Yesterday’s formal declaration by Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo to succeed his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, has put three state governors in the South-West in a tight spot, New Telegraph has learnt.
According to reliable sources within the party in the zone, the VP’s decision to throw his hat into the presidential ring, has unsettled the three governors who would have to decide who to pitch their tents with.
Prof. Osinbajo’s declaration came exactly three months after his former principal, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, informed President Buhari of his interest to succeed him. In a short broadcast shared via his Twitter handle after months of intense speculations, Osinbajo said he wants to build on Buhari’s legacies.
The VP served in the cabinet of Tinubu in Lagos State between 1999 and 2007. The governors identified among the APC five in the zone are: Governors Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
According to the sources, two of the South-West governors will not make or show public support for either of the two aspirants until after the primaries, going by political and personal relationships. He said: “Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State already has a major decision on his hands with this declaration.
First, Osinbajo is from his state and the VP was highly influential in his emergence in the heated battle for the APC ticket in 2019. That deserves a payback at any point.
“However, Asiwaju has been his long-time ally and he massively supported him in 2019 against the huge war chest of former Governor Ibikunle Amosun who was opposed to his ambition. Even going to 2023 for his re-election, he needs both gladiators, especially Tinubu whose ‘boys’ are a major part of his political structure.”
On Akeredolu, the source said the Southern Governors’ Chairman boxed himself into a corner when he referred to Tinubu last September as the “Capone” of the APC in South-West. “It is uncertain whether Akeredolu will openly canvas for Osinbajo because he has a huge sense of respect for Tinubu and he got the former Lagos governor’s support during his second term re-election.”
While speaking during a monitored interview session on Arise TV, Akeredolu waxed lyrical about Tinubu: “For the national leader, we are waiting for him to come so that critical decisions could be taken.
He is our leader in the South and the one we can call our Capone.”
Similarly, the source said the Ekiti State Governor, Fayemi, who has been rumoured to also have interest in the 2023 presidency, may be cautious with his endorsement of either of the aspirants. “Fayemi has a governorship election to prosecute in two months’ time for APC in Ekiti State and he also has interest in the presidency. But with Prof’s declaration, it may take a cautious ap
from him to queue behind anyone for now.” While Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos State) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) have openly endorsed Tinubu’s aspiration with their public support for the various campaign and support groups backing the former governor, the VP is yet to have any state government backing his aspiration.
Meanwhile, the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), through its Secretary-General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, has said it is a good development that the zone has some of its best sons declaring to lead Nigeria. He said: “We will intervene when necessary in guiding our people on the way to go and we will also intervene if the supporters start fighting over their ambitions.
But we believe that it is good for the region and the council has no preferred aspirant. Our interest is to present our best sons for the contest.” When contacted on its position on the development, the publicity secretary of Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said the body does not have any position yet on presidential aspirants from the zone.
On its part, Convener, Yoruba Stakeholders Summit Group , (YSSG), Olufemi Lawson, said: “Political gladiators from the South- West, who are scheming to succeed President Buhari, should just sit back and ask themselves if it is fair for the South-West to produce the president again come 2023, under the same republic, while there are zones within southern Nigeria, who have never or have only been partially allowed, to occupy the position of Nigeria’s President.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos State APC spokesperson, Hon. Seye Oladejo, said the party in the state knows that VP Osinbajo is just a pawn on the chessboard of some game-masters who are jittery about Tinubu’s support across the country.
In a terse statement issued, Oladejo said: “We knew he was going to declare. They should allow us to go to the primary. Let him come and face Tinubu.
Thereisnoproblem. Iamnot worried at all. We acknowledge his constitutional right to contest. We also observed keenly how he struggled to paint his role in the past eight years in gold.
At a time l thought I was listening to a dirge until I realized it was a political declaration in the living room.
“The only demand is for us to go for the primaries. Let us see how much support Osinbajo can garner from the party members.
We know that Nigerians at this time need a prepared president who has paid his dues in enthroning democracy. Asiwaju has a lot of support across the country. We know Osinbajo is just a pawn on the chessboard of some game-masters.”