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2023: Tinubu’s lifelong ambition is imperiled

‘Even though he has said he would go back home if he lost, Asiwaju may be inclined to play other cards. He may choose to be the spoiler or try his luck on any other political platform… He should weigh his options carefully and make a choice that will not accelerate his political deceleration. He should remember that the ruling party may fight back if he ruffles feathers, and it may not be pretty. The APC also needs to treat Asiwaju with dignity’

WITH just a few days to the big night when the ruling All Progressives Congress – APC will decide its flagbearer for the 2023 Presidential election, it is time for the supporters of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to brace up for any outcome. The bitter reality on ground is that the political juggernaut may not win the APC Presidential ticket.

The odds stacked against him are higher than Mount Everest. The President, Muhammadu Buhari, clearly the most influential individual voice in the party, may not support #Asiwaju and his position is well known to those close to him. Most #APC Governors, the most influential bloc in the party, are reportedly still upset by the dismissive manner they felt Asiwaju treated their entreaties in the past when they needed his help. Referenced were the Akinwunmi Ambode and Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki episodes, among other issues.

The statutory delegates may be a huge factor but the amendments to Section 84(😎 that could allow such delegates to vote may not become an extant law until after the primaries, if the President ever assents the Electoral Amendment Act 2022 or the National Assembly decides to override the President’s veto after 30 days.

The elected delegates are also important but they have subjugated themselves to become what you may call “efulefu”. Collectively, they should be the determinants, but they have self-obliterated. They will dance to the tune of money or order from above. If it is money, perhaps no one in the Presidential race can match Asiwaju. Not only does he have the most intimidating war chest, but he also has a rich reservoir in the Lagos State officialdom, the richest state in Nigeria, and can mobilize for a backup at the snap of his fingers. But the power of the President in the Nigerian context is too overwhelming. If a President wants to go all in, he can pull a lot of triggers to have his way.

There are also other forces who may not back Asiwaju because of their exacting moral compass or other interests.

APC is leaning more in the direction of consensus candidacy. A few orchestrated or independent Presidential aspirants may step down for Asiwaju but it may not alter the party’s coronation agenda. It will be the 8th wonder of the world if he overcomes all the odds to emerge as his party’s flag bearer.

If anyone ever doubted Asiwaju as a man of steely resolve, the way he executed his Presidential ambition laid that to rest. Some even thought that with the rumored overwhelming evidence the #EFCC has against him, Asiwaju would be cowed to backout before the commencement of the political season. On his whistle-stop campaign tours, he was mocked about his health, there were occasional flip-flops and he was sometimes spotlighted over his hazy chronological order. Asiwaju braved it all and stayed the course.

He absorbed whatever devastating blow landed on him mostly with equanimity. When people expressed preference for a younger candidate, he appropriated the category and said he was a youth himself. When people pooh-poohed his health profile, he asked sarcastically if he was running to get the rigorous job of digging graves or laying blocks. When people questioned his past, he narrated to traditional rulers in a Southwest state his odyssey including his meritorious career at #Mobil Oil #Nigeria. When people brought up the bullion van issue to officially stamp him with the insignia of corruption, his previous response that he reserved the right to keep his money anyhow he chose rebounded. People never doubted that. They were more intrigued about the source.

Everybody Plays the Fool is a song popularized in the 70s by The Main Ingredient. Though it was a passion song, it has resonance with the realities of life. You cannot have your way always. People you bank on to actualize your political dream may legitimately also have their own political desires. There are moments you must play the fool to mend the bend or avoid quakes.

Excerpts of the lyrics say, “Okay, so your heart is broken, You sit around mopin’, Cryin’ and cryin’. You say you’re even thinkin’ about dyin’. Well, before you do anything rash, dig this. Everybody plays the fool sometimes. There’s no exception to the rule. Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel. I ain’t lyin’, everybody plays the fool. Falling in love is such an easy thing to do. And there’s no guarantee that the one you love, is gonna love you.”

Asiwaju is used to having his way in politics. He has bagged many victories including playing a prominent role in rallying the opposition party to sack an incumbent Nigerian President. As Lagos State Governor, he fought the powerful President Olusegun Obasanjo over constitutional matters and came out unscathed. He has been the singular power behind the throne in Lagos State for the past 22 years. He has also suffered some setbacks. He lost out in the quest to become Buhari’s running mate in 2015. Atiku Abubakar and many others said no to a Muslim-Muslim ticket in deference to Nigeria’s delicate ethno-religious equilibrium. In the last 7 years, he has seen his influence in the Southwest plateaued. In many of those instances, he was not the focal point. It was easier to concede and play along.

None of those setbacks can be compared with losing a ticket to actualize a lifelong ambition. Even though he has said he would go back home if he lost, Asiwaju may be inclined to play other cards. He may choose to be the spoiler or try his luck on any other political platform. Afterall, Engr Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso defected to the New Nigerian People’s Party (#NNPP) to contest for the Presidency. Asiwaju should weigh his options carefully and make a choice that will not accelerate his political deceleration. He should remember that the ruling party may fight back if he ruffles feathers, and it may not be pretty. The APC also needs to treat Asiwaju with dignity.

No political permutation is ever cast in stone until it is delivered. Asiwaju’s Presidential ambition is not over until it is so pronounced. On or before June 1st, it will be clear to the world who the APC has chosen to fly its flag in 2023 for the highest office in the land.

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