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We owe Bisi Akande deep gratitude for his guidance – Tinubu

By Idowu Abdullahi

The All Progressive Congress (APC) National Leader, Bola Tinubu, has said that the ruling party as whole and entire political offices’ holders, past and present, of the ruling party owe Osun State former Governor, Adebisi Akande, a life time gratitude for making several parties merger possible in 2013 such that gave birth to today’s APC, the pride of the nation.

He disclosed that the successful merger of a coalition of parties into APC in 2013 were achievable without rancor through sheer dint of hard work and relentless efforts of Akande.

He said that Akande, who later emerged APC interim chairman after its formation, worked tirelessly selling a united vision to stalwarts in across different parties that formed the ruling APC which ended sixteen years reign of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during 2015 presidential election.

In his address at the public presentation of ‘‘My Participations,” the autobiography of Akande in Lagos State on Thursday, the former Lagos State Governor, described the author as a hero, a selfless leader, self-disciplined who rose from grass to grace through dint of hard work and determination.

According to Tinubu, every now and then, we come across a person so exemplary and excellent that one word seems to fit them perfectly: Hero. Chief Bisi Akande is such a person. Our lives are better because of the selfless public and private contributions he has made to this national family we call Nigeria.

While commending the author for his contribution to national development, Tinubu said that Akande’s decision to make a written record of the events, ideas and lessons of his profound life would serve to enlighten and educate both the present and the future generations.

“Being a key light in our political firmament, whatever Baba says about his life also doubles as an intimate account of the political story of Nigeria. Baba Akande represents what a public figure in Nigeria ought to be. He is what many should aspire to be. From humble beginnings, Baba Akande rose through hard work, intellect, courage, perseverance, sacrifice, dedication and what he called ‘self-tuition’.

“Baba did not walk the easy road. He earned things the hard and principled way. Nothing deterred him. Though easy-going in demeanour, he was always strong of character. Without seeing the four walls of a university, Chief Akande tutored himself so well that by age 22, he had become a qualified accountant.

“Chief Akande’s political career began with his election into the Constituent Assembly in 1977. Since then, he has not looked back. His skill and abilities catapulted him to becoming the Secretary to the State Government and Deputy Governor of old Oyo State. He then served as the second democratically-elected Governor of Osun State.

“People saw in him the rare combination of the gifts of fairness, tolerance and vision. Because of this, he was chosen as chairman of the AD, AC and ACN. As a crowning achievement regarding party leadership, he served as the APC interim chairman, helping to shepherd the historic merger of several major parties into one.

“Without Baba Akande’s sage guidance, that merger might never have come to pass. We owe him deep gratitude for his singular devotion to consummating the complicated merger in such a positive manner that then Candidate General Muhammadu Buhari was able to demonstrate his popularity by achieving a monumental victory in the 2015 election,” he said.

On his personal relationship with the author, Tinubu said, “the connection I share with Chief Akande is longstanding and broad. We have been fellow travellers in the struggle for democracy and progressive governance. We also shared similar backgrounds in Accounting and Finance. We both honed our accounting skills in oil companies, Baba in British Petroleum, me in Mobil, before our forays into politics.

“The book ‘MY PARTICIPATIONS’ is razor-sharp. Apart from giving valuable insights into the makings of this great Nigerian, it provides a view of our political intricacies through the gifted lens of one of our foremost public figures.

“Among important issues highlighted in the book is the historic merger of the ACN, CPC, ANPP and a faction of APGA in the APC. Writing on Page 445, Chief Akande gave the background to the alliance. He wrote: “In the new year of 2013, Bola Tinubu began to engage me consistently on the need for the Yoruba in the South-West to work politically together with the Hausa and Fulani of the North-West.

“He suggested and encouraged me that we both visit Muhammadu Buhari in Kaduna. It was my first time of meeting Buhari in his home and I was attracted to his personal values and austere life. We joined him at lunch, chatted heartily and agreed to work together again. Things began to happen quickly thereafter.

“Chief Akande writes frankly. He does not sugarcoat or obscure. He says what he sees. Some people wished this book never to see the light of day because they received the words of his sharp pen for their negative roles in key events. Given his kind nature, however, there are many others who won his admiration. As author Amit Kalantri quipped, “An honest man speaks the truth; don’t expect him to speak sweet.”

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