2023: Tension As Osinbajo, Tinubu Justle For Governors’ Nod
By Sam Egburonu Editor
Since the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, finally declared ambition to contest for the 2023 presidential ticket of All Progressive Congress (APC), close observers of the Southwest politics have expressed grave concern.
This, NewsOrient learnt, is because the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has earlier declared interest to vie for the same ticket and insiders to the political family, headed by Tinubu, cannot contemplate the result of a possible clash between Tinubu and Osinbajo.
Dr Gbenga Taiwo, a political analyst in Ogun State, said of the development, “It is a tricky situation. Anyone that understands the politics of Southwest will not be hasty to say, on record, what the outcome of this development would likely be or how it would likely play out. This is so, notwithstanding that everybody can imagine the possible outcome. All I can say for now is that, if Vice President Osinbajo has genuine backing of the powers that be in Abuja to enter into the 2023 race on the platform of APC against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, then, such a contest could be volatile in the Southwest. One can predict that after the contest between the two leaders in the Southwest for APC presidential ticket, the politics of Southwest Nigeria may never remain the same. So much is at stake here.”
But NewsOrient reports that before the feared contest in the Southwest, the two leaders decided to fight over governor’s endorsement.
So far, it has been intriguing.
We observed that it was Osinbajo that kicked off the ball last Sunday night, shortly after his declaration of interest, when he held a crucial meeting with APC governors, at his Akinola Aguda residence at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Informed reports confirmed that Prof Osinbajo used the opportunity to formally tell the governors of his interest in the 2023 Presidential Election.
He was also quoted as explaining to the state Chief Executives on the platform of APC that he wants to contest for their party’s presidential ticket and would want their endorsement or support.
The governors Osinbajo met with that Sunday night included Governors Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Babagana Umara Zulum (Borno) and Babajide Sanwoolu (Lagos).
Considering his prompt response, it has become clear that Asiwaju Tinubu did not find the move funny as he did not waste any time before holding a similar meeting with the same APC governors.
It is a game of wits that has already generated hard questions and new resolutions within some power blocs in the Southwest, NewsOrient was told by a top official from the zone.
It would be recalled that Tinubu’s meeting with the APC governors held on Monday, merely hours after their meeting with Osinbajo.
Tinubu had told reporters on Monday in Abuja shortly after meeting with the governors that the meeting was to seek APC governors support and collaboration to realise his ambition of succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
His meeting with the governors was held at the Kebbi State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja.
In attendance at the meeting with Tinubu was Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF).
Others were Governors Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Mohammed Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).
There were also Governors Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara), Simon Bako Lalong (Plateau), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
Speaking after the parley, Tinubu said: “My mission here is to seek collaboration, support and encouragement of my party, the APC, for my ambition to become the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as replacement for President Muhammadu Buhari after his tenure.”
Most Nigerians who spoke to NewsOrient on the development and the current moves made by the two top APC leaders said their desperate quests for APC governors’ endorsement ahead of the party’s ticket is a prelude to the great battle ahead.
“The battle for APC ticket by Vice President Osinbajo and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is something many of us in the Southwest never imagined would be possible. No, not many people here saw it coming. But now that it has been proved to be the reality, the development actually leaves an ominous feeling.
“I, for one, fear for the fate of the Southwest in the politics of 2023 Presidential Election,” says Segun Olakunle, a civil engineer in Lagos.
Olakunle, a grassroots leader, expressed fear that “supporters of Asiwaju Tinubu and Vice President Osinbajo may be carried away by intoxication that draws from desperate quest for power that they may end up overheating the polity here in the Southwest,” he said.
As if responding to the fear of possible misunderstanding, Governor Bagudu, speaking at the occasion when Tinubu met with the governors in Abuja, assured that the aspiration of the two APC leaders from Southwest will not cause any form of division within the ranks of the governors.
He said: “For us, it is a hallmark of success that people are showing interest, but at the end of the day and because they are leaders of the party, they will always put the party’s interest at heart.
“We always encourage our party to go for the best. Don’t forget that in the 2015 presidential election primary, President Buhari contested against several others and it was a beautiful contest. There is nothing wrong. Members of the party always want to see consensus if it is possible but we are a democratic party.
“In our last convention, we had consensus in some of the offices and election in some others. There is always misrepresentation of consensus as if people are being snowballed into positions they would rather not take. APC has done well as a party, President Buhari has led the party ably well and we believe strongly that come 2023, Nigerians will see another President of the APC extraction”.
The governor’s assurance notwithstanding, Engr Olakunle told NewsOrient that tension has already risen within the political family and the entire Southwest. “Many are afraid and worried. The fear is that the development will not only bring about obvious division in Tinubu’s political family and in the Southwest political family as a whole but that if it is not carefully managed, it may get out of hand.”
NewsOrient reports that the fear or tension caused by the declaration of the presidential ambition of Prof. Osinbajo after that of Tinubu may have been informed by the belief that Vice President Osinbajo, being a member of Tinubu’s political family, cannot contest against Tinubu, the leader of the political family, except he, Osinbajo, has decided to leave the political family since, according to them, Tinubu is not ready to willingly sacrifice 2023 Presidency for anyone.
This being the case, it will only take a political battle and victory against Tinubu to take the 2023 APC presidential ticket from him.
On the other hand, sources sympathetic to Osinbajo’s presidency in 2023 insist it would be in the interest of APC to allow “genuine democratic contest for the APC ticket if the party hopes to field a candidate that Nigerians will vote for.
“Prof. Osinbajo is one of such candidates today. So, it would be foolhardy on the part of APC if they allow sentiment of a small political family in the Southwest stop it from giving it’s best aspirants a chance to contest.”
If these conjectures being expounded by insiders and stakeholders are true, party members and many other interested Nigerians are apprehensive of the likely impact of the development on 2023 political campaigns and on the general election itself.
They are therefore calling for caution on all parties as the 2023 political game garner’s momentum