Associates of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), have been at daggers drawn over the 2023 presidential election and the rift may escalate in the coming days, Daily Independent has gathered.
Tinubu, a fortnight ago, informed President Muhammadu Buhari of his decision to run for the office of president in 2023.
Few hours after Tinubu’s declaration, some of his longtime associates have come out to publicly endorse Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as their choice even though he (Osinbajo) is yet to officially declare interest in the race.
Despite repeated calls on him to run in 2023 by several groups across the country, Osinbajo had said he is focused on his job now as President Buhari’s deputy and will decide on whether he is going to contest at the appropriate time.
Last Saturday, thousands of Nigerians campaigning for Osinbajo’s presidential aspiration converged on Kano where they unveiled a new support group called ‘New Nigerian Tribe’.
Addressing the crowds, Prof. Olusola Adeyeye, a former Chief Whip of the Senate and Tinubu’s longtime associate, said Osinbajo is chosen man of the moment and the perfect fit for Nigeria’s next president in 2023.
“At this moment, choosing the president is very easy for Nigerians because we have Osinbajo, the man of the moment. At this point in time, we need a man like Osinbajo who is intellectual, versatile and very suited for the throne.
“He has good character, which is the best quality of leadership and displays keen intellects with noble intention that if elected he will inspire millions of Nigerians because he is a man of his words. For me, it is an easy choice to make.
“My compatriots, history is encapsulated in moments. This moment of Nigerian history has chosen itself a man and that man is Osinbajo, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Osinbajo is the man of the moment for Nigeria.
“He is well-grounded and adequately prepared. A tested and trusted hand, with the right temperament, the intellectual fire power, and governance ethos best suited for this moment. Yemi Osinbajo is the man for the moment. Not for his own sake, but for the sake of our country.”
Shortly after Adeyeye’s remarks, several loyalists of Tinubu descended on him, accusing him of betraying the former Lagos governor who played a key role in his political career.
According to one of them, “We are not surprised at Adeyeye’s remarks. We are expecting more of his likes to come out as we move towards the election. I am sure Asiwaju too is not unfazed by his remarks. He has seen many of Adeyeye’s likes who betrayed him but later came back begging. In his large heart, he always forgives them even though some of us objected to it”, he said.
Last Monday, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, another Tinubu’s longtime associate, said he has been receiving threat messages from irritants owing to his position that he won’t support Tinubu’s presidential ambition.
Ojudu, who is the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters (Vice President’s Office) said that his decision not to support Tinubu does not portray him as traitor but was based on personal conviction.
While saying that forcing him to go against his choice would be undemocratic, Ojudu said though he had benefited from Tinubu’s kindness in the past, he has been a self-made man even before meeting the former Lagos State governor.
Responding to Ojudu, an APC chieftain, who was a former Commissioner in Tinubu’s cabinet, said Ojudu had already called himself what exactly he was in his statement.
“I don’t know what has come over these people declaring support for the vice president while denigrating Asiwaju. In the first place, has Osinbajo told them he is running? How can you shave a man’s head in his absence? Asiwaju has come out to say he is running, so it is understandable if anyone declares support for him. But that cannot be said about the vice president who is yet to say whether he is running or not?
“Honestly, the whole thing looks like a mystery to me and some of us working for Asiwaju’s presidential ambition. The likes of Adeyeye, Ojudu and others who are declaring support for the vice president, do they know something that is hidden to us? Has anyone given them an assurance that he (Osinbajo) will get the APC ticket? Anyhow, we keep our fingers crossed as events unfold. Ojudu and Adeyeye should tell Nigerians how they became senators that people call them today when the odds were clearly in their favour”.
Another credible source in the APC also informed Daily Independent that some of Tinubu’s associates are currently “sitting on the fence” to know what plays out regarding the APC primary before deciding on the next step to take.
“Some of them are not bold enough to come out publicly like Adeyeye and Ojudu so they won’t be attacked. They also don’t want to lose out eventually. They don’t know if actually the president will support Tinubu or Osinbajo. So, they are sitting on the fence and watching what will happen at the convention and the presidential primary”.
When contacted, Ojudu and Adeyeye declined comments, saying they have said their minds in their statements which are already in the public domain.
According to Adeyeye, “I am not granting any interview now. My views are in the public domain. I didn’t do it secretly. I did it on national television. So, I am not answering any question. I don’t want anybody to create enmity between me and Asiwaju”.
Also on Wednesday, a veteran broadcaster, Jimi Disu, faulted Tinubu’s associates.
“Some people said if Osinbajo decides to run, then he will be disloyal to Tinubu. Some others say Tinubu made Osinbajo. Did he send him to school? Did he make him a professor of Law? Who added value to whose life? All through the tribulations that Tinubu had, Yemi (Osinbajo) was providing the legal support.
“Let’s get things right. The fact that you made somebody commissioner like you are also serving as governor doesn’t make him subservient to you for life. I saw Ojudu’s statement yesterday where he said he was a self-made man and I stand by him.
“Fine, in association with this gentleman (Tinubu), a few things happened. So what? I hear some of his supporters say it was Asiwaju that made Osinbajo. Take away governor and take away vice president, head to head, who is senior? The man is a professor of Law at a very young age. So, let’s get this right and stop mixing apple with oranges”