By OLUSESAN LAOYE
Every politics, it is often said, is local. This may be the fate awaiting Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition as we begin account to the election. His ambition became a subject of intense disagreement and debate last week between Afenifere and one of its chieftains, Prince Day Adeyeye, who claimed the Pa Reuben Fasoranti, its former leader had endorsed and supported Tinubu for the office.
The Yoruba socio cultural organization, said that creating such a controversy at a time it is mourning its departed publicity secretary, late Mr. Yinka Odumaki, was insensitive and unwarranted.
In a statement by its Communication director, Mr. Sola Lawal, the group said the action of Mr. Adeyeye’s, an ally of Tinubu, claim about the purported endorsement of Tinubu by Faroranti on Tuesday during a visit to him was a calculated attempt to dishonor their departed official and distract from the one month mourning period by the organization.
Adeyeye, spokesperson for the South West Agenda, SWAGA, the group said should not drag the 93 year old Pa Fasoranti into political fray to satisfy the ambition of his mentor when the former could no longer speak for the group, as he has ceased to be the leader.
Adeyeye may have been flying the kite to determine the mood of the critical Yoruba group to the presidential ambition. Afenifere has remained stubbornly opposed to Tinubu’s quest, preferring agitation for restructuring, which they believe will better serve the interest of the south than the ambition of one individual. Last week’s rebuke of Adeyeye is sufficient indication that the group may not have changed its position.
In the past few weeks, Tinubu in a bid to realise his presidential ambition, has been junketing across Northern Nigeria, especially the two major cities of Kaduna, which is still regarded as the political headquarters of the entire Northern Nigeria, and Kano which as well still remains the religious and the commercial nerve centre of the region.
His trips to Kaduna and Kano are significant and historic with strong political undertone. He was in Kaduna to deliver the historical annual lecture in honour of the late premier of the Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, while he was in Kano for the 12th colloquim to mark his 69th Birthday Anniversary.
Many observers believe that these two events marked a significant acceptance and endorsement of his bid for the presidency, and a major political success for him toward 2023. There are also speculations of the Tinubu/Ganduje – a Muslim-Muslim – ticket, which was used to scuttle his vice presidential ambition to Buhari or former Speaker Yakubu Dogara; to challenge the possible Fayemi/El Rufai combination, considered by many as the ideal ticket to retain power.
However, many people are bothered by the stance of his main constituency, the South West, after he moved his birthday lecture outside the base for the first time. The apparent opposition by Afenifere to his bid is considered a spanner in the works and political dampener.
The colloquium had always been held in Lagos but this year’s was exceptional and which to political analysts could be part of the plans of repositioning himself for the 2023 presidential race, thinking that romancing the North ahead of time would boost his chances above others contenders in the Southern parts of the country, especially, the South West.
By going to Kano, it was speculated that he may be warming up to the governor as his running mate, bearing in mind the fact that Kano now remains the state with the highest number of votes in Nigeria and also where the APC has the highest figure of members of the party in Nigeria as indicated in the party’s membership registration exercise.
It is clear and certain that Tinubu is set for the race and already making sure to burnish his image and not willing to leave anything to chance.
Unarguably, Tinubu is romancing the North to reposition himself for the number one post in Nigeria but one thing he has not sorted out before going up North for support, is his base, the south West. Although, he may assume that this would be his last step, he probably may be living in the past because things have changed in the region in the past six years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, which he helped to install.
Although, he has been trying to divide the ranks of those he believed may want to contend the position with him in the South West, he is making efforts too to cover his tracks. Despite all these, he still has many hurdles to cross to convince the people that he meant well for them and not for his personal interest because the on-going events in Nigeria and the region have made people to lose confidence in him.
He has a lot to clean up because the people of the South west are no longer those he knew years back, when he was able to carry them along. Attacks by Fulani herdsmen and allegations of Fulanisation agenda has drastically changed the mood of the people toward the government and what it represents as well as the indignity being meted out to vice president Osinbajo.
As such he and his party, the APC, are no longer as popular with the people as in 2015, because the thinking of an average Yoruba man presently is that Tinubu has sold them to the Fulani; Buhari having relegated the region to the background, and with his people unleashing terror on them with impunity.
The people of the South west now believed that they are experiencing worst times which they never had before and which is even now worst than the period of former President Good luck Jonathan, when they cried of marginalization, although their son is the vice president.
These scenarios have heightened agitations for either restructuring or complete self determination. All these are telling tremendously on the integrity of Tinubu coupled with the campaigns against him over the ways he has been allegedly milking the resources of Lagos State and his apparent acquiescence with the activities of the herdsmen and bandits in the region.
With his romance with the North over his presidency at the time when the South West is boiling and the agitations for either restructuring and self determination for the creation of Oduduwa Nation, is high, from all indications the people appear not to be happy with him and that is why he is seen as a self-centered, who cares about his self interests alone.
According to Koiki one of the proponents of Oduduwa State, during their rally in Lagos, Tinubu cares for himself alone and not the interest of the Yoruba people because we don’t expect him to be so ambitious at this stage, when the south West is on fire and people are crying, that they are fed up with the Buhari who he presented in 2015 to them and are willing to go.”
He argued that Tinbu is not a friend of the South west but their “enemy and traitor.”
On his trips to the North, particularly Kano, “we believed that Tinubu has demonstrated that he cares alone about his ambition than the interests of his people, who made him, arguing that “without the South west who is Tinibu.”
The argument was also that Tinubu ought to have seen the hand writing on the wall during the #End SARS demonstration at the Lekki Toll gate in Lagos, that he has lost it and that he is no longer the Tinubu they used to adore; and that the destruction that later characterized the protests was largely against his politics and the government.
It was also gathered that the way the youths who are now leading the agitations for the Yoruba Nation attacked him headlong should have taught him a lesson, to know how he should have tactically dealt with the North and not the way he is going about it, as if the lives of the people depend on his presidency which is not certain he would get.
What actually angered the youths in the South West was his reaction when the tension was high about the Fulani invasion of the region. Tinubu who was accused of maintaining undignified silence for long over the Fulani herders and farmers clash, did not impressed the people when he eventually spoke.
They believed that his statement was neither here nor there, simply because of his ambition and not wanting to offend the Fulani in power, whom he believed would install him. Going by what he said at both the Arewa House in Kaduna and Kano where he condemned the policies of the federal government led by President Buhari, his lambasting the government has still not changed the situation on ground about him.
An activist Tunde Awokoya of the Development and Social change, said that Tinubu was being deceived and that his recent outburst condemning the policies of government at this stage would not change the perception of people about him.
“To me he has lost it by aligning with the North, especially by installing a Fulani in power. I doubt if there is anything he could do now to redeem his image because majority in the South west and even the entire country are not even sure of what would happen before 2023, with the agitations all over the country.”
Apart from both Professor Banji Akintoye and some activists in the South west, like Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho who believed that 2023 election may not hold, the Governor of Benue State Samuel Orton too, has that notion, arguing that if the security situation in Nigeria does not improve the future of Nigeria is bleak and the likelihood of the next general election on 2023 “is not certain.”
Also Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the new leader of Afenifere, has said in a telephone interview with our Correspondent that the North is just deceiving Tinibu. He said that his recent comments about Buhari’s government can’t change things and would even compound his problem with them.
He said what he should do is to redeem his image at home so that the people would not see him as a traitor. He also referred to how Tinubu caused crisis in Afenifere because of his selfish interest. Pa Adebanjo also expressed doubts over the 2023 election.
“I don’t see the election holding if the fundamental issues about the country are not sorted out. The country is divided, security of the people is not guaranteed and that is why the agitations for restructuring and even self determination in some areas of Nigeria are high.”
“If the country is not restructured I just can’t see the election holding because insecurity and activities of the herdsmen all over the country would bring chaos that would not allow anything to move in Nigeria. As far as we are concerned, the only way out is restructuring into federating units along the present geo-political zones.”
Also Iba Gani Adams the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land has said that the Yoruba are bound to see traitors in the struggle they have embarked upon. Sunday Igboho too had rained curses on any Yoruba who is all out to betray their struggle of actualising the Yoruba Nation.
He too does not believe in the 2023 general election because, according to him, the creation of Oduduwa Nation is sacrosanct. On the Northern flank, there were strong opinion leaders who had made their intentions known about Tinubu’s presidential bid. The opinions of these people count and they are part of the core Northern leaders who can make or mar the situations and direct their people on the direction and path to follow.
Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, Ango Abdulahi and late Junaid Muhammed, had made it clear that they would not support the candidacy of Tinubu. They said at different times expressed preference for Osinbajo rather than Tinubu. But people like Sola Omodeni former Commissioner for Urban Development in Ondo State believes that Tinubu is still the best for the job in the South West, insisting that he has paid his political dues.
Also Mr. Samuel Ade Pelemo who is the coordinator of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) for President and his Deputy Bukky Oluderin had said that the organisation is solidly on ground all over the country, especially in Ondo State and they are doing their best to consolidate and position Tinubu for the Presidency.
They argued “Tinubu is in the best position to carry on the foundation laid by President Buhari after his exit.” But many Nigerians, particularly South westerners, would question the substance of the foundation.