The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, says he has informed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) of his decision to run for the office of President in 2023.
Tinubu revealed this to State House correspondents on Monday after a private meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
However, the APC leader said he had yet to publicly disclose his ambition as he was still in consultations with various interest groups across the country.
Tinubu’s meeting with the President came days after he (Buhari) declared in a televised interview that he would not divulge his favourite for the APC 2023 presidential ticket.
Asked if he had officially informed Buhari about his ambition to run, the APC leader said, “I answer that with a categorical yes. I’ve informed the President of my intention, but I have not informed Nigerians yet. I’m still consulting. And I have no problem consulting. And I’ve not set a parameter of limitation to the extent of how many people I will consult.
“You will soon hear; all you want to hear is the categorical declaration. You’ve got that truth from me that I have informed Mr President of my ambition, and you don’t expect more answers than that.”
The former Lagos State Governor also revealed that the President did not advise him to drop his ambition.
“He is a democrat. He didn’t ask me to stop. He didn’t ask me not to attempt and pursue my ambition. It is a lifelong ambition. So, why do I expect him to say more than that? You are running a democratic dispensation, and you must adopt the principles and the values and virtues of democracy. That’s it,” he said.
When asked about his potential race for the APC ticket with the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; for whom many groups have been mobilising support, Tinubu revealed that, as former Governor of Lagos State, he possessed the capacity, confidence and vision to “rule” the country.
“I don’t want to discuss individuals now. I must discuss myself. I have the confidence, the vision, the capacity to rule, build on the foundation of Mr President, and turn Nigeria better. I have done that with commitment in Lagos State.
“You’ve seen that experience and the capacity to turn things around, and that is what we are doing. You know, the confusion and drift of the past in the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) are being corrected. And you can’t take away from that. As we are today, go back to the data on how many barrels of oil were we producing when we first came in and what it is today? Even at the time we came in, we did not pay the counterpart funds to start our rail line.
“Today, you enjoy the comfort of having rail from Lagos to Ibadan. You have the Kaduna and the one for Kano State on the aggressive pipeline; you see excellent infrastructure. I just came from Azare, and I have seen good roads. The carnage of dying in vehicles is reducing except for the lack of compliance by many Nigerian drivers. Let us think back. Let us be intellectually inquisitive as to the past and the present and what the future holds for Nigeria,” he said.
On the purpose of his visit to the State House, Tinubu said he came to see the President on general issues concerning Nigeria, the APC, security, the achievements recorded so far under the Buhari regime and the New Year agenda.
The Presidential hopeful, who declined to reveal his plans for the country should he become President, said he also discussed direct primaries, the APC convention and reacted to those advising him to remain a kingmaker rather than gun for the throne.
On December 19, 2021, The PUNCH reported that the Director-General of Voice of Nigeria urged Tinubu to shelve his presidential ambition and instead unit the party and maintain his role as kingmaker.
Okechukwu, a founding member of the APC, advised Tinubu to back a younger candidate from the South-East in line with the zoning convention.
In his reaction, the APC National Leader said, “I have never seen the cap of a kingmaker before. That is the truth. And I’ve never seen where it is written in the rule book anywhere in any country that a kingmaker cannot be a king unless you commit murder.
“So, whatever you attribute is your own opinion. Me, I want to pursue my ambition without the title of a kingmaker. You can write your literature and your story based upon your own perception.”
On the electoral amendment bill which President Buhari recently withheld assent to, Tinubu said, “First of all, the National Assembly and the President must be encouraged to review and review again. Whatever they come up with as electoral amendment is what we must comply with.
“There is no unlimited elasticity in what we face because we have to plan and plan well and be able to manage time effectively. The great roadmap to success is the ability of a leader to do what he must do at the right time that it should be done.
“That to me is the electoral amendment point, we will still look at that collectively. And it is our country. It’s our democracy. We have adopted it, and we will push it rigorously.”
He also affirmed that the APC National Convention would certainly hold, but gave no definite date saying, “I’m not a spokesperson for the party. And the President is the leader of the party. So, expect convention, maybe if that’s added to your own anxiety, or the other party’s anxiety is good for us. We get it, and we’ll get it done properly.”
The Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who is also the Ondo State Governor, did not respond to calls or a text message on Monday. The Spokesman for the APC, Mr John Akpan Udo-Edehe, also did not respond to a text message.
Meanwhile, the Progressives’ Solidarity for Asiwaju on Monday described the former governor of Lagos State as a uniting force who deserves to be the President of Nigeria.
The group stated that it was ready to rally enough support for the former governor.
A Co-Convener of the group, Adewale Adenaike disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday.
Adenaike in an interview with The PUNCH said, “Asiwaju is a uniting force who deserves to be the president of this country. We are conducting a world press conference this week to address everything that needs to be addressed. Our group is present in all the states of the Federation and even outside Nigeria.
“We are also ready to mobilise support for him and we are sure Nigerians will come out and vote for him”.
Tinubu’s presidential ambition not rooted in equity, justice, he has added to crises in Nigeria –Ohanaeze
But the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo described the declaration of Tinubu to contest the Presidency in 2023 as against the rules of natural justice as unfortunate.
It regretted that the former Lagos State Governor had chosen to add to the crisis of Nigeria instead of joining hands with patriots to save the corporate existence of the country.
The spokesman for the Igbo apex body, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke to one of our correspondents while reacting to the Tinubu’s formal declaration, said, “It is an assertion rooted in history and experience that any project that is not supported by justice and equity will not succeed.
Ogbonnia said Tinubu knew that he was doing the wrong thing, embarking on a project that was not rooted in equity, justice and fair play.
He said “It is a project that is dead on arrival. Because God is a universal entity that he is always interested in truth, fairness and equity. So for anybody embarking on anything that is not rooted in equity and justice will not succeed and this is a countervailing force that has sustained this world from the beginning.
“So Tinubu knows that he is embarking on a cause that has no foundation in anything: foundation in equity and justice, and of course is a project that will not succeed.”
Ohanaeze spokesman, however, said it was very unfortunate that Tinubu had decided to add to the crisis in Nigeria, adding “because there is this collective conscience that has been guiding this country. The collective conscience is to culturally determine what is right and what is wrong and to pursue the one that is right and ignore the one that is wrong.
“But all the same, those who have really gone against the convention has often lost, you know at a point General Sani Abacha wanted to continue but he lost; Goodluck Jonathan ran against the current he lost any other person that tries to go against the convention and the current will always lose it. Mr Tinubu is working across purposes with the foundations of this country – foundation rooted in equity and justice.
“He knows that this is the turn of the Igbo and instead of supporting for the Igbo to emerge for peace to reign, for the corporate existence of Nigeria to remain intact, he decided adding to the problem and crisis. So for one to succeed as a matter of facts, patriots should consider the collective interest – the group interest more than self-interest. But in this case now Tinubu is more interested in self-interest. He considered self-interest above group interest or corporate existence of Nigeria. And that is selfishness at its height and any country that has such people is always in problem.
“Ohanaeze’s position is that Tinubu knows that he is doing the wrong thing. He is embarking on a project that is not rooted in equity, justice and fair play, and is against the common current of the conscience of the people and to that extent he will surely lose.”