By Ali Abare
Any moment from now, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), will announce his running mate. This announcement will mark yet another milestone in Asiwaju’s journey to Aso Rock Villa come 2023.
Following intense debates on the viability and possibility of flying either a Muslim/Christian or Muslim/Muslim ticket, I am sure by now, all lovers of democracy and the continuity of the APC in handling the affairs of our great country, must have exhausted all manner of postulating and have come to the realisation that whosoever Asiwaju picks as a running mate, is the best and will ensure victory of the party.
I want to assume that, through providence, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu emerged as the presidential candidate of the APC, in spite of the obvious attempts to deny him the ticket. Tinubu’s journey to the Villa didn’t start from that night at the Eagle Square. It started way back when he shot into public glare and to become a senator of the Federal Republic.
Everything he does, from when he became governor of Lagos State, building people and structures, Asiwaju was laying the path that will take him to the Aso Rock Villa. It was meant to be because it sure won’t be otherwise.
The critical role Asiwaju played leading to the formation of the grand alliance birthing the APC and especially the central role he played during the national convention of the party in Lagos, which produced Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party during the 2015 general election, ensured that Tinubu is truly the national leader of the party.
Sometimes one wonders how irrational people can be. When the APC took centre stage in 2015, with majority members in both chambers of the National Assembly, Tinubu did not rest on his oars. Working alongside the party, particularly with President Muhammadu Buhari, he worked hard to see to the emergence of Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as speaker at the House of Representatives.
In the Senate, it was a different ball of game. While Asiwaju worked alongside the party and President Buhari towards making Ahmed Lawan emerge as Senate President, former governor of Kwara State, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, supported by a group within the APC senators, Like Minds Senators, betrayed the APC, colluding with senators belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to instal Senator Saraki as Senate President.
The intrigues leading to the eventual emergence of Senator Saraki as Senate President was illuminating as it was encompassing. Members of the Like Minds Senators felt there was no need for the party to interfere in the internal matters of the Senate, that senators elected under the platform of the APC should be allowed to elect their leadership. However, Saraki and his group thought otherwise and while President Buhari was billed to meet with the APC senators, Saraki and his group pulled a fast one on the party.
Senator Ahmed Lawan, who was announced as the consensus presidential candidate of the APC was incidentally also the consensus candidate of the party for the seat of the Senate President back in 2015. It was a tough battle after Senator Saraki became Senate President. Both the APC and Senator Ahmed Lawan refused to recognised Saraki as Senate President.
Though a reporter on the floor of the Senate then, it was difficult having access to Senator Ahmed Lawan, who was then perceived by many members of the Senate Press Corp, as being not press friendly. However, my late brother and professional colleague, the late Aminu Manu, intervened and fixed an interview for me with Senator Lawan.
The late Aminu Manu was a staunched supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC. He felt aggrieved like every other loyal member of the party following the emergence of Senator Saraki as Senate President. He wanted to help Senator Lawan gets his views to the public on the matter.
We met Senator Ahmed Lawan in his office and we spoke on many issues. It was then I realized that he was being fronted by no other person than Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu! Tinubu was Ahmed Lawan’s sponsor to become Senate President!
If Tinubu wanted Senator Ahmed Lawan to become Senate President back in 2015, what informed the decision of the party to name Lawan its concensus presidential candidate in 2023, especially that it was even the turn of the South to produce the next president of the country.
Indeed, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu has paid his dues and certainly, nobody expects him to ride to the Villa on a jolly ride. Any decision he takes on nominating his running mate may be subjected to another round of intense debate and discussion. The fact remains, nothing good comes easy. Tinubu has prepared adequately enough for the journey ahead.
Going by the antecedents of those contesting for the presidency with him, it’s certain, there’s no other alternative to Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. Atiku Abubakar of the PDP was vice president for eight years under the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration. How that administration ended was common history. Presently, the PDP and Atiku, who both ran to Ota Farm, to seek the blessings of the oracle at the beginning of their campaigns, are now locked in a mortal battle with the former head of state and president, over the latter’s disparaging comments on the character of the PDP presidential candidate. Even if Atiku and the PDP now hate Obasanjo for being brutally frank on the reputation of his erstwhile vice president, Nigerians will never be in a rush to forget those ignoble days.
For the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, no amount of digital rats postulating will launder the damaging image of a pilfering former governor under whose regime Nigerians from one section of the country, were haunted, traumatized, murdered and forcefully reduced to second class citizens in their country. No amount of deodorant and soap could remove this nauseating stench and odor for which Peter Obi’s diehards appear to ignore at their own peril.
Only Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu has the pedigree, experience and intellectual capacity to provide the needed leadership for Nigeria to grow from strength to strength. We must not therefore, allow detractors masquerading as agents of religion, to deny our country Asiwaju’s sterling leadership and proven ability to build people and institutions. With Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Nigeria is more than poised to move to the next phase of her development.
Abare is the Nasarawa State Coordinator for BAT-3G, a support group for Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. He writes from Lafia.