2023: Tinubu Keeps Eyes on the Ball

2023: Tinubu Keeps Eyes on the Ball

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu, has shrugged off all the controversies surrounding his age, origin, certificates, alleged drug deals, and has continued to win the support of his enemies, resulting in the speedy resolution of the dispute over the composition of his party’s campaign council and the successful flag-off of his presidential campaign, Ejiofor Alike  writes

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, first stamped his political superiority over his opponents and his traducers when he survived all the plots by the leadership of his party and a section of the Presidency to successfully emerge as the party’s presidential candidate in a free, fair, and transparent presidential primary. But despite his political dexterity, the plots almost over-stretched his patience that snapped, forcing him to make what many regarded as disparaging remarks against President Muhammadu Buhari and Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Many believed that he broke the records when he survived all the intrigues, threw jabs at a sitting president and still won the ruling party’s presidential primary. Even after winning the primary, his frustrations by his supposed loyalists almost overwhelmed him as he failed to recognise Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his acceptance speech and also told the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, to go and lick his wounds.

He only recognised Osinbajo after the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila walked up to him to remind him.

 Tinubu was said to have nominated Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate and had expected the vice president not to challenge him in the primary. He also played a key role in the emergence of Lawan as the Senate President in 2019 and had fought the former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki for denying the Yobe senator the position in 2015.

Tinubu was therefore justifiably upset when Lawan not only threw his hat in the presidential ring, but was hurriedly named as the consensus presidential candidate of the APC by the party’s National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who claimed that the decision was reached in consultation with President Buhari.

The backlash that greeted the announcement and the denial of Adamu’s claim by members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) forced the Presidency to disown the party’s chairman.

Tinubu obviously knew that his emergence did not go down well with a section of the Presidency and the leadership of his party. He equally knew that the enemies within could pull the rug from under his feet. 

As a political strategist, he quickly deployed deft moves to court all his perceived enemies and win more friends to actualise his ambition. He has made enormous efforts to woo the likes of Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who had never hidden his disdain for his style of politics.

In May 2019, the Kaduna State governor had offered to advise the people of Lagos State on how to end godfatherism in the state.  Also during the ‘Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola Colloquium 2020,’ a virtual conference put together in May 2020 to commemorate the interior minister’s 63rd birthday where el-Rufai had reportedly said: “I am not Asiwaju’s man. You (Aregbesola) are Asiwaju’s man. Asiwaju and I have our differences. You and I have none.”

But despite his position on Tinubu, the former Lagos State governor has been making strenuous efforts to win him over to his side. Having declared that it was his turn to become the president, what matters to him is the realisation of his age-long ambition.

Tinubu uses every occasion to acknowledge el-Rufai’s contributions to his emergence as presidential candidate. With his attitude to those opposed to his ambition, he is ahead of another leading presidential candidate, who chose to snub his perceived enemies. While he mastered the art of courting his opponents, he has however engaged in embarrassing Freudian slips, which have given his handlers a tough task to manage.

 One of such embarrassing moments came before his emergence when he called for the recruitment of 50 million youths into the army to fight terrorism. Few hours later, his handlers clarified that he meant 50,000.

Tinubu had also told participants at the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit last month that Governor el-Rufai could turn a rotten situation into a bad one, a comment his handlers later described as a slip of tongue.

Even at last week’s campaign in Jos, Tinubu who slipped out of excitement, chanted “God Bless PD…”, before he realised his Freudian slip and quickly reverted to his “APC”.

Following these embarrassing gaffes, the former Lagos governor and his handlers have resolved that he won’t participate in television debates or interviews. Many thought such decision would be his greatest undoing but he survived without any bruises.

Despite the attempts by his opponents to use these gaffes to discredit him, the APC presidential candidate has continued to wax strong in the race to Aso Rock.

The controversy over the list of members of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council was another issue that threw a spanner in his works.

Mutual distrust between his close allies and the leadership of the party had fuelled the dispute. With the failed attempt by the party’s leadership to stop his emergence, his loyalists were said to have ignored the party and prepared a list, which the NWC felt was not all-inclusive.

As his opponents were celebrating the party’s inability to constitute a presidential campaign council, Tinubu in his characteristic deft political moves, resolved the dispute to the chagrin of his traducers. No sooner was it resolved than a fresh controversy over his alleged involvement in drug deal in the United States surfaced.

Less than one week before the party kicked off its presidential campaign in Jos, the Plateau State capital, the media was agog with a United States District Court judgment from the Northern District of Illinois taking possession of Tinubu’s $460,000 over his involvement in drug trafficking in the 1990s.

The APC presidential candidate had earlier shrugged off the controversies over his real origin, name, age, and educational qualifications. However, the allegation over drug deal was so strong that many thought that it would truncate his presidential ambition. Many also thought that President Buhari who was known to have executed those involved in drug trafficking as a military head of state, would not be part of his scheduled campaign in Jos. 

His opponents were however disappointed when Buhari personally flagged off the campaign which was witnessed by a mammoth crowd of the party’s supporters. Despite his weaknesses and all the grave allegations against him, Tinubu has continued to exude an uncommon confidence, which his main challengers lack.

For instance, while presenting a copy of his manifesto recently to the leader of Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, the APC presidential candidate had urged him to remain alive to attend his presidential inauguration.

 While the other candidates are saying they will do this or that if elected, Tinubu believes that the only obstacle delaying his occupation of Aso Rock is time. He has indeed kept his eyes on the ball.

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