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Politicians who strengthened, repositioned opposition


Tinubu… The soul of opposition



His emergence in 1999 as the governor, under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), did not come on a platter of gold despite his financial, moral and physical support for the pro-democracy coalition, NADECO, and by extension the pan-Yoruba socio cultural organisation, Afenifere, which were then in the driver’s seat of political power allocation. Tinubu fought serious battle against Engineer Funsho Williams to become the AD governorship flag bearer, going ahead, like other AD candidates in the Southwest, to emerge the governor.

AS if to underscore his status as the de facto factor in Nigeria’s politics today and the soul of the opposition in contemporary Nigeria, former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, attracted more attention and mudslinging than tomorrow’s presidential candidate of his party; the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd)

Asiwaju (meaning leader in Yoruba language) indeed may truly be the factor. His political pedigree cannot be weaved aside willfully. In a journey that has taken him through the ill-fated Third Republic where he was a senator, to the period spent in exile, consequent of his pro-democracy activism upon the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, all through to his emergence as the Lagos State governor.

His emergence in 1999 as the governor, under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), did not come on a platter of gold despite his financial, moral and physical support for the pro-democracy coalition, NADECO, and by extension the pan-Yoruba socio cultural organisation, Afenifere, which were then in the driver’s seat of political power allocation. Tinubu fought serious battle against Engineer Funsho Williams to become the AD governorship flag bearer, going ahead, like other AD candidates in the Southwest, to emerge the governor.

Hardly settling down to savour the victory at the polls and deliver the party’s promises to the electorates, Tinubu and his colleagues in Southwest states were thrown into battle of control of the party, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the soul of the geo-political zone with President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had emerged president despite rejection of the Southwest electorates.

While Tinubu was enmeshed in the battle to remove the ethnic bias of the AD, favouring a national political movement, stalwarts of the Afenifere saw the party has its political arm and as such expect political office holders to take briefings from the socio-cultural group. This is even as Obasanjo, bitter about his rejection by his constituency and determined to make a statement in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was very busy planning a take-over of the zone.

Despite being in a rival party, Obasanjo was able to penetrate the leadership of the AD/Afenifere to such an extent that the AD adopted him as presidential candidate in 2003. This apparent over-tribalising politics in the zone soon spelt doom for the AD governors in the state; they all failed their re-election bid, all except Asiwaju. While his colleagues may have had complete trust in Obasanjo’s promise to allow a level playing field (translating doing nothing to hamper the re-election bid of the AD governors), Tinubu played it tight with the PDP governorship candidate, Williams, and managed to survive the Obasanjo assault.

Yet, the survival was not without a collateral damage. The AD was thrown into political turmoil, characterized by factions and parallel leadership. The fabric was torn and one of the shredded parts eventually became the Action Congress, under the tutelage of Tinubu. The other major part retained AD. But the AD, like the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) led by former presidential candidate, Chief Olu Falae, struggled to find a political footing in the murky waters of the polity, Tinubu-led AC gradually waxed stronger nationally.

As a result of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as well as moribund other political parties, the AC emerged the main opposition to the PDP, to such an extent of benefitting from Obasanjo discord with Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who picked the AC presidential ticket in 2007.

Atiku, however, failed to win the presidency, the party made its mark by attracting more politicians, like the Anambra State governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, and Labour Party’s Comrade Adams Oshiomohole. It soon gathered other political interests under its fold and transmuted into Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), winning many political battles, either at the polls or at the court of law, along its way. The party’s alliance with the Buhari-led Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), however, failed to materialized, just as the party’s 2011 presidential candidate, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, came a distance fourth in the race. Tinubu was also enmeshed in serious political battle in Lagos en route the emergence of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola as the state governor.

In all, Tinubu warded off the PDP in Lagos State. He also provided logistics support for the bid for power in Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti States. As a tactical move, he was instrumental to the adoption of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko as candidate of the progressives in Ondo. His tactics proved superior in Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and even Edo State. The ACN won and when the mandates were snatched by the PDP, Tinubu lent his weight to the retrieval bid.

Tinubu was alleged to have sold out to the PDP presidential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who won five of the six states in the Southwest. Tinubu was alleged to have told party followers to vote their conscience and that the party does not have a presidential candidate. Ribadu was later to confirm his withdrawal, purportedly for Buhari.

Upon the realization of the daunting task confronting the opposition in unseating the PDP, Tinubu galvanized opposition elements into a very tortuous coalition talk, which paid off when the APC was formed in 2014.

If Tinubu and others in the APC had thought the die is cast, events soon proved that it was not yet Uhuru. Many prominent opposition members soon capitulated and found their ways back to the ruling PDP. A good example was former Borno State governor, Malam Ali Modu Sheriff, as well as former minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, both who were stalwarts of the ANPP.

Tinubu again was to prove his mettle to political doubters when Buhari emerged presidential candidate of the APC during the December 3, 2014 presidential primaries of the party in Lagos. Atiku’s political followership was a very strong factor, just as governor of Kano State, Engineer Ibrahim Kwankwaso, was formidable. But they proved no match for the Asiwaju’s control of the Southwest delegates, who delivered the ticket for Buhari. Discerning political watchers know Buhari could not have procured Asiwaju’s support, either financially or by promise of political office. Tinubu is richer that the former Head of State, even as any of the other contestants could also promise him the vice presidential slot he (Tinubu) was alleged to be eyeing.

But the former Lagos governor may have been swayed by the belief anchored on the most nationally acceptable candidate for the presidential job. But soon as Buhari emerged, the party was enmeshed in the battle of a running mate for Buhari. It was apparently agreed that the slot belonged to Tinubu –– or so it was thought. There are allegations that Tinubu insisted on taking that slot for self. Eventually, he had to bow to pressures and arguments that the Muslim-Muslim ticket would not fly in today’s Nigeria. In his place, former Attorney General of Lagos State under Tinubu-led administration, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, emerged to take the slot.

In the midst of alleged fraudulent, as well as, abuse of power as state governor proffered against him, Tinubu has never been found wanting by any court of law. In 2007, he appeared before the Code of Conduct Bureau for operating various foreign accounts, but the Bureau returned a verdict of no guilty on him.

Now as a private citizen, many political observers have been left wondering why the authority has not effected his arrest and prosecution if the allegations leveled against him were true. “Is Tinubu a sitting governor enjoying immunity? No. Is he in control of police? No. Is he outside the country? No,” was how one of them succinctly summarized the allegations against Asiwaju.

Atiku Abubakar… Aligning with the opposition
Atiku** Copy

Atiku is among the surviving scions of the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua’s school of politics. Since his retirement from the Nigerian Customs, Atiku has remained in business and politics.

In 1999, he was elected the governor of his home state Adamawa on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a party of which he is one of the founding fathers. He was later picked as Obasanjo’s running mate in 1999. Obasanjo won the presidential election alongside Atiku as his vice.

Throughout his period in office, Atiku was strong power broker both in the government and the party. He commanded the respect and attention of party members and stakeholders, even more than Obasanjo. He was opposed to Obasanjo’s failed third bid. Before then, there was no love lost between him and his boss, but the situation was managed to some extent, before it went out of hand.

Ahead of the 2007 general elections, Atiku defected to the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and emerged its presidential candidate to the surprise of the PDP and Obasanjo. Obasanjo moved to remove him from office, but Atiku approached the court. Atiku won the case in court and contested the 2007 presidential election on the platform of ACN but lost to Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua of the PDP.

Also ahead of the 2011 elections, Atiku returned to the PDP where he contested the party’s primaries against President Jonathan and lost. He stayed in the party while bidding for his time to make the next political move.

With the rumbles in the PDP during the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur led-national leadership of the party, Atiku capitalised on the situation led the implosion in the party. He led the aggrieved PDP members which include serving governors, members of the state and national assembly out the PDP national convention to form the New PDP.

Many Nigerians believed that the move was the beginning of the implosion in the PDP as the party lost five of its governors in the impasse. Atiku and majority of the aggrieved members who staged a walkout at the PDP convention in Abuja later joined the major opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

The presence of Atiku and the governors gave the opposition a political mileage and recognition. Since then, the situation has not been the same in the PDP. Despite several pleas and offers by the PDP and the Presidency tempting Atiku to return to the PDP, Atiku has insisted that he would remain in opposition. Atiku is the general APC Presidential Campaign Organization in the North.

Rotimi Amaechi… A Celebrated Dissent
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Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi is the governor of Rivers State. He ascended to the position after an eight-year two-term stint in the state legislature as Speaker of the House. By the end of the on-going tenure, Amaechi would have also completed an eight-year tenure as governor, meaning he would have completed a 16-year haul of involvement at the top level since Nigeria returned to democracy.

In addition, while superintending over the Rivers State House of Assembly, he was elected as the Chairman of Nigeria’s Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies, a position he held for two terms because of the trust and confidence his fellow Speakers had in him. Following his re-election as governor in 2011, Amaechi again had the privilege of being selected by his fellow governors as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum. These are no mean achievements. If anything, it is an indication of a man with immense leadership qualities.

Beyond his leadership traits however, Amaechi has over the 16 years proven himself to be a critical and influential figure in the nation’s democratic experience. Besides his strides in Rivers State in terms of achievements, his ethos, activities and involvements on other fronts – the battles he has fought, the face-offs he has had with other gladiators, the hardline positions and stances he has taken for the ‘common good’ and most remarkably, his movement into the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and how well he has helped strengthen it in the quest to wrest power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – are all indicators of influential has been Nigeria’s democratic equation.

But Amaechi’s political trajectory would leave just a few wondering how he has turned out to be what he is today. After laying a sturdy foundation by participating actively in student union politics, especially in the National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS) where he became President, and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) while he was at the University of Port Harcourt, his pupilage under former Executive Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili where he worked in the latter’s company as Public Relations officer until 1992 only further prepared him for what was to come.

In 1992, at just 27, he joined partisan politics and emerged as the Secretary of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in Ikwerre Local Council Area of Rivers State. From 1992 to 1994, he was Special Assistant to the then Deputy Governor of Rivers State and also a member of the Board of Directors of West Africa Glass Industry as well as Risonpalm Nigeria Limited.

On resumption of political activities in 1996, he joined the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) emerging as the State Secretary of the Party’s Caretaker Committee. He held this position until the political development was halted following the death of General Abacha. In 1999, General Abdulsalam Abubakar made true his promise of handing over power to an elected civilian government. The young but astute politician was at the forefront of the horse-trading, which finally gave birth to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) offering himself for election as State Legislator. His victory at the polls and subsequent emergence as Speaker of the House is history.

Amaechi’s many battles on the political turf are well documented. As Chairman, Conference of Speakers, he, in 2003, when the National Assembly moved to hijack the legislative functions of State House as enshrined in the constitution, led his members to victory in the famous Supreme Court judgment, that the control and supervision of local government is the prerogative of State House of Assembly.

He also became governor on October 26, 2007 after the supreme court pronounced him the rightful candidate of the PDP and winner of the April 2007 Governorship election in Rivers State. After winning his party’s primaries for the 2007 elections, Amaechi’s name had been substituted for no just reason. And being a believer of the rule of law, he took the case to court, and got victory at the Supreme Court.

While being Governor, he has on several occasions and in pursuance of various issues and ideologies, acted stubborn and in deference to the top echelon of the ruling party, his then party of affiliation, PDP. His face-offs with President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience on a number of issues of interest are still fresh at heart. His decampment and how he led some other governors out of the PDP is an act only the brave-hearted could pull through. Simply put, his opposition to the sitting government Jonathan has, in a way, given federal character to opposition politics in Nigeria. Very few of us can carry this out when the president is from our place because it is not just a matter of conviction, it is risky.

His utterances on diverse issues have also reflected largely his penchant for some sort of militancy. For instance, in the heat of the militancy that gripped the Niger Delta region, Amaechi’s risky insistence that there must be a distinction between militants and criminals was audacious. That statement, when considered against the fact that it was made by someone from the Niger Delta and living right there amidst the militants, to be modest, was a vote for Nigeria by someone who was quite comfortable in the system to be unconcerned.

Educated, young, militant and an advocate of popular causes, very few exist today in the nation’s corridors of power with Amaechi’s wits and guts. It is therefore no surprise that he is at the head of opposition party’ APC’s Presidential Campaign Organisation as the Director General.

Amaechi holds the national honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). A Christian and a Knight of Saint Johns, He is married to Dame Judith Amaechi, with whom he has three boys.


Abubakar Kawu Baraje

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Baraje came to the political national limelight in 2005 when he served as the secretary to the Kwara State delegation at the national political reform conference. In 2007, he represented the state at the presidential campaign of the PDP serving as assistant director in charge of administration. He is a product of the Saraki political dynasty in Kwara State.

In 2008, Baraje was the sole candidate of the North Central zone for the position of National Secretary of the PDP. He was returned unopposed. Also in July 2011, Baraje became the Acting Chairman of the PDP after the elected Chairman, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed was named minister. He was later appointed Chairman Board of Nigerian Railway, a position he voluntarily resigned at the peak of the implosion in the PDP. He was elected national chairman of the New PDP, when the group broke away from the PDP during one of the party’s national conventions in Abuja. He is among those that have shaped opposition parties in the country.

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Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige

NGIGE is a foundation member of the PDP where he served in several positions at the zonal and national levels of the party. In 2007, he was elected governor of Anambra State on the PDP platform. He was removed from office in 2006 via Court of Appeal judgment that declared his rival Mr. Peter Obi of APGA as the rightful winner.

Before his removal from office, Ngige had a running political battle over the control of the state treasury with his estranged political godfather, Chief Chris Uba. The battle against political godfatherism coupled with his achievements earned him a place in the political history of the country.

Upon his removal from office, he alongside Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and others formed the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria in 2006.

Since then, Ngige has remained in opposition despite all the stigma and stereotype associated with his party in Southeast zone. Many see him as face of true opposition party in Southeast since 2006 considering that APGA is in strong alliance with the PDP.

During the 2010 Anambra governorship election, Ngige was approached severally by the PDP leadership and the presidency, appealing to him to return to the PDP but he refused. He contested the guber election on ACN platform and lost to Peter Obi of APGA, but was not deterred, rather continued to nurture the party in the zone especially in his home state, Anambra.

In 2011, Ngige won the Anambra Central zone senatorial seat on the party platform after defeating now late Prof. Dora Akunyili of APGA in a keenly contested election. Because of his influence and followership, CAN apart from Anambra Central Senatorial seat also won five state assembly seats and one House of Representatives seat in the state.

He is among the founding fathers of All Progressives Congress (APC). It was revealed that it was Ngige who convinced the likes of governor Rochas Okorocha, Senator Osita Isunazo and other prominent Igbos to join APC.
He contested Anambra governorship election on APC platform in 2013 and lost. He is presently contesting for a return to the senate today.

He is a grassroots politician with strong followership. He is the Southeast director of APC Presidential Campaign Organisation. History of opposition party in the present dispensation in the southeast zone cannot be completed without capturing the role of Ngige and his consistency since 2006.

Governor Rochas Okorocha
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Governor Rochas Okorocha was elected governor of Imo State in 2011 on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Following the intra party crisis in APGA between Chief Victor Umeh and Governor Peter Obi factions, Okorocha alongside his supporters in the zone joined the APC.

Okorocha has remained consistent in opposition since then despite rumours that he would defect to the PDP before 2015 polls. He is the only governor on major opposition platform in the Southeast today. Despite Igbos’ avowed support for the PDP and President Jonathan, Okorocha has remained a force to reckon with politically in the zone. He is the chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum made up of opposition governors. Having being associated with political harlotry in the past, not many believe that Okorocha will remain focused and committed to the opposition till date.

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  • Ikorodua

    The ROLL CALL of CROOKS in the political arena in Nigeria. On Tinubu, I remain more convinced by AIT’s ‘UNMASKING THE REAL TINUBU’ than this watery and paid PRO of a defunct party APC. CHANGE, the slogan of APC. Good enough. But then who are the AGENTS of the ‘CHANGE’? TINUBU, BUHARI, AMAECHI, OBJ, OSHIOMEHOLE, OYEGUN, FASHOLA.? I wonder !!! or Which type of CHANGE can we expect from these ‘agents’ of’ ‘CHANGE’. They must change inorder to be taken seriously, if not, it’ll remain the ridiculous SLOGAN of ‘DO WHAT I SAY but not WHAT I DO?. ie, Nigerians who might reluctantly vote for the APC must be prepared to exhibit higher morality, incorruptible, honest, intelligent, visionary, respect democratic processes and institutions, tolerate/respect the various ethnic, religious diversities and also PATRIOTIC than their jaguda leaders. HARD SELL to Nigerians.

    • EduMainMan1/Stuttsgat

      APC must Fizzle Out after the Loss of Saturday Election by Certificate less GMB

      • Abdul

        Dream on bro.

      • Dotun Karim

        You seem content with your foolishness and stupidity! What GMB qualified with in the military is more than the PHD in Zoology. And as illiterate as you can be, the constitution says the contestant must have minimum of first school leaving certificate. And GMB has more than that. Go for brain upgrading with those your mentors and other loafers. Again, don’t you ask yourself, how come the person you are saying is certificate-less speaks more eloquently and intelligently than the “Dr.”? No wonder he is clueless in ruling this nation. Thus, no achievement. And the country is fast nosediving! Anyway, I can blame you and your cronies. You lack knowledge of the factors with which performance in governance is measured or appraised. That is if you know the meaning and importance.
        Your ignorance is begging for deliverance!

        • Curtx Maccido

          excellent!…illiteracy has turned must of them to a PONK!

      • Progress

        a PONK truly your types are! The market is over. No more accolade for thieves, looters, thugs, militants, terrorists, rogues, criminals, drug dealers etc. Not under the Peoples General

    • Bello Barriga

      All Nigerian politicians are jaguda, but some are more jagudian than others. Lol. Nigeria, saecular saeculorum.

    • Keneri

      Don’t fool yourself, AIT will soon go on its knees

  • EduMainMan1/Stuttsgat

    With all the garlands on the neck of errant politician from Port Harcourt, the Failed Emperor Jagaban Thiefnubu has not deemed it fit to give the Ikwerre man VP Ticket.
    It is either the accolade are not duly acquired or the Jagaban is being Clannish and trusting the outsiders enough

    • apapo1

      If you applied the best reasoning, you would consider that Amaechi could not have been given the VP ticket when President Jonathan is from the same zone.

  • Ojiyovwi

    Irrespective of the histrionics, Tinubu will have a very special place in the hearts of all peace loving Nigerians, since it is under his leadership manuvre that smoked out Buhari, whom I believe have been materially and psychologically behind the insurgency that is BokoHaram. Now it will be very difficult for Buhari to have any involvement with bokoharam wthout exposing himself to the law of our nation. He has not been exposed except by his own threats before the infestation that is bokoharam. Now if he is not demented, then he must realise that there is now recovery of his place in the covert sponsorship of the murderous moronic cult of foreign religious fanatics. The game is up for Buhari and we all have the brilliance of Tinubu to be thankful for it.

    • Progress

      The last gasp from one of the sickos!

  • agbobu


  • Oladapo Sunday

    Congrats and HBD to Tinubu

  • burning spear


    • Keneri

      You cannot withstand reality…pls, wake up from your slumber

  • Thanks to this presidency that nurtured the environment for freedom of association and speech that gave rise to the opposition. In the past sinister environment all perceived opposition, real or imagined were systematically eliminated by OBJ. Kudos to GEJ. A true custodian of Nigerian democracy.

  • Dr. Hassan

    I salute Tinubu political sagacity… Most politicians have tried to do what he did but failed… For him to embark on a journey that produced one of the potent opposition party we ever had in the history of this country is something to applaud… He is indeed a great politician…

  • the_headline

    I hope Tinubu will not convert Nigeria into his personal estate as he did with Lagos now that APC has won this election.

    • Otota Nunuedo

      President Buhari is not a man to be pushed around. Check his track record.

  • rutherford ruth

    The Jagaban, Chicago worrior, The olotu of eko, eko o ni baje oo