longer permanent resident of Lagos that Tinubu was a failure (overall) as the governor of Lagos. I lived in Lagos when Tinubu became the governor. I knew when some roads in Surulere area were repaired and there was one particular road close to Ojuelegba area that was even done twice to my amazement. Either there were complains on how the job was done or it was re-surfaced to please Obasanjo as a visitor, I wouldn’t know. There may have been other pluses for Tinubu here and there but when I returned to Lagos after 5 years of sojourn abroad, I saw a government that has failed the ordinary people. I am almost convinced that it will take more than an average intelligence to fix the transport wahala in Lagos. So, you can imagine the deadlock with unintelligent minds rotating offices and looting just like that!

In fairness though, the uneven development of Nigeria and economic prowess of Lagos that continue to aid the mad rush to Lagos from all over Nigeria and Africa are taking negative (rather than positive) tolls on Lagos. Who can solve the problems of Lagos? This state definitely needs better managers. Would it take an unborn genius to know that the transportation problem in Lagos is an everlasting pain in the absence of a metro/Tram system? Bus lanes and LASTMA are mediocrity in approaches. A means to oppress, suppress and cause unnecessary hardship I would say if you probe me further.

Aside transportation, there are other serious problems in Lagos. Housing, water, environmental sanitation, extremely bad road, dilapidated schools, rage of armed robbery (which is a nationwide phenomenon anyway) and lawlessness are parts and parcel of Lagos. Power supply is bad in Nigeria; the situation is extreme in Lagos. Perhaps this may not be unconnected with haphazard existence of everything. Urban planning is sort of relegated in many parts of Lagos. In my own observation, after 8 years of Tinubu, Lagos was nothing to write home about. Maybe Alausa is beautiful, but what Chidi Anyaeche gave us in this graphic reporting sum up Tinubu’s Lagos. The dreadful revelations in this report are simply indefensible by any standard. Earlier, in how dangerous is Lagos I have challenged the new selected governor of Lagos and the Oba of Lagos on the embarrassing status of their common domain.

It may appear easy though to blame some of the shortcomings of Ahmed on the nonsense perpetrated by Obasanjo when he disobeyed a court ruling and deprived Lagos of Local government funds for 18 months. The wicked man probably withheld more than 200 billion naira from Lagos State under Ahmed. Yet Ahmed Tinubu couldn’t stop boasting of his fulfillment in his administration internally-generated revenue (IGR) which he said rose to about N5 billion monthly from the N600 million that was the case in 1999. He said most capital projects in the state are being financed with the IGR. The question is, in what ways have these projects impacted on the people’s life. Tinubu should take a tour of Lagos as a private citizen and tell us his observations after the tour de Lagos. This is the same Tinubu that chastised the federal government macro-economics in increasing foreign reserves and spreading poverty at the same time. How was his performance better at the state level? With all the bad roads, death traps, dilapidated schools and the gimmicks of commissioning new ones, what was the rationale for giving 2.5 million to The Church as an outgoing governor? Was that part of the capital project that the IGR was meant for? To what end? 

Digression ends

Back to the charges of corruption against Tinubu. Is Tinubu, their Asiwaju innocent? Is that why he is still untouchable? An innocent man cannot be touched unless trumped-up charges are made in the first place. Tinubu has challenged the EFCC on a number of occasions, even when EFCC stated that it had facts against the former governor. In June 2007, in what appeared like paying evil with good, Tinubu advocated for the sustenance of the EFCC. Hear him, “EFCC is like a deterrent to mismanagement and fraud, but should not be used to settle scores. We all unanimously agreed to fight fraud collectively. I did not see any charge sheet of fraud, mismanagement or irregularity presented to me by EFCC”. See here. However, in what then appears like a funny drama of our time, earlier in February, Tinubu was one of those who went to court to stop the EFCC from arresting or prosecuting him. Later in May, Tinubu had a faceoff with EFCC

As stated earlier, Tinubu has been accused of owning 16 foreign accounts with some reportedly operated with the names of his children and relatives. Tinubu charged the EFCC to publish the date the said foreign accounts were last operated. “Shame on them that they even joined my children in the fight I put up with them against tyranny and oppression; I teach my children how to live happily; how to be prudent and how to save the little gifts given to them by the people and my friends. They would be fast to publish anything against me, but they cannot publish the accounts they run for their concubines all over the world. I say shame on them for not having the courage to publish those ones,” he said.

Asking that the EFCC should state when the accounts were last operated is a dubious deviation. It is not the same as saying the accounts didn’t exist. Anyway, it doesn’t confirm that the accounts are dubious either. But does it mean the accounts were operated before and had been emptied and inactivated once the purpose of money laundering had been accomplished? That would be a typical 419 concept of offshore siphoning. Again, teaching one children’s to be prudent does not mean one cannot be a thief or looter. It is not implied or inferred in anyway.

Guessing and assumptions will not help much. Hence, the EFCC must take up this challenge in earnest if it had not. We don’t want to read it from other places on the internet. We want to hear it in a press conference that the EFCC has completed their investigations and are now ready to go ahead with the prosecution of the man-Tinubu. The EFCC should give us the details directly. We want to see all the 16 accounts released by the EFCC? We want to know whether all the rantings about Tinubu were mere public gimmicks or true stories. Stop fooling around, ok? But if Ribadu has wrongly accused Tinubu in the name of the opposition to the yeye plus useless third term of Obasanjo, then he should tender a public apology to Tinubu. There is no harm in apologizing.

Before we forget though, Tinubu’s campaign in 1999 and 2003 were based on the same promises having failed in the first term to deliver. He cajoled the people twice. Anyway, do the votes really count? He boasted on how he out-smarted the PDP in Lagos during his time. He is also known to be a big donor to AC . Anyone who can boast of single-handedly funding the bulk of the money needed to run a political party needs to be scrutinized intensively.

In addition, why did Tinubu forced Fasola on Lagosians after previously swearing that he would not interfere with the process through which a governorship candidate would emerge? Was it one of those their smart political moves of CYA-cover your ass. Tinubu invariably singlehandedly installed Fasola in what would appear like you are my boy, you will see evil but you will not talk about it and I am your maker! In the words of a big liar “ “I am a democrat and I have no intention to impose any candidate on the party . Now that Umaru has released all the funds withheld by the mean and stubborn Obasanjo, who knows how much is Tinubu’s cut? All those local government chairmen, what do they even do sef? They are closest to the people just to share allocations/money and to remind the people of their extreme impoverishment. What a scandalous country?

Nigerians in the diaspora are not helping the political madness in Nigeria at all. Imagine that Tinubu received an award in London for his contributions to the development of Lagos! Which Lagos? The one that I know? How much did he pay the yeye organizers of the awards? How many people died as a result of the resultant financial recklessness or negligence in Lagos? It is 100% wrong to say that a governor or any public servant tried when passing remarks on jobs well done or not. Whatever good things anyone does in public office is not a favor; it is an obligation which the office or position demands. If a public servant or governor is not willing to serve, he or she should not vie or force his/her into position in the first place. Therefore in my own reckoning, no one had tried; anyone who did a little or all of what he should do is upholding the dignity of his office and deserves no reward on that basis per se. But on the other hand if anyone in public service stole even 1 naira, such is a thief. It’s crystal clear!

On the face value, Tinubu pretends to be smart. His utterances in favour of justice, fairness and the unity of the country cannot be ignored. His travails as part of the NADECO crew and subsequent exile were largely rewarded when he became the governor of Lagos. The custodians of history will be in a better position to elaborate on his exploits in NADECO as a mainstream actor or an opportunist in the wings.

Fasola has presented his budget to the delight of whom else but Tinubu? The point is that of continuity and that Lagosians will see improvements in their lives. For 8 years under Tinubu, in how many ways did Lagos improve? We’ll see what 403 billion naira will do in 2008 only. We are watching very closely.

Where is Nuhu Ribadu and his EFCC? Is Tinubu only just about the foreign accounts? Anything else in Nigerian being covered up? Nigerians are interested in knowing those things that have made Ahmed Tinubu one of the untouchables. To this moment, Tinubu is right. He said he sympathizes with Ribadu but now I think we are all sympathizers to the empty threats and boasts of Ribadu. If anything at all, he promised to pick up Tinubu, Kalu and Shekarau at the same time. This is the end of 2007 and Tinubu remains at large-highly untouchable!

Almost everything in life is a function of time. It will tell!

References: The Nigerian Guardian Newspaper, The Punch Newspaper, EFCC Online.

I’ll be back with The Untouchables 3.