If there is one man in the country today who has been a permanent feature in the news (apart from Mr. President of course, for obvious reasons), it is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His name has been a recurring decimal in the media space. The very mention of his name triggers an almost frenetic reaction from people. This is because many love him. Many admire him, yet, many despise him. They simply hate his guts. They hate the fact that the Jagaban Borgu has become a revered political powerhouse and possibly the most dreaded political juggernaut in the land today. And to make things even more difficult to accept, his already intimidating profile keeps rising by the day, especially now that it is almost certain that he will run for president come 2023.
Expectedly, for a man of his status, he has made quite a few enemies along the way. They are part of the crowd currently throwing all manner of stones at the APC national leader, giving Nigerians hundreds of reasons why they do not think an Asiwaju presidency will augur well for the country. And they are not backing down their high horse. Despite the fact that Asiwaju is yet to officially declare his intention to take a shot at the presidency come 2023, his political enemies are hurling every criticism they can muster at him, including the plausible and the outrageous. And their intent is very clear – to discredit and batter Asiwaju’s image so badly that he will promptly begin to consider dropping his 2023 ambition.
And if truth be told, they have done a heck of a job. During the ill-fated EndSars protest, both the youth and the government, whose president he single-handedly installed, flung different accusations at him. The protesting youth claimed he sent the military soldiers to shoot at them at Lekki toll gate because, according to them, he owned the toll gate and was already getting enraged that the protests had prevented the toll gate from generating income for him. How preposterous! The government’s accusation was even more absurd. They accused Asiwaju of orchestrating the entire EndSars protests and funded it with the intent to destabilize the Buhari led administration and make it the target of scathing criticisms and outrage from the public so that many will call for the head of the president and his team. The whole idea, of course, was to discredit Asiwaju, scuttle his entire 2023 ambition and kill any possibility of him emerging president come 2023. Even after the EndSars protests were quelled, these attempts to stop his aspirations have not ceased. Some have called him greedy. They ask, what else is he looking for, after having served as Senator and Governor of Lagos State for 2 terms. He has made more than enough money to last him and his family a lifetime, so he has no business running for Presidency. The expectation was that these mounting criticisms would compel Asiwaju to forget about his presidential ambition. But not Asiwaju. He loves such humongous challenges. Those who know him will tell you he thrives the most when challenged with his back against the wall. If anything, the man is even more emboldened more than ever before to pursue his dream of occupying the moat exalted office in the land.
Perhaps it is this uncommon courage and confidence that has spurred many to come out openly to express their unwavering support and solidarity for the man regarded as the Yoruba’s strongest candidate come 2023. And in the last few weeks, the support has been pouring in in torrents even as the man is yet to formally declare his interest to run.
It is, however, reliably gathered from some of his supporters that Tinubu will only come out to indicate his interest, if he was sure of getting the APC presidential ticket. One of his supporters also said part of their plans was to test the waters, work on people’s reaction to his candidacy and prepare the ground in such a way that when he eventually comes out, he would be the man to beat.
It would be recalled that late last year, a group led by Senator Dayo Adeyeye, South West Agenda For Asiwaju Tinubu 2023 (SWAGA 23), was launched in Ibadan. Even though the group said it was ‘championing a common front for the Yoruba’, not a few people are of the view that it was formed primarily to consummate the presidential ambition of Tinubu.
And just last week, former and incumbent Speakers of State Houses of Assembly in the Southwest met in Ibadan, to drum support for the anticipated APC leader’s presidential bid. At the meeting, according to reports, were 20 current and past Speakers in the Southwest. The Lagos House Speaker, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, who convened the meeting formally told the gathering that though Tinubu has not given the go-ahead to kick start any presidential campaign, “but there is the need to deliberate on this important issue on behalf of Tinubu.”
Obasa, therefore, charged all the speakers, both current and former present at the meeting to go back to their respective states to set up the template that would see to the actualization of the agenda of an Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu presidency in 2023.
The Lawmakers are not the only ones drumming support for Asiwaju despite the myriads of criticisms thrown his path, other notable and distinguished personalities like Pastor Tunde Bakare, a known critic of the Jagaban, has also stepped out to say very complementary things about him. Even when he was criticized by Femi Fani-Kayode for making a U-turn on his position with Asiwaju, the radical pastor defended his new position vehemently and demanded FFK’s right to question what he described as his candid opinion of Tinubu. The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Adewusi, has also added his voice to the growing support for Asiwaju’s candidature for the 2023 presidential race. Chief Bisi Akande, a long time progressive, has also taken his position behind Asiwaju. The Oluwo of Iwo and several other prominent monarchs have all come out to throw their weight behind the man they call the lion of Bourdillion.
Another personality whose resounding support for Asiwaju has never waned is former Ekiti Governor, Ayo Fayose. He has never hidden his admiration for the APC national leader, despite their political differences. And he does not intend to change his perception and admiration of the man now that speculations are strong that he will contest for the presidency come 2023. He has come out yet again to throw his full weight behind Asiwaju, describing him as the Yoruba’s strongest leader at the moment.
The personalities mentioned are not the only ones who are pitching tent with the Jagaban, every passing day, new groups are emerging from different parts of the South-West, declaring support for Bola Tinubu. They are springing up everywhere and the man at the center of it all has not even spoken a word yet regarding his intention to contest for the highest office in the land come 2023. But, whether Jagban declares now or later, one thing is certain, his eventual declaration will attract tumultuous support and endorsement and he will definitely emerge the candidate to beat. Not even former Vice President Abubakar Atiku or any other candidate for that matter, will match Asiwaju’s overwhelming profile and political sagacity when the battle line is drawn in 2023.