When Tinubu Was Selling Rice, His Opponents Were Looting

APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu became a symbol of ridicule over his statement on maize (Agbado) business a few months ago.
The video where he spoke about “Agbado” went viral on social media platforms and shared by many who lacked knowledge of our past and how the present came into being.
Sometimes the presentation of a solution to problems may sound foolish when it is conveyed by haters. Yoruba will say “Ọ̀tá Ẹni kii pa òdù ọ̀yà”.
If Tinubu eventually succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari and turns the country around, his haters will still condemn him. To them, the country should be better but Tinubu should not be the one to do it. That is the prayer of haters.
At one of the colloquium series in honour of Tinubu, the guest speaker, the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka recalled how Asiwaju proposed the idea of selling rice to sustain chieftains and members of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO in their struggle against the military government of Gen.Sani Abacha.
As Soyinka put it, “You know Bola is a fugitive like many of us as declared by Abacha government. There was a time we had to look for what we could do to raise funds and sustain the struggle. Bola came with the idea of selling rice.
Bola said he learnt about trading rice between Taiwan and Africa and as a businessman he would be ready to sell rice during the turbulent period. The only thing he wanted from me as a Nobel laureate is a letter to give to the government of Taiwan.
I asked him to go ahead and write the letter so that I could sign it. We did and Bola began to sell rice.”
Today as little as that efforts looked then, it rescued Nigeria from military dictatorship. As Soyinka was rewinding the story, Tinubu was smiling.
It must be noted that during this that dark era, there were men who were living on the proceeds of corruption. One of them was a retired custom officer who set up a business from the illegally acquired wealth and later became a politician to loot more.
There were those who depended more on the looted public funds to operate bank business where they had bought big shares. They fronted for military brass and political class to launder money in the guise of doing banking business.
While they were helping the soldiers to loot, Tinubu was busy using his networks home and abroad, with other great Nigerians to push the military and their civilian supporters out of the system.
One of his ideas was rice business and for me his call for “Agbado” now may have got a deep interpretation only if he is allowed to implement it. As brilliant as Soyinka is, Tinubu’s rice idea amazed him as it became a solution to the NADECO problem then.
Currently, Nigeria is a big producer of rice but the government has not been able to get right the trading of this commodity. It will need the brain of Tinubu in 2023 to not only produce rice and “Agbado” but to show us how to export it and make it available to millions of Nigerians at cheaper price.
For me, while it is not right to discuss the economy of Nigeria in isolation from the global perspective, I want to see an economy that is built around the culture of the people. An economy that will produce what we can eat and also export.
At this time, I think Nigeria needs a deep thinker whose idea may sound simple, yet it will solve many problems. As Tinubu said during his visit to Awujale of Ijebu Ode, Oba Sikiru Adetona, “God has given me the brain to turn things around. If I could turn Lagos IGR from about N600 million to over N50 billion today, I see myself as the most competent among all those who are competing with me.”
Everybody wants to come to Lagos. I know how I met Lagos and what it is today, he posited.
In heavy Yoruba language, he said, “Mo mo bí a se lè sọ ìlú dẹ̀rọ̀.” I know how to solve these economic problems”. Perhaps many may not know that as exposed as Lagosians are, it was Tinubu that enforced the use of refuse bags in the state when he assumed office in 1999.
When he was talking about the idea, most residents were making mockery of him but it turned out to be the first breakthrough of his government to make Lagos clean.
LASTMA, LAWMA, Neighbourhood Watch, RRS. These are little creations of Tinubu that first looked like jokes but had since become big deals in the state.
In a few months, Lagos government will inaugurate the biggest rice mill in West Africa. It will inaugurate the biggest refinery built by Dangote group. It will inaugurate Blue and Red Railway infrastructure to support its intermodal transport system.
These were the words of one of Asiwaju’s successors and the incumbent, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, adding that this vision belonged to Tinubu.
I know that haters will say that Lagos deserves more than this judging by its monthly IGR, yes, they should also know that Lagos alone provides for more than 10 per cent of the population of this country, “over 20 million” that must be provided for, including security.
They must know that the Lagos Security Trust Fund did not come free, it is the government and private sector that contribute money to keep Lagos save for all of us.
Yet, it is a state that is never given special status like the oil producing states, despite its largest contribution to the federal purse. This is a Tinubu’s vision created by his rice selling idea during NADECO era.
Nigeria will be great again only if deep thinker can be allowed to create a new developmental template out of the culture of its citizens.
Tinubu lo le Se.


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