Having now been thrown up as the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congreass (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has demonstrated his full capacity for even the most intensive struggle, tremendous influence in the party and total readiness for a large-scale interrogation of his personality and political career. Although it is a victory for which a huge price in terms of time, energy and resources was paid by him and also in the pursuit of which his characters were severely tested, it still remains a development that has validated his claims of a strong root in the Yoruba politics, superiority over his peers and magic power.
The man is the reigning most influential political pillar in the South-West whose styles have made him to appear as a modern version of the father of Yoruba politics, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. His pattern of politicking is widely regarded as an effort towards not only the reenforcement of the fundamental sentiments that formed the basis of Awolowo’s approach to political matters at all levels, but also the expansion of the frontiers of Yoruba politics.
Since early 1990s when he began to be noticeable on the political scene, Tinubu has, by a very popular judgment, come across as some kind of late Chief Awolowo’s successor who is, therefore, continuously expected to meet certain requirements in terms of the articulation, projection and promotion of the Yoruba interests. Tinubu’s participation in the struggle for the revalidation of the June 12 1993 Presidential Election which was annulled by the military government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida that conducted it served as a solid basis of his further political activism.
At a lot of points, especially from 1999 when he emerged as the Governor of Lagos State under the platform of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), he, just like late Awolowo did throughout his political journey or in fact entire life, personified the basic aspirations of the Yoruba in the twin areas of politics and governance. He fully utilized his position as the Governor of the most influencial state in the South-West, which guaranteed him tremendous visibility, to put himself forward as the strongest champion of the political concerns of that particular geopolitical zone.
Although a fellow South-Westerner, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was the country’s President during the period, the political image of Tinubu continuously towered. Even the takeover of the five out of the six Yoruba States by the PDP in 2003 , leaving only his own Lagos State under AD’s control, had not shaken Tinubu’s position in the zone.
In fact, the infiltration of the South-West by the PDP made possible mainly by the Obasanjo presidency was almost immediately and fully reversed as the AD, in 2007, recaptured the States it lost in 2003 as a result of the relentless determination of Tinubu and his likes to keep the region to themselves. As Yoruba political leaders, such elements stood out as the most dogged strugglers for the realization of the fundamental political objectives of the Yoruba race.
The roles they played in the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014 were all part of the scramble for a lot more space in the political arena. It was clearly a dissatisfaction over the quantity of their influence in the PDP and the government that it controlled, even with Obasanjo as the President, that informed their collective desire for a political structure that would yield the desired results for them.
They appeared to have recognized the fact early enough that the attainment of such a goal would be a possibility only if a lot of concession was made by the region, hence the need for a partnership that could guarantee the formation of a government in which the Yoruba would be the key or even biggest beneficiaries. The clear desperation and the resultant decision of the political elite in the South-West, both of which translated into the formation of the APC that is currently in power, were all part of a bid to tilt the scenario or power arrangement in their favour.
It was this willingness and the eventual ability of the present set of Yoruba political heavyweights led by Tinubu to align with some other political forces in particularly the North that has made them to appear as more strategic thinkers than the Awolowos who clung to their regional politics and consequently remained champions of narrow interests. It is to their credit therefore that they have evidently mainstreamed the Yoruba politics in such a way that it has satisfied the yearnings of the people in the region.
In other words, the support that the leaders and people of the South-West has continued to give to the APC is unarguably a political investment from which they have already reaped abundant benefits. Their assumption that a choice of Muhammadu Buhari would lead to the kind of electoral victory that would give their region clear edge in the various aspects of governance has turned out to be valid.
Moreover, the belief that the APC is mainly their own construction and which therefore is always available for them as a platform for contest for the presidency has been the basis of the heightened agitation for the shift of power to the South-West. The particular claim by Tinubu that he almost singlehandedly crowned Buhari as the president is a clear expression of both the belief in his own power to make leaders and a demand for a concession of the presidency to him as the leader of the APC in the region and, by extension, Nigeria.
However, some other interests groups within the APC have continued to argue that the Yorubas have already been adequately compensated for all their contributions to the party considering the several key development projects and juicy appointments that have been allocated to them. The demand for the presidency by the Tinubus is therefore widely dismissed as a show of ingratitude.
Much of the opposition that the former Lagos State Governor suffered in the course of his presidential aspiration came from those groups which still believe that the man, by whose grace, a lot of the Yoruba elements were appointed into the government has cornered for himself and his region more than what are legitimate for them. There is still the belief that neither the North from where President Buhari has hailed nor any other part of the country has so far got the kind of the advantages that have accrued to the South-West, thereby necessitating the conclusion that the emergence of the next president from there will amount to a further subjugation of the other sections of Nigeria.
It is this dilemma and such other ones as the ethnic and religious backgrounds of whomever he will select as his running mate and the clear formidability of Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, who is his major challenger, that are the possible odds against his success. The reality of the current situation suggests that even with the presidential ticket of the APC in his hands, Tinubu may find out that the challenges ahead are enormous enough to push the presidency further away from him.