Saturday, January 15, 2022 10:45 pm
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is living to his reputation as a political game changer. When he sneezes, his enemies catch cold. Since he visited President Muhammodu Buhari in Aso Rock Presidential Villa last Monday, 10th December and shared with him a lifelong ambition to run for president, the political waters have been unsettled.
“I’ve informed the president of my intention but I have not informed Nigerians yet. I’m still consulting. And I have no problem consulting. I’ve not set a parameter of limitation to the extent of how many people I will consult,” he said.
“You will soon hear. All you want to hear is the categorical declaration. You’ve gotten that truth from me that I have informed Mr. President of my ambition and you don’t expect more answers than that,” the ex-governor popularly known as Jagaban added.
That statement was all that was required to reecho the ancient cat and mouse allegory that ‘the latter must take cover, at the appearance of the former. Tinubu’s private conferment with his political associate triggered lavish reactions, especially from fellow aspirants in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, where he holds sway as National Leader. Most of the locomotion have been from the southeast, a region which has not produced the President of the country since independence, in 1960 .
In spite of the closeness of the 2023 election year, the political space had at best, been rather tepid. Tinubu’s armaments may well be the long awaited catalyst needed to energise an irksome firmament. News of his ambition have woken other aspirants from their deep slumbers.
Some of the reactions looked knee-jack or automated though. Twenty four hours after Tinubu’s heart to heart with Buhari, the President played host to another aspirant. As if in retaliation, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State stormed Aso Rock with his own ambition. Umahi who recently jumped ship to the APC from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, said he is eager to replicate how he developed Ebonyi, in the whole country.
“I told Mr President, that without prejudice to whatever will be the decision of the party, which we shall abide by, that if the party throws the ticket open or zoned to southern part of Nigeria that I believe that with what I have put in place in the past six years plus, that I’ll be running for presidency, on the platform of APC.
“So I told him and of course, he believes that whoever wants to run for president of this country must have to consult widely, go to all the leaders and that we must do everything to remove ethnicity and religion in our politics. So that this country can grow.” In a veiled allusion to Tinubu’s sturdiness he recalled the Biblical passage that “by strength shall no man prevail.”
Another southeast politician, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was next in the fray. The Senate Chief Whip and former Governor of Abia State threatened to match Tinubu “grit for grit and campaign for campaign” when the time comes.
A chieftain of the ruling party and Director General of Voice of Nigeria, VON, Mr.Osita Okechukwu enjoined Tinubu to maintain his kingmaker role instead of throwing his hat into the ring. He tasked the former Lagos State Governor to unite the country by supporting a younger aspirant from the southeast.
He said: “If one is consulted by our national leader, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on whether he should run or not for the exalted office of the President of Nigeria in 2023, my candid advice will be that he should use his abundant Almighty God’s endowment to unite the APC, and unite the South and by extension our beloved country, by backing a candidate from the southeast.”
Tinubu’s ambition may have muted the desire of other aspirants from the southwest. His political product, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is believed to also be eyeing the number one seat, has maintained a dignified silence on his leader’s teteatete with the President.
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State who is also rumoured to have a yet to be disclosed Presidential ambition held a private meeting with Tinubu shortly after his Villa visit. The meeting was described as horse trading by spin doctors. But Fayemi in statement by Yinka Oyebode, his Chief Press Secretary debunked the insinuations.
“If and when Dr Fayemi chooses to declare his interest in running for the 2023 presidential ticket, he would not be embarking on an ego trip that would warrant going into unhealthy contest with Asiwaju Tinubu or anyone else. Fayemi sees Tinubu as his leader in politics and reserves respect for him as a national leader of his party. Neither will he run the race with the intention of using it to negotiate with anyone. Rather he will run because he is convinced it is desirable for him to do so.
Some people reacted angrily to Tinubu’s consultation with Buhari. Foot soldiers of Governor Yahaya Bello who have been drumming support for the Kogi Governor’s Presidential ambition asked Tinubu to pocket his own. Oladele John Nihi coordinator of GYB2PYB support group questioned Tinubu’s lifelong Presidential ambition, urging him to support a younger aspirant.
“We are therefore on behalf of Nigerian Youth appealing to our National Leader to halt his intentions of informing Nigerians about this “lifelong ambition”, for we are not ready to cooperate; as our yearnings and cry for power would not be cowed by any sudden lifelong ambitions and mostly not by the older citizens of this country.” Nihi said.
Meanwhile the Jagaban has continued his wide consultations across the country. His visits have been greeted by mammoth crowd, the type that candidate Buhari attracted and which gave him victory at the polls. Will Aspirant Tinubu also reap bountifully from the crowd?