Seyi Tinubu: Son of President-Elect, a Different Kind of ‘Ajebota’, by Mohammed Abdullahi
Editor's note: Mohammed Abdullahi in this piece painted a picture of Seyi Tinubu, the son of Nigeria's president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a young man whose role in his father's presidential bid singles him out from the packs of silver spoon kids.
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I wouldn't say I like praise-singing or flattery because I believe they are traits and habits of sycophants. But every writer is also, by nature, a reporter; we always love to document our good or bad experiences. Hence, this piece is about my encounter with Seyi Tinubu, son of president-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It is about what stood out for me and my general impression of the young, successful businessman.
Economist and author Tope Fasua once narrated how Asiwaju Bola Tinubu sought him out after reading some of his commentaries on the article he (Asiwaju) had written about some economic policies.
My path to Seyi followed a similar pattern. I had written an article where I observed that Seyi was excellently upholding his father's legacy of human cultivation, which has been the biggest secret of Asiwaju's massive political network and powerbase.
I sent a link to the write-up to one of the closest guys around Seyi Tinubu, who is also a personal friend. He obviously, shared the article with Seyi and requested him to see me when next he was in Abuja. He granted his request, and when my friend confirmed he was in town, he asked me to come with him to the 'Youth House' to meet a man I had always admired for his breathtaking and compelling entrepreneurial success in marketing communications, a sector I also happen to have more than a passing interest.
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I am, by nature, an observer rather than a researcher. Most of my writings are personal commentaries on events and people. And having observed how deeply invested Seyi Tinubu had been in his father's campaigns for the country's number one administrative seat, I had initially planned to write about how his active involvement in the electioneering process is changing the almost established narrative of children of politicians not joining political struggles.
With captions such as "Seyi Tinubu inaugurates youth campaign office in Kano," "Seyi Tinubu leads one million man march for Tinubu," "Seyi Tinubu plans youth engagement forum for Tinubu," etc dominating newspaper headlines; then you know that when the story is written about those who made Asiwaju's victory possible, none would arguably deserve more praises and commendation than his own son.
Possibly for the first time in our nation's political history, the biological son of a politician is joining the campaign fray, jettisoning the 'Ajebota' practice of having children of political candidates hide away while others work their hearts out for the victory of their parents.
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But beyond what is being reported in the media, what I saw at The Youth House validated the claims Seyi made in some of his interviews about working hard to be his own man and how he was determined to create his own legacy and not tie himself to his "father's apron." I now know that those were not just mere talks.
On that Tuesday, as I saw Seyi Tinubu working his heart out, subjecting himself to a most hectic and gruelling schedule and enjoying the thrill of the struggles of life which must have made his father into the accomplished political enigma he is today, I concluded that it would be most unfair for anyone to belittle the achievements of this hardworking man simply on account of his surname.
I am sure many of us must be familiar with stories of rich kids who are totally disinterested in their own progress, not to talk of those of others, parents or not. But Seyi is one of the few exceptions, he has shown that he has a hefty dose of fighting spirit in him, and he's working hard to take charge of his life, fully secure in the knowledge that he's not responsible for what happened before he was born. He must have resolved not to let the judgements of others about whether or not his success was a consequence of his family name get him down.
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In one of his recollections of the lessons he learnt from his parents, Seyi once told a reporter:
"That's how my dad raised us to be. We were all told from day one: once you are done with school, that's all we can give you."
But in truth, Seyi did get more than a good education from his father, the Jagaban. He learnt the secret of loyalty cultivation and the benefit of investing in people.
As every good business and management student should know, the best investment, one which yields the greatest return, is in people. This skill is hardest to cultivate, but one which represents the most significant source of strength for every powerful individual; and one whose core foundation is the exclusive focus on what matters, which, to most people, is their welfare and well-being.
It is said that for a leader to earn the loyalty of his followers, he must be able to show that if they (the followers) are ready to die for him, he would at least also be willing to faint for them. A leader focuses not so much on what matters to him as a person but instead on what matters to those who follow him. By showing concern about his followers' well-being, a leader can cultivate loyalty and dedication. This is one secret Seyi Tinubu has mastered.
I visited him the same day he arrived in Abuja, so the crowd of people I saw was quite expected. Many groups were waiting to see him, aside from those with individual appointments. The Youth House witnessed a beehive of activities on the day in question, and Seyi was obviously looking very tired and overworked.
When it was my turn to see him, he first explained why the meeting would have to be brief, almost apologizing that he was falling sick. But despite the 'crazy' schedule, he had that day and its telling effect on his physical appearance, Seyi still remembered to ask me, after we were done talking, whether "everything was fine with me." I couldn't believe someone that stressed out and still had many people waiting to see him would care to know how someone was faring at that busy moment. I was impressed!
I left The Youth House with the impression that Seyi is indeed an unusual silver spoon kid. While most rich kids are brash and arrogant, Seyi is courteous, polite and friendly. He also has one of the strongest work ethics I have seen in any young man of my generation.
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No doubt, beyond his success as a politician, I believe Jagaban has done a fantastic job on the home front as well, raising a man like Seyi, who treats every man with dignity while living a life of inspiration and meaning.
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