•What No One Will Tell You
2023 presidential election is still over 700 days away, but fingers are already pointing towards the fit, buoyant and fortunate of the aspiring lot in both All Progressive Congress, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. This lot includes several notable individuals, some of which have already tried their hands at grasping the mantle, only to have it slip past greasy palms. Of all those being primed to star as the lead protagonist in the show, none has experienced more traction than APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Since 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, pundits have been casting sidelong glances at Tinubu. It, apparently, seemed good to them to consider him the most practical follow-up to Buhari’s administration. Whether this deduction is in hope or in horror remains a buttoned-down mystery. As does Tinubu’s intentions, truth be told.
There is however the narrative that northerners don’t renege power so easily once it is gotten. This informs the doubting political spectators to believe that power will ever shift to the south when there is a strong caucus of interest in the north.
Since the beginning of the fourth republic, Nigeria’s elections have been determined by three major states in the north which have in the last 20 years polled the highest votes in Nigeria. The state includes Katsina, Kano and Kaduna, they are otherwise known as the 3 K states.
In the last five presidential elections, winners of these three key states have eventually won the elections; Obasanjo clinched the 3 states and a few from the north-central to win in 1999 and 2003, Yar’Adua, won in Kano, and Kaduna with a few winning in the south, Goodluck Jonathan also got the support of these states except for Katsina in 2011.
Buhari got the 3 states in 2015 and 2019 to become a two-term civilian president. The question of how Asiwaju will clinch these three states in 2023 amid the interest of the northern cabal has become the subject matter of pundits to analyse.
About 6 months ago, the chances of Asiwaju becoming a preferred candidate was bleak, considering the indices of events that threatened his popularity. There was the EndSARS protest, the breakings into Lagos warehouse and the eventual Lekki shootings that attracted international media. All these negative events were pointed to Asiwaju as either the sponsor or victim; where both are of a negative outcome.
INEC record shows that Lagos State leads with 5.5 million (5,531389) PVCs collected. It is followed by Kano which has 4.7 million (4,696,747) PVCs collected.
Lagos and Kano are followed by Kaduna, Katsina and Rivers State respectively. Kaduna has 3.6 million (3,648,831) PVCs collected, Katsina has 3.2 million (3,187,988) PVCs collected while Rivers has 2.83 million PVCs collected.
During elections, only 20 percent of registered voters usually come out to vote in most states in the south, while almost all the voters usually storm the polling booth in the northern region, especially in Kano, Katsina and Kaduna.
About a year go Asiwaju’s relationship with stakeholders and leaders of these states cannot be regarded as cordial. But as of today, the Jagaban has proven all pundits wrong. He has proven that his political style cannot be determined by books or references. He has proven to be a phenomenon on his own.
He has been able to get the grip of 70 per cent of those three states within 6 months. One may ask how he did it.
Asiwaju, as against the prediction of some political spectators, initiated and built a strong relationship with the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje. The relationship between both political giants can only be imagined. In the last 4 months, both politicians attended events together and have been spotted holding confidential meetings.
Ganduje has built a very strong supporter base for Asiwaju in Kano. He recently held a seminar in the state with thousands of youth leaders on the ground to show their unrelenting support for the Jagaban of the southwest. The beehive of supporters that showed up at the open ground in Kano is the largest any southerner can control in the north.
The icing on the cake is the recent colloquium held in honour of Tinubu’s 69th birthday which was held in Kano. The event was witnessed by all the bigwigs in the north, including the President himself, Mohammadu Buhari, who virtually chaired the event. While the world saw a huge turnout at the event, political spectators saw a good grip of a complete voter’s stronghold. Tinubu has won Kano over.
Asiwaju also has built the same political relationship with the Governor of Katsina, Aminu Bello Masari inside source holds that Asiwaju and Governor Aminu speaks every day on phone about the state of the nation and how to tackle banditry in the state.
The relationship became popular less than a month ago when Bola Ahmed Tinubu, donated N50 million to the victims of the Katsina Central Market fire incident and called for the reopening of the market to enable traders to resume commercial activities.
The former Lagos State Governor, who announced the donation while addressing the affected traders at the ravaged market yesterday, said he would continue to support the state government and the traders to rebuild the affected shops.
Tinubu, who was accompanied to the scene by Governor Aminu Bello Masari; his Deputy, Hon. Mannir Yakubu and the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Mustapha Inuwa, to console the victims promise to build a better structure for the people and work more on youths empowerment.
The visit was greeted by teeming youths in Katsina who came to show their support ahead of 2023.
So far, only Asiwaju has successfully moved around these states for other reasons and get popular support for the presidential ambition, which he has not verbally muted.
He also has the support of all the lawmakers in Kano and Katsina at the red and green chamber.
The major state in contention however is Kaduna State. Gov Nasir, El-Rufai has been resolute and unbending against godfatherism and southern dictatorship, and the governor saw Asiwaju as one.
He once attended an event in Lagos where he mentioned godfatherism and indirect dictatorship as the bane of development in Lagos, fashioning out modalities to decapitate godfatherism. The media translated El-rufai’s statement as a slight shade against Asiwaju, and up till today, Gov, El-Rufai has not debunked the claim.
The cold war between Gov, Elrufai and his Kano counterpart, Gov, Ganduje who is also a loyal supporter to Tinubu is another pointer to show that the war is not yet over.
However. Tinubu stormed Kaduna to chair the 11th Arewa House Lecture in Kaduna in March. The Director of Arewa House, Dr Shuaibu Shehu Aliyu told journalists in Kaduna, that the last lecture, which was the 10th in series was delivered by the then Governor of Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and was chaired by the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, an Asiwaju’s loyalist.
The 2023 Lecture was delivered by the current Governor of Plateau State, Hon. Simon Bako Lalong and the lecture were chaired by His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed.
Although Gov El-rufai’s presence was not reported, the lecture made news headlines across the state and Asiwaju gave the event a deserving facelift. It was attended by thousands of youth leaders in the North.
Information from a reliable source also holds that Asiwaju has the loyalty of one out of the two senators from Kano State APC.
Except for Senator Uba Sani, who is representing Kaduna central, taking over from Shehu Sani, Suleman Kwari of Kaduna North is believed to have a soft spot for Asiwaju. Senator Danjuma Tella La’ah of Kaduna South is from PDP.
In every historical episode where everybody may have written of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, even where it obviously seems so, he shocks the world by coming out stronger against the tide.
It may be too early to determine the chances of any aspirant or candidate for 2023, but the question yet to be answered is that of a better option or alternative to Asiwaju at this critical political period.