Weekend of royal blessings for BAT’s presidential ambition in Ogun
There was unusual movement of security personnel around Otunba Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu Ode, in the morning of Saturday, February 12, 2022. Then, politicians and political functionaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) within the Ijebu axis started arriving in different shades of attires. Different banners proclaiming support for the presidential ambition of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, confirmed the whispers that Asiwaju, as he is fondly called by supporters, was coming to town.
Just before midday, the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, drove into the stadium to await the August Visitor in the month of February. After consulting with the President of the Federal Republic on his presidential ambition, Asiwaju had told newsmen at the Presidential Villa that he will still consult with other Nigerians and stakeholders at home and abroad.
It was in furtherance of the consultations that brought him to the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Alayeluwa, Sikiru Kayode-Adetona, one of the longest reigning monarchs in Nigeria, known for his firm pro-democracy principles and forthrightness.
What was supposed to be a private visit to Awujale, eventually turned into a carnival of sort. Party faithfuls and different Asiwaju support groups trooped out and line the route from the stadium to the Awujale palace in the serene Government Reserved Area of Ijebu Ode.
Awujale had invited select top-ranking Obas to join him in receiving the APC National Leader, while the Ogun State Deputy Governor was joined by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tokunbo Talabi, state commissioners and local government council chairmen from the six local governments in the Ijebu Division.
Asiwaju had a private meeting with Awujale after which he addressed the gathering and declared his aspiration to become the president of Nigeria. Kabiyesi Awujale was full of praises and encouragement for Asiwaju in his aspiration.
Kabiyesi Awujale went down the memory lane to recall the immense contributions and personal sacrifices of Asiwaju Tinubu during the hectic battle against military dictatorship. Awujale mentioned that Asiwaju and other leaders of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) actually held a meeting at his palace during the prodemocracy struggle. According to him, Asiwaju has really paid his dues in nation building, politics and governance, and therefore his presidential aspiration is not misplaced.
Form ijebu Ode, the chopper flew to Abeokuta and landed around four o’clock in the evening at the Arcade Ground from where the former governor went by road to the palace of Alake, which was already filled to the brim by people awaiting the arrival of Asiwaju Tinubu.
On arrival, Asiwaju who was welcomed by the Chief of Staff to Ogun State Governor, Alhaji Shuaibu Salisu, went straight into a closed-door, one-on-one, meeting with Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, which lasted for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, the Alake led his guest into his reception hall where prominent kings in Egbaland, political functionaries and stakeholders, including members of the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) from Lagos, who accompanied Asiwaju throughout the two day’s whistle-stop tour of Ogun.
Asiwaju at the palace hall meeting went straight into business: “I told President I want to replace you and I don’t want to offend you. I told the President I want to step into his shoes but not step on his toes. I told him as the number one citizen, I should start my bid for presidency by informing you first; and he told me to inform the whole world; and I have done that.”
Chief Tajudeen Olusi, who addressed the gathering on behalf of the GAC, the highest decision making body in Lagos APC, traced the historically cordial relationship that exists between Lagos and Ogun and how Lagos State had previously supported Ogun State culturally, economically and politically. He pleaded that this is the time for Ogun State to support Lagos.
Kabiyesi Alake expressed belief in the ability and capacity of Asiwaju to take Nigeria to greater heights and confront her current challenges. He thereafter, prayed profusely for the success of Asiwaju in his wish to become the President of Nigeria. Having been honoured as the Aare Ago of Egbaland years ago, Kabiyesi Alake said Asiwaju Tinubu was “at home” in Ake Palace.
Two hours after, the train moved to Ilaro, where enthusiastic supporters led by Senator Olamilekan Solomon, popularly called Yayi were waiting along with thousands of supporters since early hours of the day.
When the pilot of the chopper initially expressed concern about evening flight, Asiwaju offered to hit Ilaro by road: “Then, we go by road!”, he said determinedly. Reports kept coming in that thousands of people have besieged the palace of Olu Ilaro as early as 8.00am. Asiwaju handlers came up with a mid-way option that the chopper drops Asiwaju at Ilaro and then departs immediately, leaving the principal behind to exit Ilaro by road. With this agreement, the Chopper flew out of Abeokuta at exactly 6.22pm.
The huge crowd at Ilaro confirmed the decision taken not to cancel the trip was a very good one. It took strenuous efforts of the security men to control the crowd before Asiwaju could gain entrance into the palace.
It was an enthused Olu Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Adegbenle, the Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, that welcomed Tinubu to his palace. The Royal Father told all those who cared to listen that Asiwaju’s visit to Ilaro over his presidential ambition was highly appreciated and very remarkable, because that was the first time that a presidential aspirant will be visiting Ilaro. “They always neglected us, they don’t come here”, the paramount ruler said.
As in the previous palaces visited earlier in the day, Asiwaju had a close door meeting with the Olu before coming out to address the tumultuous crowd in the palace ground on his momentous-gathering presidential ambition.
After about two hours, Asiwaju and his entourage departed from the ancient city of Ilaro just before 9.00p.m enroute Lagos. About twelve hours after, Sunday morning precisely, people started gathering at the palace of the Akarigbo and Paramount Ruler of Remoland, Kabiyesi Alayeluwa Oba Babatunde Ajayi, to await the last leg of Asiwaju’s two days’ consultative visits to the paramount rulers in the four divisions of the Gateway State.
The team was received at the Akarigbo palace by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tokunbo Talabi, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hon. Funmi Efuwape, House of Reps Member representing Remo Federal Constituency, Hon. Adewunmi, member House of Reps from Ijebu Central, Hon. Kolapo Onasanya, APC Publicity Secretary, Comrade Tunde Oladunjoye, all the Council Chairmen and House of Assembly members in the four local council areas that made up Remo Division.
Again, Asiwaju Tinubu had about 30 minutes private talks with Akarigbo before the y both came out into the palace hall. Akarigbo, seeing the crowd, apologized that a bigger hall would have been used if he had knew that the kind of crowd of heavy weights would be accompanying Tinubu.
Former Minister for Works, Chief Ogunlewe, a Remo son was the I e who addressed the gathering and asked for support for Asiwaju. He punctuated his speech with songs that enjoyed lively chorus from the crowd.
When it was his turn to speak, Asiwaju first clarified why he visited Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona first: “Kabiyesi, It’s not out of ignorance that I started with Kábíyèsí Awùjalẹ̀. I did not use ranking, position, history or anything; I used what our parents taught us; age of wisdom. I used his age. I started with him for he’s older than you are , even though you’re the current Chairman of the Council of Ọbas. That’s the way I see it.”
He then dovetailed into the agenda of the visit: “I am here to let Kabiyesi know that I want to contest to become the President of this country. And equally, to let Kabiyesi know that I didn’t jump fence like a robber into the Villa. I went to the Villa because I know we have a President and there can be only one President at a time and he must be respected. I respected him, went to him, informed him that I wanted to step into his shoe without stepping on his toes. I did that and he said go ahead, we are in a democracy.”
Explaining further, the APC National Leader said: “Because of the way I was trained and developed, because of what I have even told other people, … I’m not looking for anything that anybody had never requested for in life. It’s my ambition and I said so. It’s a lifelong ambition and I repeated it.”
He then showed appreciation: Kabiyesi, I you sir for giving us the audience and with the wise counsel you have given me.” Asiwaju Tinubu clearly got a rousing and assuring reception in Ogun. He came with a very intimidating array of notable political personalities, among whom are Chief Tajudeen Olusi, Chief Pius Oluwole Akinyelure, Senator Adefuye, Senator Adefuye, Pa Shosanya, Cardinal James Odunbaku (Baba Eto) Hon. Somorin Kuye, and members of House of Reps, Council Chairmen, Assembly men and women, party women leaders and so on from within and outside Lagos State. The anthem sang spiritedly everywhere Asiwaju Tinubu went in Ogun State was: “On your mandate we shall stand.” It was indeed a very reassuring outing.