Tinubu's 65th birthday was a turn-up of epic political proportions. But we have some gist you didn't read elsewhere.
Tinubu was celebrating his 65th birthday with a colloquium.
Tinubu celebrates his birthday annually with a colloquium.
The hall for this year’s event was packed full as usual.
The theme for the 9th Bola Ahmed Tinubu colloquium was: “Make It In Nigeria: Make What We Use, Use What We Make.”
Speeches revolved around how Nigeria can make it out of its current economic troubles by consuming what it produces and producing what it consumes.
Pulse was specially invited to this gathering of politicians and dignitaries. Yeah, we kinda brag different around here.
And as usual, our Eagle eyes didn’t miss a thing….
1. Who hired the noisy praise-singers?
As we drove to the Eko Hotel venue of the event, we couldn’t help but notice a band of drummers forming a ring at the parking lot.
These drummers wore attires bearing the logo of the APC—Nigeria’s governing party.
As we awaited our accreditation at the hotel lobby, the job description of these drummers hit home.
They drummed each time a ‘big man’ strode through the red carpet and eulogized the dignitary by chanting all sorts of appellations.
They were loud and all over the place.
They drummed when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo strode through, went into gyrations when Tinubu and some of his aides approached and went gaga when Musiliu Obanikoro, service chiefs, Governor El-Rufai, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Aliko Dangote, Kemi Adeosun, Okechukwu Enelamah etc made for the doorway of the event.
During the event, the drummers were there too, as loud as ever.
Every speaker who was a politician had his speech and introduction interrupted by drummers and more praise-singing.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State had his speech interrupted time and again by these drummers.
Who footed their bills, though?
For all that noise, their pay has got to be very huge.
2. Buhari refers to Tinubu as ‘Asiwaju of the Universe’
President Muhammadu Buhari wasn’t physically present, but he sent a representative in the person of Interior minister, Abdulrahman Dambazau.
We always thought Tinubu was Asiwaju of Lagos--or if you want a stretch, Asiwaju of Southwest Nigeria.
Pronounced as ‘Ashi-wa-ju’ in Yoruba, the title now firmly associated with the former Governor of Lagos, literally translates to ‘Pacesetter’ in the English language.
Dambazau delivered President Buhari’s speech as good as you'll want a President's speech delivered.
While reading the President’s goodwill message to the celebrant, Dambazau referred to Tinubu as the "Asiwaju of the Universe", immediately drawing plenty of applause from the audience and a broad smile from Tinubu.
ALSO READ: Aregbesola says Jagaban is a rare breed
Buhari also said “the Jagaban of Borgu is the outstanding Yoruba politician of his generation”.
3. Area boys are still a thing in Lagos
Like, you can’t even hold an event in the nation’s commercial capital without fashioning out a plan for how to deal with area boys.
Pulse counted hordes and hordes of these miscreants before and after the event, milling in and around Eko Hotel.
It was little wonder that Lagos Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, was physically present to ward off the area boys from the dignitaries.
Owoseni and his men had a tough task on their hands all day.
4. Ambode likens Tinubu to a coconut and, wait for it….
Okay, the Lagos Governor’s prepared remarks came from a good speech writer, we've got to be honest here.
Comparing Tinubu to a coconut tree that keeps bearing coconuts, seemed apt.
Ambode harped on every word and sentence as he delivered his speech.
It was a remarkable delivery.
Toward the end of the event, Tinubu had his opportunity to respond to his being compared to a coconut.
“I am not coconut”, Tinubu said, as the audience devolved into fits of laughter.
However, somewhere later in his address, Tinubu accepted his fate.
“No wonder I have coconut head”, the Asiwaju of the universe said light-heartedly, to more laughter.
5. Did Ambode throw a jibe at Fashola?
Just in case you’ve been under a rock, Ambode and his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, aren’t the best of friends at the moment.
For all about their fight and what has made them sworn enemies, please read this.
It was therefore not a surprise that Fashola was nowhere to be found during the event.
We reached out to an aide of his who told us that the minister of power, works and housing, had taken ill from his trips across Nigeria to inspect road projects and needed a rest.
We don’t believe that excuse. Not in a million years.
Fashola and Tinubu have also fallen out in the past.
Osinbajo has been around the country as well lately, but there he was at the Eko Hotel throughout the event.
So, as Ambode spoke about the coconuts the coconut tree (Tibubu) has been able to bring forth, he said something along the lines of “some will be bad coconuts…..”.
My friends and I shared knowing looks.
The only “bad coconut” borne by Tinubu that wasn’t in the room, given latest events, was……
Your guess is just as good as ours.
6. Tinubu’s wife is domineering
During cake cutting and group photo session, Senator Oluremi Tinubu who is the celebrant’s wife, took over the microphone from the comperes.
“I am going to take over from this point”, she announced.
And so it was.
Before Mrs. Tinubu's announcement, there was plenty of disorderliness on the stage as photographers hustled to take a shot or two.
Mrs. Tinubu didn’t like this, hence the takeover.
After the photo session, she announced that dignitaries should report to the next building for lunch.
Two words to describe Oluremi Tinubu on the day: Boss lady.
7. Osinbajo can be very loyal
VP Osinbajo and his pretty wife, Dolapo, sat through the entire event without a word.
They flashed an occasional broad grin this way and that.
They were enjoying the afternoon.
A few dignitaries left before the end of proceedings, noticeably Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote.
He owes his rise up the political ladder to Tinubu and on the day, he showed he’s still very loyal to his godfather.
8. Surprise guests
Pulse was a bit surprised to see a few guests walk past, before the event.
Musiliu Obanikoro? He’s never been a Tinubu or APC fan. But here he was.
Namadi Sambo? Nigeria’s immediate past Vice President was booted out of Aso Rock alongside his boss, Goodluck Jonathan, thanks to the Tinubu political machinery.
Rotimi Akeredolu? The Ondo Governor didn’t have Tinubu’s support ahead of his election, but he swaggered past us, beard gang and all.
Politicians may disagree publicly but can be buddies behind the scenes.
Here's a little warning: don’t kill or beef on their behalf.
9. Kemi Adeosun can disappear sha
Ok, so after the event, the famous area boys waylaid the dignitaries one after the other to beg for money.
Gun-toting security personnel were kicking some members of the crowd to make way for the big boys who wanted to get into their SUVs.
Eko Hotel was a huge madhouse after the event. The traffic from the event venue spilled into all of Lagos.
Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, didn’t need the services of police officers or soldiers to keep her away from miscreants and hangers-on.
She tiptoed her way out of the venue, to the parking lot and into her car without fuss.
She melted into the crowd and was out of sight before you could say 'cockney'.
No one harassed her and she didn’t need a disguise.
Get her a freaking Oscars!
10. Eko Hotel should have a wi-fi
So, we were supposed to be sending live updates from the event to the newsroom back in Lekki.
My internet Mi-fi and those of everyone else, died as soon as we sauntered into Zinnia hall, Eko Hotel.
Eko Hotel swallows your internet service provider on the best of days. Everyone knows this.
So, why didn’t the organisers of this grand birthday party make provision for something as easy, necessary and basic as a Wi-fi?
Why didn't the hotel management think of it?