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2023 Firefights: Gunning for Tinubu

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By OLUSESAN  LAOYE

For the  past  six months, the  heat  has  been  turned  against  the  leader  of the  All progressives  Congress (APC) over  his alleged presidential  ambition for the 2023 presidential  race. Tinubu’s ambition  is no longer  a secret; although  he has not made  his intention known, all  his  foot  soldiers  have  been working  underground for  the  actualisation  of his ambition.

One  of the  issues  that may be a major stumbling block to Tinubu’s ambition is that of the bullion  van  said  to have  been  driven  to his  house in Lagos on the eve  of  the  2019 presidential election. Last week the  convener  of concerned  Nigerians  Deji  Adeyemi had submitted  a petition  to the  EFCC to investigate Tinubu  over  source  of  money allegedly conveyed  to his residence with  bullion van during the 2019 presidential election. This is a loaded political gun that may explode before 2023.

But since the inauguration of the second of this government, it has not been business as usual for the political grandmaster as the  Lion  of Bourdilon  has  been facing  serious  antagonisms from those  opposed  to his ambition both  within  the APC and  outside  it.

The  picture  of the  magnitude  of the  opposition  which  Tinubu  would  face  started  manifesting before  the  last  general  elections when  it appeared  that  he was  losing  grounds  in the  party but  he masterfully managed  the  crisis  to face  the  elections.

But  as soon the  election  was  over  those  after  Tinubu never  hid  their opposition.  This  manifested in the  choice  of ministers as it was believed that none  of his nominees  were  honoured and those  who  were  thought  that  came  from him were  discovered  later  that,  they  made the  list through different sources.

Since then he too has not been inconspicuous and largely quiet and unobtrusive in respect of   party activities. Although he played a critical role in mobilizing the National Assembly to accept the party’s list of nominees for leadership, having relocated his base to Abuja during the horse-trading, the outcome seems to have tilted toward the president rather than him.

Indications to this emerged not long after when governor of Kaduna state Mallam Nasil

El-Rufai went to Lagos to cast aspersions on Tinubu over his ambition. He said that  despite  the claimed  popularity  of Tinubu,  there  was  not much  to show  for  the  performance  of the  APC in the  South  West  particularly in Lagos.

Also, the  body  language  of the cabals  indicated  that  they  were  all  out  to scuttle  the  presidential  ambition of Tinubu. The perceived  hostility  against the  vice president Yemi  Osinbajo  was  interpreted  in some  quarters  to mean  that   the  cabal  within  the  presidency  and  some  powerful  groups  in the  APC were after  him as a result  of his closeness  to Tinubu  and that  they  were  after  those  who could  be helpful to his  ambition.

Although  some  people  believed  that despite  the fact  that  the  vice  President  is one Tinubu’s protegees,  targeting  him was in two fold, to whittle  down  the  support  for  Tinubu and  to cripple  him, Osinbajo,   strategically  and  other wise  as he was  seen  as  an alternative  to Tinubu  in the  South  West. All  these  it was  argued were  moves  to prevent  Tinubu  or those associated with him from  moving to power  after President  Buhari.

One of those  who are targeted  and  believed  could  also  contribute  immensely  to the  ambition of  Tinubu is  Mr  Babatunde Fowler,  the  boss  of the Federal  Inland  Revenue Services, FIRS, who was  suddenly queried over the revenue collection of his agency. Observers saw as a subtle tactics to deny him second term. The query  generated  so much controversy  which  became  so glaring  that it was  not  Fowler  that  they  were  after  but  his mentor  Tinubu.

Of all the  forces  against  Tinubu, those  from the  North  are  more  intense and  they  seem  not to have  hidden their  opposition  to his ambition.

The  Northern group  which  is spare headed  by the  Kaduna  state governor, El-Rufai may have done  a lot of sensitisation among  some  prominent  elites, and  leaders  in the  region  who  have  been  coming  out  with  derogatory  statements  against  both  the  interests of Tinubu  and  the South  especially  the South  West on the  presidency  in 2023.

Some of the Northern leaders, who have  been  vehement  about  the  presidential  ambition  of the  people  from the  South, and  the  South  West  in particular, are  Alhaji  Tank Yakasai,  Dr. Junaid  Muhammed and  Professor  Ango Abdulahi. They have all spoken against the South West taking over from  the  North. Both  Yakasai  and  Ango Abdullahi never  hid their  feelings  against  Tinubu as one of them  even  said  that  only  Osinbajo  could  get  his vote  if the  South West ever  become a presidential  candidate.

There is no doubt the opposition to Tinubu’s ambition is swelling by the  day. Right  in his home  base  the  South  West, Tinubu  is equally  facing  some  oppositions and all  appear  not to be  well  completely for him. .Apart  from the  opposition  outside  his party  in the  South  West, there  appears to be  strong  opponents within  the  APC even  among those he had  helped  to stardom. It is believed that some of them  are  now  working with forces against his ambition.

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For  instance  in Lagos  State, it was  believed  that  he is no longer  enjoying  a close  and cordial  relationships with  the likes of Munis  Banire and  even  the  Minister  of Works who was  his chief  of staff  and  his appointed  governor of Lagos  State  for  eight  years. Fashola  is one of the people who  is  being  prompted  for  the  presidency  in the  South West in 2023. It was  even believed  that  the  relationship  between  him and Tinubu  had  gone  bad  since 2015, when  it was  said  that  Tinubu  opposed  his ministerial  appointment  but  was  picked  by  President  Buhari  on merit who eventually made  him  minister  of three powerful  ministries, power, works  and  housing.

Also Tinubu has  the  Akinwumi  Ambode  group  to contend with. Since  he  prevented  him  from  running a second term, the relationship  between  them  has  soured  so bad  to the  extent that  they  both  engaged in war  of words  and  character  assassination. It is now glaring  that  except  miracle  happens,  Ambode  and  his  group  would  never  back  his move  to the presidency.

Apart  from  Lagos, he  has people  like  Ibikunle  Amosun who may not  forgive  him  for the  role  he played to prevent  his choice  emerge  as the  flag bearer  of the  APC in Ogun  State.

There is also  the  incumbent  Governor  of the Ondo  state  Rotimi  Akeredolu  who  has  been  having  a  running  battle  with  Tinubu,  who  is  alleged to be  opposed to his Second  term  bid  in  the  state. His loyalists  in Ondo state  have  been after  Akeredolu  and  there  was  a serious gang up  to impeach  him  or even  suspend him from the  party.

Governor Kayode  Fayemi  of Ekiti state  used to be one of his trusted henchmen; indeed, he was accused of being too Lagos oriented in his first term which was essentially why he lost. But since moving to Abuja as minister and return as governor, things seem to have fallen apart between them as he is  said  to be the north’s side kick for Presidency in 2023.

Because  of the  perceived  personality clash between  the  duo  over  their  presidential  ambitions,  it was  insinuated  that  the  recent statement  of Tinubu against  the  Airport project  of the government  of Fayemi openly at the  convocation  of Afe Babalola  University  in Ado Ekiti was an attack on Fayemi.  Tinubu  at the  convocation  said that  the  airport  should  not  be  the  priority  of the  state government and that the  money should  have  been diverted  to something  more  profitable. The  people  of Ekiti  state  did  not  take  kindly  to this statement, which  they  believed  was  an affront  to the  people who  were yearning  for the  airport.

But Tinubu sensing  the  reaction  of the  people of the state  and  those  in government had  to issue  a statement  that  his  statement  was not an  attack on the government  of Kayode Fayemi.

The  convener  of concerned  Nigerians  Deji  Adeyemi in the petition said that as a private citizen  who  ordinarily should  not  be  seen  with a convoy  of  bullion  vans with an undisclosed  amount  of money which  he admitted  to  publicly.

The Arewa  youth  consultative  forum  under  the  leadership of Yerima  Shetima in an interview  said that he was not  sure  the  EFCC would  probe Tinubu over  the petition written  by Adeyanju because  of his  closeness  to the  corridor  of power  as the  National  leader  of the  APC.

He said there  was  the  need  now for  Tinubu  to clear himself of the  allegation and  charged  the  EFCC to do what  is necessary  and  let  the  whole  world know its  outcome on the  matter raised  by concerned Nigerians.

Also Pastor Tunde  Bakare  of the  Latter  Rain Assembly Lagos is one of the  top  Nigerians  in  the south  West  that  has  been critical  of Tinubu’s  wealth and is also interested in the position. He argued  that  there  are  those  today  in the  society who  live  big  on the commonwealth  of the  people  and  cannot  be  said  to have sustainable  source  of income,  a veiled reference to the bullion van episode.

He said  that  Nigerians  should  be  mindful  of those  they  would  vote  for  as  leaders.

While  reacting  to the  presidential  ambition  of Tinubu the leader  of the Bola  Ahmed  Tinubu  Network vision for his presidency Mr.Sola Omodeni  who was  the  former  commissioner  for  physical planning  and  urban  Development in Ondo  state,  said  Tinubu  is the  best  presidential  material  in 2023.

He said he has proved to be reliable and responsible leader.  He  pointed  out  that his tenure  as  the  governor  of Lagos  state  was  still  the  best because  he  laid  the  foundation  which  subsequent  governors  are  now  building  on.

Also Mr. Samuel Ade  Pelemo,  a former  lawmaker  in Ondo  State who  is the  coordinator  of  BAT and  his Deputy  Bukky Oluderin  extolled the  virtues  and  the  leadership  qualities of  Tinubu  and  called  on Nigerians  to support  him  as they  would  not  regret  having  him as  the  President.

They  argued  that  BAT is solidly  on ground  in Ondo State and  the  foundation  of the  group  would  be  used  to test  run  the  governorship  election  in 2020, apparently  saying  that  the  candidate  supported  in the state,  not  Akeredolu  would emerge  the  Governor  of the  State.

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They  argued  that  Tinubu  would  be  in the  best  position  to carry  on with  the  foundation  already  being  laid  by  President Buhari.

 

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