• He has what it takes to be president, says YCE Secretary-General
• Coalition of 57 youth groups endorses Osinbajo as Buhari’s successor
• Only PDP can rescue Nigeria, says Diri, Wike
• Why PDP must not zone Nigeria’s presidency to the South – Kwankwaso
After months of speculation, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, formally declared his intention to run for the country’s number one office in 2023, confirming The Guardian’s exclusive report that he has informed President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of his ambition.
He disclosed this to journalists after a closed-door meeting with President Buhari in Abuja on Monday. In his interview with State House reporters, Tinubu said it has been his life-long ambition to lead the country one day.
“I have informed the President of my ambition but I have not informed Nigerians yet, I am still consulting. There’s nowhere in the world where a kingmaker cannot himself be king.
“About the cap of a kingmaker. I’ve never seen the cap of a kingmaker before. That is the truth. And I have never seen where it is written in the rulebook anywhere in any country that a kingmaker cannot be a king unless he has committed murder. So, whatever you write is your own opinion. Me, I want to pursue my ambition without the title of a kingmaker,” he said.
The former Lagos State governor added that he plans to actualise his ambition under the platform of the ruling APC, noting that with what he did in Lagos in his time as governor, he has the capacity to lead Nigeria.
“You will soon hear. All you want to hear is the categorical declaration. You’ve gotten that truth from me that I have informed Mr. President of my ambition, and you don’t expect more answers than that,” he said.
He shrugged the question of a potential race for the APC ticket between him and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, whose support groups have since begun mobilising for his candidacy. On Osinbajo’s potential ambition, the APC national leader maintained that he would not be drawn into any discussion on any individual.
Tinubu said: “I don’t want to discuss individuals now. I must discuss myself. I have the confidence, vision and capacity to rule, build on the foundation of Mr. President, and turn Nigeria better. I’ve done that before in Lagos State. You’ve seen that experience and the capacity to turn things around and that is what we are doing.”
Answering a question on President Buhari’s response, Tinubu said: “That’s our business. He is a democrat. He didn’t ask me to stop. He didn’t ask me not to attempt and pursue my ambition. It is a lifelong ambition. So, why do I expect him to say more than that?
“You are running a democratic dispensation, and you must adopt the principles and the values and the virtues of democracy. That’s it.” On the Electoral Act Amendment bill and what Nigerians should expect, Tinubu responded thus: “You want my manifesto now? Not yet. Not yet.
“First of all, the National Assembly and the President must be encouraged to review and review again. Whatever they come up with electoral amendment is what we must comply with. There is no unlimited elasticity in what we face, because we have to plan and plan well, and be able to manage the time effectively.
“The great roadmap to success is the ability of a leader to do what he must do at the right time that has to be done. So, to me, we will still look at the amendment bill collectively. It is our country. It’s our democracy. We had adopted it and we will push it rigorously.”
The APC national leader said as a bonafide citizen, he was in the State House, Abuja, to also discuss a number of other national issues, including security.
“I have not lost my citizenship. I came to see the President on general issues concerning Nigeria, including our political party, APC, security issues and the New Year agenda. That’s all I can tell you.”
The Guardian gathered that the disagreements on the delay to fix a definite date for the APC national convention proposed for February was part of the agenda of the meeting as Tinubu is believed to be a major stakeholder.
Last Friday, chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, met the President over the convention. Shortly after his meeting, the APC caretaker chairman and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, also met the President over what sources said was a major shift on the party’s convention.
In an interview the President granted to NTA last week, he warned his party to take the issue of convention seriously else the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would snatch victory in 2023 and form the next government.
On Sunday night, a meeting between President Buhari and APC governors did not hold. A host of APC governors were in their states for other activities, rather than being in Abuja for the meeting.
THE Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, yesterday, said Tinubu has what it takes to be Nigeria’s President. Speaking with The Guardian in Ibadan, Olajide said Tinubu had given account of himself in politics and has widespread support base, which he said is an added advantage.
Olajide said: “He has given a full account of himself. He has a very widespread support across the entire country. He has been in politics for a long time and has done very well in politics. I don’t know why the Yoruba should not support him. Without being immodest, we are about the most sophisticated and liberal in the country.
“Other aspirants from the Southwest are likely to show up and then we have to look at the competence of each one of them, the capacity, character and ability to mobilise support. The Yoruba won’t want to support a failure. So, I think it is too premature now to say categorically what the Yoruba would do.”
ALREADY, a coalition of 57 youth and student groups has endorsed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to succeed President Buhari. The group, under the aegis of the National Coalition of Youth and Students (NACOY), justified their position arguing that Osinbajo is the best qualified person to occupy the office of the President.
Led by Mr Festus Ofume, the youths groups cited Osinbajo’s intellectual accomplishment, empathy for the younger generation, understanding of the economy and the fact that he has the experience of being an acting President and Vice President with uncompromised passion to consolidate on the achievements of the last seven years as basis for their stance.
Ofume, in a communiqué following their meeting with officials of The Progressive Project (TPP), also emphasised a firm resolve to mobilise at least five million youth across Nigeria to support Osinbajo if he finally decides to run for the presidency in 2023.
MEANWHILE, Bayelsa State governor, Senator Douye Diri, and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, have said the chances of the PDP producing the next President in 2023 was very bright. Both governors, who spoke yesterday, when Wike visited Diri at the Government House in Yenagoa, agreed that only the PDP can rescue Nigeria from its present state of insecurity and economic woes.
Diri, who described the presidency as a sacred office, said the party has been repositioned to ensure it wins the 2023 general elections, as according to him, the PDP is the only party with the pedigree to give Nigerians hope and a sense of direction.
Commending Wike for demonstrating leadership and purposeful governance, the governor stressed that states in the Niger Delta needed to unite more to tackle their common challenges, particularly, in the areas of environmental pollution and underdevelopment.
“Bayelsa and Rivers states are brothers and sisters historically and culturally and if anyone is trying to divide us, we must come against them. I call on Ijaw leaders to come together and resolve whatever issues we may have amicably. Within a family, we will always have issues but that should not remove our brotherliness,” Diri said.
In his remarks, Wike expressed confidence that the PDP will produce the next president. He said Nigerians were waiting for the party to rescue them from the current situation in the country, stressing that leaders and members of the party cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
The Rivers governor also lauded his Bayelsa counterpart for his developmental efforts and commitment to the party and urged people of the state to continue to support him.
“Today, I came to let everybody know that Senator Douye Diri is one of the governors I can tell you has showed commitment even though he is new and he believes in the development of his state. I am not someone that will come and say what is not correct.
“I have also come to tell him that everybody must work together to make the PDP united because without party there cannot be presidential candidate. Let us all unite. Nigerians are waiting for PDP and we cannot afford to miss this opportunity. As governors, we must work together. Anybody can be presidential candidate but if we are not united it cannot be possible,” Wike said.
HOWEVER, a former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, has argued against the call for zoning the 2023 presidential ticket of the PDP to the Southern part of the country.
Kwankwaso made his position known in an interview with Channels Television on Sunday night where he also spoke about several political concerns ahead of the 2023 general elections.
In his argument, the two-term governor of Kano condemned the insistence of the Southern Governors Forum in July 2021 that the next president of the country must come from their region rather than what is best.
He considered the call by the governors and other leaders as an attempt to intimidate the Northern region into relinquishing its right to contest the seat.
Kwankwaso said the decision to contest should be based on strategy rather than mere clamour or sentiments. With reference to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, Kwankwaso, who is eyeing the 2023 presidential ticket of the PDP, said the party had produced more Southern presidents than the North.
“You see many people are mixing what ordinarily shouldn’t come together at all. We have PDP, we have APC, we have APGA and we have many other parties today in this country. And the issue of where a party put his presidency or vice presidency is a matter of strategy.
“If you look at it from 1999, to date, or even after 2023, we have 16 years for PDP, eight years for APC. Now, in the 16 years of PDP, we had a situation where the presidency has been in the south for 14 years and only in the north for two years during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory.
“Now we see some people, maybe because they don’t understand politics or they want to be mischievous, they keep on mixing the two issues of two political parties together. This PDP and APC are contestants in this game,” he said.
Speaking on speculations of his possible defection from PDP to the APC, Kwankwaso debunked the rumour and reiterated his commitment to ensure victory for his party in the 2023 polls.
“As we speak, there is no plan for me to leave the PDP to join APC, or any other party. Of course, there were issues which are very clear to almost everybody; that we had congress in April last year in Kaduna, which I felt and many of my supporters in the Northwest and even beyond felt that I was not being treated well and Kano was not being treated the way it should be.
“And therefore, I believe that was the beginning of those issues to the extent that people thought because of that, we would leave the PDP for APC or any other party,” he said, while noting the reconciliatory efforts of the party leader