Abandoned by stakeholders, Tinubu seeks support outside APC

Tunde Joshua, Politics Editor

  • meetings with Obasanjo, Wike, Jonathan, self-help strategy
  • PDP taunts Tinubu/ Shettima over visit to Jonathan
  • failure of Jonathan’s government does not mean he can’t offer good advice says Gov Sule
Obliviously abandoned by critical stakeholders in his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has decided to seek help outside the party to actualize his presidential bid.

His recent meetings with chieftains of other political parties as well as elder statesmen such as former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan may not be dissociated from such move to shore up support ahead of the 2023 polls.

Though, Tinubu after his emergence as APC candidate has been visiting other aspirants who contested the party’s presidential ticket with him, rallying their support for him and the party, but The Trumpet authoritatively gathered that his relationship with many of the former aspirants has been cold.

Tinubu has been going about his consultation meetings with his lieutenants and some of the APC governors without the active involvement of the ex-aspirants who seems to be leaders of the party in their respective states.

This obvious signal, no doubt, might have necessitated an attempt by observant stakeholders to nudge President Muhammadu Buhari to facilitate a fence-mending meeting between Tinubu and the rest.

But, the reconciliation meeting scheduled to hold in Abuja on Wednesday, August 31, suffered a major setback as former presidential aspirants refuses to show up.

The meeting of the 21 former presidential aspirants could not hold despite a series of pre-event publicity.

Expected at the meeting among others were; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; former Science and Technology Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu; former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.

The major agenda for the meeting was for the former aspirants to come up with strategies that would guarantee the success of the candidate, Bola Tinubu in the 2023 election

Although no official reason was given, The Trumpet gathered that APC strategic meeting was postponed indefinitely. Letter of notification for postponement written by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka simply said “A new date for the meeting will be communicated soon.”

The non-responsive attitude and the earlier non-committal signals from the other aspirants might have forced Tinubu to think of building alliances with other politicians beyond APC to shore up support in seemingly politically weak areas.

However, it was gathered that the APC candidate has not recorded expected results from his consultations.

His visit to former president Obasanjo in Abeokuta a few weeks ago was more of a camaraderie as no concrete agreement could be said to have been reached with the elder statesman.

An inside source revealed that the visit was more of a plea for leniency than soliciting for support.

South West leaders of APC notably among which was the former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba who went with him to Abeokuta were said to have gone to appeal to Obasanjo not to castigate Tinubu publicly as such may demarket the candidate not only in his base but nationwide.

Past reference was made of the continuous aspersion by the former president on the presidential aspiration of his former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.

“An aspersion on Tinubu coming from Baba Obasanjo will do more damage. If he is not going to support Tinubu as we all know, he should not run him down. I think that was the purpose of the Abeokuta visit”, said the source.

When reminded of Obasanjo’s declaration a few days ago in Minna that he has no preference among the presidential candidates, the source said Obasanjo cannot be trusted with such claim.

He said “Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike has given Nigerians a clue why they cannot believe Baba Obasanjo. Wike during the week said he does not fear former leaders who want to dictate to him whom to support. Even the deaf will know he was referring to Obasanjo by saying he do not care if they send CIA after him.

“Wike in his characteristic manner has revealed the so called secret meeting held in London in which Obasanjo might be soliciting his support for Peter Obi of the Labour Party.

“So, we know he is not going to support Tinubu but leaders of the party in Yorubaland thought that as a Yoruba elder he should be begged if need be, not to talk negatively about Tinubu or campaign against him.”

Also, The Trumpet gathered that the London parley between Tinubu and Wike hit the rock because both could not agree on certain conditions laid bare on the negotiation table.

Tinubu needed Wike’s assistance due to his influence in the South-South to secure at least the required minimum 25 percent votes in the geopolitical zone because he could not count on the support of ex-aspirant, Rotimi Amaechi.

The former Transport minister who was a past governor of Rivers State could be said to have lost the grip of the oil-rich state to Wike.

Wike, it was learnt had demanded that part of the conditions to work for Tinubu at the February 25, 2023, presidential election is that Tinubu and the APC will not influence outcomes of results of governorship and State Assembly elections in states of interest like Rivers, Abia, Enugu and Oyo.

Recall that his allies’ governors of Abia, Enugu and Oyo have different stakes in the coming election in their respective states.

Seyi Makinde is seeking reelection in Oyo, while both Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi are contesting senatorial elections in Abia and Enugu respectively.

The demand, it was learnt did not go down with Tinubu while Wike on the other hand refuse to give a final word on supporting Tinubu’s ambition if a firm commitment could not be extracted from the APC presidential candidate.

On the other hand, Tinubu in a desperate move to railroad his way to the South-South decided to approach former president Goodluck Jonathan, knowing fully he cannot trust his talk with Wike.

Jonathan in recent times could be said to have attained the elder statesman status as he had distanced himself even from activities of the Peoples Democratic Party, which may limit whatever assistance Tinubu might be seeking from him.

But the PDP still lay claim to Jonathan as its prized jewel who was rejected at the polls in 2015 due to strong campaign of calumny and demonization by the pro-Buhari’s APC stalwarts, including Tinubu.

Read Also: Ebonyi swears in new council chairmen, SSAs, advisory council

Little wonder the party taunted and mocked Tinubu and Shettima for visiting the former president and also seized the occasion of the 70th birthday event organized for Bishop Mathew Kukah to pose for photographs with the ‘rejected’ Jonathan.

In a statement, Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the PDP derided the APC presidential candidate, his running mate, Sen. Kashim Shettima and other APC leaders for “shamelessly orchestrated a photo opportunity with the distinguished and successful former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).”

The party described the move as disgraceful and hypocritical attempt by Tinubu and other APC leaders to distance themselves from President Muhammadu Buhari over the abysmal failure of the Buhari-led administration in which they are principal actors and a desperate design to whitewash their battered public image.

“This is a patriotic Nigerian leader whose PDP-led purposeful and successful government the APC leaders viciously harassed, constantly insulted, labelled, sabotaged and discredited for their selfish power-grabbing enterprise.

“Nigerians have not forgotten how Asiwaju Tinubu callously vilified and pilloried Dr Jonathan, spewed hate against his administration and reportedly funded a near riotous protest which was inflamed by concocted economic lies, propaganda and false statistics to discredit the Jonathan-led PDP administration.

“Nigerians can equally recall how Sen. Shettima as governor of Borno State sabotaged and frustrated the Jonathan’s administration in its effort to curb insecurity in Borno State.

“Records still have it on how the APC Vice Presidential candidate as governor of Borno State failed to act on a security report and directive to close schools in remote parts of Borno State and relocate students to the more secure capital of Maiduguri to write their GCE examinations; thus creating the opening for the cruel abduction of school girls in Chibok, Borno State.

“Nigerian will also note how the then Governor Shettima abdicated his duty as chief security officer and reportedly withheld vital security information in preference to non-state actors including terrorist elements, thereby frustrating the timely rescue of the abducted Chibok girls.

“It can also be recalled that after the infamous abduction, the principal of the school was subsequently appointed as a commissioner in Borno State by the then Governor Shettima; a development many considered as a compensation for her alleged role in the abduction.

“It is therefore ironic that these same APC leaders who also spent the last seven years insulting and harassing Dr Jonathan now shamelessly arranged a visit and photo opportunity in an attempt to launder their image and hoodwink Nigerians from the atrocities and monumental evil they brought to our country,” the statement read in part.

Nasarawa State Governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, however, dismissed the claim by the PDP as a sign of political ignorance.

Speaking on Channels Television programme ‘Politics Today’ via zoom Thursday evening, he said there is nothing wrong with Tinubu visiting Jonathan or anyone on different political platforms.

He said political mud-slinging is done elsewhere in modern democracy and that castigating Jonathan’s administration ahead of the 2015 election does not mean the former president does not have ideas that he can offer an aspiring president.

According to him, the failure of Jonathan’s government does not mean the former president has nothing to offer Tinubu because he has seen it all, he has been there before and he can offer useful advice.

Gov. Sule said Jonathan and Obasanjo have seen it all as former presidents, they know certain problems that Nigeria faces as a nation and Tinubu being a fast learner is seeking their opinions by gathering experience to tackle the nation’s challenges when elected next year.

He said other presidential candidates have been visiting these elder statesmen such as former military presidents, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar.

“Why then would a visit by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu be different? Why are they persecuting him for visiting Jonathan? It is just political,” he concluded.

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