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Three months after his emergence as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, last week visited the headquarters of the party in Abuja, where he met with National Chairman of the party, Senator AbdulahiAdamu and other members of the National Working Committee. Adedayo Akinwale writes
The presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu last Wednesday visited the national headquarters of the party three months after he emerged as the standard bearer during the presidential primary of the party that took place from June 7 to 8, 2022 at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Initially, 23 aspirants bought forms, but nine withdrew shortly before the commencement of voting at the convention. Tinubu defeated former Minister of Transportation, RotimiAmaechi; Vice President YemiOsinbajo and 12 others to clinch the sole ticket. He polled 1,271 votes to emerge victorious at the end of the Special National Convention of the party.
Following his emergence, Tinubu visited Osinbajo, Amaechi and other presidential aspirants to solicit their support in the forthcoming elections.
The battle quickly shifted to the issue of who is going to be the running mate to Tinubu. When the search on, speculations were already rife that the ruling party would settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. The christian leaders within the party immediately swung into action to prevent the move perceived as a slight on the Christians in the party and in the country at large.
Christian bodies like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), among others, did not lie low as they consistently warned against the consequences of fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Their warning fell into deaf ears and at the end of the day, against all odds, Tinubu decided to pick the former Governor of Borno state, Senator KashimShettima, as the Vice Presidential Candidate, a fellow Muslim from the North.
Defending his choice of Shettima, the former Governor of Lagos state said his decision was not based on religion or to please one community or the other, but believed that Shettima could help him bring the best governance to all Nigerians, regardless of their religious affiliation or considerations of ethnicity or region.
After scaling the hurdle of nominating his running mate, Tinubu consulted former President OlusegunObasanjo and former military Head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida to intimate them about his ambition.
However, Tinubu’s last Wednesday’s visit to the party headquarters and the subsequent meeting with the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party came amid rumoured frosty relationship between himself and the National Chairman of the party, Senator AbdulahiAdamu.
Before his visit, there had been reports of rifts between Tinubuand Adamu over composition of the party’s presidential campaign council. It was speculated that while Tinubu wants to handpick key people that would deliver his message on key issues, Adamu wants his loyalists to be in charge.
Tinubu who arrived at the secretariat at exactly 2:47pm was in company of Shettima, APC Director General of campaign and Plateau state Governor, Simon Lalong, the Secretary, Hon. James Faleke, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajbiamila, the Governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Umahi, among others.
While at the party headquarters, Tinubu held a meeting with Adamu for about one hour behind closed-doors before meeting with other NWC members which lasted for more than two hours.
The presidential candidate said his meeting with NWC members was to consult further on the organisation and structure for the campaign and to harmonise and make sure that they have an inclusive campaign structure to ensure that the party is victorious during the election.
Moreso, he added that it was an honour for him to be in the midst of the members of the NWC to interact with the team that authorised his emergence as the candidate of the party. He said while he has not been able to say thank you since the primary, he has nevertheless hit the ground running.
He pointed out that as members of the ruling party, they have come together as a political party and have taken progressivism as doctrine, as well as progressive in thinking to serve the country.
In addition, the APC standard bearer said while he admitted that even though democracy was challenging and difficult system to manage, the ruling party was determined to ensure that it democratized Nigeria fully and remain a beacon of democracy as the largest nation of black race in the world.
Interestingly, to convince Nigerians and party members that there was no rift between him and the party Chairman, Tinubu said Adamu would deliver him as the president in the 2023 elections.
The former Governor of Lagos state pointed out that the rumour mongers can throw all the jabs that they want, but insisted that the ruling party was strongly determined to fulfil its dreams of turning Nigeria to a very progressive, highly developed and prosperous country.
Tinubu said: “To the rumour manufacturers, I read in some papers about disagreement between myself and the chairman and that was a very big lie. They didn’t know that we have come a long way. The big masquerade dances not in the cage but in the market square.
“And that is what Adamu used to be, full of wisdom. We were governors together, before God put us together on this project again. He is going to deliver as the Chairman of the party for me to become the president of Nigeria. And I am very confident of that. They can say whatever they want to say, throw all the jabs that they want, we are a party strongly determined to fulfil our dreams of turning Nigeria to a very progressive, highly developed, prosperous country.”
Addressing journalists after the meeting, the presidential candidate said his mission to the party secretariat was to discuss the campaign which would officially commence on September 28.
According to him: “What we came here to do today is to discuss the campaign which is a few days away. When INEC will lift the ban, how do we work out the details, work together, implement all we have been saying, who are the members of the campaign council, who will not be members, and I beg you not to be angry if you are left out because we are going to give you another responsibility. Not every member here can be a member of the presidential campaign council”.
Ahead of the campaign, the presidential candidate said he was not threatened with what he has seen about other political parties because the ruling party was committed to democratic principles and values.
Tinubu stated: “We are not threatened. We are confident and we are very proud of ourselves, we are in an orderly manner, we are committed to democratic principles and value; we are not bickering in any way and you know that. Can you say that of the other parties? We are not spewing out fake statistics and wrong figures, can you say that of any other parties? Well, we are what we are, a progressive party.”
A day after hosting Tinubu and his team, the National Chairman of the party told the wives of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates of the party, Senator OluremiTinubu and Nana Shettima and their team that the ruling party was not contesting the 2023 presidential election to end up at the tribunal.
Adamu was of the opinion that there was no option to victory, and therefore called on the members of the party not to leave anything to chance, saying the APC-led federal government must be returned.
The Chairman commended the women for their drive and commitment to ensure the success of the party in the 2023 elections, saying they have promised to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the presidential candidate of the party and his vice presidential candidate and ensure they emerge victorious.
His words: “All we can say is to appreciate you for the drive, conscientiousness and commitment to the success of this campaign. I want to assure you that what we can do, by way of planning, is to ensure maximum participation in the efforts we will be making as NWC of the party, to stand with you.
“We have promised to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with both the presidential candidate and his running mate. So, to that extent, you can be rest assured that we will be together in this race. Whatever you need us to do we will willingly do it to ensure success of this effort.
Adamu noted that while President MuhammaduBuhari won’t be on the ballot in the 2023 elections, his spirit, his progressiveness would continue to add value in the forthcoming elections.
He was of the opinion that as far as the leadership of the APC is concerned, Buhari is very much on the ticket, even though they might not see his picture, his spirit would drive this effort.
According to Adamu: “I want to just emphasize one thing to you. There is no option to victory. We must leave no space whatsoever. This government must be returned, by the grace of God. I believe in God and for God to appreciate me and add value to what we are doing. I want to use the privilege of your coming to emphasise that we just have to work for victory.
“There is no option whatsoever and don’t be ashamed of saying so. We are not working to end up in the tribunal but working to end up in the Villa. Those who have ears should hear. We are ready to work with you and whatever you feel the NWC can do, don’t hesitate to come along. We are ready. May God protect our candidate with more wisdom and reach. The expectation is high but we know what you can do.”
With the official commencement of campaigns just a few days away, political parties will roll out their campaign in full force as they canvass for the votes of about 90 millions of Nigerians.