When you find a clever schemer like Bola Tinubu ‘s behaviour, you can hardly take his recent position on the presidential race of 2023 so seriously. Nearly every newspaper has gone with the rider who says that Tinubu has yet to make up his mind on whether or not he will run for president in 2023. Headlines such as “I haven’t decided on the presidential race of 2023” filled the vacuum and kept a host of his supporters in suspense.
Sure, like any Nigerian politician of his standing, Tinubu will most certainly have his eyes gazing at the country’s highest political office, but there are lots of hurdles to cross to win the seat. Although Tinubu may be considered exceptional in political maneuvering and enjoy a smooth role as a ‘godfather,’ it’s a whole different game, but when it comes to the presidency.
And this was what took place in the APC ‘s recently held National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, where a clear message was sent to the former governor of Lagos state. Much has been said about NEC’s decision to adopt President Muhammadu Buhari ‘s proposal, particularly about the dissolution of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and how it has some undertone on the presidential permutations of 2023 and the bearing on Tinubu ‘s aspiration.
Tinubu came out at the height of insinuations and, as usual, behaved as if all was going well and even distanced himself from any discussion about the presidential race in 2023. The chief of the APC dismissed speculations about his presidential aspiration, noting that, contrary to insinuations, he still has to decide whether or not to seek the top political office of the country in 2023.
“To those who have been actively bleating on how the President’s actions and the NEC meeting have ended my purported 2023 ambitions, I seek your pity,” Tinubu noted in a statement, noting that insinuations out there painted a “colourful epitaphs to the 2023 death of an alleged political ambition that is yet even born.” Pushing hard to sell his narrative, Tinubu said his focus at the moment was on health and economic challenges facing the country and not presidential race as being speculated.
But that is not the picture that the struggle for control in APC sent out and typical of Tinubu, as I observed in a previous article entitled “2023: Tinubu and his mind game”, the former Lagos state governor seems to have masterminded the art of manipulating people’s imperfect reasoning and emotions. That is why he believes he could sell a different narrative to the public when the truth is well obvious to any discerning observer.
On the surface, the dissolution of APC’s NWC was to put an end to the confusion on who should replace Adams Oshiomole after the Court of Appeal upheld his suspension as chairman, but looking deeper will reveal a lot, and that the source of wranglings in the ruling party is linked to positioning for 2023 presidential race. Oshiomole is a known long-time ally of Tinubu, and for the entire time that his leadership of the APC lasted, most of his actions and inactions were calculated to position the former Lagos state governor in firm control of the party’s structure.
Last month, those not favourable to Oshiomole’s style of leadership saw an opportunity when an appellate court pushed him aside and capitalized on the controversy that came after it, to do away with the entire NWC, most of whom are reportedly converted Tinubu loyalists. Evident enough was Bashir El-Rufai’s tweet shortly after NEC dissolved APC’s NWC that “No sole individual should ever be allowed to control a political party that takes itself seriously.”
Bashir is not just an APC member, but one of the sons of Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna state governor, who happens to be a fierce rival of Tinubu in APC, and confirmed what many have interpreted to be the outcome of the party’s NEC meeting. Though not specific, the Director-General of the forum of APC Governors, Salihu Lukman, said Buhari’s action at NEC shows he’s in charge and “freed himself from all the leaders who were the problem.”
The walls are closing in on Tinubu from every indication and he must get the message. The only question is whether he can maneuver his way again and take back control of APC, which he has strenuously disguised as the right thing for the party to do.
But by the outcome of the last NEC meeting, the tide is changing faster and Tinubu is losing ground in APC and his presidential aspiration is at a distressing point. As a politician, he can pretend to make his supporters believe that all is well but that resistance picture is nothing but imagination. However, the thing is that things can only get worse with the passage of days.
However, Tinubu had problems with his ambition, he did everything he could to deny that. The former Lagos state governor has lost a considerable amount of popularity from the look of things. The bloc in the progressive against him turned out to be bigger forces and as now, those bigger forces would weigh on who eventually gets the APC ticket. This has left him stranded and I’m sure he ‘d got the message already.
Written by Oke Umurhohwo, a Political Analyst and Strategist. He tweets via @OkeStalyf and can be reached via email@example.com