13 years after leaving office as Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu prepares to join the race for the 2023 presidency, as pressure mounts on him to run. In this report, City People reveals why Tinubu can’t refuse to run, come 2023.
In the next few days, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will be celebrating his birthday and all his friends and party faithfuls will gather in Abuja and Lagos to celebrate this political icon, who has dominated the political landscape like a colossus since the inception of the present democratic dispensation in 1999.
As they gather, the topic of discussion in hushed tones will revolve round the issue of what next for Asiwaju; the National Leader of the APC. Already, it is open knowledge that Asiwaju is running for the presidency, on account of the intense pressure being put on him to run. He is only waiting for the appropriate time to declare. The reason many of those around him want him to run is because they feel he is one of the most experienced and seasoned politicians in the country right now. Not only that. The calculation is that after Pres. Buhari completes his term in 2023, the presidency is most likely to come to the South-West and if it does, Tinubu will be the best choice for the slot. He is also perceived to be the most influential politician in the APC to run for the office. He is also believed to be one candidate who the present President will feel comfortable with since he is one of those who helped Buhari to come to power in 2015.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s ambition ordinarily should have been an easy one, since Tinubu was one of the key men who ensured Buhari’s victory at the polls in 2015. Recall that Asiwaju was one of those who believed that if you backed Buhari’s proverbial 19 million votes mainly from the North with votes from South West, South-East and South-South, the Katsina-born General would defeat whoever contested against him.
The permutation worked. So, ordinarily, 2023 ought to have been payback time for Buhari. But politics is not played that way. Anything can happen. There are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. So, the Asiwaju’s camp is not leaving anything to chance.
There are those who feel that Buhari can change his mind at any time. Already, he has come out to say that he has no preferred candidate. He says: “May the best candidate win”. Not only that. The fact that Buhari is not your kind of seasoned politician who can mobilise votes for Asiwaju has been noted as a possible weakness. So, that has made Tinubu not to bank on him to deliver votes for him. While not discountenancing Buhari camp’s votes, he also has his Plan B. One of it is not to depend on Buhari.
The President himself has not hidden the fact that he is not ready to work for anybody. All he wants to do is to complete his term and move on. The fact that one of the President’s key men is also running is one of the hurdles Tinubu has to scale.
There is a general belief that President Buhari is most likely to support his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari for the race, as he has been known to support his loyalists over the years. An insider told City People that Asiwaju has taken all of these into consideration and has schemed his master plan to accommodate all these tendencies. Is Asiwaju depending on Buhari to help him to power? No, says the source. Does Asiwaju think the race would be easy and swift? No, says the source. Recall Asiwaju’s favourite phrase that Power is not served Alacate. You must always fight for it. Don’t forget that Asiwaju is a master strategist, who constantly weighs his options. He knows the game of politics is like a football match you can never say which way the game will go until the referee blows the final whistle. Insiders in Tinubu’s camp say he is not relying on Buhari. But he has a deal with the President, which is if you won’t support me, don’t work against me. Some call it a Gentleman’s agreement.
The members of Asiwaju’s team are also not relying on only the APC as the platform to use to actualise the project. Their mindset is simple. Yes, the APC is a good vehicle to actualise the agenda if things go according to plan. But if some mischievous elements decide to playout Asiwaju, he is most likely to play a new joker he is keeping close to his chest. The way things are playing out now, APC is fast becoming a weak platform, what with all the in-fighting and crises. APC, as it is now, is in tatters. If not carefully handled, APC might disintegrate towards 2023 because of the many crises the party will be facing. The National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole is also in trouble. So, the Asiwaju’s group has factored all these into their game plan.
That is vintage Asiwaju. For every plan he comes up with, there is always Plan B, C and D. As it is, a lot of underground work is ongoing to win more support for Asiwaju across the country. The South-West is secured for him. And the South-East is no problem. So, also the South-South. He has also made great in-roads into the North. He has loyal friends in the North. He is seriously working on the 3 K States of Kano, Kaduna & Katsina. He has great allies in those states. The general belief is that for anyone to win the Presidential election, the 3 K States are vital.
An insider has revealed that if Politics is a game of numbers, Asiwaju will garner the required numbers. In all of these, he has kept a firm grip of the South- West. He has huge loyalists in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo. He has been closing ranks with his political enemies in this zone. His hold on Lagos remains firm.
What will also help him is his mastery of the political terrain. He also has a War Chest that is huge. He is one politician who can command huge funding for such a megaproject. What will also help Asiwaju is the huge followership he has built. He has made so many politicians and they are all prepared to work for him. As things stand right now, Tinubu is the candidate to beat. He also has a robust profile to back up his brand.
Let’s tell you more about him. Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu was elected Senator for the Lagos West Constituency in Lagos State, Nigeria in 1993. The election was prior to a military take-over in December 1993.
After the return to democracy, he was elected Governor of Lagos State, holding office from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He is a member of the All Progressives Congress Party; he also holds the titles: Asiwaju of Lagos and Jagaban of the Borgu Kingdom in Niger State, Nigeria. He has been routinely referred to as the National Leader of the APC during the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. His mother, Chief Abibatu Mogaji, was a trader, who eventually became the Iyaloja of Lagos.
He attended St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos and Children’s Home School in Ibadan, South West of Nigeria. Tinubu then went to the United States in 1975, where he studied first at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, Illinois, and then at Chicago State University. He graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. Tinubu worked for the American companies Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, Haskins, & Sells, and GTE Services Corporation. After returning to Nigeria in 1983, Bola Tinubu joined Mobil Oil Nigeria, and later became an executive of the company.
His political career began in 1992, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) where he was a member, of a faction of the Peoples Front led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and made up of other politicians such as Dapo Sarumi, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Magaji Abdullahi and Yomi Edu. He was elected to the Nigerian Senate, representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic.
After the result of the 12 June, 1993 presidential election was annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition, (NADECO) a group which mobilised support for the restoration of democracy and revalidation of the result of the 12th of June. 1999 poll. He went into exile in 1994 and returned to the country in 1998 after the death of the military dictator, General Sani Abacha, which ushered in a transition programme to civilian rule. In the run-up to the 1999 elections, Bola Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He won the ADs primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial election in competition with Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing. In January 1999, he stood as a candidate for the Governorship of Lagos State on the AD’s ticket and was elected.
When he assumed office in May 1999, Bola Ahmed Tinubu promised 10,000 housing units for the poor. During the 8-year period of his being in office, he made large investments in education in the state. He also initiated new roads construction, required to meet the needs of the fast-growing population of the state. Tinubu, alongside a new deputy governor, Femi Pedro, won re-election as governor in April 2003. All other states in the South West fell to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in those elections.
He was involved in a struggle with the Federal government over whether Lagos State had the right to create new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to meet the needs of its large population. The controversy led to the Federal government seizing funds meant for local councils in the state. Tinubu’s tenure in Lagos State Governor ended on 29 May 2007, when Babatunde Fashola of the Action Congress took office. Fashola had been Chief of Staff to Tinubu.
Following the victory of the People’s Democratic Party in the April 2007 elections, Bola Tinubu was active in negotiations to bring together the fragmented opposition parties into a “mega-party” capable of challenging the PDP in 2011.
In July 2009, he called for the implementation of electoral reforms spelt out in the Uwais report to ensure that the 2011 elections would be as free and fair as the elections of 1993 had been. Tinubu is married to Oluremi, the current senator, representing Lagos Central. His mother, Chief Abibatu Mogaji, died on 15 June 2014 at the age of 96. He is a Muslim.