By Suleiman Umaru
With the rumours making the rounds that President Muammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, has a soft –spot for Yemi Osinbajo, a Law Professor and Vice President to be the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Presidential Candidate in the 2023, general elections may have encouraged Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, popular , Jagaban to open up on his Presidential Ambition.
He had visited the Katsina state born Nigerian President on Monday, January 10, 2022, to inform him of his interest to be the party flag bearer in the 2023 general elections and to drum his support. Describing it as a ‘’life- long ambition’’, the APC National Leader who at one time had said that he was not in a hurry to inform the Nigerian President about his Presidential ambition ‘’to avoid distracting him from office’’ may have suddenly found it necessary to do so because the retired Army General had said in an interview with Channels Television recently that he will not disclose ‘’the identity of the person who would succeed him for his safety’’.
He may have alluded to Osinbajo, the Vice President because of his unalloyed loyalty which had won the heart of the power brokers in the north, including Gen.Ibrahim Babangida,rtd, a former military President. The Lagos Jagaban may have known that he game is up that he had to tell the retired Army General of his intention to run for the office of the Nigerian President in 2023. He had supported Buhari, in the 2015 and 2019, general elections with his resources to emerge as the president of Nigeria by beating the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP,Candidates at the two separate elections. They were Goodluck Jonathan, and incumbent President in 2015, and Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President in 2019.
Perhaps to prevent him from endorsing Osinbanjo, or any other Candidate from the party in the 2023, general elections, he was said to have made it clear to the president the APC Leader and political ally of his Presidential ambition, stressing that he never asked him ‘’not to attempt to pursue the ambition’’. Hear him: ‘’It is a life- long ambition, so why do I expect him to say more than that, meaning that he is unstopable.
Prior to the visit to the President, Abdulmumin Jubrin,a former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations and Director- General, of Tinubu Support Groups Management Council, had said that , ‘’although Tinubu is yet to officially declare his interest in the 2023 Presidential race on the Ticket of the APC, but it is a done deal that the APC Chieftain’’, described in political circles as kingmaker , ‘’will contest the election’’.
The Vice President continued presence at the Authority of Heads of States and Government meetings of member countries of the Economic of West African States, ECOWAS, in Ghana at the instance of Buhari, may have unsettled the Jagaban who has become convinced that Buhari has his eyes on the Law Professor and the country’s Vice President to succeed him.
Many had expected the Nigerian President to be at the recent ECOWAS meeting in Accra, Ghana, where important decisions were taken by the ECOWAS sub-regional leaders ‘’to impose sanctions on the military Junta in Mali by withdrawing their respective countries Ambassadors from Mali as well as close the land and air borders with it for daring the body.
The neighbouring West African country, which had been accused of exporting terrorists to Nigeria, over the years, had drawn up a five-year transition programme for return the country to Democracy against the wish of the ECOWAS leaders. Worried by the tough decisions taken by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government which also included the suspension of the country from all Commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member countries and Mali’’, to force Assimi Goita, the country’s transition President to force him to drop the transition schedule and draw up a nee acceptable time table that would not beyond six months, may have encouraged him to send a Special Envoy to the Nigerian President to brief and solicit for his support to see that action of the ECOWAS Leaders was rescinded thaey pursue their transition programme.
. The Nigerian President was may have promised to do his best for the sister country within the requirements of the ECOWAS but that was how he could go. Given the briefings from Osinbajo, the Vice President who had represented him at the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government meeting, may have informed why Buhari had vowed to implement all the decisions taken at the meeting
Member countries of the economic bloc had already rejected the transition schedule proposed by the Malian military clique, as ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government sanctions against the country have begun to have desired effect on the government activities as the transition President and his officials are now running from pillar to post to see how to win the heart of the ECOWAS Leaders who are bent on force thing junta to submission.
Recall that last November, the Vice President had represented Buhari at the ECOWAS meeting in Ghana on the political situation in Guinea and Mali. Tinubu may have read the handwriting on the walls that with the continued sending out of the Vice President to the ECOWAS meetings in the recent time was a clear indication that the Redeem Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor may have an edge over him if he continues to keep his interest to run for the country’s Presidency a closely guided secret.
Bababatunde Fashola, a former governor of Lagos state and now minister of Works and Housing, had said that the APC National Leader has not told him of his ‘’Presidential ambition let alone discussing the matter with him’’.
While the APC National Leader, is still perfecting plans, to win the heart of the Party Leadership and Buhari to support his Presidential Ambition, Aliyu Babangida, a Chieftain of the PDP, and former governor of Niger state had said that the party has zoned the 2023 Presidential ticket to the north and the rumour making the rounds is that Atuku, who had slugged it out with Buhari in the 2019, general elections but lost, may emerge as the party Consensus Candidate. Initially, the Party leadership had thrown it for all Contestants in order to the give the south east and Candidates from other regions the opportunity to contest the primaries.
The argument in political circles is that that the former Vice President despite his frosty relationship with the elder statesman, Olusegun Obasanjo, a former Nigerian President , remain ‘’the best choice for the Opposition PDP, to wrest power from the ruling APC, in the 2023, general elections’’.
Political analysts would want Tinubu and other APC Chieftains interested in contesting the 2023, general elections, to look beyond the party as the Party have the PDP which is still recovering from the shocks of 2015 and 2019 general elections to contend with. The APC Leadership may not have seen the Opposition PDP as a major threat in the upcoming election going by a statement by Mai Mala Buni, Chairman of the Caretaker –Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee and governor of Yobe state that ‘’the party would rule the country for an interrupted 36 years compared to the PDP 16 years’’. This may have given Tinubu the impression that he is the next President of Nigeria if he emerges as the ruling APC Presidential Candidate in the upcoming 2023 general elections.
As a prelude to preparing the ground for selecting the party 2023 Presidential ticket, Buhari, was said to to have given the nod to the Buni led Caretaker – Extra –Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee the nod to go ahead and hold the Convention to elect the National Officers of the party in February 2022.
This is where Tinubu may have to prove his popularity by ensuring that his Candidates emerge as the party National Officers of the Paarty to pave the way for him to emerge as theflag bearer in the 2023, general elections.