By Kunle Awosiyan
After his brilliant performance at Chatham House on Monday, the only thing his opponents could pick was his delegation of powers to his subordinates to answer some questions.
I never expected Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to be commended by his opponents. In fact I will be disturbed if they begin to praise him now. May they boo him to victory in 2023.
My solace is that most of those that are kicking against his style have never held any position at any corporate organisations and those who are writing against it are living by the idea of the industry they belong to.
However for a few of us who did not just jump into writing but had got the privilege of passing through corporate setting, one can say a few things about planning, management and leadership as it’s being applied by Tinubu’s team in this campaign.
Politics apart, I have followed the organisation of the two major political parties, APC and PDP since their campaigns started and can say that Tinubu and his team had brought creativity into Nigeria’s politics.
TInubu and his team refused to be forced into old idea of political jamboree where crowd are rented to mock and praise the candidates even when they do not understand the issues at stake.
Today, politics is business where every player that must succeed must come up with the best of his creativity to sell his brand.
Let us take a look at these knowledge lines to analyse Tinubu’s campaign organisation and strategy and then compare it with his counterparts’ enthusiasm for television debates.
Then we learnt about four basic things working for a brand.
(1) Company’s knowledge
(2) Business Knowledge
(3) Industry knowledge
(4) Product knowledge
Tinubu has shown in the last few months that he has mastered these paths of knowledge more than his opponents.
(1) Company’s Knowledge; Nigeria as a Company
This is a country in need of a Chief Executive. Tinubu has created his time to study Nigeria since he left office as Lagos State governor in 2007 by refusing to field himself for any elective post; however he had created platforms and fielded many of his mentees to occupy good positions in this country. He did not just field them, he worked out the strategies to make them emerge victorious.
On this road he has also lost some contests but he has refused to succumb. On this road he has been bruised and suffered humiliation but he counts all as a learning curves towards his dream. He learnt when to fight and when not to. He learnt when to give a damn and when not to. He learnt when to associate and when not to.
On this road he has been able to identify frenemies and true friends. He learnt from those he pushed to the top as they began to malign him and in the process he formed a new team. He beat them all at the party primary. It was clear he knew more than them when the result was announced. Tinubu’s company’s knowledge as a metaphor for this country will always dwarf any of his opponents. When the southern part of his party rejected him, the north threw him up as their candidate and he won. There was a man I never thought would work for Tinubu. He is the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai but today he is a leader in Tinubu’s team. How did BAT convince El-Rufai? Perhaps we will know later.
(2) Business Knowledge: Politics as Business
Tinubu left a corporate entity to pursue politics. Believe me he meant business. He has invested in politics more than any politician in this country and of course he has enjoyed loyalty and royalty and also suffered betrayal at the same time. He remains the most investigated politician without single criminal conviction by any court of law. In this business, he has prepared to be molested, challenged, abused, cursed by those who are envious of him and those who are being used as purveyor of fake stories to smear his image. That was why he said in his presentation at the Chatham House that a particular television station was calling him out for debate so that they could use him to make money. He has identified media houses that will always mention his name to generate traffic and he is not ready to help them, so he chooses to do his business with platforms that are objective and ready to discuss real issues instead of parochial matters.
He took his campaign to business community, the farmers, the artisans, the religious bodies, the intellectuals and refused to participate in purported debates organised by his opponent’s friends. He knows the business of politics more than them and won’t allow them to bully him to submission.
(3) Industry Knowledge; Government and Public as Industry
One of the presidential candidates does not understand this industry as he is being proclaimed. He had operated at lower level of governance and had never proposed more than N200 billion budget as a state governor. Today, Lagos’ budget proposal is in trillion Naira. A monthly Internally Generated Revenue of over N50 billion is an annual IGR of some states. Another candidate is so good in commerce that he is proposing to sell all our oil refineries for $10 billion to create Small and Medium Scale Businesses if elected in 2023. To him governance happens every four years , after which he will run to Dubai to come back after another four years. Their ideas of governance are defined by television shows. Both of them seek political platforms on which they can launch their ambition every four years. But here is a Tinubu who had longed created a platform with which he grew leaders and now he is using the same APC platform to realise his ambition. To Tinubu, governance is a process that requires a lot of endurance, networking, team work, engineering and reengineering. To him, to become Nigerian president goes beyond debate, it requires daily assessment of his corporate plans, public ratings and how to win the hearts of both the elite and non-elite to his side. His strategy is a sharp deviation from the conventional debate. He daily collates his reports to strengthen his team.
(4) Product Knowledge: BAT and Democracy as a product
Tinubu sees himself as a sellable brand based on his past performance both as Lagos governor and mentor. He sees democracy as the only option to rescue this country. That was why he put his life on line to join forces with democratic minds to retire the military regime in this country. None of his present opponents were available in those dark days. During his lecture at Chatham House, he reminded the audience how he
was the sole opposition to the PDP’s 16-year misrule. He understands internal politics more than any of his opponents. While they defect from one party to another, Tinubu has never cross carpeted, instead he formed and reformed his party. He has made himself a brand not only by the design of his cap but by his jabs, his logic and strong political structure across the country. He is the only candidate whose son, Seyi is actively participating in his campaign.
-Awosiyan is a Lagos-based journalist