Asiwaju and Strategic Humility, By Tunji Bello
The title of this short piece is not exactly original. The word “Strategic Humility” was first coined brilliantly and diplomatically deployed by Dr Henry Kissinger, former American Secretary of State, who marked his centenary (100 years) birthday few days ago, in his recent book “LEADERSHIP”.
In that book, Kissinger did an analysis of six heads of state in the 20th century who he considered as great leaders. They are France’s Charles De Gaulle, Germany’s Conrad Adreneur, America’s Richard Nixon, Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat.
I may not necessarily agree with three of Kissinger’s categorization, especially Nixon, Thatcher and Sadat. But that is a topic for another day. What I however find most interesting in the book is his take on Conrad Adreneur, the German post-war Chancellor. He cited Adreneur as a man who eased Germany into the mainstream of world power. It was a remarkable feat by a great man. That Germany found its way back into the mainstream of world politics (a privilege she still enjoys till today) is the brainchild of Adreneur with his deployment of “strategic humility”.
I find these words relevant today as Asiwaju is set to take over the mantle of the nation’s leadership in a few days time. There is no dispute among those who have worked with him over the years (in government and at political level) about his adroit deployment of political strategy in resolving the unsolvable. His instinctive respect for every individual he meets speaks of humility in leadership.
Nigeria is currently in a mess both economically and politically. We are more divided today than 10 years ago. I believe his coming is at the right time because we need a leader who can stabilize and rejuvenate us.
I recently saw a bit of what is to come. First in Port Harcourt when he was invited by Governor Nyesom Wike to do the commissioning of his 12th Bridge and new Courts. Gov Wike had asked that Asiwaju’s Government should refund money the Rivers had spent on the new bridge and some federal roads in the state. Asiwaju’s remark was most Solomonic and statesmanly. He said “I owed you nothing”. His reason: we still have in place a government headed by President Buhari which must be respected.
Also, we have seen a plethora of project commissionings by President Buhari which many expected he would attend beside the incumbent leader. But he chose to avoid them in what clearly is borne out of strategic humility in not wanting to share the glory with the incumbent as the latter deserves his shine and glory.
Earlier in January when the iconic Lagos rail-line (which Asiwaju initiated as governor) was commissioned, he stayed away and allowed President Buhari to lap up the glory. The fickle-minded would have been tempted to contest the platform with Buhari on the justification that “It is my baby”. Not Asiwaju.
Perhaps the most remarkable one was the commissioning few days ago of Dangote’s Refinery at Lekki Free Trade Zone, a visionary scheme he initiated as Governor of Lagos State in 2005 in a stroke of Socratic ingenuity. Instead of being present with President Buhari at the commissioning, he sent his vice Shettima so that the present Government could carry the glory.
It was remarkable that Aliko Dangote himself referred to Tinubu as the “Asiwaju of Nigeria” on that important date to Nigeria’s economic history. In Yoruba, Asiwaju means the Leader.
Tinubu’s deft footworks actually reminded us of Nicollo Machaiavelli’s legendary postulation: “Power is alluring and infectious when you are at the top. But calmness is for the Prince of expectation and manifestiion begins when you are on the throne.”
The incoming President and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces must be ready to deploy more of that strategic humility when in office. There are more challenging times ahead. Two are quite critical: restoring confidence in our Federal Government and the ECONOMY. The Americans call it “Economy, Stupid.”
The first borders on instability in various parts of the country and growing religious intolerance. To fix the second, you have to solve the first. But given Asiwaju’s pedigree, we are assured.