By Adamu Abubakar Kumo
Mentorship has been the way through which a more experienced, more skilled and usually more elderly person passes his experience, expertise, knowledge etc. to the younger ones. From education to politics, business to occupation, mentorship is instrumental to the continuance of the flow of wisdom from one generation to another.
The history of Nigeria’s founding fathers is undoubtedly that of heroes and legends who wrote their names in gold in the books of history. But, looking at today’s Nigeria, one would be right to say that the wisdom of those great men has not been successfully passed down to today’s generation.
Among the six geo-political regions of the country, South-West has distinguished itself. The region seems to uphold the principles of mentorship. From Sir Herbert Macaulay, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Samuel Akintola, Aare M.K.O. Abiola and now Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Yoruba leaders have been producing leaders who subsequently would take over from them. They deliberately ‘build’ people; they sow the seeds and look after them until they grow into large formidable and strong iroko trees that can hardly be trampled or tempered with by just lilliputians if I were to borrow Shattima’s word.
The successful emergence of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu is a testimony of the presence of mentors and the continuance of political mentorship in Yoruba land.
Asiwaju, for the past two decades, has been working, influencing the appointment of some of his mentees in strategic government positions, politically supporting his allies and subordinates to attain power and building political bridges and structures across the country. The man waited patiently until when it is time, the time for the Jagaban to reap the fruits of his labour, the time when Amaechi has support from within; the time when Lawan seems to have the blessings of some party juggernauts, the time when some northerners feel that only a Northerner can defeat the opposition’s candidate. At this precious time, Bola Ahmed ‘summoned’ his mentees across the length and breadth of the country and alas, they answered! They come in their thousands with all the vigour and support the Jagaban needs.
Despite the eloquence of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the grammar of Ayade, the bluntness of Yahaya Bello, the doggedness of Rotimi Amaechi and the ‘appeal for sympathy’ of the aspirants from the South East, Bola emerged victorious, defeating them hands down.
This ‘political war’ fought and won by the Southwesterner may compel one to ask, where are the Asiwajus of other regions? Can somebody from North-East, North-West or North-Central brag about having the capacity to do something similar to what this septuagenarian did?
The likes of Sirs Sardauna and Balewa don’t exist anymore in the North. Moreover, nobody is following the footsteps of Hassan Usman Katsina, Sir Kasim Ibrahim, Malam Aminu Kano and many other patriots – the mentorship thread is broken. Though North has been boasting of having great and influential leaders, the problem remains that none is willing to ‘nurture’ his successor.
While Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was busy contesting to become the president right from 2007, Kwankwaso was busy fighting Ganduje and so on. On his part, Bola Tinubu was busy, making sure his candidates become governors in Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, etc. He was influencing ministerial nominations, making sure he appointed Vice President. He was equally working to bring Dimeji Bankole, Ahmed Lawan, Femi Gbajabiamila etc. In other words, Tinubu was busy ‘building’ people. Because he believes even if some choose to betray him, many others will not.
The lesson Asiwaju taught most of our leaders, especially from the North, is that, if you have a plan of twenty years, start mentoring people who will help you achieve it right from today. More importantly, look beyond your family and kinsmen when choosing your proteges.
Another point of note is that you will mentor a person who may rise to a position that you have never attained. This is normal. Don’t get upset when the person tried to rub shoulders with you. Instead, be focused, determined and strategic in your dealings.
Dear Northern leaders, make sure you mentor another person who may likely take over from you. Succession is natural, if you did not breed anybody, someone may grow on his own and come to fight and overtake you one day. Mentor your proteges today to have loyal mentees that will always be proud of you tomorrow.
Adamu Abubakar Kumo wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org.