2023: At last, APC sets up Tinubu versus Atiku after primary

• YCE, ARG, and Middle Belt Forum urge Tinubu to embrace other aspirants
• Strategy, not money gave Tinubu ticket, says Momodu

After months of intrigues, the life ambition of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, showed signs of ultimate realisation, as he clinched the Presidential ticket of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).

It would be recalled that shortly after the special convention of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tinubu had, while congratulating former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, expressed the belief that they would meet at next year’s general elections as Presidential standard-bearers of their parties.

Tinubu, garnered 1,271 delegates votes to beat his closest rivals, former Minister for Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and incumbent Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who polled 316 and 235 votes respectively.

Signs that Tinubu would carry the day emerged during the pre-balloting speeches when eight contestants waived their ambition in deference to the APC leader, as well as early Wednesday morning when sorting and collation of the ballots began.

Earlier, the contest narrowed down to a straight fight among the top three contenders, namely, Tinubu, Osinbajo and Amaechi.

Tension had crept into the atmosphere in the Eagle Square, the venue of the convention, and afterwards filtered in that efforts to prune down the number of aspirants from 23 to a manageable proportion failed, thereby, throwing the contest open to those who purchased the N100 million nomination forms.

One of the 23 presidential aspirants, who was tipped as a possible beneficiary of the consensus plan, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, did not show up at the Eagle Square when other contenders were invited to deliver their closing appeals to the delegates.

As the contestants, made their last pitch, by summarising their vision to the delegates, it became obvious that four contenders were primed for the APC ticket, after Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru, also an aspirant, reiterated the decision of the Northern 14 APC governors to cede the ticket to the Southern part of the country.

The four frontline aspirants included Tinubu, Osinbajo, Amaechi and the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan. Immediate past Minister for Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, introduced the surprise element when he announced his uncommon withdrawal from the race and enjoined his supporters to vote for the former Lagos State governor, Tinubu.

Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr John Kayode Fayemi joined Senator Ibikunle Amosun to step down for Tinubu and raised apprehensions that the entire aspirants from Southwest may have resolved to step down for the APC national leader.

But that optimism was defrayed when Pastor Tunde Bakare mounted the rostrum to declare that he was not coming to step down, but to step up to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari as the 16th Nigerian leader.

While Governor Fayemi joined, Badaru and Senators Amosun, Boroffice, Dimeji Bankole and Mrs. Uju Ken-Ohanenye to queue behind Tinubu’s aspiration, the youngest aspirant in the contest, Pastor Felix Nicholas, announced that he was stepping down for Prof. Osinbajo.

Immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu garnered just one vote while Senator Rochas Okorocha, Bakare and earned no delegate vote, at the end of the exercise.         

President Buhari, in his remarks, shortly before balloting started, said the governing party has shown Nigerians that it is committed to their well being, stressing that his administration is determined to uphold the tenets of democracy.
The twice-postponed special convention came at a huge cost to the country, given that the civil servants could not access their offices for three days due to the security cordon thrown across the major access roads surrounding the Eagle Square venue of the presidential nomination process.
In his remarks after the chairman of APC Election Managing Committee and Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Bagudu announced him as the winner, Tinubu declared: “I am a thinker and a doer,” even as he promised to unite the country.

The APC presidential hopeful noted that no one religion would swallow another, pleading with Nigerians to imbibe love for their neighbours, just as he stated that with unity no amount of obstacle that the country could not surmount.

It was gathered that Tinubu’s emergence has raised the prospects of PDP going back to pick a Presidential running mate from Southeast instead of the Niger Delta state of Delta, where Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was among those being considered.

The Guardian was informed that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s preference for a medical doctor is against the belief that health and wellness would form part of the core issues of next year’s election.

Should former Enugu State governor, Senator Chimaroke Nnamanni be chosen as Atiku’s running mate, the 2023 Presidential contest would be seen as a battle of a class of 1999 governors, especially given Nnamani’s communication prowess and high intellect.

MEANWHILE some Southwest socio-political organisations, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) and Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), yesterday, urged Bola Tinubu, to have a large heart and embrace other aspirants who slugged it with him at the primary.

The two groups admonished Tinubu not to allow naysayers to push him to embark on a vengeful or vendetta mission or commit the error of perceiving any of his co-contestants as enemies, saying, “The APC remains one big family despite the contest. The bigger event is how to retain power for the party in 2023.”

In a related development, the erstwhile leader of Igbo Think Tank group, Aka Ikenga, Goody Uwazurike, said the 2023 contest is going to be a battle of personality between candidates of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has been in active politics for over 30 years and Tinubu, whose life ambition is to rule Nigeria.

Uwazurike, however, said Mr. Peter Obi, who represents the Southeast geopolitical zone on the platform of Labour Party (LP) for the 2023 presidential election could still pull a surprise.

Speaking in separate telephone conversations with The Guardian, yesterday, General Secretary of YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide said Tinubu’s victory at the primary was exciting and it shows the maturity displayed by the leadership of APC, which respected the zoning agreement.

He, however, urged the national leader not to make the mistake of perceiving anyone as an enemy but to begin a reconciliation move immediately, if the party really wants to retain power.

He also urged Tinubu’s followers to be magnanimous in victory and as a matter of necessity mind their utterances not to aggravate issues within the party. He said, “The primary has come and gone, the bigger picture is the presidential election.”

National Chairman of ARG, Mr Wale Oshun, said it was not right to assume that because Atiku emerged on PDP’s platform and Tinubu on APC, Igbo are being maginalised.

According to him, Obi, who emerged on the platform of LP, is also a good representation and the party also has what it takes to win the election.

Also, the governorship candidate of APC in Oyo State, Senator Teslim Folarin has congratulated Tinubu.

The three-term lawmaker, in a message he personally signed hailed the doggedness, sacrifices, maturity and sense of patriotism demonstrated by the co-contestants.

He said: “The majority of APC national delegates backed by a majority of presidential aspirants have spoken with their votes that Tinubu has the capacity to defeat Atiku in 2023 general elections and create a developed and prosperous Nigeria in the mood of his achievements in the past in Lagos State.

“I urge Tinubu to extend hands of fellowship to his co-contestants and their foot soldiers with a view to closing ranks and working for the victory of the party in the 2023 general elections.

“I have absolute confidence in Tinubu’s long years of experience in the democratic space and I know he has all it takes to galvanise the entire membership of the party into a formidable force that will ensure victory for our party in 2023 and beyond. I him of my personal commitment, as well as the cooperation of the entire members of APC in Oyo State with his presidential project.”

In another reaction, Spokesman of Middle Belt Leaders Forum, Dr Isuwa Dogo congratulated Tinubu as he also dismissed the insinuation that Igbo have been marginalised in Nigeria politics.

“We must acknowledge the fact that Tinubu and Atiku worked very hard to get the tickets of their parties likewise as Obi is the candidate of LP.

“But in my candid opinion, it would be difficult for another party, apart from APC and PDP to win the presidency in 2023,” he suggested.

MEANWHILE, the publisher of Ovation International Magazine, Chief Dele Momodu has said that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, remains a tough nut to crack for the former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who clinched the APC ticket.

Momodu said contrary to the general impression that Tinubu won the primary because of his war chest and inducement of delegates, he said, the former Lagos State governor’s long-term strategy and planning gave him the victory.

Momodu, who hosted a Random Gist on Twitter’s social media network, said that many of today’s politicians are in a hurry to get to the forefront, but the likes of Tinubu and Atiku started building their structures over a long time.

He explained that other politicians like President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku contested for various offices but failed, they were never discouraged.

According to him, Tinubu has influence in all the nooks and crannies of the country and has invested in the mentorship of other politicians and this is the factors behind his success.

He noted that many young politicians are in a hurry to get to the forefront, but the likes of Tinubu and Atiku built their structures over the years.

He said Peter Obi, who was in the PDP with him dumped the party for Labour party but the question he asked him as a friend is, “Who is going to fund the party?”

Source: Guardian.ng

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