Reactions yesterday trailed the declaration by national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos State governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, to contest the 2023 presidential election.
Tinubu told State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa yesterday that he has informed the president about his ambition, saying it had been a lifelong dream.
He said, “I answer that with categorical yes. I’ve informed the president of my intention but I have not informed Nigerians yet. I’m still consulting. And I have no problem consulting.
“And I’ve not set a parameter of limitation to the extent of how many people I will consult. You will soon hear; all you want to hear is the categorical declaration.
“You’ve got that truth from me that I have informed Mr. President of my ambition, and you don’t expect more answers than that.”
On what the president’s response was, he said, “That’s our business. He is a Democrat. He didn’t ask me to stop. He didn’t ask me not to attempt and pursue my ambition; it is a lifelong ambition. So, why do I expect him to say more than that? You are running a democratic dispensation, and you must adopt the principles and the values, and the virtues of democracy. That’s it.
When reminded that there are other contestants on the APC platform, Tinubu said he has the confidence, vision, capacity to rule, build on the foundation of President Buhari and turn around Nigeria for better.
He stated, “I don’t want to discuss individuals now. I must discuss myself. I have the confidence, the vision, and the capacity to rule, build on the foundation of Mr. President, and turn Nigeria better.
“I have done that with commitment and unyielding you know, in Lagos State. You’ve seen that experience and the capacity to turn things around and that is what we are doing. You know, the confusion, the drift of the past in PDP is being corrected.
“And you can’t take away from that. As we are today, go back to the data on how many barrels of oil we were producing when we first came in and what it is today.
“Today you enjoy the comfort of having rail from Lagos to Ibadan. You have Kaduna and you have the one for Kano State. On the aggressive pipeline, you see excellent infrastructure.
“I just came from Azare and I have seen good roads. The carnage of dying on motor vehicles is reducing except as you know, lack of compliance with a lot of Nigerian drivers and VIOs. Let us think back, let us be intellectually inquisitive as to the past and the present and what the future holds for Nigeria.”
The former Lagos state governor also dismissed insinuations that a kingmaker cannot be king.
He stated: “About the cap of the kingmaker, I’ve never seen the cap of a kingmaker before. That is the truth. And I’ve never seen where it is written in the rule book anywhere in any country that a kingmaker cannot be a king unless you commit murder.
“So, whatever is your attribute is your own opinion. I want to pursue my ambition without the title of a kingmaker. You can write your literature and your story based upon your perception.”
On the mode of primary impasse, he said, “First of all, the National Assembly and the president must be encouraged to review and review again. Whatever they come up with as electoral amendments is what we must comply with. There is no unlimited elasticity in what we face, because we have to plan and plan well, and be able to manage the time effectively.
“The great roadmap to success is the ability of a leader to do what he must do at the right time that it should be done. So to me, at the electoral amendment point we will still look at that collectively. And it is our country, it’s our democracy. We have adopted it and we will push it rigorously.
On APC convention, he said, “Oh, well. I’m not a spokesperson for the party. And the president is the leader of the party. So, expect convention; maybe if that’s added to your anxiety, or the other party’s anxiety it is good for us. We get it and we’ll get it done properly.”
But reacting to the development, the northern youths’ organisation, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), vowed not to support the presidential ambition of Tinubu and other old generation aspirants for 2023.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Kaduna on Tinubu’s declaration to contest the presidency, president of AYCF, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, said the old generation aspirants who failed the country in the past should not be supported by Nigerians.
Shettima said although Tinubu has the constitutional right to contest any elective position, northern youths will mobilise against his bid.
He stated: “Former Lagos state governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, has the right to contest for president of this country. As a youths’ leader in the North, we will mobilise against his ambition and that of other old generation presidential aspirants in 2023. We want to take our destiny in our hands. We want new generation aspirants and not old recycled leaders anymore.”
Also, the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, Ohaneze Ndigbo, knocked Tinubu’s presidential ambition, saying it was dead on arrival.
Reacting to the APC leader’s declaration, national publicity secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alex Ogbonnia said, “Tinubu’s ambition is dead on arrival because there is a zoning principle, and with that the South East must produce the next president.”
A chieftain of the Yoruba Socio- political organization, Afenifere, Senator Femi Okurounmu said, “It is a good thing Asiwaju Bola Tinubu made his intention to contest for post of president of Nigeria known to the President, though, he said he is still consulting with Nigerians about his ambition. I think it is right that he informed the president before he embarked on his consultation.”
For his part, former chairman, Senate committee on Privatization, Senator Ayo Arise, said it was not surprising that Tinubu declared his intention to run for the presidency, noting however that the 2023 presidential contest should be left younger politicians.
He stated: “I don’t see his declaring his intention to run for the post of president as an expectation that will surprise anybody. I believe the contest should have been left for the younger elements; it is not an unexpected declaration.
“If he thinks he is still in the position that he will be able to run, fine, but I think the younger ones should be given a chance.
‘’As far as I am concerned, he is a democrat, if he feels he still has the physical strength, he is able, he needs to assess himself but, I feel the younger ones have the might .’’
In his reaction, chairman-elect of the APC in Lagos, Cornelius Ojelabi, however said the national leader of the APC has done the right thing by formally informing President Buhari of his presidential ambition in the 2023 general election.
Ojelabi noted that the notification of interest was a welcome development and was also a thing Tinubu’s political family had been expecting for long.
He said, “Informing the President of his intention is the right thing to do. Having informed him officially, he can now intensify his consultations across the country.’’
Ojelabi noted that Tinubu had paid his dues and no one was more qualified than him to take over leadership at the expiration of Buhari’s tenure in 2023.
He said the teeming followers of Tinubu and members of the ruling party across the country and diaspora are elated with the new development.
Also, Tinubu’s declaration set the social media on the overdrive, with most Nigerians asking him to shelve his ambition.
A twitter user simply identified as @amechioma said, “Bola Tinubu please shelve this your ambition for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians. Age is no longer on your side.”
Another twitter user, @Dogecoinstudies, tweeted: “Nigerians deserve better than Tinubu.”
@theprincelyx wrote: “Imagine wasting 8 years under a Buhari Presidency and another 8 under a Tinubu Presidency. That’s a whole lifetime wasted”, while @TaiwoZosu said, “I pray this evil never befalls us.”
@Tbosly wrote: “This man should focus on his Heath.”
@emmaikumeh queried, “This same Tinubu that moved BULLION VAN to his house, a day to election, is the same person that will develop Nigeria?
@ayemojubar Urged Nigerians to “resist another 70+ president in 2023,” saying “enough is enough!”
@Abdulrahmanleme stated: “I don’t see a scenario where Tinubu and Osinbajo go head to head for the APC ticket. One will have to give up his ambition for the other.”
@HAHayatu wrote “If Tinubu is the APC flag bearer for 2023, will he pick a northerner Christians as VP ? Doing this will knock him out in the core north”.
@Ujamycine however said, “There’s nobody in the south west to vote against Tinubu. Even PDP people are his people; case in point is Jimi… If he goes to the polls. I will vote and campaign massively for him.”
On his part, a former special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Natters (House of Representatives), Suleiman Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila, said the North would not cede the position of the president through intimidation, blackmail and coercion come 2023.
Kawu who reacted to a statement credited to the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, that any political party that fields a northern candidate in the 2023 presidential election would lose, said the likes of Ngige should bury their heads in shame for trying to intimidate and blackmail the North on the issue.
He said the North would only cede power to the Southern part of the country through negotiations, dialogue, consensus and understanding and not ranting in the media.
He said politics anywhere in the world is a game of numbers, and as such, either the North or South can use its numbers to decide who the next president would be.
Kawu recalled that during the 2015 and 2019 presidential election, Ngige and his geopolitical zone did not contribute anything to the victory of the APC.
He said, “I think the likes of Ngige should be placed where they belong. You cannot come and try to intimidate the North in the media. Politics everywhere in the world is a game of numbers, and those that have the numbers can decide who leads them.
“I want to say without fear of contradiction that the North will not succumb to intimidation or blackmail of the likes of Ngige. The North can only cede power through peaceful negotiations and dialogue. Open confrontation will not give the South presidency.
“Maybe one should refresh Ngige’s memory. We were all in this country when Goodluck Jonathan contested and won the presidential election in 2011 even when it was the turn of the North to complete the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s tenure. Did the world come to an end then? Certainly not.
“So, nobody should try to bamboozle us today just because of the 2023 presidency. If the North wants to contest, I don’t think anybody can stop it through intimidation. Let this sink in the minds of Ngige and his co-travelers.
“I also want to make it clear that I have a lot of respect for Ngige. I worked closely with him during the formation of APC. But I felt it was important to make things clear on the issue of the 2023 presidency.”
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