The plot is thickening ahead of 2019 with permutations held behind closed doors. It is not yet clear what the plans are by political actors.
However, gradually we are beginning to get feelers based on statements by key actors of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
When it comes to who becomes the flag bearer of the party in 2019, the stalwarts are not in tandem. There are talks here and there. Some loud, some quiet. The loudest of all has been that of Chief Bisi Akande, who recently declared that there was room for everyone in the party to aspire for the most coveted seat in the land.
Unlike the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), what Akande is saying is that there is no zoning. That interpretation may be wrong though.
This seems to be in line with Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State who recently declared his intention to run for president in 2019 under the PDP. This is despite the fact that his party has zoned that position the north.
Fayose is also from the South-West and is running for the office of the president. A move, which indicates that politicians from the South-West are united in seeing that one of them becomes president, come 2019. That is good understanding everything being equal.
However, speculations are rife that a National leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is from the South West is interested in becoming president in 2019. What first gave room to this speculation was the statement he made earlier in the year. When asked by reporters if he was interested in vying for the office of the president one day, he replied “You see, there is nothing wrong with such ambition. It depends on the timing and the environment and what political leadership dictates.”
Publisher of Ovation Magazine and former presidential aspirant, Mr. Dele Momodu, in his weekly column said, “Tinubu is tired of being a kingmaker and he would rather be the king.”
Continuing he said “Without mincing words, it is obvious that the Yoruba leadership has decided it would no longer support other tribes, zones or regions to attain power to the exclusion of their tribe.
“They would rather work hard, reach out and join hands with like minds to get power,” he said.
How true is that statement? Only time will tell. For now, what is clear is that the APC is deeply divided. This division is sure to bring about new calculations.
The division stems from what many analysts term as “the sidelining of Tinubu.” Many political observers are of the view that Tinubu has been sidelined by President Muhammadu Buhari, despite his support which ensured he won the 2015 presidential election.
An elder statesman and Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, recently said, “I warned Tinubu against supporting Buhari ahead of 2015 presidential election. What is for Tinubu in this government? He has been sidelined. This government is all about Buhari. The greatest mistake made was for Yoruba to vote for Buhari.”
Although Tinubu has not spoken openly about his dissatisfaction with the current administration, a source close to him has expressed it to The Next Edition that “he regrets working for Buhari. This was not the Nigeria he had in mind when he formed alliance with Buhari in 2013. If Tinubu was by the side of Buhari, he wouldn’t have faltered this way.”
In a recent meeting of leaders and governors of the APC in the South West, former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Akande declared that the ticket for the 2019 presidential election is open to all contenders, saying that President Buhari has not yet indicated interest in a second term.
Unlike previous meetings, this meeting was attended by all the APC governors in the South and former governors who are members of APC.
However, according to reports, national leader of the party, Tinubu was absent due to ill health.
Tinubu’s media aide, Mr. Tunde Raheem, said the illness was not a serious one so it shouldn’t be given much attention.”
The same source who spoke earlier revealed to The Next Edition that “Tinubu was not in that meeting because he has the intention of running for president in 2019. He wouldn’t want to be seen in public meetings where key decisions are being made regarding 2019. He would engineer it behind closed doors.”
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On Friday, to compound the issues and further heighten speculations about Tinubu’s political posturing, a former Minister of Aviation Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, who is also a former member of the APC in a tweet mentioned Bola Tinubu as one of those President Buhari was humiliating despite all his efforts to make him president.
The former presidential spokesman wrote: “NBC has shut down Radio Continental, owned by Bola Ahmed Tinubu. SEC is investigating Oando, an oil company owned by Tinubu’s cousin.
“They humiliated Bukola Saraki, they have started on Atiku and now they are getting set for Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Buhari is devouring his own children,” he said.
A political analyst, Mr. Okunade Sijuade Adekunle, told The Next Edition that “There will be realignments ahead of 2019. The South West leaders irrespective of party affiliations are beginning to come together to work for the common interest of the region.”
Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State also stressed the need for the people of South West to come together in the interest of the region.
He said, “It is incumbent on us to brainstorm and forge a unity of purpose, which will be beneficial to the people who have put us into these leadership positions.
“Our past leaders, wherever they found themselves, used to exhibit such attributes such as vision, determination, selflessness, courage, steadfastness and passion for the emancipation of their people. We must, therefore, renew our resolve to re-enact these qualities in order to bring back the lost glory of our region and reposition it for our people in order that they may enjoy the full benefits of entrusting our party with their destinies,” the governor said.
The National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun, who has been at loggerheads with Tinubu since last year is not in agreement with the decision of the South West chapter of the party. Reacting to Akande’s statement, Oyegun said, “That is his personal view. He said what he felt. There is really nothing to comment about. That is his personal view,” he said.
In what makes it even more obvious that all is not well within the party, a consultative meeting, which was held at the party’s National Secretariat, Abuja, last Wednesday at the instance of Chief Odigie-Oyegun was ignored by the South West governors. Apart from Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State who sent his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, to represent him, none of them attended the meeting or sent a representative. That too is a pointer to the fact that all is not well.
A Chieftain of the APC in Kogi State, Alhaji Yakubu Mamuda Kampala, believes “the president speaks through Oyegun on party issues.” He added ” The governors, not attending that meeting called by Oyegun, implies that they are not on the side of the president.”
The absence of the South West APC governors at that meeting leaves more room for more speculations about a Yoruba president in 2019.