From Nigeria to the rest of the African continent and beyond, the subject on the lips of everyone is the just concluded presidential election in which the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, emerged victorious. He beat Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, Rabiu Kwakwanso and several others to emerge the president elect in a keenly contested election. And as would be expected, his emergence raised a lot of dusts. As it was with previous elections in Nigeria, there were claims of massive rigging and calls for cancellation of results. But as it stands, Nigeria has a President-elect, and he is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC.
But it was not a walk in the park for the Jagaban. Like he has always maintained, power is not served a lar carte, you have to fight for it and earn it. And indeed, he fought hard for his presidential victory. It was, without a doubt, the toughest and most gruelling political battle he ever fought. In the end, it was also the biggest and the sweetest victory he has accomplished in the political battle field.
There were so many hurdles Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had to overcome before he could achieve his hard fought victory. From the very minute he officially made his intention known to contest for the Presidency, all manner of obstacles began to spring up. His detractors came up with a thousand and one reasons why he is not fit to run for presidency. They claimed he is much older than his official age of 70 years and that he is suffering from dementia. Some even claimed he could barely walk on his feet for long unaided. The most outrageous of all was when some mischief makers insisted he actually urinates uncontrollably on himself and so must have to wear pampers all of the time! How preposterous. But the Jagaban never let any of these distract him from his set target. He kept his eyes on his goal and went about his plans to execute the most gruelling but biggest campaign tour ever witnessed in this country. He combed the length and breadth of the country canvassing for votes. He campaigned in 35 out of the 36 states. He flogged his body in a manner that many of his loyalists found shocking. Many even feared he could fall terribly sick at the rate he was going. Yet, his haters never stopped questioning his state of health, even when none of the other contestants worked nowhere as hard as Tinubu did.
From the issue of his health came antagonism from his kinsmen. A few Yoruba elders, just about a couple of them, came out publicly to say they were not backing Tinubu in his ambition to become president. Some insisted they were not supporting him because they felt he should allow the younger ones contest while others like Baba Adebanjo claimed it was the turn of the Igbos to rule and not Yorubas. And they were serious about their resolve to make sure he didn’t make a success of his aspirations. They moved from one media outlet to another, taking every opportunity available to them to demarket the man and make him look like onew who didn’t deserve a shot at the presidency.
And while he was riding through this storm, he encountered perhaps his biggest obstacle when it turned out that the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, was also going to contest for the presidential ticket of the APC. This came as a shock to many because a lot of people thought that Osinbajo knew from day one that Asiwaju was eyeing the presidency and being the man that gave him his slot for the vice presidency, it was excpected that the vice president would show respect to Tinubu by dropping his presidential aspirations for Asiwaju. But that didn’t happen. He insisted he was better than Asiwaju and because he owed him nothing, he didn’t feel indebted to him to the point where he would drop his ambition for Asiwaju. This created hostilities between the two camps. In the end, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu emerged victorious at the primaries. To show magnanimity even in victory, the very following day, Tinubu went round visiting other members of the party who also contested for the ticket with him, including Osinbajo, a man he raised from obscurity to become the number two man in Nigeria. But despite this show of humility, it must be said that Osinbajo never campaigned for Tinubu. He was never present at any of the campaign rallies. Same with Rotimi Amaechi and a few others.
Apart from the Osinbajo factor, before the primary was held, there was also the issue of the president’s anointed candidate. It turned out that some people around the President wanted their own candidate whom they claimed was the president’s anointed candidate to pick the ticket. And, contrary to popular expectation, it was not Yemi Osinbajo. That candidate was the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. When the northern governors who have been solidly behind Tinubu got wind of this, they marched straight to Aso villa to confront the president who immediately told them he knew nothing about an anointed candidate, and that he had none. Not even Tinubu, the man who helped him become president. From Aso villa, they headed to the residence of the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, to confront him as well. Of course, Adamu was intimidated by the gathering of furious looking governors at his residence. He dared not look in their eyes and tell them he and a few others indeed had an anointed cndidate. And that was the end of that case. Every one of the candidates headed to the primary to meet a level playing ground. No presidential backing, no preferential treatment. Today, all of that is history, Asiwaju beat them all in a landslide victory.
The next big obstacle for Asiwaju was how to market an unpopular product like the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari. This, many political pundits have insisted, was the hardest part of the task for Tinubu during the campaign period. The general notion has been that President Muhammadu Buhari’s score card has been far from impressive. His brightest area in terms of visible development has been in the area of infrastructure. Many agree he did creditably well. But the hydra headed monsters called insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and dwindling economic forrtunes made his achivements in infrasructure pale into insignificance. It was difficult for Asiwaju to begin to reel out the many achievements of the Buhari administration because in truth, they weren’t so many. And in a country where the citizens can barely feed themselves and provide for themselves the basic things of life, infrastructure becomes meaningless. Anytime the President-elect expressed his desire to sustain the legacies of President Buhari, there were always jeers from the campaign crowd. Nobody believed there was any legacy to sustain. But Jagaban, the Master Strategist that he is, would say at every given opprtunity, ‘Buhari is my friend and I cannot run away from that. And in all honesty, I think he has done his best.’ Tinubu had such a big task selling and marketing a not so popular product like Buhari, and yet, somewhow, he succeeded against all odds.
Another big problem the President-elect had to face was the non chalant disposition of the president to his presidential aspiration. Many were shocked to hear Mr. President saying things like Nigerians should vote for the president of their choice. He was expected to use every opportunity he had to sell his party’s candidate to Nigerians but he didn’t do that. And to make matters worse, he was not attending the campaign rallies. This got people talking. The president’s body lnguage was one that showed he couldn’t care less if Asiwaju won the election or not. But the President-elect kept his cool. He never said a word about it publicly and neither did he show the president any kind of disrespect. It was when the campaign was nearing conclusion, following pressure from party members, that Buhari started attending the rallies. It was no surprise to many that the APC lost Katsina to the PDP. Many have attributed this to the non challant attitude of Mr. President towards Asiwaju’s campaigns.
As the campaigns were starting to wound up and it seemed everything was going smoothly, another shocker came. While Nigerians were still struggling with the lingering fuel scarcity which had been on for months, the CBN came with it’s naira redesign policy. This led to serious hardship as millions of Nigerians couldn’t have access to their money and neither were they getting new notes from the banks. Nigerians got frustrated. Some took to the streets to protest while others took the law into their hands and started burning banks and attacking the staff. Many didn’t understand what was actually going on until Tinubu exploded at the Abeokuta rally where he said that a few individuals within the government had conspired with the opposition to sustain the fuel scarcity and withdraw the currency from circulation with the help of the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, so the people would be too frustrated and too disenchanted with the ruling APC to even think of voting for Asiwaju! And Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, shared same sentiments. He said there were some individual within the villa who didn’t want Asiwaju to win the election. He was obviously talking about the cabals within the presidency. But the Master Political Strategist remained calm. He encouraged supporters of the party to come out enmasse to vote for him and other candidates of the APC. He also assured his teeming supporters he was confident victory would be his, that all he needed them to do was to go out and vote. Today, he is the President-elect, the 16th President of the federal republic of Nigeria. And indeed, if truth be told, whatever anybody says, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has worked hard for his victory and deserves every bit of the spotlight and accolades he is enjoying now.
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