Presidential Ascendancy: Why Asiwaju Tinubu Remains A Jinx Breaker, by Emmanuel Ajibulu
There is a popular saying that the way to success is often long, rough and difficult. This saying best described Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ascendancy to the President which he himself had noted that is “long life ambition.”
It is already not a news that the outcome of February 25, 2023 poll gave Tinubu the highest votes, although the votes in quantum and as a percentage of the total votes cast, were still the lowest by a winning candidate in the Fourth Republic. Yet that feat was entirely due to the division of the opposition, which split into three, and an unresolved internal crisis in the PDP.
The Labour Party, whose candidate was the PDP vice presidential candidate in 2019, seized the strongholds of the main opposition party in the South-East, South-South and North-Central. In Lagos where Mr Peter Obi defeated Tinubu, the PDP candidate suffered a worse rout, leaving Tinubu with a net gain of about 500,000 votes over Atiku, his closest rival.
And in Kano, where the APC share of the votes fell by half, the beneficiary was the NNPP which also seized most of what had been the PDP shares in previous elections. The crisis in the PDP also saw the party losing strategic support in especially Rivers, Oyo and Benue states.
However, before this victory the former Lagos State Governor had to weather all hurdles to first cling the ticket of his party in June, 2022 having met severe opposition from about 23 aspirants jostling for the party’s presidential flag.
That included even his political allies from the south-west zone including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Ajayi Borofice, deputy senate leader, Ibikunle Amosun and Demiji Bankole, former speaker of the House of Representatives.
In the middle of the race came permutations amongst those in the corridors of power in the villa that President Muhammadu Buhari had an annointed candidate for the 2023 presidency and certainly not Tinubu.
This was largely due to the earlier emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential flagbearer of the main opposition PDP and the need for APC to also field a northern candidate.
It was part of the political calculation that led to the sudden pronouncement by Abdullahi Adamu, APC national chairman that Ahmad Lawan, president of the Senate was the consensus candidate but that was roundly rejected even by his colleagues in the National Working Committee of the party.
A measured reprieve came the way of Tinubu when APC governors and leaders from the north conceded the contest to the south and one of the aspirants, Governor Abubakar-Badaru of Jigawa withdrew from race with only Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, Senate President Lawan and Sani Yerima, a former Zamfara governor from the north in the race.
The northern APC governors and leaders in their resolution said : “After careful deliberation, we wish to state our firm conviction that after eight years in office of President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections should be one of our teeming members from the southern states of Nigeria.
“It is a question of honour for the APC, an obligation that is not in anyway affected by the decisions taken by another political party. We affirm that upholding this principle is in the interest of building a stronger, more united and more progressive country.
“We therefore wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC’s presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states. We appeal to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries.”
After the resolution, Buhari had ordered that a consensus should be reached among the southern aspirants, but all their meeting so far have been deadlocked.
The development forced the president to summon a national caucus meeting of APC on Sunday but no resolution was reached.
Not deterred, Tinubu continued with the horse trading seeking the intervention of stakeholders, including traditional rulers, especially from the south-west.
The intervention by southern political leaders and traditional rulers from the South-West worked as aspirants from the zone except Osinbajo stepped down for Tinubu at convention in addition to those from other parts of the country.
Godswill Akpabio, former minister of Niger Delta state Affairs; Amosun, Fayemi and Bankole stepped down for the former Lagos governor.
Others were Mohammed Abubakar-Badaru, governor of Jigawa state, Ajayi Borofice, deputy senate leader and Uju Kennedy, the only female aspirant in the race.
With this development, it became an easy sail for the APC national leader who won the ticket .
This was after his famous Abeokuta declaration that it now his turn to be Nigeria’s president, especially after helping Buhari to assume the seat.
“If not for me that stood behind Buhari he wouldn’t have become the president. He tried the first time, he failed, the second time, he failed, the third time, he failed, he even wept on a national television and vowed never to contest again but I went to meet him in Kaduna and told him he will run again, I will stand by you and you will win, but you must not joke with Yorubas and he agreed.
“Since he became the president, I have never got ministerial slots, I didn’t collect any contract, I have never begged for anything from him, it is the turn of Yoruba, it is my turn.”
For those who contested with him to the ballot like Lawan he said: “the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, I would have been a little upset because you competed with me but that is over now since you can easily leak your wounds. It doesn’t take away from thanking you from the past cooperation and cool-headedness to build our country.”
After scaling the hurdles of getting the APC ticket, the Asiawaju of Lagos came under the gaze of the public about his certificates submitted at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
For instance, civil society group known as Center for Reform and Public Advocacy had issued a 48-hour ultimatum to President Buhari and the Inspector General of Police to arrest and prosecute Bola Tinubu for allegedly supplying false information to ( INEC).
According to the group, Tinubu lied in his EC9 form published by INEC when he claim that he did not attend both primary and secondary school.
The Center said the submission of Tinubu contradicted earlier claim, particularly the information he gave to the electoral umpire in 1999 in his form CF 001.
Kalu Agu, Legal Adviser of the group, Kalu Agu had said: “We wrote a petition to the IG on June 16, demanding the prosecution of Tinubu for providing false information on oath in his INEC form CF 001 which he submitted in 1999.
“Since the IG is yet to act on the petition, we are using this press conference to call on the IG to do the needful, he is not above the law, nobody is above the law, Sections 191 and 192 makes it a criminal offence to provide false information on oath. We are also calling on President Buhari to direct the IG to arrest and prosecute Tinubu for perjury, it is a very serious issue”, Kalu said.
That obstacle too was jumped by the Jagaban.
Then came the issue of a running or vice presidential candidate for which he first submitted the name of Kabir Masari, a former national welfare secretary of the APC as a placeholder for his running mate to meet up with INEC deadline.
Thereafter, Tinubu exploited the leeway in section Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
It provides that: “A candidate may withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by the candidate to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election.”
He then named Kashim Shettima, the former governor of Borno state and Masari, the placeholder gave for the place owner.
That too came with a price for Tinubu due to apprehension, especially by Christian community despite insistence that the choice was base on competence on who he can work with.
For instance the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said the situation in the country presently was not suitable for a Muslim-Muslim ticket for presidency.
Bayo Oladeji, special assistant on media and communication to CAN President had in his reaction to the choice of Shettima as the running of Tinubu, said: “CAN has stated it clearly that the situation in the country now is not sweetable for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. It is up to Nigerians to accept or reject.”
Tinubu also parted ways with his political associates and strategists, including Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to government of the federation; Yakubu Dogara; former House of Representatives Speaker, Elisha Abbo, a senator from Adamawa amongst others who worked against him at the general election.
Though APC did not experience major implosion in the built up to general elections, but the composition of the presidential campaign council almost pitched the party’s NWC against the candidate.
The Adamu-led NWC of the APC had in a leaked letter disapproved of what it called ‘solo’ presdiential campaign council constituted by Tinubu,
The APC chairman in the letter said, the NWC received with astonishment and regret, the press release by the council last Friday in which a purported list of appointees was announced, which effectively served as the approved roster of participants in the party’s presidential Campaign Council.
“Perhaps it has become necessary owing to the passage of time, that I should draw Your Excellency’s attention to the agreements that we reached in principle around the final adoption of the PCC list, based on the understanding that it was a work in progress, until such a time that the Joint NWC/PCC Committee that was established to formalise the structure and populate the list, submits its report.
“The NWC believes that any sign of disarray in the party’s ranks will undermine the spirit and ethos of the campaign and give undue alarm to faithful members and followers of the Party across the country.
“At the same, such a development would undoubtedly come as “Manna from Heaven” for the opposition parties, whose only desire when all else fails, is to see the introduction of rancour, division and disinclination in the leadership of our great party,” he said.
After that was resolved, the APC presidential candidate had to face Nigerians to campaign in the face of despair of the people attributed to the poor governance of country by his party under the leadership of the country.
It became seemingly difficult to convince Nigerians that he be voted on the platform of the party under which watch there is general insecurity and harsh economic realities.
At a point when confronted with the stalk reality at the Chatham House, he tactically distanced himself from the failed economic promises of the APC-led administration under Buhari.
He said: “I guess my name is Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the current President is Muhamudu Buhari and there is no where in the Constitution that says that a current administration can not be a continuity in their some ways. It doesn’t remove me from my adaptation to my economic philosophy and developmental programme. I did it in Lagos.”
Close to election, Tinubu faced another hurdle with the introduction of cashless policy and currency swap which many, including his opponents approved of it that it was means of weakening his financial war chest the prosecute the election and instigating the people against him because of the hardship that came there with.
The former Lagos governor’s political close ally of late and a member of his think, Nasir El-Rufai who alleged that the policy were weapons in the arsenal of a cabal in the presidential villa against the APC candidate.
Tinubu himself cried out, again in Abeokuta during campaign when he said: “Let them increase the price of fuel, let them continue to hoard fuel, only them know where they have hoarded fuel, they hoarded money, they hoarded naira; we will go and vote and we will win. Even if they changed the ink on naira notes. Whatever their plans, it will come to naught. We are going to win. Those in the PDP will lose.”
Then the election proper came and against all the odds, including his losing of Lagos where he considered the landlord, and winning only Jigawa and Borno state controlled by APC governors promised to deliver him, Tinubu crossed the sharks infested political ocean.
In what would have been the last carmel that breaks the carmel back, a trio of opposition parties, PDP, LP the African Democratic Party ( ADC), seeing that results of election favoured Tinubu, called for the outright cancellation of the presidential polls.
Chairmen of the parties, Iyorchia Ayu, Julius Abure and Ralph Nwosu, of the PDP, LP and ADC, respectively, spoke at a press conference in Abuja, described the the collation of results by INEC as a travesty and rape of democracy.
They noted that the results announced by INEC so far shows monumental disparities between the actual results reported by their party agents, members, and millions of Nigerians, on election day from the polling units.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, this is a time of great test of your integrity to use your office to save Nigeria from this electoral heist and save your legacy from the forces that seek to mar your democratic credentials.
“We do not want our people to take the laws into their hands and want the entire election cancelled, because the damage that has been done is not what you can correct, the numerous challenges is because the process has been marred by irregularities right from the beginning of the process, the coalition said.
This was just after the agents of parties, led by their PDP counterpart staged a walk out of the national collation that been there would be tantamount to endorsing an illegality.
However, from all indications it has become clearer that the Nigerian president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, truly has a date with destiny and will accordingly take oath of office on schedule, precisely on 29 May, 2023 despite court challenges to the election result and he (Tinubu) will become Nigeria’s fifth president of the Fourth Republic. May God bless and prosper Nigeria under his reign.
Emmanuel Ajibulu is an infoprenuer, publisher of veracitydesk.com.ng, writer, communication consultant and social media influencer, firstname.lastname@example.org.