Wednesday, 29th November 2023

I invoked ‘Emi l’okan’ spirit to win despite cashless policy, says Tinubu

By Terhemba Daka (Abuja), Gbenga Salau (Lagos), Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Bukola Olajide (Abeokuta), Ayodele Afolabi (Ado-Ekiti) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
30 June 2023   |   4:24 am
In what looked like a veiled response to the diatribe by his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, said irrespective of the cashless policy or not, his victory at the last presidential election was bound to happen.

Former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode (left); Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; President Bola Tinubu and ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola during an Eid civic reception in honour of the President at Lagos House in Marina…yesterday.

• Says petrol subsidy speedily removed to stop bleeding finances
• Fight over as Ambode reunites with Tinubu five years after
• Please leave me alone, I want to rest, Buhari begs Nigerians
• Buhari to relocate from Daura to more distant place
• Olubadan seeks prayer for Tinubu

In what looked like a veiled response to the diatribe by his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, said irrespective of the cashless policy or not, his victory at the last presidential election was bound to happen.

According to him, he was hopeful and optimistic about achieving victory in the election, despite the ineffective cashless policy implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He made this known in separate remarks at the palace of the Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, in Ijebu-Ode, and in Abeokuta at the palace of Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, during a thank-you visit to the royal fathers in Ogun State.

Reflecting on the challenges in the build-up to the 2023 presidential election, President Tinubu recounted his concerns about the confiscation of funds and failure of the cashless policy, and how he had previously sought wisdom and guidance from Oba Adetona during his visit to the palace.

Recall that former President Buhari on Monday, broke his silence on the continued discussions following the petrol subsidy removal ‘challenge’ that he left for his successor, saying that had the policy been implemented, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Tinubu would have lost the last general election.

Clarifying the issue through his spokesman, Garba Shehu, Buhari, however, commended the steps taken so far by the new administration in implementing the removal of petrol subsidy and attempt to unify the Naira exchange rate.

Shehu explained that the clarification was in response to persistent queries by some critics, who have questioned why it took Tinubu only weeks to remove the petrol subsidy whereas Buhari didn’t do so in eight years.

According to him, successive polls indicated that the ruling party would have lost the 2023 election, if the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), containing the petrol subsidy removal, was implemented before then.

But in response, President Tinubu said he invoked the spirits of freedom and determination, symbolised by ‘Baba Emi l’okan,’ to overcome the obstacles in the election.

“Our money was confiscated. The cashless policy didn’t work, it was terrible then. I realised that, I came to Ogun State to invoke the spirit of freedom, which we are noted for.

“I invoked that spirit twice. The spirit of Baba Emi l’okan. That’s Baba. Being blunt, being decisive, that’s him, he will tell you. The second spirit is that, money or no money, we will do the election and we will win,” he said.

Tinubu is notably credited for the coinage of the famous ‘Emi l’okan’ and ‘Olule’ in an address to party delegates in the run-up to the APC presidential primary last year. He also openly upbraided the CBN policies and petrol scarcity during his last visit to the state in January, when his presidential campaign train stormed Ogun.

The President acknowledged that these spirits had been the driving force behind his service and expressed his gratitude to Oba Adetona, all the Obas, elected officials, particularly his ‘personal friend’, Senator Gbenga Daniel, the Senator representing Ogun East.

He thanked them for their loyalty and commitment during those crucial times in the 2023 election.

He also acknowledged the presence of Chief Mike Adenuga, billionaire businessman, and expressed pride in his contributions to the Nigerian economy.

During his visit to Abeokuta, President Tinubu thanked the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, for receiving him, describing him as a great leader.

He expressed his commitment to fulfilling his promises and appealed for prayers from the citizens of the state to ensure progress and stability in the country.

“I have redeemed my pledge that I will come back with victory and the crown. The hope is recharged; the hope is here. That hope will never fail. That hope will recharge your lives in a positive manner.

“By the grace of Almighty God, we shall reap the fruits of our labour, Nigeria will see positive change, just endure these baby steps of pain.

“This country is the only one we have. I have been a refugee and I know what it means to be a refugee and my green passport is what I still have now.”

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State thanked the President for the visit, describing him as a man of uncommon grace and a living testimony of resilience.

Chronicling the President’s antecedents as a visionary politician, the governor said the pronouncement of President Tinubu in the first few weeks in office had defined him as rightly prepared and qualified for office.

Oba Adetona and Oba Gbadebo, in separate remarks in their palaces, commended President Tinubu for his leadership, acknowledging him as an instrument of God chosen to rectify past shortcomings.

Also speaking, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, the Akarigbo of Remoland, who commended the President for starting his administration exceptionally well, noted that the people need urgent palliatives to mitigate the effects of the current challenges .

“I remember when you came to the palace and all we said is our dream is for you to go and win the primaries, and that once you win the primaries, I’m sure that God will take us there. I’m glad that God took us there.

”I want to remind you of what you said when you came to Remo. You said with the proximity of Shagamu to Lagos, you were surprised at the level of underdevelopment in Remo. This is the time Mr President to walk that talk,” he said.

The President, who landed at 10:17a.m. at the Dipo Dina International Stadium, Ijebu Ode in a presidential chopper tagged 5N FG2, Nigeria Airforce, and immediately went into the palace of the Awujale, departed after about an hour of meeting behind closed-door with the revered monarch.

IN what was a reunion and closure to all grudges pre-2019 elections, former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday evening joined his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, and his successor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at a reception organised in honour of President Tinubu in Lagos.

The trio were seen in a cheerful mood after meeting together at the Lagos House, Marina, for the first time in over four years.

Recall that prior to the 2019 governorship election in the state, there was a fallout between Ambode and Tinubu’s political camp, which saw the former governor lose his re-election bid to Sanwo-Olu. Earlier this month, Sanwo-Olu had reached out to Ambode with a visit to Ambode during his 60th birthday.

The ‘Berlin Wall’ between godfather Tinubu and godson Ambode also fell apart yesterday after a long sojourn in the wilderness for Ambode.

Both Tinubu and Ambode were last seen together on September 17, 2018 at Jim Ovia’s book launch. Following a week of bold media headlines on their rift, especially with the infamous world press conference by Ambode, guests at the event watched anxiously how the two leaders would break the ice, if ever they manage, but nothing betrayed the animosity between them. It was a perfect act.

The Guardian recalled how the scenario played out thus: “Ambode was already seated when midway into the occasion Tinubu sauntered in. Then the atmosphere suddenly became electrified. The Lion of Bourdillon took to the podium and delivered his remarks. The organisers might have read the minds of the audience.

“For no sooner had Tinubu ‘roared’ than they invited the governor to the podium. The silence that slouched behind the initial applause was palpable. Everyone, even the microphone waited in anticipation.

“Then Ambode began. First, an acknowledgement of the dignitaries with nods and a smile, then a moment’s hesitation, and finally the words: ‘Actually, I didn’t prepare to come and say anything here. And who am I to speak after the Jagaban has spoken?’

“It was a textbook example of how to diffuse tension; it sent the audience and the governor himself laughing, and social media buzzing with the newest catchphrase. Ambode thereafter gave kudos to the political prowess of Tinubu, and went on to speak about Ovia.”

Last night, it was all smiles for the class of Lagos governors since 1999 till date as Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode and Sanwo-Olu all came together for an iconic pose in honour of the godfather, now president, Tinubu. Speaking during the meeting, Tinubu said: “I’m glad to see Ambode.”

The President thereafter went on to reveal that he speedily removed the petroleum subsidy on taking oath of office to put a stop to the bleeding finances of the country, insisting that the country has no choice than to remove the subsidy.

He added that there was a need to re-engineer and control the country’s finances to meet the aspirations of Nigerians promised by politicians and removing petrol subsidy was one of the choices to achieve that.

Tinubu further said that he cannot afford to be Father Christmas to neighbouring countries with the subsidy, promising that he would not relent in working with all Nigerians with available resources.

He thanked Sanwo-Olu for hosting the event and commended all those who came to celebrate him.

Earlier in his welcome address, Sanwo-Olu said the emergence of Tinubu as President is not a coincidence, but what God wants to happen, maintaining that Lagos stands right behind him.

Sanwo-Olu added that Lagos State is proud of Tinubu and will stand in complete solidarity with him.

MEANWHILE, Buhari, on Thursday, made a passionate appeal to Nigerians to allow him to remain out of the spotlight so as not to distract the new administration.

To drive home his appeal, the former President has consequently moved further to a more distant place, according to his media aide, Shehu, in a statement made available to The Guardian. However, Shehu did not disclose the new location.

“As much as possible, the former President wishes to remain outside the spotlight so as not to distract the new administration,” the statement stated.

On May 29, Buhari handed over the baton of Nigeria’s leadership to Tinubu and retired to his place of birth, Daura in Katsina State, after serving the country for eight years.

The former president had stated that he will retire to his hometown in Daura, to rest and be far away as much as possible to avoid problems of the epicentre of the 2023 political activities.

“He chose to go home in Daura hoping to find the type of quiet he wished for himself but realizing that this was not the case, visitors trooping in morning, day and night, he moved out to a more distant place.

“It remains his wish that he be allowed to have his needed rest, and for the Tinubu administration to have the right atmosphere to work on the realisation of the promises they made,” the statement added.