By Ebuka Onyekwelu
A few days ago, Chief Seyi Tinubu, the only surviving son of APC Presidential Candidate, Bola Tinubu, was in Anambra to meet and deliberate with some critical stakeholders in the State. The 37 years old Seyi, a law graduate, has in the past visited many other stakeholders across the country, inclusive of President Buhari in his hometown of Daura.
Importantly, Seyi Tinubu is the only biological child, not to mention an only son, of a frontline Presidential Candidate in Nigeria, who is actively participating in the electioneering process. No other candidate has his biological child in the field, engaging and soliciting for support. Interestingly, both Atiku Abubakar of PDP and Peter Obi of Labour Party have grown up children that can leverage their social capital and youthfulness, to canvas for votes for their fathers. But none of the duo have their children in the field. Yet, whoever wins this election, his grown children will have considerable level of influence and privileges by the virtue of their fortunate birth. But then,, Seyi Tinubu, the only surviving son of Bola Tinubu is the only one traversing the nooks and crannies of the country mobilizing support for his father. While the children of other main candidates are safely tucked in Western Countries or in their cozy comfort abode within Nigeria. This is something Nigerians must carefully consider, especially if we are talking about who is more patriotic and has faith in the future of this country, not just by some rhetorics, but by what they do.
Seyi’s visit to Anambra was an opportunity to meet him; this time, in an unusual environment. It was a chance to assess his demeanour devoid of any encumbrance. I have met Seyi before and my impression was that he is a humble person, astute and focused. But one can never be sure, because a man can appear to be anything in his natural environment.
In Anambra, Seyi was completely at home, to the extent that he described Anambra as “second home”. From the Airport, he moved straight into the waiting bus, ignoring other fanciful vehicles. His host, Uzuegbuna Okagbue, another privileged kid, but who has grown beyond his family privileges to create a solid niche for himself was, like Seyi, all relaxed and at home, along side everyone else in the team. Inside the bus, it was like a family affair with absolutely no iota of odd air, or feeling. Like others, Seyi ate in the bus and was eager to taste different Anambra soups from regular restaurants in Awka. He made particular reference to oha soup and tried to compare the one he ate that day, with the one he ate some years before, while seeking Uzuegbuna Okagbue’s input to ascertain which is better. Aside his facial identity, nothing else gives him away as the son of Tinubu; he was that normal.
During his visit to Anambra State, the first point of call was at the Palace of Igwe Peter Anugwu of Mbaukwu. Without any prior arrangement whatsoever, he was honoured with a Chieftaincy title by the very fierce and methodical Igwe Mbaukwu; a highly exposed man of means. The honour was based on the Igwe’s assessment of testimonials about Seyi, by Uzuegbuna Okagbue, whom the Igwe calls his son, and the APC Anambra State Youth Leader, Innocent Nwata. And so, Seyi came to Anambra with a face cap and left as a titled red cap Chief, having been decorated with the Chieftaincy title of Nwannedinamba (The brother in a far country).
From that point, Chief Seyi Tinubu wore his red cap with pride and throughout. The new Chief demonstrated uncanny excitement about the experience. Meanwhile, at the Igwe’s Palace, Seyi was particularly interested in understanding what was said in Igbo by some who spoke in Igbo language, that he quietly signalled the State APC Youth Leader, told him to sit beside him and interpret what was being said in Igbo to him. An honest show of interest in the ways and culture of his host. He did this in other meetings, as well. For instance, I observed when he stiltly asked ASATU National President to interpret what Uzuegbuna Okagbue said in Igbo, while Uzu was addressing the group.
At the meeting with the Anambra State Association of Town Unions -ASATU, Chief Seyi’s eloquence and clarity of thought was even more profound to the admiration of ASATU members. From there, the team moved to meet with ASATU women wing, whom Seyi called “my mothers” in his speech. One of the moments Chief Seyi was getting clarification from the leader of ASATU women was captured in a picture; a moment that aptly describes “mother and son” time. Again, validating his conviction in his earlier comment that they were his mothers.
Other engagements with the Christian Association of Nigeria -CAN, Anambra State Chapter and the Nigeria Union of Journalist- Anambra State, were all beautiful moments of open conversations with real people. Chief Seyi listened not just to hear, but also to understand any underlying background to all concerns raised. At the visit with the leadership of National Youth Council of Nigeria- NYCN, it was just like a normal boys’ timeout. The youths voiced that he would be the president of Nigeria they know, when his father wins. Somehow, Chief Seyi’s youth appeal will have a profound impact in Tinubu’s government as Nigeria’s President. Seyi would be the go-man for Nigerian youths.
Chief Seyi Tinubu didn’t just appear to these stakeholders, for appearance sake, or to just fulfil all righteousness of coming to Anambra to ask that people should support and vote for his father. He made a case for his father, and he listened to what people have to say.
If Bola Tinubu could allow his only surviving son to traverse the country, meeting and engaging different segments of the Nigerian society, despite security challenges, while other candidates have their sons safely hidden and unreachable, who then has more confidence in the future of Nigeria? Who among the top three candidates, has staked more for the country? Perhaps, who among them has a practical template for youth inclusion in governance?
Politics is full of rhetorics, but governance is about what works. In reality, no President will hire anyone randomly just because they have some good degrees or because they have social media presence. To be hired by a president is a combination of many things, including the recommendation of someone who has the president’s confidence. Therefore, the option offered by Chief Seyi is far more practical, real and fits into our experience as a people.
Nigerian voters must be well guided by these realities. A President whose only son is living with the people and going to meet them, or one whose son or children are living abroad, totally disconnected from the reality of the country. That is the choice before the people.
As Nigerians cast their ballots for the next President of the country next month, they should do well not be swayed by rhetorics.
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