•The Story Of Their 30-Year Friendship
•What No One Will Tell You
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu & Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are very good friends.
Not many people know that. Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate and Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate have been close friends since 1992 when their paths crossed. They have since come a long way. For the past 30 years, they have had mutual respect for each other. Tinubu respects Atiku’s tenacity of purpose and focus.
Atiku also has tremendous respect for Tinubu’s political sagacity. He calls Asiwaju, Bola. Tinubu also calls him Atiku. And both know how to make each other laugh, whenever they meet. You need to see the camaraderie they ooze whenever they meet.
They like to poke fun at each other, constantly.
But both are currently locked in a big battle. Tinubu and Atiku want the same thing. They both want to be the next President of Nigeria. Both have emerged as the presidential candidates of the 2 contending parties, the APC and the PDP. That has brought them on a collision course. Recently, both engaged in a verbal war, which went on for a week, with each exchanging words.
What made the exchange vitriolic is that each of them believes he is better suited for the job. Tinubu thinks he is far better than Atiku. Atiku believes Tinubu is no match for him. But both of them think highly of each other. If there is any animosity between them, they don’t show it, revealed an insider. Most times they send out positive vibes.
For instance, when Asiwaju Tinubu turned 69 last year, Atiku hailed Tinubu, noting that both have come a long way. That was on 29th March 2021. “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and I have come a long way, in the common mission to restore and promote democracy in Nigeria”, Atiku wrote via his Twitter handle @atiku.
Tinubu also celebrated Atiku when he turned 70.
He described him as a man of faith, saying, that faith has kept him going and waxing strong. He addressed Atiku as his dear brother and called him a notable leader. “Nigeria needs you and others like you to continue to make life more meaningful”, he wrote.
Truth be told, both are seasoned Gladiators who have paid their dues.
What many don’t know is that both of them have been friends for over 30 yrs, since 1992 when partisan Politics brought them together.
Tinubu’s political career began in 1992, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party in the faction of the People’s Front led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and other politicians in the faction such as Dapo Sarumi and Yomi Edu when he was elected to the Senate, representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived 3rd Republic.
After the results of the 12 June, 1993 presidential elections were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of the 12 June results. He went into exile in 1994 and returned to the country in 1998 after the death of military dictator Sani Abacha, which ushered in a transition to civilian rule.
In the run-up to the 1999 elections, Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He won the AD primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial elections in competition with Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing. In April 1999, he stood for the position of Executive Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket and was elected.
Both have similar careers.
Let’s quickly tell you about Atiku’s first foray into Politics. It was in the early 1980s when he worked behind the scenes on the governorship campaign funds of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who at that time, was the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority. He canvassed for votes on behalf of Tukur, and also donated to the campaign. Towards the end of his Customs career, he met Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who had been second-in-command of the military government that ruled Nigeria between 1976 and 1979. Atiku was drawn by Yar’Adua into the political meetings that were now happening regularly in Yar’Adua’s Lagos home. In 1989, Atiku was elected a National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria, a political association led by Yar’Adua, to participate in the transition programme initiated by the then Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Atiku won a seat to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly, set up to decide a new constitution for Nigeria. The People’s Front was eventually denied registration by the government (none of the groups that applied was registered), and found a place within the Social Democratic Party, one of the two parties decreed into existence by the regime.
On 25 November 2006, Atiku Abubakar announced that he would run for President. On 20 December 2006, he was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC).
On 14 March 2007, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the final list of 24 candidates for 21 April, presidential election. Atiku Abubakar’s name was missing on the ballot. INEC issued a statement saying that Abubakar’s name was missing because he was on a list of persons indicted for corruption by a panel set up by the government. Abubakar headed for the court on 16 March, to have his disqualification overturned. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on 16 April, that INEC had no power to disqualify candidates.
The ruling allowed Abubakar to contest the election, although there were concerns that it might not be possible to provide ballots with Abubakar’s name, by 21 April, the date of the election. On 17 April, a spokesman for the INEC said that Abubakar would be on the ballot.
According to official results, Abubakar took 3rd place, behind PDP’s candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua and ANPP’s candidate Muhammadu Buhari, with approximately 7% of the vote (2.6 million votes). Abubakar rejected the election results and called for its cancellation, describing it as Nigeria’s “worst election ever.”
He stated that he would not attend Umaru Yar’Adua’s inauguration on 29 May, owing to his view that the election was not credible, saying that he did not want to “dignify such a hollow ritual with my presence.”
Following the 2007 elections, Atiku returned to the People’s Democratic Party. In October 2010, he announced his intention to contest the Presidency. On 22 November, a Committee of Northern Elders selected him as the Northern Consensus Candidate, over the former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, former National Security Adviser Aliyu Gusau and Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State.
In January 2011, Atiku contested for the Presidential ticket of his party, alongside President Goodluck Jonathan and Sarah Jubril, and lost the primaries, garnering 805 votes to President Jonathan’s 2,736.
On 2 February 2014, Atiku left the People’s Democratic Party to join All Progressives Congress, a platform on which he sought to contest the presidency in 2015, but lost at the primaries. In 2019, he went back to rejoin the PDP and he clinched the PDP presidential ticket. Again, he lost. He is at it once again. He is running next year.
And as things stand he will slug it out with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, his very good friend.