With lobbying and high level politicking ahead of 2023 general elections, supporters of both Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu have continued to push for the presidential bids of their preferred candidates.
While Tinubu has announced his intention to vie for the nation’s plum seat, Osinbajo, a commissioner under Tinubu when the latter was governor in Lagos state, is yet to make public his speculated bid amidst continuous drumming of support for his candidature by some lobby groups.
During a recent visit to President Muhammdu Buhari, Tinubu reportedly told the president of his intention to lead the country, a wish he said, had been his lifelong dream.
Also, Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello, though yet to publicly intimate the president of his ambition, has continued to use every available space to sell his candidature, just as he receives various groups believed to be supporting his cause.
The latest of such groups were North-central lawmakers who are backing his candidature for the nation’s top job.
Notwithstanding the speculated ambition of the vice president, a pro-Tinubu group told Osinbajo to shelve his ambition if any, and yield the ticket to his benefactor and former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Tinubu.
Addressing a press conference Thursday in Abuja, the Tinubu Support Groups (TSG) reminded Osinbajo not to forget that he has been a core member of the Tinubu political family all his life.
Chairman of the FCT chapter of TSG and former member House of Representatives in the territory, Hon. Zaphaniah Jisalo, who spoke on behalf of the group, warned supporters of both political leaders not to create tension in their camps.
He said Osinbajo’s rumoured ambition would be sorted out within the political family.
Jisalo said: “The issue in question no one can answer it. But I know and believe that Osinbajo knows what he is doing. I believe he knows who his mentor is, and whatever anybody is thinking or hearing, or trying to ask Osinbajo to contest against his mentor, I don’t think it is realistic. So, we will wait and see it. And we also have responsibility to make sure that such does not happen.
“You know the contest is open. And we are not afraid of whoever is going to contest against Asiwaju but I am saying being an experienced politician, respect is expected on who it is due.”
Jisalo, however, thanked the former Lagos governor for heeding to their calls on him to contest the 2023 presidential election.
“We are here this morning to appreciate God and to also appreciate the party, APC particularly and personally, to appreciate our mentor Asiwaju Tinubu for accepting our demands that we want him to be the person that will take over from President Muhammadu Buhari 2023.
“We have seen him as a man of integrity. We see him as a man who likes justice. We see in him a man who wants to carry all Nigerians to the promise land. And that is why this morning we are here again to thank him for his declaration and for accepting the demands that he will contest the presidential election.
“By the grace of God, we are convinced that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the only man who will rule this country in 2023.”
Also speaking, the FCT secretary of TSG, Hon. Patrick Oduyemi, said: “You see, Professor Osinbajo is a part of Bola Ahmed Tinubu family. And I can assure you that it is a family matter which will be sorted out at the family level. So, I don’t want anybody to dabble into it such that they will create the sort of tension between Tinubu and the Vice President. So, let us leave it as it is because it will be sorted out at the appointed time.”
Also making a case for Osinbajo, Identify the Right Leaders’ Initiative (IRLI) said the APC would be missing it if it decides not to give the party’s ticket to the vice president in next year’s contest.
In a statement made available to Blueprint Thursday in Abuja, the civic group said at this critical time of its history, Nigeria needed a “younger, competent, and cerebral candidates to fly the flags of the leading parties for the 2023 elections.”
The group’s spokesman, Dr Abimbola Oyarinu, said: “Some analysts have also noted that in addition to age, emphasis on who becomes the nation’s next president must have demonstrated competence and excellence in their discharge of previous tasks.
“In a nation whose over 60 per cent of its population are young people, political observers are unanimous in their views that there is need for dynamism in the country’s next leadership.
“IRLI’s says it was formed to lead Nigerians in identifying the right leaders for critical public positions by looking at their pedigree, character, and competence.
“Recent developments in the polity from Twitter ban, EndSARS, and the continuous clamour for Electoral Reforms have made Nigerians become more interested in the forthcoming elections.”
The group further said it was taking such definite stance because every Nigerian should be concerned with the democratic process.
“For over three decades, it’s been the same unproductive cycle of leaders presiding over the likes that this nation does not belong to all of us. It is time for all Nigerians to stand up and be counted. There should no longer be onlookers at this point,” it said.
The statement further said “Professor Osinbajo has been largely celebrates because his contributions and work ethic have inspired most Nigerians.”
The civic group, in their recent Impact Assessment Report(IAR) of the actions, policies and programmes,” Osinbajo has undertaken since his stint as Attorney-General of Lagos state in 1999, confirmed that Osinbajo is the most active, visible and impactful Vice President and perhaps the best since 1979 in the position.
“It believes that if Osinbajo is empowered and becomes the substantive president, Nigeria will be better for it.”
The report says Osinbajo, at every opportunity he had as Acting President – “has done so more than three times since 2015 – Osinbajo has taken landmark decisions to better the lives of Nigerians.
“In 2017, Osinbajo as Acting President signed Executive Order 001: Promotion of Efficiency and Transparency in Business Environments.
“Analysts have hailed the Order as one that became necessary in curbing “sharp practices, corruption, and unethical behaviour in the Nigerian business climate.”
“Nigerians will recall that after some Directorate of State Security (DSS) operatives invaded the National Assembly in 2018, Osinbajo terminated the appointment of Lawal Daura, the DSS boss at the time. This highly celebrated decision came at the time when other politicians would have been more concerned about its political consequences rather than the nation’s collective interests. Our [impact assessment] report says such decisions demonstrate that Osinbajo places national interests over party or election considerations.
“During the 2020 #EndSARS protests, it was Osinbajo who summoned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to the Villa on which the decision and announcement of final disbandment of SARS were taken. Osinbajo deployed the National Economic Council (NEC) to convince state governors – who form the core of NEC – that police brutality was an economic issue and should be discussed under the NEC Agenda. The Osinbajo-led NEC directed governors to set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry to investigate cases of police brutalities in their domains. As part of the demands of the protesters, NEC directed the states to set up Victims Support Funds (VSF) to ensure they get justice,” Oyarinu further said.
The statement warned the APC against selling its presidential ticket to the owners of ill-gotten wealth in the forthcoming convention as that may spell doom for it.
“Nigerians are now more politically aware. The endSARS protests have opened the eyes of most people and on the importance of the need to become active in the democratic process. The APC will be making a huge mistake to underestimate how politically aware most Nigerians are now. Anything less than Osinbajo means the APC is heading for the iceberg.” IRIL said.
They said: “What the APC needs to do is just unite behind him to give him the much-needed support and he will arrive safely in Aso Rock in 2023 on the back of his intimidating credentials both in public and private life. Osinbajo comes as a soft sell for the party. In a sane society, Osinbajo should have the right of first refusal in the presidential ticket if we are to be serious.
“If being hardworking, proactive and decisive are the essential requirements of becoming president, Professor Osinbajo has demonstrated these effortlessly.”
Based on the findings of the assessment report, the statement added, Osinbajo has distinguished himself by visiting project sites and crisis spots and matching policies with actions.
Gov Bello gets boost
Meanwhile, state legislators in all the North Central states have passed a vote of confidence on Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC.
The legislators also endorsed Kogi state Governor Bello for the 2023 presidency as the only one that had so far demonstrated intention to vie for the nation’s top seat in 2023.
They spoke with one voice at the end of a one-day extraordinary meeting of the APC state legislature from the six states of the North Central Zone, held in Abuja Thursday.
They encouraged Governor Bello to continue to pursue his ambition, saying he remained the only person that the zone could rally round “for it to be counted in the power equation of the country.”
The lawmakers also said the Buni-led committee needed the support and cooperation of all party faithful to reposition the APC for better performance and victory in the 2023 polls.
According to the convener, the immediate past Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Marafa, the extraordinary meeting was convened to discuss the political future of the zone with respect to what he called the power equation in the country.
He urged members from the six states of the zone to see reason why all well-meaning men and women must come together and agitate for a fair share for the zone.
Also speaking, Speaker Kogi State House of Assembly Matthew Kolawole commended the lawmakers for their positive consideration of Governor Bello, noting that it would go a long way to showing their genuine efforts to look after the welfare of their people.
He said since 1960, the zone had been marginalised and neglected in the democratically elected leadership map of the country despite the endowed human resources in the area, noting that it was time for all and sundry, irrespective of party affiliations, to rise up and join hands to agitate for a North Central presidency come 2023.
In a communiqué issued at the end of their one-day roundtable, the legislators appealed to all party faithful at all levels to give their support and cooperation to Governor Buni “to complete the good work that had led many people into the party since he assumed office.”
They also called on all the leaders in North-Central to continue to pursue the North-Central presidency without prejudice to their personal aspiration, pointing out that the number one position in the country would be more beneficial to the zone and the nation at large.
Present at the meeting were speakers of Nasarawa and Plateau states, Rt. Hon. Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi and Rt. Hon.Yakubu Yakson Sanda respectively, while Deputy Speaker of Kwara state, Rt. Hon. Raphael Adetiba and Minority Leader of Benue State House of Assembly among others.
Momodu, Ohuabunwa seek PDP ticket
In a related development, the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyiorchia Ayu has assured two presidential aspirants-Chief Dele Momodu and Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa-of a level playing ground.
He gave the assurance Thursday when the duo visited him in Abuja.
After receiving letter of intent from Momodu, the national chairman assured that the party’s presidential primary election would be free, fair and credible.
“There will be a level playing field for all candidates. We don’t have any special candidate; we don’t have a preferred candidate. It is the party members who will decide and if at the end of the day, the party members vote for you that you are the one they want, we will queue behind you,” Ayu said.
He charged the aspirants to work hard to build the party, noting that nobody can help the party other than themselves.
Presenting a letter containing his intention, Momodu, a journalist, publisher and businessman from Edo state, said his mission in the 2023 race was to seek to correct the many wrongs in the socio-political life of the nation, adding that Nigeria needed redirection.
He said: “The time has come for full reconciliation and forgiveness and a closure of our ugly past. Nigeria urgently requires a reset and a total redirection. I’m convinced that the time has come to seriously challenge and dislodge those politicians who have held our country to ransom by kidnapping, hijacking and destroying the future of our younger generation and generations yet unborn.
“Nigeria deserves much better than where we are now, and my appeal to fellow Nigerians is that we should collectively rescue our dear country from the suffocating claws of slave masters, overlords and tyrants, vociferously and vehemently reject any suggestion that Nigeria should continue to tread this dangerous path.
“The die cast, and we must regain and take back our country! fully and unequivocally commit and dedicate myself to this cause.
“I’m better prepared now than at the time of my first foray into the fray in 2011, and I am fully ready and certainly capable for the onerous tasks and responsibilities ahead.
“After due consultations with my family, friends and some stakeholders, I have arrived at the decision to contest the 2023 Presidential election on the platform of our great party, PDP. if selected as the Party’s candidate I hasten to add that this is my personal decision, although I have received advice, encouragement and support from diverse quarters since I started my consultations.
“I therefore offer myself to the PDP as the best aspirant to turn the fortunes of our esteemed party and our well endowed country around. In this regard, and with a deep sense of humility and profound respect”, he said.
Momodu, who urged the party not to consider picking its candidate based on the usual considerations, added, “the mood of the teeming youths, and indeed every patriotic Nigerian, who we need to come out en masse to vote for our party, aligns with this view.
“It is for this reason, that I invite our great party, PDP, to accept that it must search for a veritable flag bearer with the requisite leadership and visionary qualities that Nigerians now earnestly yearn for.”
Similarly, Mazi Ohuabunwa said he wanted to be president “to lay the foundation for proper unity of the nation to create a level playing ground where every child born in every part of this country will have the same opportunity like the other child to achieve his potential the way it happens the United States of America”.
Ohuabunwa who debunked the insinuation that he may be too old for the top job stated that “it is the experience you need to run a country, not necessarily chronological age. So understand what one young people are, I am young, in my heart, in my spirit, in my physique and my ability to do the job.
“To be able to discharge the function of office as a president or governor, you need to have a healthy body. You need to have a healthy soul. You need to have a healthy spirit, body, mind and soul must be together to be able to function in this office.
“This office of president is a serious office. You must have experienced in managing many things at the same time. It’s not to take six months to forming your cabinet, take six months to plan how you’re going to work. I have the experience I’ve been trained. I may belong to the older group but my Spirit, my heart is of a young person, and I understand how to motivate people to achieve.”