I have given this gist before, but let me give the updated version for those of us who could not afford a smartphone at the time.
It was my brother, the young and energetic Managing Director of the GIG Group, Chidi Ajaere, who showed me a clip on his phone.
He had said, “Edgar, come make me show you something.” It was him sitting beside the Asiwaju as he received the capitulation call from President Jonathan.
Jonathan was congratulating Tinubu for fighting a good fight and informing him that he would be calling Buhari immediately after to concede.
Asiwaju thanked him for his humility and called him a statesman, and also commended him for taking this position, which had saved Nigeria from a lot of uncertainty.
Immediately after I finished watching, I had a brainwave. Why not do a book on Tinubu in my usual style, capturing the campaign to this moment?
This was Tinubu at the peak. His crowning achievement came when he was simply bigger than the Nigerian President—or any President, for that matter.
He had superintended the routing of a sitting President and installed the opposition after numerous failed attempts.
By now you should know that I am four people away from anybody in this country, from Buhari to the Lastma man that will catch you at Obalende.
So I called my other brother, Segun Akande,… Segun is very close to the super influential Wale Edun, who served Tinubu as Commissioner of Finance and is one of the most brilliant investment bankers in this country.
Mr. Edun agreed to a meeting. I told him the plan and he felt it was a brilliant idea as it didn’t go beyond that period and, as such, wouldn’t run into any turbulence.
He asked for time to set up a face-to-face meeting with Asiwaju. I thanked him and left.
Then I met Seyi Tinubu at my big brother’s, Uwem Whytes’, house. Uwem is the husband of my sister Clara. Uwem is one of the biggest networkers in this country and his parties pull in the biggest.
It was at one of his parties that I met Kola Abiola and Tunde Fowler, the brilliant tax man who revolutionized space.
Do you know this man? He asks me This is Seyi Tinubu. You should get close. Seyi, this is Edgar, a columnist, and my mad brother.
Seyi and I immediately went into a discussion, and I mentioned my project on his father and my meeting with Mr. Edun.
He liked the idea and gave me his numbers, saying that he would fast-track the meeting with his father and promptly forgot to pick up my calls after that.
I had totally given up when Segun called to say “Oya, the meeting is set for Bourdillon”.
We hitched two “okadas” and went straight. Our names were at the gate, and we secured entry easily and accessed the huge house.
Immediately we entered, I saw my senior colleague, Tunde Rahman, who I greeted with all the respect he deserves for being a very brilliant journalist.
My other brother, Demola Oshodi, came out to hug me. Demola has been part of Asiwaju’s inner circle for a bit. A superbly brilliant strategist who was brought in from the UK.
He is married to the equally engaging Titilayo Oshodi, who is sister-in-law to my adopted daughter Ijeoma, whose husband Dare was my boy at BGL.
Edgar, what did you do here? “Demola quips.” You think I’m just saying na to get Asiwaju. I’ll lead a protest. a delegation from Akwa Ibom to come to see the legend, I replied.
We laughed and hugged. I hadn’t seen him in ages. Tunji Bello, the current Commissioner for Environment, was there too, and some very big, strong Yoruba men that I do not know.
Then Seyi walks in, shocked to see me, greets me, and says, “Oh, you made it.” I say, using small eyes, look at me.
Then Asiwaju came out and walked straight to me. I wasn’t sure if I should kneel down, bend down, roll on the floor, or just stand there.
I looked at Segun to copy whatever he was doing. Segun was British and just stood there and said, “Good afternoon, sir,” the way David Beckham would greet Putin.
Asiwaju wasn’t handsome. But you could see that he must have been good-looking in his hey days.
His eyes were engaging but tired. I’m exhausted. He slurred his speech but had a kind face. His skin was ashen dark and he wore a brown agbada.
He looked like the nice old man down the street who would sit on his veranda and read the Daily Times and was always up for discussions on politics and other issues.
Mr. Edun said, “This is the Edgar I told you about. The one that wanted to write the book on you ‘
He said, “Oh, OK, Edgar, sit down and how are you?” His chef was carrying a tray with his lunch and had been chasing him all over the house so he could eat.
But Asiwaju was jumping from one meeting to the next, even within his own house, his energy belying his frail physical outlook.
I knew I had less than 5 minutes, so I gave it my best shot. He liked the idea and asked some nice questions, which I answered brilliantly.
He thanked me for considering him worthy of the project and handed me over to Mr. Rahman and said, “Tune work with him” and walked away with the chef and all the rest running after him.
As I watched him walk away, I began to ask myself how such a frail but highly intelligent man could become the focal point of a complex country of 200 million people.
I am still looking for an answer to that question. The following months will throw up the answer.
Would he be enthroned or would he be totally demystified? We remain patient as we watch events unfold.
Time will soon tell. Let’s be patient.
The Duke of Shomolu