Interrogating strength of Tinubu’s presidential bid across Southwest
National leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu has since declared his intention to contest the Presidency in the 2023 general elections. But as he aspires to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, he appears in contention with certain critical hurdles.
Though a large number of Yoruba stakeholders agree that Tinubu might be the best the zone could put forward as a presidential candidate, the former Lagos State governor’s major hurdle in the race is the opposition from the Southwest zone base and the challenge of convincing the party delegates across the six states on the need to support his bid with their votes when the chips are down.
He may also face the hurdle of stiff opposition from the ruling party, where dissenting voices to his aspiration appear apparent.
Tinubu’s recent consultations across the nation indicate that he has taken some steps far beyond ordinarily seeking his party’s presidential nomination ticket. As one of his ardent supporters, Bolaji Sanusi puts it, Tinubu’s programme for the 2023 elections is more of a movement and revolution, which may be difficult to stop.
The former governor has traversed the Southwest geo-political zone just as he is also galvanising his support base across the north. All these he has been doing while other notable names like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state and a horde of presidential aspirants from the Southeast are yet to signify their intent or are yet to begin any move suggestive of being serious with their aspiration.
Tinubu’s campaign is being galvanised by two support groups, the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) Movement and the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA). In spite of the well-coordinated activities of ABAT and SWAGA towards realising his life-long ambition, observers have identified some challenges in the Southwest that should be tackled.
Diverse Politicking Across Southwest States
Some political observers are of the view that Tinubu needs to play more in party politics as his recent meetings with traditional rulers may be of less significance in getting the party ticket. They expressed the belief that the National Leader ought to align himself with the governors, who may want to identify with whoever Mr. President eventually endorses.
Lagos State is expected to yield to the national leader in terms of support for Tinubu’s aspiration, given that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is one of his political proteges. He is also expected to enjoy the support of the organised unions like the NURTW, artisans and others. Recall that Sanwo-Olu recently led the leadership of the party in Lagos to launch ABAT.
In a conversation with The Guardian, the spokesman of ABAT, Bolaji Sanusi stressed that the movement will soon spread across the entire geopolitical zones in the country to market Tinubu’s aspiration. According to him, “ABAT is a revolution aimed at transforming Nigeria for the best under the able leadership of the national leader.”
Without a doubt, the political structure, that Tinubu had built across Lagos for almost 23 years, would yield dividends in support of his ambition in the coming APC presidential primary and the election proper. The 20 local councils and 37 local council development areas (LCDA) are also going to do his bidding. Massive support is also expected from the traditional institutions in the state. This is so because the national leader has consolidated his political grip at the grassroots by ensuring his loyalists are planted as traditional rulers and chiefs across the board.
A member of the party who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian of how Tinubu ensured that over 99 percent of those who emerged as traditional rulers and chiefs in every strata of Lagos are his loyalists. A testament to this is seen in how he has anointed successive governors of the state since he left office in 2007.
OSUN State is almost a certainty for the national leader with Governor Gboyega Oyetola still in the saddle and with the traditional institutions in the state loyal to the state’s helmsman. The national leader recently met the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adéyẹyè Ẹnítán Ògúnwúsi and other notable traditional rulers to seek their blessings. Tinubu’s chances in Osun would be further boosted if Oyetola returns as the governor in the election scheduled for July 16, 2022.
Tinubu will also enjoy support from the pioneer National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, who is also a former governor of Osun.
However, the Rauf Aregbesola factor may create a little setback for him in Osun. Some loyalists of the minister, who feel that Oyetola did not treat their leader (Aregbesola) fairly may not tag along with the national leader.
THE game may be different in Ondo State. The stance of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is clear as the a strong supporter of Tinubu. In fact, credible sources within APC, confirm that “Akeredolu is for Tinubu any day.”
However, it is also believed that Ondo is still very open between Tinubu and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, should the vice president eventually throws his hat into the ring.
Meanwhile, a group, Ondo State Network for Tinubu, has canvassed that the national leader be compensated with the party’s presidential ticket in 2023 because of the selfless sacrifice for the party and President Buhari in 2015.
The group, during its inauguration in Akure, averred that “there is no better candidate in the southwest to contest the ticket with Tinubu.”
Its convener, a former commissioner in the state, Femi Adekanmbi said, “the group is made up of no fewer than 1000 members and delegates in each of the 18 local councils who are ready to give their all for Tinubu’s ambition.
Adekanmbi, who noted that most politicians in the southwest and other parts of the country had benefitted immensely from the kind gesture of Tinubu, urged those aspiring to contest the ticket with him to wait for their turn.
In Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun is said to be supporting the ambition of the vice president. Osinbajo, a former Commissioner for Justice in the Tinubu administration in Lagos, is from Ogun East, the same senatorial district as Abiodun. It is also reported that the vice president played no small role in his emergence, when the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Ibikunke Amosun, desperately frustrated the incumbent in 2019.
There are allegations that Abiodun is doing everything possible to frustrate Tinubu’s support groups in the state. It is alleged that the governor has instructed that no serving commissioner should be seen identifying with any of the national leader’s presidential campaign group.
Although Abiodun and Amosun are currently leading different factions of loyalists in Ogun APC, the former governor is also not favourably disposed to Tinubu’s presidential ambition. But Tinubu is not relenting despite the opposition from Abiodun and Amosun.
The national leader recently met with first-class paramount rulers in Ogun State, as part of his ongoing consultation ahead of the 2023 election. Tinubu, alongside his entourage, met the Awujale, the paramount ruler of Ijebu land, Oba Sikiru Adetona and the paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo.
IN Oyo State, APC is in the opposition and definitely, Governor Seyi Makinde will want to support whoever the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) picks as its presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
There is also division in the Oyo APC. The conservatives, led by the late former governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala and Senator Teslim Folarin are currently in control of the party’s structure through the alleged backing of the national headquarters of the party.
The conservatives are, however, allegedly not supporting Tinubu but sympathetic with Osinbajo while the progressives are routing for Tinubu. An example is seen in what played out during the separate condolence visits of Tinubu and Osinbajo to Alao-Akala’s family.
While it was reported that the progressives mobilised strongly for the national leader during the visit, the conservatives showed their sympathy for the vice president.
It was also gathered that former Governor of Oyo, Alhaji Rasheed Ladoja has assured Tinubu of his support. The newly crowned Olubadan, Senator Lekan Balogun is also supporting Tinubu in return for the help rendered to him (Balogun) by Ladoja to secure the nomination for the throne.
The politics in Ekiti is different. Fayemi is nursing his separate presidential ambition and he is also in firm control of APC’s structure in the state. He is also said to be in fisticuffs with Tinubu’s support groups with SWAGA and ABAT not finding their operations easy in the state.
But the national leader may be backed by the likes of former Govenor Ayodele Fayose, who had said several times that he will support Tinubu, a fellow Yoruba man to be President of Nigeria.
Considering Tinubu’s stronghold in Kogi and Kwara states in North Central, the national leader is certain to get the support of the Kwara State Governor, which is why the likes of Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed are unhappy with the national leader for failing to call the governor to order.
As the build-up to the election continues, the convener of SWAGA, Senator Dayo Adeyeye has boasted that the National Leader already has over 12 million votes in his kitty given the spread of his support base across the country.