Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 2

How the 'Godfather' of Lagos could shape Nigeria's

government | Reuters
LAGOS "I am a talent hunter. I put talents in office, I help them," says former Lagos state governor
and opposition alliance leader Bola Tinubu, being quite open
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigeria_national_football_team about his role as one of Nigeria's most
powerful political godfathers.
"I use the best hand, the best brain, the best experience for the job," he told Reuters after voting this
month in a governorship election in Nigeria's economic capital which, as expected, his hand picked
candidate Akinwunmi Ambode won.
But it isn't only in his traditional fiefdom in the ethnic Yoruba southwest that Tinubu has sought to
be a kingmaker. His support for former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari was seen as a key factor
in the latter's win against President Goodluck Jonathan in the March 28 presidential election in
Africa's biggest economy and oil producer.
The pro-Buhari alliance that Tinubu headed, the All Progressives Congress (APC), rallied elites
around Buhari in the southwest, Nigeria's wealthiest region. That enabled Buhari to tackle a
perception that his support lies only in the dust-blown, largely Muslim north. The religiously mixed
southwest had voted overwhelmingly for Jonathan in the 2011 race.
So 'The Jagaban', an honorific title beloved of Tinubu's supporters, could have much say in what
reform policies the new government will focus on, and who fills which cabinet posts.
"The party he led is half of the APC. He can ... lay claim to that power," said Clement Nwankwo of
the Situation Room civil http://www.yohaig.ng/category/newspapers/the-nation/ society group.
"Buhari will feel (an) ... obligation to him."
To supporters Tinubu, a Yoruba Muslim, is a wily political operator with a passion for getting the job
done and a knack for picking bright, committed technocrats to do it. To critics he is a ruthless
godfather who doles out lucrative contracts to his friends' firms, insists on installing his man in
office and is capable of sending in street thugs if he fails to get his way.
The APC, which came to power on anger over corruption and growing insecurity, has declined to
speak publicly about policies.
The Nigerian practice of political godfathering has long been criticized by rights campaigners as
impeding democracy by enabling powerful oligarchs to capture state institutions.
But few deny that in Lagos, at least, the former governor managed to fix things no one thought
Under his tenure at the turn of the millennium and that of his successor Babatunde Fashola, a
technocrat hand picked by Tinubu, the city scrubbed up dramatically. Trash got collected, crime fell,
trees were planted and traffic was better managed.

"There were refuse mountains around, tax collection was very low," recalls Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, a
former council leader under Tinubu. "But very quickly he seemed to sort
http://www.nigeriaworld.com/ things out."
Gbadebo-Smith noticed an advantage Tinubu has over other Nigerian "big men" is that you could
disagree with him and he listened, changing his mind when faced with a good argument.
He also sets high standards, says Lagos waste management head Ola Oresanya, to whom Tinubu
gave three months to make a noticeable difference or be fired.
"He likes to say 'I promised I would do this, and I have.'"
But like other powerful political figures in Nigeria, Tinubu's power resides largely in the huge
patronage he wields, which has given him influence over, for instance, the 'area boys' -- Lagos street
toughs who run rackets and guard cars. Ingeniously, he gave some of them uniforms and turned
them into traffic cops.
After he voted on April 11, a group of area boys mobbed The Jagaban, and he lectured them on their
disorderly behavior.
"If you want me to do something for you, line up in an orderly manner. Then I can share my
peanuts," he told them, adding: "some of you have not even voted."
A day later, when celebrations erupted outside his home, two groups of area boys got into a fight
over money that had been distributed and they began hitting each other with planks of wood, a
Reuters reporter saw. But interviewed later, many of them said they loved Tinubu since "he's a man
of the common people."
A businessman close to him says although Tinubu runs a formidable business empire, he is often
short of cash because he gives so much away to oil the wheels of patronage.
Yet Tinubu may have less influence over Buhari than he had hoped, argues Kayode Nigerian
Akindele, CEO of consultancy 46 Parallels.
"He didn't really deliver in the southwest. It was only a slight lead," he said, compared to the
absolute thumping Jonathan received from voters in the largely Muslim north.
"The APC, post-elections, is now very northern," he added. That could limit any influence The
Jagaban has -- and replicate the north-south rivalry that divided Jonathan's outgoing party.
(Editing by Giles Elgood)