Some loyalists and aides of former President Olusegun Obasanjo have explained why neither they nor their principal would support the 2023 presidential ambition of a former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu.
The aides who spoke with SaharaReporters stated that Tinubu, despite the network of supporters and proxies drumming support for him for the 2023 presidency, he is not the ideal candidate to lead the country at the moment.
Although the APC leader has not officially declared his ambition to run for presidency, many political godsons and opportunists are already in the forefront of negotiations, meeting with stakeholders first in the South-West region.
A former Political Adviser to former President Obasanjo, Mr Akin Osuntokun, said he had told Tinubu straightaway that he would not support his presidential ambition.
He said, “I told him specifically the last time I saw him that if the Presidency in their thinking is bringing power to the South, there is no excuse for depriving the Igbo the chance. Look, you have built a nation on shared aspiration and principles. I don’t know any interpretation of one Nigeria. If anybody says he is interested in the unity of Nigeria, it should not just be a vacuum decision; now we have an opportunity to do what is right.
“How do you justify Obasanjo’s eight years as President and (Prof Yemi) Osinbajo’s eight years as Vice President and you then take it back to the South-West? Is that fair; is that equitable?
“Look, he (Tinubu) has an advantage in the fact that he can more than finance the adventure, but first, my personal reference is what I have told you and I have told him.
“I heard that Buhari told him that he would not support a southern Muslim to succeed him. It is said that the Vice President in 2023 is coming to the North and would be a Muslim and the North has settled that; so, if you bring a Muslim from the South-West (Tinubu), you will bring a religious crisis to a country that is potentially volatile. Do you want to have a Muslim-Muslim ticket?
“I have told him straight out that I am not supporting him. And I told him face to face that I am supporting Igbo presidency. Former President Obasanjo would never support him. Rule that out completely.”
When contacted, the Obasanjo’s spokesperson, Mr Kehinde Adeyemi, simply said, “No comment.”
However, another loyalist of the former President, who did not want his name in print, noted that for the sake fairness, the presidency should not go to Tinubu in 2023.
He said, “There must be equity, fairness and if we want this country to remain, a country cannot be sustained on power politics of ‘I do it because I can’. No, it is shared aspiration and goodwill.
“What Tinubu and others are planning is power politics. I think the thing about this kind of contest is that those who think they can benefit materially from it will say it is Tinubu and that he is able and things like that.”
Having assessed the former Lagos governor in his (Obasanjo) book as “one of the worst cases” of corruption, it is obvious that former President Obasanjo might not support Tinubu’s 2023 ambition.
In Obasanjo’s three-volume book, My Watch, he explained how Tinubu allegedly soiled the career of a former Presidential candidate of the then Action Congress of Nigeria in the 2011 general elections, and former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu.
Obasanjo wrote, “One can then imagine my feeling when the same Nuhu became the one seeking Bola Tinubu’s endorsement for the Presidential candidacy. Was it poor judgment, desperate ambition or what? Bola was not a fool, he got what he wanted; to be whitewashed. Nuhu got out of it bruised as his credibility as a corruption crusader got somewhat tainted. What a lesson did I learn about human beings in such a situation?
“When Nuhu attended the wedding of my son, Bisoye, in November 30, 2013, which was the first time he summed up courage after his co-habitation with Bola Tinubu, he admitted it was a mistake and added that one learns from one’s mistake. Unfortunately, Nuhu would do it again by hopping from APC to PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) to contest the governorship in Adamawa State. If the first time was a mistake, how many mistakes will make them a habit or character trait?
“Nuhu basked at one time in the success of his work that his name struck fear in corrupt people. He enjoyed prestige abroad and respect mixed with fear at home. He moved on the governors and anybody on whom he received cogent petition. He trusted his staff but I warned him against trusting too deeply because I got information that one of his staff, whom he relied on so much, had been compromised in Lagos.
“I advised him to check and crosscheck. Obviously, petitions never stopped coming to EFCC particularly on the governors. Nuhu tried to investigate almost all of them to the best of my understanding. At a time, he publicly announced that 28 out of 36 governors were either manifestly corrupt or had been tainted in one way or the other. He gave me a copy of his report on those governors. Bola Tinubu was definitely one of the worst cases.”