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Wike, Ortom, Makinde, Others at Crossroads over Tinubu, Obi



Following a statement by the presidential candidate of the PDP Atiku Abubakar that he had moved on, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his camp are said to be weighing other options ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Others in his camp are Governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
THISDAY gathered that the PDP and its presidential candidate have concluded that the five governors would not be backing the party’s candidate in the presidential election.
It was learnt that Atiku is still pushing forward to have his way in the five states despite the opposition by the governors.
Wike had on Friday doubled the number of his special assistants to monitor the political units to 200,000, to maintain a substantial presence of ground troops in the war ahead.

The special assistants according to Wike, are to guide him and the state on how they would vote in the presidential election.
THISDAY learnt that there are suspicions that Wike appeared to have made a deal with Tinubu, but there are indications that it would be difficult for him to pull off the deal in Rivers given the popularity of Atiku and Obi in the state.
Also given that the Rivers governor has lost most of his foot soldiers in the persons of Lt. General Kenneth Minimah (rtd), Austin Opara, Lee Maeba, Celestine Omehia, the Sekibos and several others to Atiku, it will be difficult for him to defeat Atiku in the state.
Makinde also appears to have already made up his mind to back Tinubu given his presence by proxy at the residence of Pa Fasoranti when Afenifere endorsed Tinubu.
THISDAY also gathered that the other governors in the group may reluctantly back Obi.
Ortom said recently that Obi is the best presidential candidate of the lot but diplomatically pulled back a full endorsement, saying that he belongs to the PDP.

Tambuwal, Lamido, Ayu in Closed-door Meeting with Bauchi Gov

Meanwhile, despite Atiku’s position that he had moved on, efforts to resolve the internal crisis rocking the PDP continued on Saturday with its National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu; Director General of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, and a former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, meeting behind closed door with Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed.
The delegation met with Governor Mohammed Saturday evening.
Speaking, Ayu described Mohammed as one of the major national stakeholders, who have contributed immensely to the development of the party.
He said the meeting was also to rally support for Atiku.

According to him: “We are here to brief you on some of the developments that are going on in the party, nationally and to seek your wise counsel because you’re not just the Governor of Bauchi, you are a leader in this country –very experienced. In all the places you have served, you gathered the experience. And we thought people like you in this campaign from time to time we need to come around and consult, brief you on some things.”
After the closed-door meeting, which lasted for about one hour and 30 minutes, Ayu declined to brief journalists on its outcome.
But Mohammed, who spoke briefly, said that delegation was in Bauchi to discuss issues of the party, the campaign and elections.
“They came to Bauchi to discuss some grey areas concerning my position as Deputy Director General of the Campaign Council in charge of the North,” he said.

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It is true that only one of the four top contenders for Nigeria’s topmost office will be sworn in as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on the 29th of May, 2023. Naija Diaspora has examined the four candidates and brings you an insight into their respective stands.

Peter Obi (Labor Party)

Peter Obi rose to the political limelight when he joined politics in 2003 under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)—a party formed by the late warlord Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Under this party, Peter Obi ran in gubernatorial elections against the incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2011. Dr Chris Ngige of the PDP was declared the winner of the elections, but Obi and his party challenged the results in the Court of Appeal, which later overturned it on the 15th of March, 2006 and got Obi on the seat of Anambra State governor on the 17th of March, 2006.

His political journey has been punctuated with controversy at different times—especially his impeachment on the 2nd of November, 2006. His deputy, Mrs. Virginia Etiaba, was sworn in, but Obi fought back, reclaimed his mandate on the 9th of February, 2007, and governed the state for two terms of eight years.

The kind of influence Obi has wielded in the past year is arguably unprecedented, as more youths voluntarily express sympathy for the course of a new Nigeria he is championing. On social media, for instance, none of the candidates of other parties can match his overwhelming presence with his oratorical capacity and dissection of the nation’s socio-economic issues backed with relevant statistics and records.

Political analysts within and outside Nigeria are almost in agreement that Obi could spring a surprise and catch candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, unawares, thereby stealing their anticipated occupancy of the Presidential Villa.

This line of thought is more valid because of the fact that politics is a game of numbers, in which garnering the highest votes is the only right key to the Government House. However, it is said that social media support does not and cannot translate to victory at polls, unless that online advocacy is replicated at voting centers across the country at ward levels. In other words, Obi’s supporters need to wake up, rise, and collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC)—the card that every electorate needs to be eligible to cast their votes for him. To achieve this, a sustainable media campaign should be in place to increase his presence in the mind of other Nigerians, especially the downtrodden masses who have suffered from past conservative administrations.

Findings have revealed that he is making headway regarding the registration of voters, using popular personalities in Nigeria’s entertainment industry to mobilize the youths to obtain their PVC. His shortcoming, so to say, is his inability to connect strongly with state chapters of his party, giving an impression of a one-man show, which cannot guarantee victory in national elections.

On the 18th of June, 2022, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) won the Ekiti State gubernatorial election. Obi’s Labor Party fielded a candidate, Olugbenga Daramola, seemed to have been left to fend for himself while Obi was in faraway Egypt. This lack of state structure is an Achilles heel to the expected wide coverage of the party. It is also in doubt that Obi would mobilize the resources needed to buy votes and perpetrate outright rigging of the elections when it matters most, for the two are reigning determinants of results in Nigeria.

Rabiu Kwankwaso (New Nigeria Peoples Party)

The presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso’s first shot at the presidential primary election was at the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries held in Lagos in December 2014. He contested alongside the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, and Rochas Okorocha. Although Kwankwaso lost the election, he came to the polls with a background of a non-consecutive two-term governor of Kano State, a senator, and an influential politician. His followership in Kano State contributed to his eventual victory, which the APC recorded at the general elections in March 2015.

He was one of the then-ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governors who teamed up with other parties to form the APC in 2013. Other PDP governors included Rivers State’s governor, Rotimi Amaechi, Kwara State’s governor, Abdulfatai Ahmed, Adamawa State’s governor, Murtala Nyako and Sokoto State’s Governor, Aliyu Wamako.

In 2015, Kwankwaso won a seat in the senate but returned to the PDP in 2018 during an internal crisis between him and his State Governor, who was his former Deputy Governor, Ganduje. He lost his second term bid at the senate in 2019 but remained a member of the opposition PDP until his attempt to contest at the party’s primaries for the 2023 elections met a brick wall, hence his formation with the NNPP.

While he has continued to go about public sensitization of his party across the country, Kwankwaso is said not to be on a mission to give the APC and the PDP the stiff contest for the presidency in 2023. At a time, he was rumored to have planned to return to the PDP; at another time, he was touted to ally with the presidential candidate of the Labor Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi; also, he is speculated to have his eyes back in the APC.

Following Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s choice of the former Borno State Governor Kassim Shettima as his running mate, Kwankwaso eulogized Tinubu in a statement which addressed the wide speculation of his soft spot for the APC and likely rapprochement before the general elections. He was reported to have said, “I am happy with the combination (Muslim-Muslim ticket). My only worry is the platform. Bola Tinubu is a strategist and a good man. I have sat down with him countless times from 1992 to date.”

In another interview on DW Hausa Service, however, he washed his hands clean of the claim of his defection to the APC, saying, “For now, there is nothing like a defection. I am not in talks with anyone or perfecting my plan to defect to APC. All these are rumors.”

Atiku Abubakar (Peoples Democratic Party)

The emergence of the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, as the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), did not come as a surprise to many analysts who had followed his past political adventure─he was the most experienced among the pack. It was with this experience that he beat his closest rival, Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers state, who had almost declared himself the winner before the primaries because of his wide reach and increased influence in the party.

Since other parties have elected their respective presidential candidates, Abubakar has given no one reason to doubt his resolve to give the general election in 2023 all it will take to defeat his rivals. He has chosen his running mate in the former Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa. He has begun national and international consultations but remained largely tactical, talking less on the ground he has covered. Given this fact, he is seen as the candidate to beat.

One of his supporters, Senator Dino Melaye, on a television show, indicated that the election will be a walkover for Abubakar based on what he called his physical strength, political experience, and intellectual capacity over other candidates—especially having served as Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, between 1999 and 2007.

Boastfully, Melaye said, “Go and write it down and write it clearly in capital letters; by 12 o’clock, by the grace of God, the election is over. For us in the PDP, we have advised Atiku to please put together his acceptance speech because he is the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The shocking victory of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke (aka “the dancing senator”), in the Osun State governorship election, has re-ignited the hopes of the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, ahead of the 2023 election. Could it herald an Atiku victory?

Bola Tinubu (APC)

Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, can safely be named the godfather of progressive politics in the Fourth Republic, having survived and maintained his party’s leadership position from 1999 to date. The eventual recovery of the South-west states from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), led by his party, is also to Tinubu’s credit. This had successfully supplanted the party in the geo-political zone in the 2003 gubernatorial elections. It was only Tinubu’s Lagos State that survived the political invasion tightly plotted by President Olusegun Obasanjo, who needed the South-west votes to justify his position as the national leader of the then ruling party.

From Lagos to Ogun, Oyo, Osun, and Ekiti States, Tinubu’s protégé served as governors of these states—except in 2019 when the PDP won Oyo State due to reasons not connected with Tinubu. On account of his political exploits, it was unsurprising to his teeming followers when, in 2021, he announced his interest to contest in the APC primaries to choose President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor come 2023.

Right after the news broke, the media space was agog with all shades of commentaries for and against Tinubu’s decision. His sustained engagement of these discourses with convincing premises clearly showed that no pressure would stop him from pursuing his political ambition.

The emergence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo among the presidential aspirants, sparked fear that Tinubu’s ambition would face an imminent brick wall because Osinbajo was regarded as an anointed candidate for the presidency, having worked harmoniously with President Buhari. Tinubu felt the heat but resolved to fight on.

In the end, he won the party’s ticket at the primaries held in May 2022 in Abuja, and since then, he has not looked back on his way forward to his dream.

Regarding physical and media presence, Tinubu ranks higher among presidential candidates of other parties. Also ahead of his rivals is Tinubu’s crack team of political strategists who are saddled with the responsibilities of guiding Tinubu’s words, actions, and contacts with relevant individuals and groups, all aimed at getting him the highest percentage of votes at the general elections next year.

Even though he tarried for some time before he named his running mate, Senator Kassim Shettima, Tinubu’s choice appears to have doused tension which had built shortly after the primaries in the party as regards his likely choice of Vice President. And the decision has boosted the confidence of party members—one of whom is the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.

Lawal, who hails from Taraba State, said Tinubu would even beat the PDP’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in his Taraba State—in the same margin that President Buhari defeated him in the 2019 elections, and former President Goodluck Jonathan also won Abubakar.

But Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, which has triggered religious sentiments, may affect Tinubu’s chances. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has not minced matters over their objection to the Muslim-Muslim ticket. With this in mind, the PDP’s Muslim-Christian ticket may find favor among the masses of the Christian electorate.

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Despite his serial loss in the presidential elections from 2007 to 2019, Nigeria’s former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, remained a sparkling aspirant in the race for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) primary elections held on the 28th and 29th of May 2022 at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, the nation’s Federal Capital Territory.
Atiku Abubakar was arguably the aspirant to beat at the dramatic national conventions. However, some of his fellow aspirants stepped down for him at the eleventh hour, given his incontrovertible antecedent as the only aspirant—across all existing political parties—to have contested for the same office as far back as 1993. This was when he slugged it out with the late business mogul, MKO Abiola, and a former diplomat, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, on the horse of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the party’s convention held in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
Atiku would eventually step down for Abiola, consequent upon Abiola’s camp’s intense appeal to an extension of the olive branch toward his political godfather—the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (retd)—with the understanding that Atiku Abubakar would be Abiola’s vice president. That memorandum was, however, set aside by Abiola, who picked Kingibe instead of Atiku Abubakar.
Even though the elections held on the 12th of June 1993 were won by their party and annulled by the military regime headed by the then General Ibrahim Babangida, Atiku Abubakar retained his name in the limelight and later won Adamawa State gubernatorial elections in 1999 under the then newly formed People’s Democratic Party PDP.
General Olusegun Obasanjo (retd) would later pick him as his running-mate—a position he held till the completion of the constitutional two-term administration of Obasanjo on the 29th of May 2007.
Judging by the list of aspirants in the primary elections, Atiku Abubakar is regarded as a godfather of sorts to all of them. This is in reference to his position in the party when all of them were on the lower ladder of the party’s hierarchy—even though Dr Bukola Saraki, Mr Ayodele Fayose were Governors of Kwara and Ekiti States, and Senator Pius Anyim, Senate President during that administration, especially between 2003 and 2007.
Other aspirants included the incumbent Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike; a former Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal; a former Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel; an Investment Banker, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; Bala Mohammed, Publisher of the Ovation Magazine; Chief Dele Momodu; the only female, Tariela Oliver.
Among the aspirants, there was no doubting that Saraki, Tambuwal and Wike wield more influence in the party and, by extension, the delegates. It is no doubt that Wike used his financial strength as the sitting Governor of the oil-rich Rivers State to rise to become an influencer in party affairs beyond his state. He has grown so vociferous that his voice has become an order; a development which made other aspirants develop cold feet.
On the premise of that new status, political analysts believed that Wike might be the second PDP member from the South-south geo-political zone to fly the flag of the party at the presidential level. That is, after the former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was in the saddle of Nigeria’s power from 2010 to the 29th of May, 2015.
The party had earlier zoned the presidential slot to Southern Nigeria but reversed the decision. This action earned like a “thunderous sympathy,” which he was determined to use against other aspirants from the North, especially Atiku Abubakar, regardless of his arguably intimidating clout. He was out to exploit the lack of consensus among the Northern aspirants to field one among them. However, Tambuwal turned round and stepped down for Abubakar, leaving Wike as the only strong contender in the race, despite the presence of Saraki. This development was the masterstroke which gave Atiku Abubakar 371 votes out of 767 accredited votes. Wike scored 238, while Saraki had 70 votes.
Pulling 45 per cent of the total votes at the primary elections reinforced Atiku Abubakar’s firm grip on PDP. The results also conferred on him the symbol of the party and, indeed, the only candidate who has the financial strength and otherwise, to match candidates of other parties—most particularly flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Atiku’s performance as the PDP’s candidate against the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general elections, scoring over 11 million votes, is indicative that 2023 would be the year he may most likely break the ice and wear the long coveted crown.
Also, bear in mind that the chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, is an old ally of Atiku Abubakar, particularly being director general of his campaign organization in 2007 is a pointer to Abubakar’s hold on the party. Ayu is alleged to have used his office to influence some last-minute decisions, eventually winning Atiku Abubakar the highest votes polled at the party’s primary.
Following his emergence as the party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar has intensified his campaign strategies, including reconciliation with all his co-contestants, to expand his coast and make the general elections less burdensome to him. He is reputed not to underrate any opponent. Hence his unrelenting efforts to have supporters of his fellow contestants behind him, to approach the polls with a formidable and impregnable team across the six geo-political zones. This much he reflected in his acceptance speech shortly after he was declared the candidate of the party, extending an olive branch to his hitherto opponents.
Abubakar said, “Let me use this opportunity to call on my fellow contestants and to assure them that I am ready to cooperate and work with them and give them a sense of belonging in this party and our next government. Therefore, my fellow compatriots, I want to appreciate your efforts in deepening our democratic process in this party. It was a well-fought primary election. So, I commend you for that, and I look forward to working with you closely; so that together, we can build this party to a level where we can take over the government.”
Behind his seemingly bright chance to carry the day at the next year’s presidential elections, however, are a couple of factors waiting to dim the chance. The current intra-party crises in some South-west states, especially Ekiti, Oyo, and Osun, are seen as a time bomb which would explode on or before the elections, leaving Atiku Abubakar in limbo and in his sixth failed attempt at being president. Following the acclaimed disappointing run by the party on the 18th of June 2022 gubernatorial elections in Ekiti State, tongue wagged and hurled blame regarding the disastrous outing on the doorstep of Atiku Abubakar. He was accused of showing no commitment to the party’s struggle to dislodge the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) from the government house.
Among aggrieved members of the party was the past Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Prince Diran Odeyemi, who issued a statement in his Ibadan base and carpeted both Atiku and Ayu for their alleged lackluster disposition to the elections in Ekiti State, featuring Mr Bisi Kolawole as the party’s candidate.
According to Odeyemi, “After the loss of Ekiti, Senator Ayu and Alhaji Atiku, as well as other stakeholders in the PDP, should know that the fate of the main opposition party in the 2023 general election is tied to the outcome of the Osun governorship election.”
He further stated that the National Campaign Council constituted by Ayu was put in place belatedly, fuming that no member of the committee was even in the state—a contrast to the APC that had its presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu, the entire NWC of APC and some governors on campaign train for its candidate, Mr Biodun Oyebanji. He cautioned the party against threading the same path in the Osun State elections.
“Now that the chances of PDP retaining Ekiti have been thrown out by the Ayu-led national leadership of the PDP, we need to remind Atiku, Ayu, and other leaders of PDP that the fate of our party in the 2023 election now rests on the outcome of the Osun poll.”
Besides Ekiti’s defeat, the PDP is also contending with the fallout of Atiku’s choice of running mate in person of the former Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as against the incumbent Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike.
On Atiku’s visit to Wike in his Abuja residence, after Atiku had emerged as the party’s candidate on the 27th of May 2022, Atiku reportedly named Wike his deputy. But Atiku would later renege and give the same post to Okowa—a development which triggered another round of disquiet in the PDP family and narrowed Atiku’s chance of total support for the party in the elections.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom rose against Atiku’s choice after, according to him, a forum had been constituted with a mandate to recommend a running mate to Atiku. The Governor said that 14 out of 17 members of the forum picked Wike and expected Atiku to respect that resolution. He noted that Atiku should have alerted Wike ahead of announcing Okowa because, he said, Wike was one of the engines powering the party to date to remain a strong contender for the presidency.
Ortom said Wike had fought gallantly to see that the party remained together, reiterating that Atiku should have, therefore, treated him with the level of respect a sitting Governor deserves; one whose financial contributions to the party could not be overemphasized.
“This is a man who has built the party today in PDP. He has fought all night and all day to see that this party remains together. So, he should have been reached out to, to say that this is the decision we are taking and this is the reason we are taking this decision, and I think he would have understood.”
In 2019, Atiku enjoyed the benevolence of the South-east because he had the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi as his running mate. Peter is now a presidential candidate of the Labor Party (LP) set to slug it out with him in the 2023 elections means Atiku would not enjoy the same grace. More so, he allegedly disrespected the earlier understanding to name Wike, an influencing figure in both the South-south and South-east.
In addition, former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso’s desertion of the PDP to form NNP is regarded as an effort to reduce Atiku’s influence in the North. Kwankwanso, who is said to still have a cult-like followership in Kano and Jigawa States, in particular, has vowed that he would leave no stone unturned in realizing his political ambition. His aim is actually not to emerge the president of Nigeria but, most importantly, to make a statement that, despite his political hostility with his former Deputy Governor, Dr Ganduje, he still holds the ace with his all-red cap on his teeming supporters.
Atiku seems to have understood the enormity of obstacles on his road to the presidency and is battle ready to commit all in his arsenal to the project.
On the other hand, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s choice of running mate in the immediate past Governor of Borno State, Senator Shettima, is viewed as playing into the hand of the hungry Atiku. In other words, the Muslim-Muslim ticket of Tinubu is the much-anticipated opportunity for the Christian populace to cast a bloc vote for Atiku, whose vice-president, Okowa, is not only a Christian but also a prominent member of the largest church in Nigeria—the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), which General Overseer Pastor Enoch Adeboye, wielded a profound influence among top politicians.

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The question on everyone’s mind is: can Tinubu achieve his biggest political ambition in 2023?
The presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has been severally described in different words and phrases, the most poignant of which is “political strategist.” Since 1992, when he debuted as the senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District, he has been a harvest of electoral successes.

The Social Democratic Party (SDP)─the party on which back he rode to the senate, suffered what could be described as “military conspiracy” when the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, won by Chief MKO Abiola, was scandalously annulled. The post-annulment era could be said to have brought out the serious politician in Tinubu, as he teamed up with political allies and fought the General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime. This action eventually saw Babangida out of power in August 1993. This happened against Babangida’s alleged wish to perpetuate himself into power and transmute to a civilian president.

Tinubu was in the company of Abiola when he visited General Sani Abacha shortly before Abacha sacked the Interim National Government led by Chief Ernest Sonekan in November 1993. The purpose of that visit was to discuss the way forward from the political stalemate the country was experiencing. He would, however, pay the price of his strong stance against the June 12 annulment when Abacha’s regime reneged on his earlier promise to install Abiola and consequently turned the heat against him and all the other opposition.

Tinubu fled the country through the neighboring Benin Republic. He was in exile when he emerged as one of the financiers of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). This anti-military socio-political group was at the forefront of the struggle to have the annulled election reversed. In an interview published by The News, a Nigeria’s weekly magazine, Tinubu shared his experience on his escape out of Nigeria after he had earlier been subjected to arrest and detention.

“Then the British High Commission got information through the Consular-General that my life was in danger. He stamped a visa on a sheet of paper and wrote a letter authorizing the airline to pick me up from Benin Republic to any port of entry in Britain. I didn’t know how they got to me. A lady just walked up to me and handed me an envelope. She said I had been granted entry into the United Kingdom. She said I could be killed if I failed to leave in the next 48 hours. It was Air Afrique that took me from Benin Republic to London. Meanwhile, my wife was still in the United States. I landed in Britain and worked my way back to Benin Republic. I picked up my passport from somewhere. I went to an African country, and through their connections, they gave me a diplomatic passport as a cultural ambassador.”

It was a turbulent period for Tinubu until Abacha died suddenly in June 1998. General AbdulSalam Abubakar, who succeeded Abacha, granted all political detainees freedom, including those in exile, to participate in another election to usher in a new civilian administration. Like others, Tinubu returned home and joined the Alliance for Democracy (AD). The party was seen as an offshoot of the late Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group (AG) and Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), and that which would make a general appeal to the Yoruba people of South-Western Nigeria.

After an intense party primary, Tinubu emerged as the governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State and went on to secure victory in the elections. He became the executive governor of the state on May 29, 1999, at a colorful swearing-in ceremony. His eight-year administration saw him delivering innovative policies, which affirmed the status of Lagos State as a frontline among states of the federation, especially in terms of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

His most enduring landmark is his ability to assemble old and young technocrats with whom he administered the state and achieved tremendous results. Most particularly, he had a deliberate succession plan aimed at sustaining his 1999 vision for the state and pursued it with vigor. After his term in 2007, his Chief of Staff, Babatunde Fashola, succeeded him as the governor and continued where Tinubu left off. Fashola enjoyed Tinubu’s support until he completed eight years in 2015, when another Tinubu’s protégé, Akinwumi Ambode, succeeded him. However, Ambode could only govern for four years before another protégé of Tinubu, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, succeeded him in May 2019.

Reflecting on his legacy in government, Tinubu affirmed, “My best legacy is the financial engineering of Lagos State, especially to bring financial autonomy to Lagos State and eliminate waste and mismanagement. That was just one aspect of it. My greatest legacy is Governor Babatunde Fashola; I identified and endorsed him. That was when my corporate background as a recruiter and talent seeker for Deloitte came to play. Part of the training when you go on operational audit is that the first thing you evaluate is the personnel and the questionnaire given to them and how they answer it. You look at the ability of individuals to really take and develop others.

There is nothing unique about any leadership. Everybody can come up with different ideas. You can take different routes and arrive at the same answer. No matter how much steel and metal you put together, the greatest achievement and legacy is the ability to develop other leaders who can succeed you. Otherwise, your legacy will be in shambles. It was a very difficult and challenging period for me. I thank God I stuck to my guns.”

In his administration, Tinubu took on the Federal Government headed by President Olusegun Obasanjo over fiscal federalism and local government. As a dogged fighter, he refused to be intimidated, and he pursued the legal matter to a reasonable conclusion. He confirmed that the creation of the local governments became his favorite among issues with which he confronted the federal government because, according to him, the processes are clearly stated and well-articulated in the constitution.

“And if you do all that and comply with the constitutional requirements, then you should not be denied. I believe in true federalism. I believe in local government administration, which I think is a service center for the state. The constitution is clear. It is a misnomer to even think that there are three tiers of government in a federal system of government. There are only two—the state and the federal. It is because the constitution was put together by a group of military people who believe in command and control that we have this kind of anomaly. They tinkered with it, and they tailored it in a way that would suit a unitary system, and I believe that was the problem. We still don’t have a constitution of ‘we the people’. The battle was not personally directed at Obasanjo.”

From 1999 to date, no other politician shares this track record of being a successful kingmaker with Tinubu. In other words, his hold on Lagos politics, to supervise who gets what is never in doubt—the status makes him the rallying point to politicians beyond his party. That is why it was easy for him to effectively champion alliance with members of opposition parties, a sustained effort that yielded fruits in 2015 when the APC was birthed through a merger by the ACN, CPC, PDP, ANPP, and APGA and won the presidential elections that brought the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari to power on May 29, 2015.

With his indisputable role in building a bridge across parties, Tinubu’s decision to throw in the hat and contest for the presidency did not come as a surprise to many political analysts due to his investment in people. His profile shows he has prepared himself well for the highest office, unlike those who found themselves in the seat of power by the benevolence of power brokers or the system.

A Harvard-trained strategist, Dr. John Ekundayo, on Tinubu’s trajectory to the throne, wrote: “Enough of ‘accidental presidents and governors’ all over Nigeria’s political landscape!!! How? For instance, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, after being released from prison in 1998, had the leadership of the country thrust on him without his demanding or desiring it! Hence, Nigerians should not blame him; he did not prepare for the onerous duty of a democratic leader.

He was a military leader. He did his best, though, like one of my mentors would say: his best was not enough! Obasanjo, to his credit, gave us some enduring institutions. Moreover, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was also another ‘accidental president’ thrust on Nigerians due to the ill health and eventual demise of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who succeeded Obasanjo. Neither of the duo had a vision of becoming president. This must not be allowed to happen in our polity, whether at local government or state or federal level, again! Enough of ‘unwilling and/or accidental’”

In the book, Asiwaju: Leadership in Troubled Times, Fasola stated, “Let me talk generally about this public image that I do not remember one public contest where he has lost the war. I speak of many battles-fronts, from Oyo to Borgu, Ife, Ibadan, Lagos, and Anambra, to mention but a few. Of course, he bears many battle scars, which attests to his tactical ability to surrender battles to win wars.”

A one-time Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning in Lagos State, Ben Akabueze wrote: “Asiwaju has displayed an unusual success in attracting and retaining some of Nigeria’s best professionals in various fields to serve in government during his tenure as Governor of Lagos State. These professionals come from different states in the federation because, with Asiwaju, competence counts far above other primordial considerations. Indeed, this is one defining characteristic of the Tinubu leadership style (sic).”

Ekundayo also wrote, “Going by his corporate and political antecedents, from his days in Mobil Oil to the Senate, to Lagos House, to his membership of Alliance for Democracy (AD), to the formation of Action Congress (AC), to transforming it to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) (to give the party a national outlook), and then finally to a merger of parties establishing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Tinubu has been acclaimed as a determined and distinguished dogged fighter.”

These last lines fitly depict his personality, profile, and profundity in politics and politicking within Nigeria’s context: “I plan for betrayal, I plan for backstabbing, I also plan for reunion and forgiveness long before they happen. In life, I expect nothing. I expect anything. I expect everything.” There is no gainsaying that he is well prepared for the hurdles and hustles head up to 2023.

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