By Sly Edaghese
Bola Tinubu! He goes by different names! It depends on your closeness to him! His close friends call him Asiwaju! His business associates call him BAT, an acronym for Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while his political admirers call him Leader! He was once a Senator and also the Governor of Lagos state but no one uses any of these anymore as his prefix! l guess those titles no longer befit his status! Officially the APC, with the role he single-handedly played in bringing Buhari to the seat of power, calls Tinubu the National leader of the party! The name is strange.
It does not exist anywhere in the party’s constitution! The President has never shown keen interest in addressing Tinubu with that title! If you ask me, the President sees the title as a threat to his presidency, because it makes Tinubu look higher than him in the APC hierarchy! But there’s nothing the President could do but to allow Tinubu to continue with the bloated title! Right from the inception of the Buhari’s regime, Tinubu has been carrying on as a king-in-waiting! I am sure that’s the path he signed with Buhari; that after Buhari’s term is over, the baton would be handed over to him! However the moment Buhari settled down at Aso Rock he began to act as if he had forgotten the promise he made to his benefactor! Lately, Bola Tinubu went to Aso Rock to formally inform the President of their mutual agreement! He told Buhari, I am ready to run for the presidency! The President shook his hands, smiled and wished him well even though, by his body chemistry, his choice for the top job was Professor (Pastor) Yemi Osinbajo, his loyal Vice.
Well for Bola Tinubu the die has been cast! He was later to say in his press conference following his meeting with the President, that “nothing stops a kingmaker from becoming a king!” Yes, he is right! And if you have not heard, Bola Tinubu had officially declared his intention to become the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria after Buhari! The question now is: where does this leave the amiable Vice President Yemi Osinbajo? The greater part of the north has been clamoring in their various meetings to have the Pastor Vice President take over from Buhari if they eventually should agree to cede the presidency to the south! They see him as one they could work with rather than the overly ambitious Tinubu! No one knows what’s in the mind of the former NEDECO man! Many issues are key in the minds of the northern political elites and they would want a President who would be sympathetic to their course!
Tinubu might be too stubborn and independently-minded to have the ears of anybody! He could come on board and torpedo everything the north held as sacrosanct. For example, who knows whether Tinubu would not come in and take side with the southern governors to proscribe the open grazing system so dear to most northern governors. Most of Buhari’s often divisive and lopsided appointment policies might not stand well with Tinubu and he might decide to erase them in favor of the south on coming to power! Resource Control is one dicey issue the north does not want Nigerians to talk about. Who knows, it might receive the favor of the Tinubu administration!
Anyway, these are all matters of conjecture! But then, did Tinubu think he could re-enact the Abiola’s miracle of running on an all-Muslim ticket and Nigerians would sit back and nod their heads for him? Or would the APC manufacture a northern Christian candidate overnight for him as a running mate? This is where Pastor Osinbajo’s candidacy will have an edge over Tinubu’s.
For one thing, it is easy to get a formidable Muslim in the north to run as Osinbajo’s running mate as against finding a notable Christian in the north to pair with Alhaji Bola Tinubu. But since Tinubu threw the hat into the ring last week, no one has heard a word from the Vice President, though those campaigning for him have said nothing has changed. Tinubu is Osinbajo’s benefactor and naturally, it’s going to be very difficult for Osinbajo to run against his boss for the APC’s ticket! Barely 24 hours after Tinubu signaled interest in becoming the next President, the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, raced to the President to also declare his intention to run for the office. Again the President shook his hands, smiled and wished him good luck! After that, another voice from the same southeast was heard telling the press that he would match Bola Tinubu grit for the APC’s ticket!
The voice was that of the former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu! Kalu said he would declare his interest once the APC zones the ticket to the South! That’s going to be a very long wait for one who truly wants to become the
Nigerian President! Anyway, the world is waiting to hear from Osinbajo. Is he going to bury his presidential ambition just because his former boss has declared his intention for the same office? History may not forgive Osinbajo if he jettisons his presidential ambitions just because of Bola Tinubu. Power consists of nothing without a demand!
I think this is the time for Osinbajo to come out like a man and pursue his own destiny. The presidency is very much at his reach! He can’t afford to let it slide for fear of competing against his boss! The party needs to sit down and deliberate over the candidate they want to present to the electorate if they intend to keep the presidency.
*Edaghese, who can reached via firstname.lastname@example.org, wrote from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.