The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary in June, if for anything, offered us a snapshot of the influence, strings and wings of the man, Bola Tinubu. Prior to the presidential primary held by Tinubu’s party, many had written him off and were eventually shocked by his landslide victory.
As we approach the kickoff of the 2023 election campaign season, critics are once again writing off Tinubu’s political sagacity, but he remains unperturbed and appears more confident than ever – this ‘confidence’ should be studied rather than ignored.
Amid rallies conducted by the teeming supporters of Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi and the towering political stature of the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abubakar Atiku, Tinubu, rather than get intimidated, told his supporters to sheath their swords, advising them to lower the temperature of campaign.
“Lower the temperature, they will hear from us when campaign starts.” Tinubu
Back to the unforgettable presidential primary of the APC, Tinubu was pitted against the best in the party, some were way young and more vibrant, yet Tinubu trounced them roundly to emerge the party’s forerunner.
In the political landscape of Nigeria, “Jagaban” as he is profoundly called by his exponents is no minnow to be discountenanced in the scheme of things. Like an expert who has paid their dues in any field, Tinubu has entrenched a legendary status in the political arena of the country with his administrative and activism feats that have earned him a place in the top echelons of the political pyramids in Nigeria.
Here, in this report, are reasons Tinubu can’t be underestimated in the 2023 presidential election.
Deep-rooted political leader:
His archival political records date back to the days of M.K.O Abiola and how he played a principal role in the campaign team of the business tycoon. It is logged in history, how Tinubu was so invested in the M.K.O Abiola’s dream to become the country’s first democratic president, and consequently, have democracy returned to the land. In executing this, he was unstinting in unleashing mental and financial resources into the movement. And not only was he seen in the prior election days, pushing for the emergence of M.K.O, when the election was annulled by General Ibrahim Babaginda, he was among the very few who spurred the course to see to it that mandate be returned to Abiola, dauntless to get crossed with the military government to ensure that Nigerians get whom they chose at the polls. He was one of the founding members of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition that mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of M.K.O as the winner of the June 12 election. However, June 12 struggles forced him into exile in 1994, when General Sanni Abacha took over power as the military head of state. He, however, returned to the country in 1998 after the death of Abacha.
And as characteristic of him, and his propensity for public service, he contested for the 1999 gubernatorial election in Lagos state and won. He served as governor for two terms and was responsible for a number of projects that transformed and sytematised Lagos State for a sustainable growth pattern.
With this sparse mention of his political and administrative achievements, you cannot uncouple the impact it would have in swelling his conviction and boosting his scorecard against others rivalling him for the peak political seat in the land.
In further evidencing the basis of his confidence is to consider the political advantage that comes with running on the ticket of the ruling party. It took 16 years for the PDP to be ousted from power in 2015 when APC did the “unthinkable”. This is not to validate the rectitude of a party holding sway for a long time especially against the will of the people, but if history is anything to go by, it will take a lot from other parties to dislodge the ruling party from the presidential seat it occupies.
This is also to bring back the preponderant number of states – twenty-two – the ruling party holds in Nigeria, and how much of a political advantage that wields to fetching votes in their ambition to maintain their presidential status. Tinubu’s competitors are cognizant of this political strength, and know how much of their A-game they need to bring to the political table to upturn the domineering political structure the APC wields.
Though aged, Tinubu is one of the smartest politicians in Nigeria who works with political data in making decisions and micro-targeting his campaign goals to the right demographics. Hence his ability, more than any candidate to cross the long bridge dividing the northern and southern part of Nigeria ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
Enflaming the conviction of Tinubu in this data-centric politics, is his calculated choice of former Borno state governor, Senator Kashim Shettima who comes with a ponderous influence in the northern region of the country, where “we find the real voters” (numbers) as claimed by several political analysts.
Although, the choice of Muslim/Muslim ticket came with a heated backlash that almost, if not divided the party. However, the tact, ingenuity and boldness he displayed by making the decision and facing the inevitable outburst is what stands him out. This feat lends much credence to the undeniable trait that Tinubu is never timid to proffer solutions to problems in both riskless and risky context.
Putting up own defence, Tinubu and his handlers pointed to BAT’s marriage to a Christian, Remi and cited his administration as Lagos governor, among other several instances where he has proved himself to be a detrabalised leader. In Tinubu’s camp, he is purportedly seen as a “de-religious” leader while he was the Lagos state governor with individuals from different religions and different parts of the countries constituting his cabinet. This line of thought was propagated by Tinubu’s supporters who wants Nigerians to focus on his competency and not tribal or religious sentiments that his critics sell.
Financial war chest:
Ultimately, it will be delusive to exonerate the role of the “war chest” when it comes to elections. It is what separates the boys from the men, willy-nilly. Election campaign commences on September 28, and it is scheduled to span six months. What cannot be knocked off as campaign starts, is that talks don’t do campaigns alone.
You need the war chest to outdo your competitors in an election. All political parties know this, all political candidates will deploy this. Funds are required to take care of the financial expenses of an electoral campaign that gives the electorates all they need to know to inform their choice from the array of options to be presented to them. The chances of a candidate doing this best, politically, lies in the enormity and the judicious use of their “war chest”.
Although excoriated for his entitled mentality towards the election with his now-famed catchword, “E mi lo kan”, it only takes a man who knows what it takes and what he has to make such an assuring statement.
Tinubu the warrior and his massive structure:
Titles like ‘Asiwaju of Lagos’; ‘Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom’ in the Northern Niger state, ‘Aare of Ile-Oluji’ and ‘Agba-Akin Adinni of Ijesha land’ are symbolic and serve as pointers to Tinubu’s evolution as a warrior who actively fought and won many battles in Nigeria’s democratisation process.
Tinubu’s machinery brought many politicians to power and same aligned with other forces to end the career of heavyweight public office holders. For over 20 years, Tinubu has relentlessly invested in deepening his political structures which spread across the country. It is, therefore, uncontestable to say Tinubu’s contact, network and political grassroots structures is the most efficient among the major contenders eyeing Aso Villa.