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APC Presidential primary: Tinubu inches closer to ‘lifelong ambition’

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Adamu Abuh, Msugh Ityokura (Abuja), Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
09 June 2022   |   3:59 am
After a long day and a long night, the special convention of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) got to a fitting finale with National Leader and ‘kingmaker’, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu...

Osinbajo’s campaign spokesperson, Adamu, Gbajabiamila, Akeredolu, and Aregbesola congratulate Tinubu
• You can now lick your wounds, Tinubu mocks Lawan
• Lawan: Why I contested against you
• You are no match for Atiku, PDP tells Tinubu
• Afenifere: You’ve done well by picking a Southern candidate insists on restructuring, state police 
• Atiku meets PDP governors over running mate

After a long day and a long night, the special convention of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) got to a fitting finale with National Leader and ‘kingmaker’, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, becoming the standard-bearer of the ruling party.

The former Lagos State governor, yesterday, took a significant step towards the actualisation of his ‘lifelong presidential ambition,’ scoring 1,271 delegates votes at the primary held at the Eagle Square in Abuja to resoundingly beat immediate past Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who got 316 votes and Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who finished third with 235 votes.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, came fourth after polling 152 votes, while Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State came fifth with 47 votes. Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State came sixth with 38 votes.

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State got 37, Senator Ahmed Rufai Sani, four, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba and Ogbonaya Onu scored one vote respectively while the quartet of Pastor Tunde Bakare, Rochas Okorocha, Tein Jack-Rich and Ikeobasi Mokelu could not muster any delegate vote to show for their efforts.

The denouement comes after weeks of intrigues and horse-trading that kept party stakeholders on edge.

An elated Tinubu, who expressed gratitude to both President Muhammadu Buhari and Osinbajo, described his victory as historic.

Stating that adversaries of the APC can now bury their heads in shame after the successful conduct of the convention, he promised to work with Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) to strengthen the party ahead of the 2023 poll.

He also read the riot act to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to perish the thought of returning to power.

He noted: “We will tell poverty development party, who call themselves PDP, after 16 years of wastefulness and failures, to step aside and let us rebuild our country and make it the best for our children.”

Tinubu, who urged Nigerians, irrespective of the religious divide, to eschew bitterness and intolerance, reiterated his determination to enhance unity and cohesion.

Offering an olive branch to his rivals at the primary, he promised to entrench innovation and industry among Nigerians if voted into power next year.

SPOKESMAN of the Yemi Osinbajo Campaign Organisation, Mr Richard Akinnola, yesterday congratulated Tinubu. Akinnola, who made the disclosure in a post on his Facebook page, said: “Congratulations, Asiwaju Tinubu, the winner of the primary.

“In any contest, there must be a winner. However, I’m very proud of my choice of support in the person of Prof. Osinbajo. I have no iota of regret over my support for him. It was a privilege to play a pivotal role for him during the process. I would gladly do it over and over again. It’s a matter of conviction.

“And for all our supporters and other volunteers who worked assiduously, day and night on the PYO project, God bless you all. I’m so proud of all of you. As l often say, God rules in the affairs of men and He has a purpose for what just happened. Understandably, many of you are dispirited and downcast but do not let your heart be troubled.

“There must be a reason God allowed this. It may not be manifest to us now but later as He is all-knowing. I’m unfazed, unbowed and proud of PYO. Life goes on,” he wrote.

While giving his acceptance speech, Tinubu had taken a swipe at the Senate President, Lawan, telling him that he (Lawan) can now lick his wounds. Tinubu said he was upset that Lawan competed with him for the party’s ticket, mocking the Senate President for losing the race.

“To the legislature, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, I would have been a little upset because you compete with me. But it is over now because you can easily lick your wounds,” Tinubu said.

Tinubu’s outburst against Lawan may not be unconnected with how he supported Lawan in 2015 against Senator Bukola Saraki, who later emerged as Senate President in a dramatic twist. He was also believed to have played a key role in Lawan’s emergence as Senate President in 2019.

However, Lawan has given reasons for contesting against the national leader, saying he contested with the belief that he had the popularity and experience to lead the country.

In a letter yesterday, Lawan expressed optimism that APC would emerge victorious in the 2023 presidential poll with Tinubu as its candidate, as the outcome of the primary had shown that Tinubu was the popular choice of his party.

The letter reads: “I am elated that the presidential primary was manifestly free and fair, and conducted under a most convivial atmosphere. The success of the event again demonstrates the capacity of our great party to run its internal affairs smoothly and devoid of rancour.

“However, the outcome of the election process has shown that Your Excellency is the popular choice of our party for that assignment. I do not have an iota of doubt in the wisdom of that decision by our party’s delegates from across the country.

“Your glittering track record of public service, foresight and grit in party building and administration, as well as the courage you continue to demonstrate in fighting for the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria make you worthy of the high esteem and trust of our party members everywhere in Nigeria.”

ALSO, the party’s national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, has written to Tinubu. Adamu had announced Lawan as the preferred candidate of the party, but in a letter on Wednesday night, he extended the compliments of members of the National Working Committee (NWC), especially, on “the sterling victory recorded.”

The chairman said his emergence has vindicated the party’s nationalistic outlook and patriotic posture as the choice for every Nigerian. “I am pleased that the party spoke with one voice when the delegates voted overwhelmingly to nominate you as our presidential candidate.”

Adamu expressed hope that efforts between the national secretariat and Tinubu’s campaign team “will proceed with the shared expectations of victory at the 2023 general elections.”

The Speaker, the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has congratulated Tinubu for clinching the APC presidential ticket. Gbajabiamila said he was elated that his political mentor won the ticket, which is a well-deserved one, considering Tinubu’s years of working for the entrenchment and strengthening of democracy in Nigeria.

He described Tinubu as a dogged fighter who stood his ground to compete in the primary in a democratic manner, saying the presidential candidate remains a hero.

ONDO State governor and Chairman, Southern Governors’ Forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has equally hailed the outcome of the primary. In a statement issued to journalists in Akure, yesterday, by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Richard Olatunde, the governor lauded the emergence of Tinubu as the flag bearer of the party.

“The contest was a brotherly scramble. The aspirants and leaders of our great party must now leverage on our political strength to build the party and reposition it for even greater victory. The time for strives is beneath us. As the dust settles, we must form a common front and understand that victory at the general election is our collective target.

“We commend President Buhari, the patriotic 13 Northern governors, our great brothers who stepped down for Asiwaju and indomitable NWC members, who worked tirelessly to put this party on the path of democratic values. May fair winds continue to push our sail forward.”

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Abdulrauf Aregbesola, has urged Tinubu to ride on the crest of the momentum and lead APC to victory at the next general elections. He disclosed this in a congratulatory letter personally signed by him and sent to Tinubu yesterday.

WITH Tinubu’s emergence, the APC candidate will battle for the February 25, 2023, presidential election with the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

In its reaction, PDP said the emergence of Tinubu meant nothing because the ruling party has since served its purpose. The opposition party said it sympathised with Asiwaju for embarking on a journey to nowhere as he is no match for Atiku.  

In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the PDP said: “Asiwaju will soon realise that Nigeria is not one of his acquired estates or fiefdoms and that the Nigerian people are not his political string-puppets and retinue of lackeys, from whom he bought the APC ticket.

“Asiwaju will also soon realise that Nigerians hold him responsible for his self-confessed role in installing the failed Buhari-led administration that subjugated the people, brought excruciating economic hardship, acute poverty, bloodletting, terrorism, mass killings, promoted disunity, tribalism and nepotism, lawlessness, massive treasury looting and unpardonable life-discounting experiences to our country,” the statement added.  

“His acceptance speech further exposed his manifest lack of capacity, presence of mind, resourcefulness and selflessness to manage the affairs of a nation as complex as Nigeria.

“From Asiwaju’s egotistic outbursts before and after the APC manipulative convention, it is crystal clear that his life-long dream of clinching the APC Presidential ticket is not for the wellbeing of Nigerians but out of desperation to lay hands on the keys to the nation’s treasury,” The PDP said.

THE pan-Yoruba socio-political, Afenifere, yesterday, expressed delight over Tinubu’s emergence. Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jare Ajayi, Afenifere stated that the choice of a Southerner as presidential candidate by one of the leading political parties in the country is delightful.

“For power to move to the South, there must be Southern candidates. That was why we were strident in our calls on the political parties to field Southern candidates. By electing Tinubu to fly its flag, the APC has met that minimum condition of fielding a Southern candidate,” he said.

Ajayi was quick to add that a return to true federalism through restructuring of the country has been an article of faith for Afenifere for a long time.

“It is our hope, indeed our demand, that the next President must get the country restructured immediately on assumption of office if the present administration failed to do so before leaving office.”

BARELY 10 days to the expiration of the deadline for the submission of candidates’ names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP leadership is under pressure to conclude political talks on the running mate to its presidential candidate, Atiku.

To that extent, the candidate, together with the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, met with all 13 governors of the party in Abuja yesterday to resolve all issues militating against the quick picking of the vice-presidential candidate.

Governors Ifeanyi Okowa and Udom Emmanuel of Delta and Akwa Ibom states respectively are top on the list of persons being considered for the position of Atiku’s running mate, according to reports.

But it was gathered yesterday that not all the governors agreed with the consideration of Atiku, a development that necessitated the meeting with all governors at the PDP presidential campaign office.

According to INEC guidelines, which are issued in line with the Electoral Act, all parties must submit the names of their candidates before or on June 17.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, disclosed that the meeting offered another opportunity for further discussion on the issue of running mate for Atiku.