The declaration of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to succeed his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, provided a foretaste of the titanic showdown anticipated within the ranks of the APC, All Progressives Congress, particularly in Nigeria’s South-west geo-political zone.
In reaction of the declaration of Vice President Osinbajo, the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is also in the race for the APC presidential ticket, arranged a meeting with Nigerian governors of the APC extraction, at the Kebbi State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.
Coming out of the meeting, Tinubu feigned ignorance of the declaration of his erstwhile political godson, Osinbajo, saying he has no son grown enough to have made such declaration.
At the meeting attended by 14 governors, the national leader spoke about his credentials as a private sector player, democracy activist, democrat and progressive. He narrated his role in facilitating Nigeria’s return to democracy, formation of the APC and the party’s victories in the 2015 and 2019 elections. Tinubu assured the APC governors of inclusion and accommodation in the presidential project.
“My mission here is to seek collaboration, support and encouragement of my party, the APC, for my ambition to become the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as replacement for President Buhari after his tenure,” Asiwaju Bola Tinubu stated.
The PGF Chairman and governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, who presided over the parley, said they have heard from Tinubu and would discuss his presentation.
Governor Bagudu said: “Tinubu met with us where he stated what he has made public already – his intention to seek for the office of the President come 2023. He briefed us on his reasons, his thinking and his message.
“All the governors in attendance graciously came to listen to him. He acknowledged the role of the governors in the last convention of our party, where, according to him, the governors of the party steadied the party by helping in the evolution of the leadership that is accepted and widely acknowledged as that which we wish for our party. We appreciated him, his message and will definitely discuss the message at one of our meetings.”
In the aftermath of Vice President Osinbajo’s declaration, the APC in Lagos initiated the political fireworks by claiming that the VP cannot win his polling unit.
A statement from Seye Oladejo, Lagos APC spokesman, said the VP doesn’t have what it takes to win the election. “There is no problem. We knew he was going to declare. They should allow us to go to the primary. Let him come and face Asiwaju.
“At a time, l thought I was listening to a dirge until I realised it was a political declaration in a living room. Nigerians will have something to say about the scorecard in the fullness of time. The last time I checked, the Vice President was in charge of the economy.
“The only demand is for us to go to primary. Let us see how much support Osinbajo can garner from the party members. This is someone who could not even win his polling booth.
Responding, Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, said the Vice President is no longer a member of the Lagos chapter of the party. Akande said Osinbajo moved his membership to Ogun State when he revalidated his APC membership status in Ward One, Ikenne, Ogun State on February 9, 2021.
Prior to his movement, Osinbajo was a chieftain of the Lagos APC with his polling unit at Code 33, Unit 2 Victoria Garden City, Lagos.
During the last general elections in 2019, result from the VP Osinbajo’s polling unit showed that the ruling party lost the election to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In the presidential election, APC polled 229 and PDP 425; for Senate, APC scored 261, PDP 414; and for the House of Representatives, APC polled 190 and PDP 268.
In another twist, the Progressive Consolidation Group (PCG) has enjoined Tinubu to stepdown for Osinbajo for the race for the exalted seat of the presidency in the 2023 poll. Senator Abba Aji, who spoke on behalf of the group, expressed satisfaction over what he termed the spontaneous nationwide celebrations that greeted Osinbajo’s declaration for the 2023 presidency.
The group described Tinubu as a great party leader who should feel vindicated that the good idea brought forward in the person of Osinbajo has continued to flourish.
The PCG, a pro-Osinbajo lobby group, maintained that Osinbajo remains the best among the arrays of presidential hopeful in the country. The group claimed that in spite of challenges, Osinbajo has a solid support base in the North, along with thriving circles of influential supporters across the South.
Also, the Tinubu Support Group (TSG) has described Osinbajo’s decision to contest against his erstwhile principal as a betrayal of trust. TSG Head of Media, Mr. Tosin Adeyanju, stated that Osibanjo’s declaration did not portend any danger to Tinubu’s presidential ambition.
Adeyanju said: “His declaration is a welcome development but a betrayal of trust to the political family he belongs to. However, he does not portend any threat to our camp.
“Our eyes are on the ball and we are counting our numbers. Our consultation continues, as our principal is meeting with governors of the party. We are ready for primaries with any interested person because our principal is a true democrat,” he said.
For Tanko, Osinbajo’s declaration speech was watery and baseless. According to him, “how could he say he is running to ‘complete the task’ that President Buhari started? President Buhari started extreme poverty and overwhelming insecurity for Nigeria.
“Under Buhari, our country’s debt has grown from ₦12 trillion in 2015, to almost ₦50 trillion this year (if the new ₦6 trillion loan requests are granted). If Osinbajo is running to complete that, then he is running to completely destroy what is left of Nigeria!
“Osinbajo fooled us with his empty promises in 2015. Now, he is making new promises. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Don’t forget how he was doing TraderMoni during the last elections. Did he not abandon it after he and Buhari rigged themselves to a second term?”
In summary, Tanko said, “Osinbajo’s declaration speech was as short as him, because he has no achievements, no plans, no priorities. The only thing he has are promises. And let us not forget that this was the same man who promised to create three million jobs annually. The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. And Osinbajo’s past betrays him as an echo of Buhari’s cluelessness!”