As politicians step up horse-trading preparatory to the next elections, KUNLE ODEREMI reports on recent developments in the camp of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, on the presidential race.
A possible scenario that will throw up the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is fast-playing out as major gladiators in the ruling party crisscross the zones of the country in the frenzied buildup to the 2023 elections. In the last couple of weeks, Nigerian Tribune gathered a semblance of rainbow coalition is crystallising around the much-talked about bid of the APC national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu for the presidential ticket of the ruling party.
Checks showed that the leading role he played in high profile political events in the last few days were not indeed mere happenstances but a part of grand game plan and strategic thinking by some forces to shore up his chances for the APC ticket. The intense intrigues and attendant permutations in the APC power calculus are coming as the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise peaks this week
On Monday, the 12th edition of the Bola Tinubu Annual Colloquium commemorating his 69th birthday, for the first time, was held in the ancient city of Kano few hours after he was accorded a royal reception in company of the state governor, Dr Abdulahi Umar Ganduje.
Sources also indicated that his aspiration is said to enjoy the support of Aminu Bello Masari , the governor of Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari. The former Lagos State governor and senator in the botched Third Republic was in Katsina recently to sympathise with the state governor and the entire people of the state in the wake of the inferno at the popular Katsina Central Market. Tinubu, who announced a N50 million donation while addressing the affected traders at the ravaged market, promised to continue to support the state government and the traders to rebuild the affected shops.
Not too long ago, former deputy Minority Chief Whip of the Senate and stalwart of the APC from Katsina State, Senator Abu Ibrahim, also reportedly canvassed for support for Tinubu during the inauguration of Bola Tinubu Support Organisation (BTSO) held in Abuja, saying he could vouch for him having known the former governor for teo decades.
Similarly, a former Secretary to Niger State Government (SSG), who presided at the inauguration of the group, Professor Mohammed Kuta Yahaya, charged Nigerians to “create a Bola Ahmed Tinubu in each of the six geo-political zones.”
Feelers also showed that Tinubu’s aspiration is said to enjoy the favoiurable disposition of the governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, who declared last Thursday that it was imperative power roattes to the South in the interest of equity and fairness.
Past elections indicated a large voting population in the North-West states of Kano, Katsina and Borno States, though the figures are often subject to public controversy.
Two other names from the South-West making the rounds on the APC presidential ticket are the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and the governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, with some allies of the latter already mobilizing support for him. Though the APC is yet to officially proclaim zoning the presidential ticket to the southern part of the country, some party stalwarts in the North have been consistent in their demand that the APC allow the South produce the next president.
Reports at the weekend informed that speakers of states’ Houses of assembly from North-West have endorsed the bid of the APC national leader for the party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 general election.
A statement by the speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Honourable Mudashiru Obasa, was quoted to have said the speakers pledged their support at a meeting held in Kano last Friday.
A former speaker from Kano, Abdullahi Yanshana, reportedly said that “95 per cent of the votes from Kano in 2023 will be in favour of the national leader of the APC.” Obasa said the endorsement by the northern speakers and ex-lawmakers came a few weeks after speakers in the South-West declared their support for Tinubu’s aspiration. “We should now be thinking beyond him being the flag-bearer of the APC and concentrate on securing victory for him in the actual election,” Obasa stated.
Tinubu is also believed to enjoy the support of a broad spectrum of traditional rulers across the country, some of whom conferred him with honorary chieftaincy titles in appreciation of his philanthropy.
Staunch allies and associates of Tinubu are said to be banking on the goodwill he was able to establish over the years to come in his good stead for the bid. According to them, he remains a veritable bridge-builder across the six geopolitical zones through philanthropic gestures, job creation and various forms of empowerment.
A group of ex-lawmakers, ministers and other politicians of South-West extraction are promoting his ambition under the aegis of the South-West Agenda (SWAGA), which has taken its campaign to frontline traditional rulers in the zone.
Led by a former minister, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, premised their action on the pedigree of the APC national leader. His words: “We need an experienced hand. The kind of security challenges we are facing in this country, economic challenges and youth restiveness, show that we need someone who will calm the situation and put Nigeria on the path of rapid socio-economic development. We believe Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is eminently qualified to do that. We visited Olubadan and Alaafin because we did the inaugural meeting in Ibadan, which is the headquarters of the South-West geopolitical zone. We visited the two eminent leaders in Yoruba land in accordance with our tradition. We can’t visit all of them. By the time we visit other states, Nigerians will see more of our activities.”
Already, loyalists of Tinubu from other parts of the country and political divide have intensified grassroots mobilisation for his cause on a number of social platforms and under different codenames.
A youth group, Tinubulate Nigeria Agenda (TINA), at its inauguration recently in Abuja, presented a dummy cheque of N10 million to show their commitment to support him if contests. The director-general of the group, Samuel Alamoh, sadi they had “concluded plans to present the cheque to Tinubu for the purchase of the expression of interest and nomination forms to run for the presidency, when the party commences the sales of the forms.”
Another pressure group, the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Grassroots Volunteers (BAT – GV), said it rallying support for his aspiration. The national coordinator, Mr Dozie Nwankodu, said in a statement that their interest in him was because of his records of achievements, especially in human development, democracy and peace building.
In a speech he delivered as chairman of the 2021 Sardauna Memorial Lecture held on Saturday at the Arewa House, Kaduna, Tinubu unveiled part of what looked like his an agenda if elected president, encapsulating his vision on the economy, unemployment, security and other critical sectors.
He stated: “The economy’s relapse into recession has ended but we must admit the economy remains weak with too much unemployment and resources left idle. The cost of governance is always a key factor in the socio-economic development of any nation. But it is also one side of an important coin. We must not look at the cost alone. We must weigh the cost against the benefits derived therefrom. For example, one can pay a high cost on a productive enterprise but reap a higher benefit. Such would be considered a good investment.
“However, one can pay a low cost but reap no benefit at all because the endeavour was inherently unproductive. This would be a waste. Thus, we must be careful in what we say and truly mean when we talk of the costs of governance.
“The development of any populous nation has always been dependent on the ability of the government to allocate sufficient funds to projects and programs that create and encourage enduring growth and employment. We must reject that mode of thinking that assumes government expenditure is inherently unproductive as well as harmful to the overall economy.
“It is not the fact that government expenditure is intrinsically wrong any more than one can say all private sector activity is economically positive. Government can be wasteful or it can be the key component to the growth just as a private sector business can function profitably or spend itself into bankruptcy. The issue is not whether the government is spending money or not. The real issue is the economic utility and quality of the expenditure.
“Fiscal wisdom but not necessarily austerity is required for an economy like ours in a time like this, to ensure equitable wealth redistribution and meaningful use of resources. The years have shown that the private sector is much too weak to spur the growth we need.
“If the private sector could manage this feat, it would have already done so. Where the private sector is too weak or unable, the government must fill the void. This means the government must not be afraid to embark on an activist fiscal policy to create jobs, build infrastructure and develop our industrial sector as well as continue to improve agriculture. This means the government must spend money but spend it on those things that bring the requisite economic returns for the nation.”