By Oludare Mayowa
The self-styled national leader of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu on Monday unveiled his ambition to become Nigeria’s next president after a meeting with President Mohammadu Buhari at the state house, Abuja.
The announcement by the ex-Lagos Governor, after a meeting with president Buhari at the state house, though did not come as a surprise to many political watchers, but many did not anticipate that he would make such pronouncement right inside Aso Rock, the seat of power and ahead of flag off of nomination of candidates by political parties.
However, with the declaration by Tinubu, who is also known as Jagaban, the coast is now clear for many other contenders to the throne to come open and clean regarding their own ambition.
Already, the declaration by Tinubu, even though he stated that he merely came to the villa to inform the president, has started generating reactions both positive and negative from around the country.
For instance, the Ohaneze, the socio-cultural group of the Ndigbo extraction, has described the declaration as a betrayal of the people of the south eastern part of the country. They also noted that Tinubu ambition is not rooted in justice and fair play, while calling on him to have a change of mind.
However, many of his supporters have been agog with excitement and are rolling out the drum to not only celebrate their leaders for the bold move, but also pledged commitment to support him all the way.
It would be recalled that the Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and other supporters of Tinubu, who is seen as a frontrunner have launched frontal campaign for the realization of Tinubu’s presidency come 2023 soon after he returned from his three months medical trip to the United Kingdom where he had gone for ‘knee surgery.’
Also, a leader of the ruling party in Ekiti, who also was a minister under President Goodluck Jonathan administration, Dayo Adeyeye, leading what he tagged South West Agenda (SWAGGA) is going all out to canvass support for Tinubu’s ambition to become president after the tenure of the incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari.
A member of Tinubu political family, representing Lagos in the House of Reps, James Faleke recently said the ex Lagos governor should be given the right of first refusal for the presidential ticket of the ruling party.
The ex Lagos Governor is no doubt well qualified to gun for the topmost political position in the country, having been in the senate and also served as governor for two terms. Besides, he has been in the forefront of political restructuring in the country, which led to the capturing of political power by the ruling APC from the now main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
Tinubu remains the most visible politician and well-positioned to occupy the highest position in the country going by his antecedent and political trajectory since the advent of democracy in 1999.
He was the arrowhead of the collision that formed the nucleus of the ruling All Progressive Party (APC), which snatched power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
Many political analysts have attributed the ascendancy to power by the incumbent President Buhari to the political sagacity of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is fondly referred to as Jagaban of Borgu by his loyalists across the country.
His tenure as the governor of Lagos state between 1999 and 2007 was eventful as it witnessed a number of innovations in model governance, turning the state into a reference point in governance.
Many Nigerians are not comfortable with the ambition of Tinubu as a result of their perception of him as a very corrupt politician who exploited his position as the Governor of Lagos State to corner the resource of the foremost economic nerve centre of the country.
They are pointing to the fact that as the political godfather in Lagos, he has used his position to install his daughter as the leader of the Market women in the state, hijacked the collection of taxes and other revenue of the state through his personal company and continue to manipulate juicy appointments in favour of his family members and acolytes.
Also, his failure to speak out against the killings and kidnapping going in the south west, which was attributed to the handiwork of Fulani herdsmen has also scored him low in the rating of many people.
One analyst said ‘if Tinubu can corner the resources of Lagos mostly for his personal use and of his family, how would he rule the whole country with fairness?”
Despite his claim of being a foremost democrat, Tinubu has been renowned for imposing candidates at every election in the state without regards to the choice of the people and even his political party.
Unlike in the time past, especially before the 2015 election, Tinubu has lost his grip on the politics of the south west while most of his allies in the past are leaving him in drove due to disagreement over certain issue that have to do with the imposition of candidates and his highhandedness in handling political issues.
There are speculations that his former acolyte, Rauf Aregbesola, who was a commissioner under him in Lagos, now minister interior and Babatunde Fashola, his successor as Lagos governor and now Works minister and many other are no longer in alignment with his political ideology.
Though many analysts are of the consensus that Tinubu would readily play a significant role in the emergence of presidential candidate of the ruling party, but his ambition, like his previous efforts at being vice President may end in futility due to many factors.
It would be recalled that his quest to emerge the running mate of Buhari in 2015 was thwarted for the reason of his religion. Many leaders of the APC had kicked against the party presenting two people from the same religion for the highest position in the country.
The same condition may also work against him this time because it may be a tough call to get a Christian from the North as suitable running mate that would also be acceptable to the largely Muslim dominated populace.
Though, Tinubu seem to be the singular person from the south who has what it take to win the primary of the party and even the election proper because of his large war chest, in terms of resources to prosecute the campaign, the odds are all against him.
Many people are also scrutinizing his age and health condition against the backdrop of his recent three months medical trip last year, which is seen as a sign of his poor state of health.
Nigerians are skeptical to allow person who may be wobbled by ill health to govern them again after their experience with Buhari.
Beside the fact that many Nigerians are craving for a younger person to lead the next dispensation, there have been some unclear issue around his age, background and identity which over time has not been resolved.
Some people also believed that despite his role in ensuring that Buhari became the country’s president in 2015 after futile attempt in the time past, the president is not seen to likely throw his weight behind Tinubu in the race to Aso Rock come 2023.
Tinubu may not be trusted enough by the president and his crowd to sustain his legacy while the cat and mouse relationship between the two leaders since they won the first election in 2015 remains a sign post of what to expect in the run up to the 2023 contest.
From the body language of Tinubu after his meeting with the President on Monday, it appears he did not receive a favourable response from Buhari. His disappointment on the President’s disposition to his ambition was clearly visible during his press briefing with the state house journalists, according to a body language expert.
However, Nigerians may not have to wait for too long as the struggle for the soul of APC will soon crystallize by next year and it would be clear where the pendulum will swing despite whatever the analysts and pundits may have want the whole world to believe.
But whichever way the pendulum swings come 2023, Tinubu will remain a big factor in deciding who carry the day at the APC Convention which will lead to the selection of the flag bearer of the party in the next presidential election.