All those who had ever been in doubt or even crisis over the ambitions of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu towards the 2023 General Elections must have now been sufficiently salvaged. The revelation, by him, that he has informed President Muhammadu Buhari during his last visit to the Presidential Villa that he has made up his mind to contest for the presidency must have put an end to all speculations about his plans.
It was a revelation that gave a lot of people a kind of clear idea about the Tinubu’s estimation of himself, which will further enrich the varying analyses and projections relating to the project. Having already crowned himself as a kingmaker who has however now resolved to become the king, the former Lagos State Governor has expressed absolute confidence that his time and turn have come.
Perhaps, he did not need to mention that his biggest ambition is to be the next Nigeria’s President because it is something that has already been known. Even without saying it as unequivocally as he has done now, Tinubu has never hidden his strong desire to get there as his attitudes, especially from 2011 when the proposal for merger of the opposition political parties in order to wrestle power away from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) surfaced, have continued to progressively point to that direction.
Although in 2014, upon the conclusion of the merger that produced the All Progressives Congress (APC), he masterminded the nomination of Buhari from the North as its presidential candidate and subsequently deployed his fully machinery towards the party’s success, it was widely believed that he had done all that in order to maximise chances of his eventual emergence as the president. He literarily took possession of Buhari as the candidate and almost singlehandedly determined the nature and direction of the campaign.
In fact, apart from Buhari, it was Tinubu that appeared to be the most obvious face of the APC presidential campaign during the 2015 electioneering and he has, since then, been enjoying utmost prominence within and beyond the party. Overtime, he gradually edged out almost every other person in terms of visibility and exposure, consequent upon which most calculations, permutations and projections about the next president of the country on the platform of the APC have continued to revolve around him.
Tinubu is, to a lot of people, a political figure whose career is both long and heavy or influential enough to warrant intensive study, especially now that the search for the next Nigeria’s leader has duly begun. He is one of those well-acknowledged and highly respected pro-democracy activists who pressured the military to hand over power to civilians and therefore regarded as a weighty politician in the South-West.
His ability to broaden the frontiers of the Yoruba politics as a result of which the politicians in the South-West discarded their provincial mentality and connected with their counterparts in the other zones as evident in their active role towards the formation of the APC further brought out the strength of his will to register himself in the psyche of Nigerians. All these efforts are what have successfully raised the political profile of Tinubu to such a point that he is currently, in several circles within the APC, treated as the party’s unrivalled presidential candidate.
Although President Buhari might have lately exhibited some tendencies that are not particularly favourable to Tinubu’s ambition, a lot of his past pronouncements were a clear indication of a recognition of the tremendous political value of the former Lagos State Governor. A lot of such tendencies or attitudes have been justifiably considered as an endorsement of Tinubu for the contest for the presidency.
But even with the numerous identified factors that are favourable to him, there are still corresponding challenges that are a threat to his bid. There is the other side of each of the factors which is grave enough to cause terrible setback to the project thereby re-enforcing the argument that the presidency is not just there for Tinubu to pick as he and his backers probably think.
As a contender and therefore a political commodity that is already in the market for possible patronage, Tinubu must have to be subjected to thorough scrutiny by the public. Each group of the APC stakeholders at this stage and each segment of the country’s citizenry at the next one will, as a matter of utmost concern and patriotic duty, explore his personality with a view to establishing his relevance to their respective interests.
Even the current advocacy for the shift of power or, more precisely, the presidency from the North to particularly the South-West which is most pronounced now in the APC and which is Tinubu’s most favourable card, is being countered by all those who hold contrary view. Apart from those who have continued to describe power shift as an unconstitutional arrangement, there are also the agitators for such a shift to favour the South-East which, for a relatively long period, has not produced the country’s president. The declaration of intention by the former Governor and the current Governor of Abia and Ebonyi States, Orji Uzor Kalu and Dave Umahi, respectively, to seek APC’s nomination for the presidential contest is a huge challenge for Tinubu.
Although the Asiwaju was and is, perhaps, still the biggest political benefactor of the current Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the latter’s bid for the apex seat is something that the former must have to contend with. As a serving second biggest political office holder in the country and the very biggest from the South-West, Osinbajo possesses the necessary machinery for effective campaigns towards the realisation of his ambition and is therefore in a position to wreak havoc on the Tinubu Project.
Having now thrown his hat into the ring, the former Lagos State Governor will expectedly strive hard to tackle all the threats to his ambition by widening the scope of his contact with various stakeholders and affirming his readiness to serve the country. He will even, more fundamentally, make effort to prove his competence and capacity for delivery.
But at this time when the country is experiencing a lot of challenges that have continued to hinder national unity, peace, security, political stability and economic prosperity, he may find the work much harder than he has ever imagined. It is only when he is eventually able to convince people that even at almost 71 he is still strong and healthy enough to run the office of the president and, at the same time, assure Nigerians from other parts of the country than his own South-West that he will be adequately just and fair to them all that the prospects of his project may begin to appear.