For months now, everyone has had one question on their minds; will Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu declare his intentions to run for Presidency in 2023?
On 10th January 2022, the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos State All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr Seyi Oladejo said, ‘The long-awaited declaration has finally been made. As far as we are concerned, it was made at the appropriate time and Asiwaju Tinubu consulting with President Buhari to make his ambition known to him is a step in the right direction’.
The Jagaban made this declaration to President Muhammad Buhari during his visit to the Presidential Villa, Aso-Rock. Although this visit came after that of former President Goodluck Jonathan, amidst the rumor’s of him being a potential APC candidate for re-election in 2023, Tinubu’s declaration had a ripple effect. It was as if everyone else had been waiting for him to declare his intentions because as soon as he did, other contenders also made announcements, signaling the commencement of the presidential race. Since then, there have been mixed reactions even from members of the APC, which is quite normal. Of course, the opposition parties wouldn’t be pleased with his declaration as well as politicians in the APC who have also been eyeing the seat of presidency. Regardless of these reactions, the national leader of the APC continues to receive love and support from the masses and his supporters.
He made it known that it has been his lifelong ambition to become president and this may have sounded distasteful to those who think kingmakers shouldn’t become kings. However, no rule in the constitution states otherwise. This great man is a sagacious leader who has paid his price and dues, and is well suited to occupy the seat of the presidency. From his days as an activist with the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) to his 8-year tenure as the Governor of Lagos State in the Obasanjo-led government, and to his role in the creation of APC and many more, Tinubu certainly deserves the crown. It is no doubt that the foundation and blueprint upon which Lagos State is built were developed and pioneered by Asiwaju, despite the antics of the Obasanjo-led government. One can only imagine the numerous wonders he will achieve with Nigeria.
Tinubu knowingly or unknowingly has caused a political earthquake in the country with his declaration and this is expected as he has a profile that’s almost impossible to match in the political history of Nigeria.
Many have openly expressed their disapproval of his private declaration, claiming that he should have made the declaration public as he would be seeking power from the people and not the president. Declaring his intentions to the president first was the best approach a shrewd politician like Tinubu can take because he knows the rules of power and plays by them. He recognises the president’s power and position as the leader of the APC and he did what was right. Declaring his intentions to the president doesn’t mean he is seeking the latter’s endorsement but rather, following due process. Some critics have also called his declaration a ‘political miscalculation’, but I believe it is a masterstroke that was well calculated and delivered.
Besides his support group SWAGA’23 and the Lagos State APC, other groups and individuals have thrown their weights behind him, since his declaration. One of such groups is the Northern-based group, Incoming President Support Organisation (IPSO). The group has hailed Tinubu’s declaration as a move that finally clears needless doubts. It also claimed that the Jagaban has justified its voice and that of countless progressive Nigerians who have been persuading him to run for presidency. The group’s national coordinator, Alhaji Tajo Mohammad Nagoda has pledged on behalf of the group to mobilise 10 million votes for him in the North. They believe it is time for the northerners to pay Tinubu back for his full support of President Muhammad Buhari on his fourth and only successful attempt at becoming President. Two days after his declaration, a prayer rally was organised to officially kick start his presidential campaign—although he hasn’t declared his intentions to contest publicly. This is further proof that the people want him as their leader and president, come 2023.
The opposition is quite desperate to ruin his reputation as detractors are qualifying him as ‘too old’ to rule. They tend to forget that the America we all adore today is ruled by 79-year old Joe Biden. Let’s not forget that the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was 74 when he ran for president in 1983. What then is the fuss? Asiwaju will be 71 in 2023 and his age shouldn’t be a matter of contest. It is glaring that he has the experience and skill required to make Nigeria work, and since no other candidate is as qualified as he is, they are looking for ways to drag him down. They have stooped so low to the extent that they discuss everything he does. We hope it doesn’t get to the extent that they say his way of breathing is inappropriate.
Some of them will hope that the direct primaries method would not be used as the president is yet to assent the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill. Whether direct primaries are held or not, Bola Tinubu has the social wealth and network needed to clinch APC’s Presidential ticket, fair and square. This is not to deter other candidates from contesting because they all deserve a fairground. In fact, Jagaban is a true democrat who believes in letting the will of the people prevail, so he won’t oppose any means of the primary election the party decides to adopt. However, it won’t be too early to say that the people want him and are willing to support him from now till the day he becomes president in 2023.
As the equally long-awaited APC National Convention which is scheduled to hold in February inches closer, we can expect to see a clearer view of what the primary elections will look like. Sides will be taken and loyalty tents will be pitched, but we all know who will emerge victoriously. The kingmaker wants to be king and there is nothing wrong with that in any way. Let others who think they are more deserving step forward and throw their hats in the ring as well.
We waited for it and now we have it. Tinubu’s declaration is undoubtedly a masterstroke delivered on time, in the right way, and triggering the right reactions—all in his favour. The bar has been raised and we look forward to the 2023 general elections with excitement.