Why Tinubu may lose Lagos in 2023



Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has declared his intention to achieve his “lifelong ambition” of becoming the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His tenure as Lagos state governor ended in 2007, about 15 years ago. He was the only governor who got reelected on the platform of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) party. Why he didn’t deem it fit to contest the 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 Presidential election to achieve “his lifelong ambition” remains inexplicable.

He was the de facto leader of the defunct AD which metamorphosed to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as the only surviving governor on the platform of the party. And that could have made it pretty seamless for him to have emerged as the presidential candidate of the party at the time.

As a renowned political strategist as claimed by many of his admirers, he could have equally challenged a so-called weaker candidate of the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who was President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 general election. Does it mean that this purported “lifelong ambition” was not there when opportunities for presidential elections arose in the past after his gubernatorial sojourn?

President Muhammadu Buhari could be said to have harbored a lifelong ambition for the presidency. That was why he contested for the position in 2003, 2007, 2011 and finally succeeded in 2015. Tinubu has been harbouring a “lifelong ambition” yet was shying away from expressing it until now. My hunch tells me that Tinubu doesn’t have any “lifelong ambition” for the presidency of Nigeria. If he truly has, he would have made efforts to realize it in the past elections when he was younger and healthier. I wager to posit that Tinubu’s main interest is his suzerainty in Lagos state which may slip off his hands in 2023 if care is not taken.

Tinubu was declared as the winner of the 2003 governorship election against late Funsho Williams by a slim margin in the ratio of about 9:7 in hundreds of thousands of votes as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). That was the closest chance PDP ever had in taking over Lagos state. Stories had it that Funsho Williams actually won the election with over a million votes, but then Vice President Atiku Abubakar did some political magic to save his friend by ensuring that Tinubu retained his seat.

There were speculations that Tinubu never wanted former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola to get a second term in 2011. By the end of Fashola’s first term, his relationship with his godfather (Tinubu) had soured. Tinubu was poised to deny him a second term.

However, his major impediments were PDP at the federal level and Fashola was popular and endeared himself to Lagosians. PDP at the federal level was ready to hand over the party’s ticket to Fashola if Tinubu had denied him the ACN ticket. President Jonathan and the PDP were watching the Lagos political scenario with keen interest. Tinubu was handicapped. His hands were tired. As a clever politician that he is, he demurred. Recoiled to his shell and allowed Fashola a second term.

Tinubu was able to deal with immediate past Governor Ambode just because APC was controlling the federal government in 2019. Those who say that Ambode is a coward are missing the point. He is not. If Ambode had defected to PDP, he would have still lost the election because President Buhari needed Lagos State for his (Buhari) own reelection. He needed Tinubu’s support and wouldn’t want Ambode’s second tenure ambition to torpedo his own reelection.

Tinubu’s purported control of the Southwest is a fallacious myth. He can only do that when his party is in control of the federal government. Both Governors Olusegun Mimiko and Ayo Fayose dared him, defied his challenge and got their second terms without his support. When Tinubu tried to overreach his influence, in the last Edo State governorship election, Edo people called his bluff by telling him that “Edo no be Lagos”.

As the 2023 general election approaches, Tinubu may lose his stranglehold of Lagos if he doesn’t play his politics well. I want to reveal to Tinubu, through this piece, that he will not be the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 general election. The presidential standard bearer of the party would be chosen through the consensus option. The dejure National Leader of the Party President Buhari would assert his authority by choosing who will succeed him in office. When Tinubu finally loses the presidential ticket of the APC, he must remain with the party and vigorously campaign for its presidential candidate. If he decamps to any other political party in order to realize his “lifelong ambition”, the incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu may likely defect with him to the new party in order to get his support for his own reelection. New leadership will emerge for the Lagos APC. Fashola, Ambode, Muiz Banire and this group which goes by the name Lagos4Lagos, will definitely take over the leadership of Lagos APC.

Since Sanwo-Olu may go with Tinubu to the new party, a brand new governorship candidate will emerge for the APC in Lagos. Don’t forget that PDP is lurking at the corners. Tinubu will then face a stronger challenge to his stranglehold of Lagos by the APC-led federal government and the PDP.

President Buhari as an outgoing president will ensure that APC retains Lagos state under a new leadership. Or even allow the PDP candidate to win in order to spite Tinubu. It bears repeating, that was the treatment given to Tinubu in the last election in Edo state. If Lagos state slips off the control of Tinubu, his humongous wealth and unquantifiable investments may be jeopardised. Tinubu is stuck with APC whether he eventually emerges as the presidential candidate or not. He has a lot to lose if the opposition takes over the governance of Lagos state.

Maduako writes from Owerri, Imo state via [email protected]