In less than one month to the 2023 presidential election, there are still indications that all may not be well between the presidency and the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.
Despite being members of the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, his Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and other members of his cabinet appear to be showing lackadaisical attitudes towards the presidential ambition of the former Lagos State Governor.
Since he started his campaign a few months ago, the presidency has not shown a serious level of commitment towards ensuring the victory of Tinubu and the APC. While Buhari has attended very few campaign rallies, Osinbajo has totally abstained.
Many are yet to understand why those at the Aso Rock Villa, including some leaders of the APC, are not really interested in whether Tinubu wins or not. In fact, there are rumours that some governors are surreptitiously hobnobbing with the opposition ahead of the general election.
As the Jagaban could no longer pretend about the unfavourable development, he was compelled to let the cat out of the bag during his recent visit to Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, exposing the level of infighting tearing the party apart underneath.
Tinubu had tackled the Buhari-led government over the new naira notes redesign and the lingering fuel scarcity, alleging that some individuals were sabotaging his presidential ambition through the two developments.
According to Tinubu, they were deliberately hoarding petrol and naira notes, a situation he speculated was to affect his chances negatively.
“With our PVC, we will wrest power from them. Even if they said there is no fuel, we will trek. They are full of hanky panky. They are cleverly creating fuel scarcity. Let the fuel continue to be scarce, they know where they hoard it.
“You hoard the naira, you hoard fuel, but we will vote and we will win. You can even change the ink on the naira notes, we will win. They sabotage fuel supply. Whether they supply fuel or not, we will go and vote. This is a superior revolution. You know me. We are going to win,” Tinubu said in Yoruba.
After making the statement, the media space was awash with comments from the opposition, who saw Tinubu’s words as an attack on President Buhari and his party, the APC.
The moment he realised the statement could breed chaos within the party, Tinubu and his campaign team immediately embarked on damage control, saying the presidential candidate was actually attacking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and not the APC-led Federal Government.
But, many are seeking to know if the PDP is in charge of the Ministry of Petroleum or President Buhari. They also want to know if the Central Bank of Nigeria is under the control of the PDP or the Federal Government. The answer to this is clear enough to know who Tinubu was referring to during his campaign in Abeokuta.
The question on the lips of some Nigerians is, why is the presidency less concerned about Tinubu’s presidential race?
Buhari’s anointed candidate
Before the APC primary, there were indications that President Buhari had an anointing candidate among those eyeing the presidential ticket. Apart from Osinbajo, a sizable number of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet members, his allies and others, were in the race for the ticket.
Before the primary, Buhari had met with governors of the party, telling them to allow him choose his successor the same way they choose theirs.
Buhari told the governors: “In keeping with the established internal policies of the party and as we approach the convention in a few days, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the Governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.
“We gave governors re-election tickets or an opportunity to pick their successors; allow me to pick my successor.”
Though Buhari did not name his choice, but as Tinubu realised that he was not likely to be the anointed candidate of Buhari, he began to talk tough.
The Abeokuta comment
In the buildup to the June 2022 APC presidential primary, Tinubu was in Abeokuta to seek the support of party delegates. At the Presidential Lodge in Ibara Housing Estate, where he met party leaders, Tinubu went back memory lane to recount how he helped Buhari to power after the former Army General had cried on live television.
He also said he was the one who nominated Osinbajo to be Buhari’s running mate after Bukola Saraki kicked against the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Osinbajo, at that time, was also contesting the APC ticket with Tinubu, the main reason he was being described as a “betrayer” in the Tinubu camp.
“He tried the first time and failed. He tried a second time and failed. He tried a third time and failed. He even cried on television that he will never run for president again. I went to meet him and told him this is not a crying matter: ‘we will support you and you will be president’. If not for me, he wouldn’t have become the president,” Tinubu said in Yoruba.
His comment was said to have angered the President and his appointees, who replied Tinubu, telling him not to claim he was the one who single-handedly made Buhari president.
A statement by a presidential media aide, Garba Shehu, partly read: “There are those who advised the president to run again; those who decided to build a political party – the APC – that could finally be the political vehicle capable of delivering victory where all other opposition parties and alliances before it had failed.
“Those decisions may have been agreed upon by a few. But they were delivered by thousands and voted for by tens of millions. No one can or should claim to have made this possible.”
It was believed that Tinubu’s angry comment in Abeokuta in June helped him in getting the APC ticket, as it caused the president to steer clear of whatever happened at the APC convention.
However, it is left to be seen if the latest Abeokuta comment from Tinubu would also earn him a positive action from the presidency.