Tinubu Is A Champion.
By Abraham Ariyo, M.D.
Ariyo wrote this piece in 2022. His prediction has come to reality with the emergence of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as the elected President of Nigeria
The virtue of a champion is his or her ability to dig deep down and rise up to the occasion to overcome significant adversity.
The greatest heavyweight champion of all time, the late Mohammed Ali, showed us this quality time and time again in his lifetime. He moved around effortlessly in the ring, a motion he once described as ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.’
In 1964, during his first championship fight, he challenged the mammoth champion and KO artist, the legendary Sunny Liston. Ali was just a young, 22-year-old fella who believed in himself. He and his corner were the only people in the entire world that believed he could do it.
No one else gave him a chance; the promoters, television sponsors, journalists, boxing experts and the odd makers, all wrote him off. In fact, a popular boxing writer and columnist at the time, was so sure Ali was going to be quickly flattened on the canvas, he decided to give up his expensive ringside seat. Instead, he checked into the nearest hospital’s Intensive care unit (ICU), hoping to have the first seat and access to interview Ali whenever he regained consciousness after being brutally knocked out and brought to the ICU.
But Ali rose to the occasion. He floored Liston, knocking him out to claim the heavyweight championship of the world. In 1974, he was in a similarly precarious situation when he faced George Foreman, who had knocked out every opponent. This happened in Kinshasa, Zaire in Africa. The fight was the mother of all fights and was billed as the ‘Fight of the Century’.
Again, Ali was the underdog going into that fight. No one could imagine how to survive boxing rounds with Foreman. He is one of the biggest punchers in heavyweight history. When he touched people with either hand, they crumbled onto the canvas. Foreman once threw a punch at Joe Frazier. That single punch lifted him off the floor into the sky, dropping him on the canvas. Despite this herculean task ahead of Ali in Zaire, the real characteristics of a champion came through in him. In later rounds, he bit down hard on the mouthpiece, came forward, entangled one of the world’s greatest punchers, withstood his heavy-handed punches, even asked him, ‘Is that all you got?’. He dug deep down, persevered, wore Foreman down and knocked him out.
This week, Tinubu displayed similar characteristics of a champion. He had done his homework, studied the treacherous terrain, and understood what he was getting himself into. He also had the heart of a champion and the unwavering confidence that he would win.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former Governor of Lagos state, Nigeria, transformed that state into the 5th largest economy on the continent of Africa. He began in 1999, and has successfully transferred gubernatorial powers into competent hands. This has brought stability and prosperity into the state. This has spread to some extent into the neighboring western states.
Tinubu is the single most powerful individual in Nigeria (other than the sitting President Buhari) who can deliver entire western states (6) ‘en-block’ to a party.
Despite all his political and economic successes, there are people who jealously and inherently opposed him.
Forty-eight hours leading to his All Progressive Congress (APC) party presidential primary,
all the people I spoke to counted him out.
He gave a humble and heartfelt 15-minute speech in Ogun state, the second most industrialized state in the nation, where he spoke in Yoruba to the audience. He honestly highlighted all his struggles in fighting for, nurturing and protecting democracy in Nigeria for the past 25 years. He reminded them of how he had helped people get selected and elected into offices from governorship, ministerial, vice and even the presidency. He respectfully asked them, the delegates, to vote for him. He prayed that they would not be only delegates forever, and prayed that their children would supersede him.
This benign and truthful (Emi-lokan) speech was quickly misinterpreted and used as a poison by his enemies to viciously attack him.
Therefore, leading into the election (fight), many pundits and columnists claimed that he had buried himself by that speech. There was a list in circulation showing that his name was among the 10 disqualified aspirants by the screening panel. This was followed by a reported rebuke of him by the APC party chairman over the speech, followed by a report that the same party chairman had selected and declared ‘a consensus candidate’.
With all these distractions, a true champion will not be distracted, but remain focus on the task ahead. Tinubu remained focused.
Leading into the championship rounds, there was turbulence and Tinubu was down on all cards. Further, the referee (APC chairman) was about to stop the fight and declare a winner. He was overruled by the commission (President Buhari and APC Northern Governors) correcting him that he needed to stop interfering, and that they needed to continue the fight and allow the aspirants to duke it out by themselves inside the ring.
Tinubu, bloodied and behind on all cards, entered the championship rounds like the great Ali, with vigor and renewed confidence. Roaring back like a wounded lion, he transformed his political sagacity into ring action. He moved to the center of the ring, close down on his opponent, landed the right and left combination that staggered the opponent onto the ropes. Smelling blood, Tinubu dug down, bit hard on the mouthpiece and threw the final left hook to the liver. That was it. This final blow delivered the knockout punch. The opponent was on the canvas and could not beat the count. Tinubu just won by KO and was declared the winner. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the new champion in Town.
Dr. Abraham Ariyo is a Harvard-trained Cardiologist, the Director at HeartMasters and an Interventional Cardiologist at Baylor Scott & White in Texas.