2023 Presidency: Southwest and interplay of personal ambitions
The ambition of the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to contest the 2023 presidential election is no longer in the realm of speculations. What is left for the former governor of Lagos State is to officially declare his interest to run and launch his presidential campaign, whenever he deems appropriate and in line with electoral guidelines.
All indications in the last couple of months and especially activities of some of his support groups led and coordinated by the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA ’23), have shown that Tinubu will most likely contest on the platform of the ruling party or on any other platform he chooses.
So far, the national leader appears to be the only person among the Southwest leaders in the ruling APC whose presidential ambition is currently being coordinated by a structure.
In a similar vein, some groups have been echoing their interest in the incumbent Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, one of the political protégés of Tinubu. He is being tipped as the best man to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, having stayed in the corridors of power for more than six years.
While the media sensitisation to draw Osinbajo into the 2023 presidential contest continues, the professor of law and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos, under Tinubu, like his former boss, has not come out to dissociate himself from activities of the support groups.
Equally been tipped for the presidency after Buhari, are the incumbent governor of Ekiti State and the current chairman of Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Fayemi’s aspiration is said to be buoyed by ongoing scheming by governors on both platforms of the ruling and major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to ensure that one of their peers succeeds President Buhari in 2023. It is alleged that Fayemi might run a joint presidential ticket with the current APC Chairman of Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CEPC), Governor Mai Mala-Buni of Yobe State.
Like Tinubu and Osinbajo, the governor of Ekiti State has done little to distance himself from the media hype. The best he has done since the speculations came into public space was to make a statement that he is preoccupied with a job at present.
Recall that Fayemi is also considered as one of the political protégés of Tinubu. The former Minister of Mines and Steel Development emerged as the governor of Ekiti in 2008 through the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal with the perceived support of the national leader.
Just as Tinubu, Osinbajo and Fayemi have been mentioned, a former governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who is currently the Minister of Works and Housing, is also listed to be nursing the ambition to succeed Buhari on the platform of the ruling party in 2023.
Recently, Fashola’s posters flooded the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja as the possible presidential candidate of APC to run a joint ticket with Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum.
However, Fashola, in a statement, promptly distanced himself from the posters through his media aide.
But as the permutations were ongoing, some Yoruba elders, who appeared uncomfortable with the staccato of happenings in the country told The Guardian that there is the need for political gladiators in the Southwest, especially those in the two major political parties, APC and PDP, to manage their personal ambitions within the context of the larger interest of the Yoruba people.
The worried elders recalled the recent visit of the APC caretaker committee chairman, Buni and some northern governors to former Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Rasheed Ladoja, Secretary-General of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide and some Afenifere leaders, noting that the visit may not be unconnected with the issue of who takes over from President Buhari in 2023.
One of the elders, who does not want his name in print said: “Our people in government should be careful with the antics of the Fulani power hegemony by not allowing them (Northern oligarchs) to divide their ranks and make them enemies of one another ahead of 2023. If that happens, it will weaken the rank of the Yoruba political gladiators.”
Tinubu’s Endorsement By Lagos Monarchs
Last week, traditional rulers in Ikeja, Epe, Ikorodu, Badagry and other parts of Lagos at various Town Hall meetings organised by SWAGA ’23, in solidarity with Tinubu’s presidential quest, endorsed the former governor of Lagos, pronouncing him as the best hand to succeed President Buhari.
Although, Tinubu is still outside the country where he has gone for medical treatment, his well-oiled and political structure remains intact and has been interacting with several organisations, including the platforms of traditional rulers to seek support for his ambition.
Speaking at one of the events organised by SWAGA ‘23 in Lagos, a chieftain of APC, Senator Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi chided those whipping up sentiments of age and state of health against Tinubu’s chance of becoming the next president as being unserious.
While he insisted that such a campaign of calumny is bound to fail, Akanbi urged patriotic Nigerians who want Tinubu to contest to remain committed to the cause.
Akanbi, who represented Oyo South District in the Upper Chamber, said antecedent and capacity should be the yardstick for measuring an aspirant’s suitability for the 2023 presidential race. Akanbi, who spoke in Badagry, Lagos State, during the ongoing tour of the state by the SWAGA ‘2023, encouraged the youths to root for a presidential aspirant with evidence of quality service delivery.
Akanbi said: “It’s not a matter of being young; it’s a matter of marketing a product. We are talking about empirical evidence; what he has done in the past and is presently doing.”
He also noted that Tinubu has demonstrated that he is a leader who spots and utilises human talents to achieve results.
Akanbi stressed: “The team of a government determines the mind of the leader. Let me give you an example. When Bola Tinubu was governor of Lagos State, his team members were quite young. He is a talent hunter; he looks for younger people who have quality and what it takes, brushes them up and makes them take the mantle of the leadership of the country.
“At the moment, look at Tinubu’s governorship and commissioner’s list in the present Federal Government and look at the role they are even playing. That is enough to convince the youths to support Tinubu. There were many older people around in Lagos, but he chose to take the risk on the youth. Look at the result.”
Akanbi, who is the National Vice Chairman of SWAGA ‘2023, also recalled that as governor, Tinubu, with the support of his cabinet, ran Lagos successfully when the Olusegun Obasanjo-led Federal Government withheld the state’s monthly federal allocation.
The SWAGA train, led by Senator Dayo Adeyeye, also visited Badagry to pay homage to the Akran of Badagry, De Wheno, Aholo Menu-Toyi, and other monarchs to seek their royal blessings and endorsement for Tinubu’s ambition.
The Akran, who spoke through Oba Agano Toniyoni Aholu of Agbamathen, said they were in support of Tinubu, just as he prayed that God would make their request a dream come through.
Other monarchs present at the palace of Akran are Oba Oyekan Ilufemiloye, Possi III, Alapa of Apa kingdom; Oba Moses Ayinde Agboke Joye, Onilogbo of Ilogbo Kingdom; Oba Friday Oladele Kosoko, Oniworo of Iworo kingdom; Aholu Saheed Adamson, Aholu of Ajido Kingdom; Oba Isreal Adewale Okoya Okikiola, Onibereko of Ibekereko Kingdom; Oba Abraham Ogabi Oyikilu Ajagun of Imeke Kingdom; and Oba Olalekan Ogungbe James Okiki, Arolagbade II, Aholu of Kuweme Kingdom.
Others included Oba Samuel Owolabani; De-Yeti I, Aholu of Ajara Topa kingdom; Oba Agano Toniyoni, Aholu of Agamathen Kingdom; Oba Ebenezer Koshoedo, Thalunno I of Ajara Vetho Kingdom; Oba Samuel Olusegun Wheto, Aholu of Dale-Whedakoh; and Oba Jimoh Fabiyi; De-Sano I, Aholu of Ikoga Kingdom.
The event was witnessed by political leaders, including Prince Akinsanya Sunny Ajose, Deputy Chairman of APC, Lagos State; Teliat Onilude, Badagry Local Government Chairman; and Samson Olatunde, Chairman Olorunda Local Council Development Area. The Chairman, Badagry West, Joseph Gbenu, gave the vote of thanks.
On the SWAGA ’23 entourage were representatives from Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo states. They included Senator Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi, Senator Tony Adeniyi, Monsuru Alao and Otunba Yomi Ogunnusi.
MEANWHILE, the 65 monarchs in the Ikeja Division, headed by His Royal Majesty, Oba Lasisi Gbadebo Gbadamosi Oloton, the Onigando of Igando also described Tinubu as the most experienced hand to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
The Ikeja monarchs included Oba Kabiru Adelaja, the Osolo of Isolo; Oba Kolawole Ajani Ogundipe, Olu of Ipaja; Oba Alani Olojede, Onikosi of Ikosi land; Oba Babatunde Akanbi Ogunronbi, Onishasha of Shasha Kingdom; Oba Ajasa Oluwasegun of Onigbongbo; Oba Moroof Adekunle of Ejigbo land; Oba Samuel Adisa, Onimeiran of Meiran; Oba Kamal Oredeji Ishola, Olu of Agege; and Oba Fatai Ayinla, Olu of Mushin.
In her address, Commissioner, Lagos State Audit Service Commission, Kafilat Ogbara, who doubles as Secretary of Lagos SWAGA ‘23, and member of the National Working Committee (NWC) SWAGA ‘23, said Tinubu deserves to rule Nigeria going by what he has invested in the country since 1999.
On his part, the National Chairman of SWAGA ‘23, Senator Dayo Adeyeye said it was well known that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would come to an end in 2023 and it will be fair that the presidency should be zoned to Southwest.
“It is widely known that Bola Ahmed Tinubu has fought for Nigeria’s democracy and performed brilliantly as a governor. I urge all our traditional rulers to key into this project as charity begins at home. Besides, this project has gone beyond Lagos, as most political parties have endorsed him in Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, and Ondo states.
“The only hindrance before the national leader now is if he personally backs out, which is not possible because the ambition is not about him but we his loyalists and those who believe he is the only one with the capacity to revamp the fortunes of Nigeria,” Adeyeye said.
The Osinbajo, Fayemi Option
The plausibility of this option is consequent upon Asiwaju declining to run for president. This is because the duo is his mentees who will be expected to team up with other associates of Tinubu to realize his ambition.