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2023: Tinubu’s supporters in show of force, bond in Abuja

By Leo Sobechi (Deputy Politics Editor) and Adamu Abuh, Abuja
18 January 2022   |   4:09 am
All support groups routing for the Presidential aspiration of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, met yesterday in Abuja, in what could be considered a show of force, widespread acclaim and capacity.

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Hon. James Falake (Left); former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal; Senator Habu Ibrahim and Director General of BAT, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, during the conference and harmonisation activities of all BAT support groups for the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria 2023, in Abuja yesterday. PHOTO BY ADAMS SAMUEL

All support groups routing for the Presidential aspiration of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, met yesterday in Abuja, in what could be considered a show of force, widespread acclaim and capacity.

As early as 8 am, the precincts of International Conference Centre, Abuja, had started brimming with enthusiastic supporters adorning the broken chain insignia of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader.

Tinubu’s supporters under the aegis of BAT Support Group Management Council (SGMC), had convened a delegates’ meeting tagged Support Group Conference in Abuja. According to statement from the Director General, Bola Ahmed Tinubu Support Groups Management Council, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, the purpose of the conference is “to harmonise activities of all BAT support groups.

The conference, which had as its theme, “the imperative of grass root mobilisation and volunteering in a democracy,” would feature leadership training seminar and unveiling of eh new bottom-up structure for BAT support groups.

All registered support groups and accredited delegates turned up in their numbers at the International Conference Centre venue, in strict observance of the COVID-19 protocol.

Prominent speakers at the event included, former Borno State governor and representative of Borno Central Senatorial District in the ninth National Assembly, Kashim Shettima, immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal and the DG of BAT SGMC, Jibrin.

All the speakers extolled the leadership qualities of Tinubu, assuring that if elected President, Tinubu would lead the country through a new trajectory of development.

Speaking as the chairman of the occasion, the former Borno State governor described the former Lagos State governor as “a unifying leader, who panders to neither ethnic nor religious agenda, yet known for a track record of outstanding leadership.”

While calling for power shift to the South, Senator Shettima maintained that Tinubu deserves to take the place of President Buhari having paid his dues like no other person in the APC. He stated: “In 2015, some aspirants with very huge war chest were itching to clinch the APC ticket, like the rock of Gibraltar, Asiwaju and his progressives team stood solidly behind the candidature of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“My simple question, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, where were the new members of what I call, ‘The Buhari’s Church of Latter-Day Saints’ where were they? We knew where their political loyalty laid in that particular convention, when President Buhari emerged as the presidential candidate of APC. Where were they?

“Some people say everything goes in politics, not everything goes in politics. We shall have minimal thresholds below which we won’t operate and the irreducible minimum is that after eight years of Presidency in the North, the logic, common sense, equity, justice and fairness demand that power should move to the Southern part of the country and who is better qualified? Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu should be given the choice of first refusal. More than any other person, he has sacrificed more for this democracy, for the APC.”

Tested, accomplished, large-hearted leader
Shettima noted that Tinubu is a tested, accomplished and large-hearted leader, “who has invested his resources in building an extensive network of political mentees that have risen to the peak of their careers.”

Describing Tinubu as a leader of leaders, the Senator said he comes out as a mentor who has mentored some of the best hands in this country, stressing, “From our erudite Vice President, (Prof.Yemi) Osinbajo to Babatunde Fashola, a lawyer, who has turned into an engineer in the Federal Ministry of Works; Rauf Aregbesola, Senator Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, of course seated here is James Faleke, Lai Mohammed, Richard Adeniyi Adebayo and to my friend, the Governor of Ekiti State, John Kayode Fayemi. These were members of the Asiwaju team that have excelled and continue to excel.”

Continuing, the chairman of the conference, noted that Tinubu has “the capacity to forgive and embrace recalcitrant sons that have returned back to base,” noting that a lot of his prodigal children have returned to his camp and he has embraced and empowered them, making them enjoy a sense of belonging.

Senator Shettima went down memory lane, recalling Tinubu’s days as a pro-democracy campaigner during the dark days of the Military era. He stated: “Asiwaju’s choices and endorsements of northerners as presidential candidates while others were masterminding ethno-regional solidarity and fuelling socio-cultural affinities readily affirm his Pan-Nigeria profile.”

The former Borno State chief executive faulted the notion that Tinubu was too old and unfit to lead the country, recalling how he built the economic foundations of the modern Lagos State at the time the state was isolated by a vindictive Federal Government.

His words: “A few days ago, I joined him on a trip to Zamfara State to condole with the people and identify with their realities. The experience made a nonsense of the propaganda that he’s unfit to run Nigeria.

“On the eve of the trip, Asiwaju had retired at 6 am, after Subhi prayers, and was already awake and attending to guests by 11 am. We departed for Sokoto around 2 pm and had to traverse the menacing hinterland of that part of the North-West for seven hours from Sokoto to Gusau, where he made a generous donation of N50 million as he had in other places struck by tragedies, and then back to Sokoto.

“On returning to Abuja by midnight, his schedule was entirely a series of meetings that kept him up till 3 am. Now, excuse my curiosity, how many of us here can match or endure such a demanding schedule?

“Asiwaju’s alacrity, therefore, has never been a subject of scepticism for those who have worked with him, and even his critics are aware of this. If he were half the man in their tales by moonlight, they would’ve long succeeded in subduing him.”

“The mark of true leadership,” Shettima stated, “isn’t the ability to lift a bag of cement. It’s the mental effort to think rationally of solutions designed to redeem one’s people and territorial jurisdiction.

“This was why leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States of America, stood out. Roosevelt took power in a country wrecked by the Great Depression of the 1930s and guided its economy through the Second World War, and the quality of his thoughts and ideas made the United States a superpower under his watch.”

Stretching his anecdote further, Shettima remarked: “Similarly, the accident that had Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki confined to a wheelchair didn’t disable his ability to produce sound ideas, and Kenyans were sold on his virtue that they chose him as their President over what some would consider a fitter option.

“I’m not asking you to tone down critical assessments of your future leaders, but redirecting you to see the bigger picture. We are not here to prepare for the Olympics, but an institution that relies on the superiority of ideas to thrive. Asiwaju’s credentials aren’t only appealing, they are proof of the qualities this country needs to redeem its vast potentials and possibilities.

“We are here to testify to this power of ideas—one that overturned the fortunes of Lagos state and sustained its supremacy as the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa and kept the opposition alive when it was more profitable to sell out.

“Those who seek to make us go low hope to present the Presidency as a brick-laying exercise. But, that’s the work of a machine created by an idea, and who else to guide us towards manufacturing the best ideas to redeem this country?

“To derail us at this point is a futile ambition. The conversations we are prepared for aren’t pedestrian obsessions with the mundane, but comparisons of ideas and track records of service to the nation.”

He noted that atop of our expectations from Nigeria’s next President should be “mastery of the dynamics of the modern economy, testified leadership skills and competence, and, very significantly, sensitivity to the complexities of Nigerian sociology.”

Surveying the attentive audience, Shettima continued: “Pause to reflect on the man we are here to celebrate, and what you see is a tested, accomplished, and large-hearted leader who’s invested his resources in building an extensive network of political mentees who’ve risen to the peak of their career.

“But, in politics, of course, the camps with nothing to sell always choose the mud. We are not going to take the bait. We are going to keep them talking and busy with irrefutable records of Asiwaju’s suitability to lead this country to the Promised Land. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, for those who’ve been in the system for long understand that some characters’ loyalty has a thing in common with a chameleon.

“What we promise, however, is to make sure that all Nigerians are presented with a side of the Jagaban Borgu other than the fiction and half-truths from political desperadoes clinging to the rigging of a sinking ship. This is why we are here, to build and mobilise a network of believers and volunteers at the grassroots to help us deliver the Nigeria of our dream.”

In his presentation, former SGF, Lawal declared that Tinubu has no equal in terms of suitability to take over the governance of Nigeria from President Buhari on 29th May, 2023.

Describing the APC leader as a brilliant, tested and a detribalized Nigerian, who has proven to be excellent manager of both financial and human capital, Lawal stated: “But, above all he loves Nigeria and has a clear vision of where the country should have to be. And, he knows how to take it there. Let us work tirelessly, faithfully and earnestly to give our country, Nigeria a bright, secure, and economically prosperous future, where people of every tribe and religion will feel free, safe, secured and loved. Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu will lead us to this future. And APC will be the platform as our preferred option.”

Earlier in his remarks, the DG, SGMC, Jibrin, charged the delegates drawn from 2,500 support groups from across the country, to rally the support of Nigerians at the grass root to actualise the Tinubu Presidency.

“2023 is about our future, we can’t toy with it. We can’t take chances. We want the best hand. Yes, within the APC, we have said repeatedly, we have very good hands.

“We have very good, competent and qualified people that can be President, but we have someone that has an edge. And, beyond having an edge, we want someone that combines the competence, the qualification and the capacity, to win the election. Who has the whole of that all combined? He is Asiwaju.”