Politics

2023: The cat and mouse game of Tinubu, Osinbajo for APC presidential ticket

Tinubu towers above all aspirants in S’West –Ogunjebe
Osinbajo has advantages over others –Omotayo

Not known for being flippant and frivolous in his public outlook and posturing, Babatunde Raji Fashola who is the current minister in charge of the works and housing portfolios unwittingly dropped a hint during a live television interview. During a grueling session with his hosts, the former Lagos State governor quipped that his mentor and benefactor, Senator Bola Tinubu, will eventually declare his intention to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari next year.

As a guest on Channels Television’s programme ‘Hard Copy’, Fashola made the following remarks about Tinubu’s rumoured presidential bid, “I saw him last week; he didn’t tell me he is running for office and to the best of my knowledge, the last statement he made about it was that people would know in January.”

Fashola’s remarks which he made sometimes in November last year reverberated across the country’s political landscape as it gave a tacit confirmation that the strongman of Lagos politics would most likely take a dicey shot at the Presidency despite reservations in some political quarters about the possibility of his triumph at the poll. Known for his strategic thinking in politics, Tinubu indeed in January this year made what could be termed a surprise visit to the nation’s seat of power to confer on the chief occupant at Aso Villa to intimate him (Muhammadu Buhari) of his desire to vie for the plum office.

Tinubu went further to make his desire known to the larger Nigerian audience when his media minders organized an interactive session for him with members of the State House Correspondents Corps to brief them and the larger Nigerian public on the outcome of his surprise meeting with the retired General turned politician.

The former Lagos State governor in his usual boisterous self-told the jam packed hall that “I have informed the President of my ambition but I have not informed Nigerians yet, I am still consulting. And I have no problem consulting. And I’ve not set a parameter of limitation to the extent of how many people I will consult.”

The move ended months of intense speculation in the political arena on whether the APC chieftain will run for the office or not. It (move) also exposed some deep seated animosity and lack of cohesion within his immediate constituency as it provoked some heated schism within the ranks of the camp regarding the desirability or otherwise of Tinubu’s aspiration. Apart from Tinubu and Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo who is rumoured to vying for the presidency from the South West, notable other chieftains from other regions such as Governor Yahaya Bello from the North Central, Senators Orji Uzor Kalu, Rochas Okorocha and Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi from South East are all jostling for the sole ticket of the party. Attention is however being fixed on the two who are considered as the leading gladiators owing to the fact that they both hail from region where the party remains dominant. This however does not distract from the fact that other candidates are less consequential. This perhaps has become the reason the two gladiators have stepped up their ante in the build up to the forthcoming poll and that has generated intense heat in the polity.

This has however brought about cracks within the camp of the National Leader of APC as the godfather and the godson are spoiling for war with their supporters taking sides. Those in support of Bola Tinubu have continued to tell whoever cares to listen that their leader should succeed Buhari owing to the efforts he had in the past put together not only in the formation of the APC but also the eventual victory of the party in 2015. Conversely, the tendency at the other end argues that the caucus should seek to present a much younger, virile and cerebral candidate that will appeal to the mood of Nigerians whom they claim would prefer a much younger occupant for the top job.

While Tinubu has made public his aspiration, the aspiration of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo remains in the realm of speculation as he is yet to formally make open such a declaration unlike his political boss and mentor whom he served under as Lagos State commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General. That notwithstanding, his foot soldiers have been moving from one corner of the country to another to campaign for him. Several groups have even emerged with the aim of ensuring that the law professor not only wins the primaries but also the general election.

Though his quiet disposition is causing some uneasiness in the polity with observers maintaining that he may never even venture to square up against his boss for the ticket of the APC, what is however clear is that sources close to him are of the view that he will eventually declare his aspiration in due time as “he does not want to be seen as jumping the gun and incur the wrath of the INEC.” Tinubu’s supporters have also been traversing the nooks and crannies of the country with a view to drumming up support for their preferred candidate by organizing public engagements in carnival-like manner wherever they go. Many supporters of the two aspirants are not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that their candidates triumph in the end and they are using everything at their disposal to outwit one another and they have invaded the media space.

“What do you expect? Anyone who works tirelessly for the realization of an objective must be made to reap the benefits that will accrue from such efforts when the time comes for him to do so and that is what Asiwaju is trying to do and I don’t see anything wrong with that,” says a legal practitioner and politician, Dayo Ogunjebe. Ogunjebe who is a chieftain of the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA) added that the political stature of Tinubu towers above any other in the South West now and that he remains the best bet for the region’s quest to take a positive shot at the presidency.

“I ask who in the South West has the requisite credentials that match those of Asiwaju in the South West today. Who?” he asked, saying one other quality that will become very handy for the former Lagos State helmsman is his strong persona and clear head as well as his capacity to head hunt. His position sharply contrasts with that of another chieftain of the APC in Lagos, Dehinde Omotayo who argues that Tinubu has passed his prime and should allow a much younger aspirant in the person of incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo whom he stated has the right vigour and stamina to function effectively in office.

‘The office of the President is quite demanding mentally and physically and I think Professor Yemi Osinbajo has better advantages over all others in terms of physical and mental abilities to function effectively in office,” he said, adding that the country can’t afford another infirm leader after the current one.

 

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