2023 presidency: Tinubu… the challenges, the traitor within, the APC leader’s joker - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS

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Monday, May 3, 2021

2023 presidency: Tinubu… the challenges, the traitor within, the APC leader’s joker


As Nigerians continue to groan under the heavy weight of insecurity which is ravaging the nation, many are worried about the political future of the country amidst recent announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that the 2023 elections have been scheduled for February 2023.


With the announcement of the election schedule by the electoral umpire, attention is now shifting to the political arena. This is understandably so, considering the many challenges bedeviling the country, from poor economy to the rising spate of killings and kidnappings across the nation. Nigerians are weary, while the attention is now shifting to that “messiah” that will save the country.


It would not be overstating the fact that most Nigerians have lost confidence in the current leadership to change their fortunes amidst fears over the high level of insecurity. Nigerians are looking for that person that would provide that leadership and give the assurance that a better tomorrow is just around the corner.


Who then is the much awaited messiah? This development has given rise to the question of who best fits the bill. Who has the clout, the sagacity and the political dexterity that would clinch the presidency?


Today, there is no debate about the fact that the country is split across ethnic and religious divide, thus the search for that individual that will hold the nation together, considering the present fragile nature of the polity.


Though many political heavyweights are being fingered for the top job, one man that is raising dust in many cycles is the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.


Though Asiwaju Tinubu has not officially declared his intention to contest the 2023 presidency and so cannot be called an aspirant, as his aspiration is still under speculation, but activities surrounding him seem to suggest a high probability in favour of his joining the race. The speculation now is not whether he will join the presidential race, but when, barring any major incident.


Indeed, across the length and breadth of the country are different groups canvassing support for the aspiration. One of such groups is the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA 23). The driving force behind SWAGA is the Ekiti-born former Minister of Works, Senator Dayo Adeyeye.


During the launch of the Ondo State chapter of the group early last month, Senator Adeyeye had said SWAGA was committed to rallying support for Tinubu within the six South West states and beyond for him to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.


Another group in the forefront of Tinubu’s aspiration is the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Movement being championed by a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Gbolahan Yisau.


There is also the Tinubu Support Organisation which has Aminu Suleiman as its Director-General and saying the group is moving around the country to create awareness to sell the candidacy of Tinubu. The support groups kept sprouting up on a daily basis.


Tinubu’s body language is not spurning the dance of support and he has equally being busy, albeit subtly to garner support for the aspiration. Recent activities have shown that Tinubu has begun to draw from his political goodwill across the country. He has equally embarked on subtle move to keep the moment surrounding hos aspiration on course.


He recently visited the governor and people of Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari to commiserate with traders who suffered loss during an inferno in Katsina main market.


He equally donated N50million to the traders, to assuage their loss. Tinubu, though described as generous to a fault, hardly makes open donations.


Also recently, during the recent celebration of his 69th birthday, the annual Bola Ahmed Tinubu Colloquium which had held in Lagos since inception was taken to Kano. This was seen as a political master stroke by the politician.


Indeed, the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje is being touted as a likely Tinubu’s vice, anytime the Lagos-based politician decides to throw his hat into the fray. Kano State is also strategic.


After Lagos, the State has the highest number of registered voters in the country. Any politician that captures Kano is on the way to winning the presidency, as recent past experiences have shown.


Irrespective of the above, there are grave concerns about Tinubu’s ambition at a time the country is facing serious security challenges which have eroded people’s confidence in the presidency.


Although the perceived ambition of Tinubu is coming for some politicians, especially among those in his political camp as a welcome development, many are wondering if the political atmosphere is ripe for a Tinubu presidency.


The current insecurity in the country is attributed to the inability of the APC leadership to come up with workable solution to curtail the excesses of the bandits, the Boko Haram militia, their accomplices and other criminal elements perpetrating the crime of killing, kidnapping and cattle rustling across the land, like they promised before they were voted into power in 2015.


There is the fear that the people may be losing faith in the APC and a Tinubu’s ambition may not be enough to assuage the people and enable them change their mind, and if the people will not change their perception of the ruling party, it will not be in the interest of Tinubu, seen in many quarters as a political colossus, to contest, because contesting and losing will largely demystify him and thereby remove the myth about his political invisibility.


There are also those who believe that Tinubu had had the ambition of ruling Nigeria and that if he misses the opportunity of 2023, he may not have another chance, especially on account of age.


But the above calculations pale into insignificance compared to the gladiators arrayed against the aspiration of the Lion of Bourdillon from within. It is an open secret that most of the people that had sought his assistance at one point or the other have become his ‘frienemies’.


People that Tinubu ‘made’ politically are part of those against his aspiration and have teamed up with certain northern elements to scuttle his ambition.


Indeed, one of the major suprises among the forces arrayed against Tinubu is that of a well-known political ally of the APC leader who had once worked as his Commissioner before contesting and winning the governorship of his State.


Political watchers are still undecided on how to describe the administration of this former governor whose tenure witnessed unprecedented crisis between him and workers in the State, leading to a near loss of the South West State to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).


He is said to equally interested in the top job. Relationship between him and Tinubu is as cold as the Northern Pole.


At the national level, the conspiracy thickens. A major blow was dealt the Tinubu’s camp with the removal of Adams Oshiomhole as the Chairman of APC. He was a well-known ally of Tinubu and he would have staved off any opposition to Tinubu’s aspiration.


The APC leader’s woes was further compounded by the death of former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. Ajimobi was a trusted ally of Tinubu. He was trusted by all the sides and would have held fort for Tinubu in the absence of Oshiomhole as party Chairman. Unfortunately, Ajimobi died, throwing all the political calculation in disarray.


Relationship between the presidency and Asiwaju is at times best described as shaky. One would have thought that Tinubu would be a regular, welcome visitor at the presidential villa. This has not always been the case. It is even better now, it was much worse during the first term tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.


Today, Asiwaju would rather hop on his private jet to France rather than visit the villa. As people close to the astute politician have always said, Tinubu, at times grow weary of the conspiracy against him and would willingly drop the ambition, if push gets to shove.


In spite of these, the APC leader is also believed to have a lot going for him. Over the years, he had built bridges across the length and breadth of the country. There are also those who believe this should be the pay-back time for Tinubu who is believed to have made the aspiration of becoming Nigeria’s president possible for President Buhari.


This school of thought cuts across the entire country. Not only that, Tinubu is also seen as a non-pareil administrator with a knack for recognizing and mentoring talents. Though some of these talents have come round to bite the finger that fed them. One can hardly fault this leadership trait.


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was Tinubu’s Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General for the eight years that he was governor of Lagos State.


Tinubu, according to a Lagos politician, Gbolahan Akintaju is one person that has the capacity to assemble quality manpower to turn things around, going by his feat in Lagos State as governor.


“Recall that the present leadership in the country has a great manpower selected from men whom Tinubu had spotted and engaged to help turn the fortunes of Lagos State around while he held sway.


“While he was governor, the current Vice President was one of his commissioners, the current Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was his Chief of Staff in his first tenure, while the Minister of Works and Housing, Raji Fashola who went on to be his successor in office was his Chief of Staff in his second term.


“The current Minister for Interior, Rauf Aregbesola who was the immediate past governor of Osun State before his current position, was his Commissioner for Works, The Director General, Budget Office, Ben Akabueze was his Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning among many top flight professionals that he dragged into the limelight.


“This speaks volumes for his capacity for mentorship and the achievement of that team, which helped raised the Internally Generated Revenue of Lagos State from N600million where he met it in 1999 to the about N40billion monthly that it is today, that is evident of what leadership can achieve,” he said.


Tinubu is also seen as a man with a large heart and the ability to forgive easily, a trait many believe is good for those who aspire to hold such exalted position, a case in point, another Lagos politician who will rather remain anonymous, pointed out is his relationship with Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who was a commissioner under him and later with his influence became a senator of the Federal Republic, but turned his back on Tinubu and defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).


“The bitterness between them was so bad that when Obanikoro’s son, Babajide contested for the position of the Chairman of Ikoyi/Obalende Local Council Development Area and was declared winner by the election tribunal after his opponent had been declared winner by the returning officer, Tinubu allegedly ejected the council from the premises it was using, which he was said to own and promptly demolished the building, even before an appeal court overturned the position of the tribunal.


“However, Obanikoro who was at one time a minister under the PDP is back in the APC and things between him and Asiwaju Tinubu is believed to be going smoothly as if nothing negative happened in the past and Obanikoro’s son, Babajide is now a member of the House of Representatives representing one of the constituencies of Lagos State, while Obanikoro himself is believed to be getting ready to contest the senatorial seat for Lagos West.” These are goodwill jokers in Tinubu’s kitty that may prove him in good stead in the battle ahead.


However, despite Tinubu’s perceived suitability for the nation’s number one position, many political watchers have strong reservation about his supposed ambition and believe that there are many mountains that he may not be able to surmount.


Speaking on Tinubu’s suitability for the position or otherwise, a political analyst and current affairs commentator, Kunle Owoyemi fears that Tinubu’s love for politics more than humanity may be one of his undoing, noting that at this precarious stage that the nation is presently, the people needs more of a humanist in the saddle, more than a core politician.


He pointed out that one of his fears about Tinubu’s presidency is that though he is intelligent enough to know what to do at the right time, “but his love for politics and desire to be politically correct at all times may not allow him to do the right thing at the right time because he may not want to step on toes.”


According to him, “Tinubu is good, but he would rather be politically correct at a critical time than doing what the people wants.


“The nation is at a cross road, what we need now is someone who will damn the consequences and do what is right to savage the situation.”


Pointing out the position of Tinubu’s wife, Senator Oluremi on the floor of the Senate while Senator Smart Adeyemi was expressing his disgust at the deteriorating security situation in the country, and she interjected to accuse Adeyemi of speaking like an opposition member, Owoyemi said Oluremi’s position sums up the husbands political view, that in the face of crisis, he would rather look at political benefits than what will benefit the people.


Another challenge Tinubu may face if he chooses to throw his hat in the ring is the battle from his tribesmen, the Yoruba nation of South West.


“Many Yoruba people, unlike their counterparts in the Northern part of the country will rather vilify him than sing his praise at every given opportunity, considering his achievements.


In all these, one thing is clear. When the APC leader eventually declares his intention, it would not be smooth sailing.

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