By Peter Claver Oparah
One narrative we have gotten used to, especially as the APC presidential primary nears an exciting climax is that Buhari hates Tinubu and will never hand over to him in 2023. This has almost become an anthem to faithfuls of other candidates jostling for the prime APC ticket. They sing it, they dance around it, they magnify it and proclaim it on mountain tops. Where they got this. I don’t know. Don’t attempt asking them for clarity. They will blandly tell you that they have said so and nothing more. Some claim they consulted the gods and got that revelation. Some claim they have been perfect Buhari mind-readers while some claim they got this straight from the officials at the ‘presidency’. But they have a common goal; to reap where Tinubu sowed and in their minds, creating disaffection between the two pillars on which APC stands will block off Tinubu and reward them.
The narrative goes further; Buhari will not bother himself with primaries,he will rather anoint his successor and impose such on APC and pronto, that anointed candidate will become president. Because the purveyors of these tales don’t fancy their chances against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in a free and fair primary, they forcefully tell you that APC won’t ever have a presidential primary where each delegate makes his choice for who will fly the party’s presidential flag. Buhari will do that on their behalf and single-handedly decide the party’s candidate. It doesn’t matter if such anointed candidate has no electoral worth, Buhari’s anointing will do it for him and even in the general election. It doesn’t matter if the anointed candidate can’t win his polling unit. ward, local government or state, as most of the harbingers of this tale and their supporters can’t. Nay, Buhari’s anointing will cleanse their electoral destitution and make them president.
This tale of Buhari not liking Tinubu and swearing never to hand over to him and ready to impose an APC candidate by fiat, has very wide currency particularly in the camps of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and erstwhile Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi. It is also a popular tale in the camps of the motley political upstarts and rookies that have bought APC presidential form while parading varied claims of Buhari’s endorsement and anointing.
But, as I asked one of the hawkers of this Buhari-hates-Tinubu claptrap, a lawyer that markets Osinbajo’s presidential ambition, why does Buhari hate Tinubu? What sin did Tinubu commit against Buhari that the president can (and has indeed allegedly endorsed a crowd of political rookies and standpatters to succeed him-as their tale goes) but issued a blanket fatwa against Tinubu? What did Tinubu do to Buhari to warrant such acrid hate and disgust? Did Tinubu covet Buhari’s wife? Did he plan coup against him?
My lawyer friend rambled some inchoate reasons like ‘Tinubu is a southern Muslim and can’t find a northern Christian deputy’, ‘Tinubu will be too powerful and strong for Buhari to control’, ‘Tinubu is corrupt’, ‘Tinubu already has too much in his control and Buhari won’t entrust him with presidential power’, ‘Tinubu is old’, ‘Tinubu is not healthy’, bla bla bla. This is the same with all those who parrot the charge of Buhari hating Tinubu. Beyond their incoherent rants is this morbid fear that no one can stop Tinubu and the hope that through such orchestrated incoherent rants, they might succeed in whipping Tinubu and his supporters to give up the Tinubu presidential ambition so as to create room for their disparate weak, challenged and unpopular ambitions to thrive.
But I can’t help to ask, why does Buhari hate Tinubu, if we are to go by the tale of these desperate but poorly gifted political blackmailers? Does Buhari hate Tinubu for rousing him from political retirement, gifting him a party and platform that made his presidential dream realisable in 2015? Does Buhari hate Tinubu for standing solidly behind his government in years of critical uncertainty and challenges even when Tinubu has not gotten even one contract from his government despite his huge investment in the emergence of the government? Does Buhari hate Tunubu so much because he made his presidential ambition possible in 2015 even when Buhari himself had given up hope after the 2011 election?
Some time in the past. Buhari confessed that Tinubu introduced APC to him which became the vehicle through which his ambition became a reality, is that the reason he so much hates Tinubu as the desperate tale bearers say? We won’t forget that Buhari’s wife, Aisha Buhari confessed that Tinubu was the one that convinced her to work for Buhari’s campaign. Is that the reason why Buhari hates Tinubu so much to the extent that Buhari anoints every political wayfarer to succeed him but vehemently vowed not to hand over to Tinubu? Did Buhari fear that Tinubu coveted or plan to covet his wife that he went on oath to hand over to every tom, dick and harry but not Tinubu?
During the 2015 election, when PDP realized that its time was up, it and its allied media turned its full venom on Tinubu, even when Tinubu wasn’t standing for election and unleashed a dastardly, vicious media propaganda against him for scripting the plot that was threatening its hold on power. Tinubu was targeted because of Buhari and Buhari maximally benefitted from Tinubu’s effort that earned him that scurrilous attack. Is this the reason why Buhari hates Tinubu so passionately as the floating straw men are telling us?
In October 2020, opposition politicians sponsored, enabled an atrocious protest against the Buhari government in the guise of EndSARS protest. In the protest, they specifically targeted Tinubu who has never been in Buhari government just because he is one of the strongest pillars and supporters of Buhari and APC. These sponsored hoodlums burnt and destroyed Tinubu’s properties worth billions of Naira even when he was not in Buhari’s government. Is this the reason why Buhari loathes Tinubu with passion?
Tinubu remains the greatest contributor to APC. He formed the party and has made the hugest sacrifice for the APC and Buhari government. Is this the reason Buhari hates him with bile and has sworn rather to hand over to any layabout but not Tinubu as the Aso Rock mind readers tell us?
Tinubu today draws unending bile and implacable bitter attacks from irredentist Yorubas led by Ayo Adebanjo’s Afenifere and Sunday Igboho’s Yoruba Nation, who are allies of PDP just because of his role in the emergence of Buhari and of course the Buhari government. Is this why Buhari hates Tinubu so much?
When in 2013, Tinubu took some men to Buhari’s residence in Kaduna to lure him out from a lonely life in retirement and launch a successful bid for the presidency in 2015, Osinbajo was in private law practice after a stint as Tinubu’s Attorney General. Buhari never knew him until Tinubu nominated him to Buhari as running mate. There was nothing that could have made their paths to cross. Then Amaechi was in his PDP as Rivers Governor and was just smarting from the electoral heist PDP did in 2011 for which Buhari wept and retired from politics. So how come that after Buhari accessed the presidency. he now discovered the badness of Tinubu as to swear never to hand over to him and equally discovered the goodness of Osinbajo and Amaechi as to promise them a rare anointing all the way to Aso Rock even when the duo are political destitute with no much electoral worth?
We knew how much the Buhar government suffered in the hands of Saraki led National Assembly. The emergence of Saraki and his team was because Buhari was slow to read the political tea leaves and follow Asiwaju’s political roadmap. His government paid dearly for this lethargy. It took the same Asiwaju to come up with a template that saw to the humiliation of Saraki and his cabal not only from the leadership of the National Assembly but from the chambers of NASS. This didn’t stop there as the same Tinubu template gifted Buhari with a cooperative NASS that has greatly aided his government’s delivery today. Is this why Buhari hates Tunubu so much and has sworn never to hand over to him?
I can go on and on but the fact is that the Buhari-hate-Tinubu mantra is a poorly scripted political strategy that has failed its purveyors so badly. It is pure hogwash, impotent baloney and a failed mischief. It was invented by those who do not fancy their chances in a free and fair election who wanted to invent a propaganda that will dissuade Tinubu and his supporters from throwing the potent Tinubu candidacy into the 2023 contest. Because it was founded on poorly-invented gossip and abhorrently false tittle-tattle that neither has any truth nor conform to Buhari’s well-known personal traits, it has woefully crashed for the untruth it is.
Truth is that if there is any candidate Buhari and APC are hugely indebted to and owe a unanimous support to take over the presidency, that candidate is Tinubu. All other dreamers combined don’t come near to Tinubu in terms of contribution to the party and the Buhari government and most importantly in electoral value. Yet, in his quest for the APC ticket. neither Tinubu nor his supporters have pressed this as they believe Tinubu has the capacity, the goodwill, the reach to nick the presidency on his own merits without putting the President under the pressure of endorsement. Equally Tinubu is the only one among those jostling for APC ticket with capacity to alter the outcome of the general election, either for good or for ill so he trusts on his ability and not parroting silly gossip of who the president will anoint, who he hates, loves or who he has sworn to hand over to or not hand over to. Poor hawkers, their puerile antics was not effective in stopping Tunubu from declaring for the 2023 contest and retching up incredible pan-Nigerian support on his way to nicking the APC presidential ticket. On his part, Buhari has not only vehemently refused to unleash the phantom anointing but has sent all the bevy of anointing-seeking dreamers to go campaign among the delegates because it is impossible for him to impose anyone over and above the choice of party members.
So, it is just a week to the party primary. Perhaps, just perhaps, during the remaining days to the primary, Buhari might impose his candidate and unleash his anointing oil on him and command Nigerians to vote him in as his successor next year. But from what I know of Buhari, he will never ever do that as he will prefer to watch the aspirants struggle among themselves so that the most popular, the strongest, the most likely to win the presidential election next year will emerge as candidate through the votes of delegates. Thereafter he would raise that candidate’s hand and campaign for him. That is the quintessential Buhari. I know very well that if there is need for him to anoint any candidate. he will anoint Tinubu because he owes him a huge tranche of debt of gratitude but Tinubu doesn’t need that because he has enough capacity of his own to emerge triumphant.
For all I know, Buhari has no reason to hate Tinubu or single him for persecution en route the presidency. Buhari has no history of being an ingrate and won’t retch that unpopular mark at this stage of his life. APC primary will conclude without Buhari unleashing any fiat aimed at stopping Tinubu. He has no reason to do so. contrary to the hopes and expectations of the political featherweights that have invested heavily in that strategy. So Tinubu is unstoppable in his bid to pick the APC ticket next week and win the 2023 presidential election.
*Peter Claver Oparah is a public affairs analyst