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Tinubu’s presidential bid versus theories of APC working against self

By Seye Olumide Southwest Bureau Chief 
27 January 2023   |   4:20 am
Even before the outburst by presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in Abeokuta on Wednesday, there had been unease among some members of the ruling party, whether the recent Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) monetary policies...

[FILES] APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu<br />Photo/twitter/officialabat

Even before the outburst by presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in Abeokuta on Wednesday, there had been unease among some members of the ruling party, whether the recent Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) monetary policies, lingering fuel crisis, increase in electricity tariff, among other policies, were not targeted at jeopardising chances of the party and their candidate in the February 25 election.

While some party stalwarts said President Buhari has nothing against Tinubu succeeding him, others expressed doubts about commitment of Mr. President to the campaign. They claimed that his actions so far do not indicate serious commitment.
Although President Buhari has said he supports the candidate and has joined in the campaigns, his half-hearted pledge was coming after critical stakeholders cried out that the decision to re-design the naira notes at this critical period of election might be antithetical to Tinubu and the party’s chances.
It was said that the fact that Buhari has remained unbothered by spirited efforts to rein in an unstoppable CBN governor, Emefiele, shows some understanding between the President and the CBN to increase the heat on the unfriendly policies and smoke out politicians who rely heavily on bullion vans to deliver the elections.
Recall that members of the National Assembly and the Minister of Finance tried to challenge the CBN policies, considering the implications of the policies on their own elections as well.
Stakeholders’ concern is that Mr. President ought not to have approved the CBN policies now, if truly he meant well for Tinubu and the party.
Loyalists of the national leader, especially those of the Southwest, believe that Mr. President and some personalities in APC, do not want Tinubu, considering how the administration earlier ostracised Tinubu shortly after Buhari took over power in 2015.
Recall that for over three years after President Buhari assumed office on May 29 2015, he refused to visit Lagos, just as he distanced himself from Tinubu. The situation got so bad that Tinubu’s wife, Remi, had to raise the alarm over how her husband, whom she believed sacrificed so much for the incumbent President, was being diminished within the corridor of power and also sidelined. Most of the ministerial appointments from the Southwest did not have Tinubu’s input. Even his ‘boys’ were appointed without his input, as the grapevine had it.
To buttress Remi’s outcry, the wife of Mr. President, Aisha, at a point also alleged that strangers, who did not invest as much in the APC merger, had taken over the Presidency.

In all of his travails, Tinubu weathered the storm, waiting for his time to demand payback. Before the 2019 re-election, President Buhari managed to close ranks with Tinubu and not long after he got re-elected, another season of cold war ensued, such that many loyalists of the former governor of Lagos were side lined and or relieved of their appointments. The development created serious doubts in the minds of Tinubu’s loyalists, whether the President truly counted him (Tinubu) as an ally. 
The coldness heightened when immediate past minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, claimed he wasn’t aware of any pact President Buhari had to concede power to Tinubu after his (Buhari) tenure in office.
In a swift reaction to Amaechi, the incumbent minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said there was mutual and gentlemanly agreement that power would shift to the South, and specifically, to Southwest, after Buhari’s tenure in office. It was not only Amaechi who let out such plot. Even the Kaduna Governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai, had stoked similar plots, pronouncing that there was no pact to cede power to the South in the APC.
Again, loyalists of the national leader interpreted such plots as part of schemes to frustrate Tinubu’s lifetime ambition to be president and to stop Southwest from producing his successor.
Shortly after the Fashola, Amaechi altercations, the travails of erstwhile National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, who is regarded as a Tinubu loyalist, began. He was later removed and the entire National Working Committee (NWC) sacked and replaced by the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) headed by Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.

The removal of Oshiomhole and appointment of Buni was approved by the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) headed by President Buhari. The rest is history as to how the Buni-led CECPC did everything to undermine the South and Tinubu.
The tenure of the CECPC, which was originally meant to be six months, was extended to almost two years. The development also created doubts regarding Mr. President’s commitment to the transition programme.  
Again when APC began the sale of Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms for the presidential primary, Buhari did not pay much attention to those who picked forms and which geo-political zones they came from.

As leader of the party, his body language did not anticipate power to shift to the South. Interestingly, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State from the north central paraded himself as the anointed candidate of Mr. President. The governor of Jigawa, Badru picked his own form. El Rufai said he was prompted to pick his own form.

At a point, Tinubu had to flare up in Abeokuta, where he narrated how he singlehandedly nominated incumbent Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as running mate to President Buhari. As at then, many party faithful believed that Osinbajo, who was an aspirant, had the backing of the Presidency.
It was during Tinubu’s outburst in Ogun State that the popular slogans: Emi lo kan and O lule were coined by Tinubu. He reminded Buhari and the party leaders that he was instrumental to their success in 2015 and 2019 and should be allowed to benefit from his ‘investment’.
The race for the party’s ticket became a free-for-all, as President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawal, was touted by the party leadership as consensus candidate of the North. There were visible schemes to make the race impossible for Tinubu.
But against all odds, and thanks to schemes of northern governors, who also considered their own survival, Tinubu won the presidential primary.
At that point, every other stakeholder was railroaded into Tinubu Project, as their best bet to take over from President Buhari, apart from the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo and a few others who have kept some distance.
BUT in recent times, there appears to be a re-think in the Presidency, as if there was some mistake along the line and it shouldn’t have been Tinubu. Central to this feeling is what has emerged as an entitlement syndrome among Southwest stakeholders in the project, who initially dominated the party’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). Adjustments were later made on the PCC list and fears by northern stakeholders were assuaged.

Later in the campaign trail, the combativeness of the candidate’s campaign team and blunt refusal to be held accountable by the Media have given inkling of how imperial the Tinubu Presidency could be if he wins the election. It appears the Presidency is not too comfortable with this, in addition to emerging health and integrity challenges.

Tinubu’s supporters have noticed this distancing, coupled with the new Central Bank monetary policies and the lingering fuel crisis. They think the ruling party is not doing enough to market its candidate. To them, candidates of major opposition parties stand the best chance to reap from APC’s anti-people policies coming so close to the general elections.
Speaking to The Guardian, a member of APC, Chief Tunde Temionu, said, to say that these policies are not deliberately targeted at a goal this time is a lie “But Tinubu will not be deterred at all. He will continue with his campaigns.”
Whereas fuel queues have ben around for more than six months, Tinubu loyalists are accusing officials of the Federal Government of aloofness and erecting institutional hurdles on the path of the APC’s candidate ahead of elections.
NOTWITHSTANDING the fears, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, who is one of the spokesmen of the PCC, has dismissed the theories, noting that many of the ministers and government officials have openly shown support and solidarity with the campaign since it commenced.
Keyamo insisted that President Buhari remains 110 percent committed to the presidential bid of Tinubu as the Chairman of the Campaign Council. A member of Lagos APC Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), Bashorun Olorunfunmi, who also shared the same opinion with Keyamo, said, it is not possible for Mr. President to work against Tinubu. He asked, “If he did that, who would he then support, Atiku or Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP)? What would then happen with the legacies which Mr. President has put in place?”
Pa Olorunfunmi, said the CBN policy is not targeted at anybody or party but that it is just aimed at sanitising the economy. He pleaded with members of APC to reason maturely. He said, “because Mr. President is not participating in the campaigns now does not mean he is working against Tinubu. His schedules are tight, we should all know that. To say the north is working against Tinubu is also wrong because what other form of support does one expect from the likes of Governors Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna, Umar Ganduje of Kano, Massari of Katsina and others, who have not only stood for Tinubu, but also insisted that power must rotate back to the South?”
Olorunfunmi also dismissed the theory of lingering fuel crisis as having anything to do with Tinubu’s chances of winning the presidential election next month. “Fuel crisis has been worse under the previous PDP administrations than we have had under the APC. I do not see it as a deliberate move to frustrate not only Tinubu but other contestants.”
In a similar vein, immediate past vice national chairman Southwest zone of APC, Pastor Bankole Oluwajana, said the CBN policy is the best for now to address some ills in the economy.
He said if the policy was aimed to affect Tinubu, what then is it aimed to do to Atiku and Obi? My advice is that our people should reason beyond the ordinary. President Buhari is totally committed to Tinubu’s victory and he has said that severally.”
The State Publicity Secretary of APC in Lagos, Mr. Seye Oladejo, also appealed to those thinking or nursing the fear that President Buhari is not backing Tinubu to drop such an idea.  

According to him, “a legacy has been built and I doubt if the President will want another party to come and destroy his works of eight years. Not the PDP, whose house is in a disarray.”
Oladejo added that President Buhari has said he is totally supporting Tinubu just as we saw how the Vice President visited Tinubu recently. “APC will win the 2023 election,” he said.
Also expressing confidence in the support of northern governors and President Buhari for Tinubu, immediate past deputy national chairman of APC, Azeez Bolaji Repete, said: Tinubu is enjoying maximum support from President Buhari. Northerners are very sophisticated people with strong sense of history and I must give kudos to all the northern governors that stood firm with Asiwaju Tinubu to pick our party’s presidential ticket and based on that, I have no doubt in my mind that northerners are very genuine and trustworthy and they are ready to elect Tinubu come 2023.”
The CBN also distanced its policies of naira redesign and withdrawal limits from politics, contrary to insinuations. The Deputy Governor of the apex Bank, Mrs Aisha Ahmad, said the policy was the outcome of critical thinking, research and other monetary considerations.