An array of common men across Nigeria shocked an audience at a colloquium to mark the 62nd birthday of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos Saturday with everyday problems they encountered living in Nigeria.
From Bayelsa to Yobe and Borno states, Abia State, Katsina, common men told harrowing stories of graduate unemployment, Boko Haram terrorism and the killing of family members. A widow spoke about the challenges she faces daily raising six children, after the death of her husband.
A farmer from Katsina said the Federal Government only sold two bags of fertiliser to him to use on his farm, wondering how that could be adequate for the farm.
The most touching of the story was that of a student from Bethesda School of the Blind in Lagos, who narrated how he became blind from a glaucoma disease on his eyes, because his parents could not raise N200,000 for the crucial operation.
‘I was not born this way”, he said. “I became blind when I was in SS2, when doctors diagnosed that I had glaucoma in my eyes. The doctors asked my mother to bring N200,000 for the operation. But my mother could only raise N20,000. That was how my eyes were left to wither away like dried leaves”, said the student, who is nursing the ambition to read Sociology in a Nigerian university.
The colloquium at the Oriental Hotel was tagged: Summit of the Common Man. It was the fifth in the series, since 2009. And it was attended by no fewer than 5 governors from APC controlled states. Apart from the host governor, Raji Fashola, others in attendance were, Governors Rotimi Amaechi, Abiola Ajumobi, Rauf Aregbesola and Ibikunle Amosun. Edo state sent its chief of staff and Imo, the deputy governor.
Others who attended included APC interim Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, a former military Head of State, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), Chief Segun Osoba, Senator Chris Ngige, Senator Biyi Durojaiye and many other prominent politicians in the APC fold.
National leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who responded to the stories by the common men described President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as shameless.
He added that rather than account for the alleged missing $20bn oil revenue, it kept giving untenable excuses.
Tinubu said, “They are so shameless that the number of years they have ruled does not matter to them. Don’t change the subject matter. Account for the missing money or go. All the explanations they gave about the missing money are just explanations. They steal from pensioners. We must kick them out.”
The APC leader hoped that the electorate would not continue to vote for a government that refused to give them electricity.
“The change is for you to vote and defend it. We must break the shackles of poverty. How can we continue to vote for a government that refused to give us petrol and which removed subsidy on petroleum products. Are we sadistic? Do we enjoy being punished?” he stated.
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, who gave the toast of the celebrator, urged the electorate to be mindful of those they elect.
He said, “ You must pay critical attention to the people you vote for. I know that we have employed somebody for the top job in this country but when we asked him about his qualifications and experience, he said he had no shoes. You must decide whether you want someone who spends most of his time in church or mosque, or the man who is ready to spend his time on the job.”
Fashola also said Tinubu had solved problems, built an array of leaders and passed the torch to them.
In his remark, Chairman of the event, The Most Reverend, Ephraim Ademowo, described the APC national leader as an uncommon man.
“He is a consummate and tested politician. A master strategist and a libertarian par excellence. He is kind to a fault.”