Bayo Onanuga, the Tinubu Campaign Organisation’s Director of Media and Communications, in this interview with The Punch, discusses the campaigns which will kick off this month and the chances of the All Progressive Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in the 2023 election
Why was Bola Tinubu absent from the aborted meeting of the APC presidential aspirants in Abuja?
It is not a meeting of the APC presidential campaign council, and it is not a meeting of the party itself. The candidate and his running mate were not even aware of it. It was someone’s initiative, and maybe it was not well communicated. You can also ask other presidential candidates why they didn’t turn up.
Several disgruntled aspirants and party chieftains have alleged that Tinubu is selecting people who didn’t work for his ticket into his presidential campaign team at their expense. What is your comment on that?
That is not true. Look at where we are seated, for instance. This was the office of Tein Jack-Rich. He is one of the presidential aspirants who donated his 27 state offices for the Tinubu/Shettima campaign. This is just one of them. Gov. Yahaya Bello also gave out his office in Wuse, which is well furnished, for the campaign. A lot of them have donated their offices in support of the presidential candidate. Remember that the first thing Tinubu did after winning the primary was to visit other aspirants to bring them together.
So what went wrong in the case of Amaechi and a few aggrieved presidential aspirants?
Nothing went wrong. They are still at the same party together. You need to ask the aspirants too. As far as I know, nothing went wrong.
If you insist nothing went wrong, how would you explain Amaechi’s recent outburst that delegates who voted for your principal at the last APC Convention were financially induced?
That wasn’t what Amaechi said. They took what he said out of context. The media twisted what he said. He also clarified that it wasn’t what he was talking about. There is a lot of mischief in the media today. Amaechi himself made clarifications and said that he was quoted out of context.
The political campaign begins in four weeks. Is your principal prepared for the anticipated mudslinging and image-smearing attack that would be launched at him and his running mate?
Our campaign will not be about mudslinging. We are going to keep addressing issues. We won’t go around throwing tantrums at our opponents. It will solely be about how we are going to improve things in Nigeria. Nigeria is not a bad case. We have recorded progress in many areas despite having challenges in some other areas. Our candidates are coming to improve on those challenges.
Of course, new challenges will emerge, but we are not writing off our country. We believe that some progress has been made in the last seven years under the Buhari administration. That is our position.
Don’t you think the protracted ASUU crisis can affect your campaign?
Who created the ASUU crisis? Buhari inherited the ASUU crisis. The agreement that caused the strike was done under the PDP administration. They agreed to it just to pacify ASUU, perhaps to get their votes, but Buhari has tried to implement many of the provisions in the agreement because the government is a continuum. He has tried to implement it, but ASUU keeps shifting the goalpost. The government is still not folding its hands. They have been talking to them and making them see the benefits of what the government can do to improve university education.
Before the presidential primary, Tinubu also went to see Ibrahim Babangida. This is what they all do. A few days back, Tinubu went to see Jonathan. They are elder statesmen who are now beyond partisan politics, and Obasanjo is not different. He has not endorsed any candidate because he is a father to everybody.
What is your candidate doing to appease disgruntled party members, particularly in the South-South and South East, who felt left out of his campaign train?
I suggest you wait for the composition of our campaign council. Everybody is there, and all interests are being taken care of.
By the time the list is released, you will know that everybody is on board. We have a strategic committee that includes representatives from all parts of the country. The candidate has given those who are compiling the list the instruction that everybody must be on board. We have over 20 directorates, and each one will reflect the diversity of the country.