by Bala Ibrahim
It is now official that the national leader of the ruling APC and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaba of Borgu, has formally tendered, or put himself forward as a contender with interest in the 2023 presidency.
On Monday, Tinubu told newsmen that he had visited and personally told President Muhammadu Buhari of his intention to contest the 2023 presidency. This has put paid, or effectively stopped the long time speculation about the ambition of Ahmed Tinubu, who said, “his ambition of becoming the president of Nigeria is a lifelong ambition”.
Since then reactions have been pouring in response to the news, with some expressing disgust, while others are excitedly supportive. Amongst the early callers with negative comments is the critic and former minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, who said, “the APC leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, does not have control of Alimosho, the largest local government area in Lagos State, what more of the whole of Nigeria. Tinubu is being over exaggerated.” Ezekwesile said, “Tinubu was only able to deliver 86,897 votes out of the 650,000 registered voters in Alimosho in the last presidential election.
Tinubu is believed to wield much power in the South West. He worked for the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. Tinubu and his like in #APCPDP control only as much as we let them. Alimosho for example, is the largest local government in Lagos State with over 1.2 million persons resident according to official census figures. In 2015, only about 650,000 of these people registered and obtained their PVCs. We must collectively tell the likes of Mr Bola Tinubu that the season of lowest common denominator of political leaders doing “turn-by-turn” incompetent governance of Nigeria is over. But the question is, “are the citizens ready to collectively do so?”
While some disagreed with Ezekwesile on this, believing Tinubu is fit for the job, methinks the collective wish of the citizens is not the biggest challenge at hand. The collective challenge to face is the blow given to the speculated ambition of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who served as the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State, when Tinubu was the governor. It is an open secret that Osinbajo wouldn’t have been where he is today if not for Tinubu’s foresight and policy of inclusiveness. Osinbajo is undoubtedly interested in the Tinubu’s tender.
But would that matter to the vice president, who has been in the villa since 2015, enjoying the paraphernalia of power and listening to the whispers of the power mongers? In such capacity, he must be feeling extremely competent to continue from where his boss stopped. Confronted with such a choice and sandwiched between it and the morals of personal loyalty to another boss, Osinbajo would be compulsorily compelled, or confused by the credo of the confidence of competence, to dare the godfather.
When asked by the press as to what he feels about the likelihood of the vice president challenging him, Tinubu was evasive, saying that he would rather not discuss any individual now but himself. He said he has the confidence, vision and capacity to build on the foundation of the president and turn Nigeria better, just as he did with commitment and yielding zeal in Lagos State.
But that is not the speculation in town. Those rooting for the vice president are saying it would be wrong of him to abandon his rumoured intention to run for president because of Tinubu, insisting that he should not allow his past to stand on his way to the future.
The biggest confusion is dependent on the body language of the president, because he holds the joker. Going by his conscious response to a question put forward to him at a recent media chat, PMB said he is not interested in who succeeds him. But if we go by his unconscious movements and postures, we can predict that the president is interested in a successor that would not become a liability to him and the country, particularly after putting a lot of efforts in the fight against the scourge of corruption.
Tinubu said when he informed the president about his intention, the president asked him to go ahead, and he believes the president is a democrat who didn’t tell him to stop chasing his ambition. But like Osinbajo, he has not been cleared of wrong doings, particularly in the area of cash and carry politicking.
Which is exactly where the leadership of the ruling APC needs to be upstanding. To ensure a proper checkmate against the evils of financial inducements, which Mr. President said he wants to eliminate, the party chairman and his lieutenants must be high-minded.
Fortunately, as a tested and trusted politician, whose major ambition is a second term in office, H.E. Mai Mala Buni, the Governor of Yobe State and the caretaker chairman of the APC, has been demonstrating decorum in this direction.
Bala Ibrahim resides in Kano
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