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Tinubu, The Indomitable Lion of Bourdillon

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Tinubu, The Indomitable Lion of Bourdillon

It is no longer news that the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu last week emerged the presidential candidate of the party, what is however news to many, is that despite all the landmines deployed against, he still surmounted them to attain victory, confirming the claim by his supporters that he was the most prepared APC’s presidential aspirant.

At the party’s presidential primary, which started last Tuesday and was rounded off on Wednesday, Tinubu garnered 1,271 votes to clinch the party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 general election.

The Chairman of the Convention Election Management Committee, Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, at the Eagle Square,  Abuja, announced that a former Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, came a distant second with 316 votes. According to the results, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo got 235 votes; a former Minister of State for Education, Dr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, one vote; Senator Rochas Okorocha and Pastor Tunde Bakare got zero vote each.

Tinubu’s road to victory was indeed tortuous as it was laden with landmines and pitfalls by the leadership of his party, who was determined to stop him. Many of his political enemies who formed a strange alliance with him overnight to sack the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) knew from the beginning that he has a “lifelong ambition” to become the President of Nigeria. They were determined to stop him.

Tinubu’s aspiration to be the running mate of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 was frustrated by this group on the grounds that Muslim-Muslim ticket would not be acceptable by Nigerians. The Jagaban had wanted to use the vice presidential platform to inch closer to the presidency. The former Lagos State governor swallowed this bitter pill but remained undaunted.

He nominated Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with the hope that the Professor of Law and pastor did not have political ambition and would not challenge him in any presidential contest. But Osinbajo not only challenged him, he wrestled him to a standstill even when his other erstwhile political associates such as Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who were also believed to have declared interest to stop Tinubu, stepped down for him at the venue of the presidential primary.

These aspirants were believed to have chickened out after reading the handwriting on the wall that the indomitable Tinubu would carry the day.

Before the primary, a section of the Presidency and a faction of the APC had made spirited attempts to frustrate his aspiration to fly the party’s presidential ticket. Some of the anti-Tinubu plots were the sacking of the Adams Oshiomhole-led leadership of the party in a controversial virtual meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC), held in June 2020 and the setting up of  a caretaker committee led by the Yobe State Governor, Mai-Mala Buni; the repeated extension of the tenure of the caretaker committee; and the shifting of the National Convention of the party several times.

Other anti-Tinubu strategies included: The failed attempts to draft former President Goodluck Jonathan and the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, into the presidential race; the successful drafting of the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan into the race; the adoption of Tinubu’s non-political associate and  former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, as the consensus National Chairman of the party; and the establishment of nine guidelines imposed on the APC aspirants in the form of code of conduct, including the signing of voluntary withdrawal form.

The repeated extension of the sale of APC presidential forms and the shifting of the screening of presidential candidates were also believed to have been designed to buy time to scheme Tinubu out of the race. Tinubu survived all these plots.

The former Governor of Lagos State, however, played into the hands of his enemies when he made what were considered as disparaging remarks against President Muhammadu Buhari and Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The National Chairman of the party, Adamu threatened that the party would sanction him, stressing that he should blame himself if his insults on Buhari cost him his ambition. Even when many of his supporters and loyalists had lost hope, his nationwide formidable political structure still saved him from further humiliation over his Abeokuta comments. One of Tinubu’s northern supporters, who was disappointed with his outbursts had however, insisted that it was too late for the outbursts to stop his imminent victory.

When all the plots against Tinubu failed, Adamu hurriedly announced Lawan as the consensus presidential candidate of the party, stressing that the party reached the decision in consultation with President Buhari. But following the backlash that greeted the announcement, the Presidency denied Adamu’s claim that Buhari had anointed Lawan. Seven members of the National Working Committee of the party also disowned Adamu, insisting that Lawan was his personal candidate and not the consensus candidate of the party.

Adamu’s plot to impose Lawan failed woefully when 11 northern governors elected on the platform of the party insisted on power shift to the South despite the national chairman’s endorsement of Lawan, from the North-east, as the party’s consensus candidate. With the strong position of the northern governors, Adamu had no choice than to allow for a competitive primary election where Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom emerged victorious.

When Tinubu declared interest, he was confident that no one would challenge him from the South-west. He believed that key political stakeholders in the party from the zone owe their success in politics to him. He was confident when he went to President Buhari to notify him of his lifelong ambition. But his erstwhile political allies in the South-west proved him wrong by coming out en masse to challenge him.

In his victory speech, he promised that his opponents would have nothing to fear. But those who are not comfortable with his political style say he is vengeful. So, Nigerians will only believe that he has forgiven those who caused him so much pain after the 2023 presidential election.

In any case, Tinubu has demonstrated once more that he is indeed, a political strategist, dogged fighter and indomitable political lion. Political analysts believe that only the indomitable Lion of Bourdillion can survive all these plots and throw jabs at a sitting president and still win the ruling party’s presidential primary few days later. That was a record-breaking feat.


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