Politics

Tinubu’s diminishing influence in APC

There appears to be a plot to scheme out the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu from the party he co-founded, writes SEGUN JAMES.

As it is, some people within the All Progressives Congress are of the view that the party’s national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu is such an overbearing person who must be cut to size.

Whatever position Tinubu takes, someone within the party’s hierarchy is likely trying to counter him. APC members will remember with ease his last ditch effort to install a governor in Ondo state. The leadership of the party frustrated his effort to ensure that Rotimi Akeredolu did not get the party’s ticket.

Tinubu had wanted Segun Abrahams as the party’s flag bearer. But to his dismay, others had a different idea. They chose to support Tinubu’s former ally, Akeredolu.

The aftermath of this was that a crisis was engineered at the Ondo State chapter of the party leading to a very frustrated Tinubu to openly demand the resignation of the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun over what he called the latter’s anti-democratic han­dling of the party affairs.

Tinubu made the demand in a scathing statement entitled, “Oyegun’s Ondo Fraud: The violation of democracy in the APC.” The party leader said the APC’s democratic credentials had been dealt a big blow by Odigie Oyegun’s con­duct, especially with his handling of the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primary.

He said the APC was a party borne out of the quest for democratic good governance, arguing that the ideology was currently under a critical threat by those who managed to be in the party but were never part of it.

According to him, from the party’s inception, the principles of democratic fairness and justice are to guide the APC’s internal deliberations.

He stressed that the party’s founders realised that it was only by fair dealing that the party could remain faithful to the progressive ideals that were presented to the Nigerian electorate as governing creed.

“If the party cannot justly govern itself, it will find it difficult to establish and maintain just government throughout the nation,” he said.

The APC leader stressed that before now, the party was the embodiment of a democratic promise made between its members as well as a democratic vow made to the public.

“Evidently, some errant members believe that prom­ises and vows are mere words to be easily spoken and more easily broken. Chairman John Odigie Oyegun has breached these good pledges in a most overt and brazen display. In doing so, Odigie Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few nairas.

“The party was supposed to buttress the APC members elected to government at all levels. Because of Odigie Oyegun’s conduct of our affairs, the party is rapidly becoming an albatross to those it is meant to help”, Tinubu cried out. However, his admonition not only fell on deaf ears, it also irritated the power that be.

The APC national leader narrated details of what transpired behind closed doors during the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting of the party held to deliberate on the report of the appeal panel saddled with the responsibility of handling the appeals.

He accused Odigie Oyegun of upturning the decision of the majority who voted in favour of the cancellation of the primary and the conduct of a fresh one.

Tinubu stated, “He has shown that he and democratic fair play cannot exist in the same party at the same time.

“If Tinubu is to choose between John Odigie Oyegun and progress toward a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made. For those who care about the party, who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear.”

Surprisingly, the national leader had an ally then in the embattled deputy national publicity secretary of the party, who had been having a hard time with the national chairman, Mr. Timi Frank. He lent his voice to the call by Tinubu for Oyegun’s resignation. Frank said that there was a need for the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to convene, while also calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the current crisis rocking the party. “The founding father of our party, the national leader of our party has concurred to my earlier call that Oyegun should resign as the national chairman. That should let you know that I foresaw what they didn’t see.

“Today the Board of Trustees is not in place and no elders’ council; tell me today if I have issue where would I run to? Do I run to an NWC where Oyegun will preside over to drop my case that will not be answered? The answer is no. If you have a BoT or an elders’ council you can take your case there. We cannot run the party as a one man show. Let me tell you, a lot of my colleagues are complaining, a lot even in the NWC.”

Frank was later booted out of his position as Oyegun consolidated his position to the chagrin of Tinubu and his allies.

It was in the midst of this that Oyegun reacted to Tinubu’s call that he should resign. He told the national leader boldly that the national chairman of a party could not be removed on the pages of newspapers. It was the first time that Oyegun would publicly dare the Lion of Bourdillon as Tinubu is fondly called. Not surprising however, Oyegun’s response was at the Presidential Villa after a meeting with Buhari; an indication that he enjoyed presidential support for his audacity.

“The method of getting rid of a national chairman, if that is what I will call it, is spelt out in the constitution. They don’t take place on the pages of newspapers. We have differences of opinion, differences of perception and I think that is normal. Yes, I agree that the nature of the statement was a bit harsh,” he said.

Asked whether the party would reverse its decision on the Ondo election primaries, since it was causing crisis in the party, Oyegun said, “It is only INEC that can make u-turn on Ondo”.

Many who hitherto were afraid of the national leaders were emboldened by what transpired in Ondo state. If Tinubu could be defeated in Ondo, then he can be defeated anywhere, they reasoned.

Even some state governors in the south­west whom he helped in­stalled had since turned against him. Take the case of Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state. Today, Amosun, who probably would not have succeeded in his first attempt to be governor but for the support of Tinubu, has now drawn a battle line between himself and the national leader. Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi is said to be somewhat ambivalent.

Today, Tinubu can only count on the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode and Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who are still his staunch loyalists.

But those daring him may be mistaken. Allied may be deserting him, but Tinubu is a dogged fighter. If there is someone who fights and runs away only to come back and fight another day, that person is Tinubu. He ran those who dared him in the past out of town. With Lagos firmly under his grips, there is no cause for alarm. After all, Lagos is worth more than thirty states put together! Bola Ahmed Tinubu was born on the 29 of March 1952. He was elected senator for the Lagos West constituency in 1993 just before the military takeover in November, 1993.

After the return to democracy, he was elected governor of Lagos State, holding office from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He holds the chieftaincy titles of Asiwaju of Lagos and the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom, among others. He has been described as “probably the most powerful politician in Nigeria”.

Tinubu attended St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos and Children’s Home School in Ibadan. He went to the United States in 1975, where he studied at the Chicago State University. He graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and worked for some American companies before returning to Nigeria in 1983 to join Mobil Oil Nigeria.

His political career began in 1992, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party in the faction of the Peoples Front led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and he was elected to the Nigerian Senate representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived 3rd republic.

After the results of the 12 June 1993 presidential elections were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the prodemocracy National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which mobilised support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of the 12 June presidential election results. He went into exile in 1994 and returned to the country in 1998 after the death of military dictator Sani Abacha, following the lifting of ban on politics.

In the run-up to the 1999 elections, Tinubu won the Alliance for Democracy (AD) primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial elections. In April 1999, he stood for the position of Executive Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket and was elected. During his eight year period of office, he made large investments in education in the state. He also initiated new road construction, required to meet the needs of the fast-growing population of the state. Tinubu won his re-election to office as governor in April 2003. All other states under the control of the AD in the South West fell to the PDP political machine.

He was involved in a struggle with the federal government over whether Lagos State had the right to create new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to meet the needs of its large population. The controversy led to the federal government withholding funds meant for local councils in the state. Tinubu’s tenure as Lagos State governor ended on 29 May 2007 when his chief of staff, Babatunde Fashola succeeded him.

In December 2009 there were reports that Fashola and Tinubu had fallen out over the issue of whether Fashola should run for re-election in 2011, with Tinubu said to be supporting the then Commissioner for Environment, Muiz Banire. (Today Banire has also fallen out of favour). Tinubu later bowed to pressure and supported Fashola’s candidature which had been adjudged by the public as good.

Fashola later succumbed. Interestingly, there appears to be a deliberate effort in certain quarters to create the impression that Tinubu had fallen out of favour with the president.

Earlier in the year when he travelled to London to visit the president, mischief makers went to town to claim that the visit did not take place. Recently, the social media was awash with another lie that Tinubu went to London to visit Buhari but was not allowed to see the president. Some even said his pass to gain access to the Presidential Villa had been withdrawn. Tinubu’s spokesman, Mr. Tunde Rahman dismissed these unsubstantiated claims, saying they were the handwork of idle people.

Rahman said: “There is nothing like that. Nothing can be farther from the truth. When Asiwaju Tinubu and Baba Akande were in London and sought to see the President, it was an open secret that they not only saw him, they had audience with him for about an hour. And photographs of the visit were international headlines.”

 

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