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Tinubu, PDP and The Road to 2019 By Dele Momodu

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Fellow Nigerians, you must be wondering what

this title is all about. Please, calm down, Asiwaju

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, one of Nigeria’s iconic

politicians, is not about to dump his party, APC,

for PDP, the party he fought hard with others to

sack from power just last year.

The reason for bringing PDP into this article

which largely concerns the Tinubu conundrum is

very simple and straight-forward. PDP has

suffered calamities upon catastrophes since

General Muhammadu Buhari sacked President

Goodluck Jonathan from office. It is hard to

imagine, or believe, that a party that held Nigeria

by the jugular for 16 solid years could attain

meltdown so soon and almost disappear into

oblivion.

One would have expected PDP, despite its

electoral misfortune, to provide a formidable

opposition to APC and keep President Buhari on

his toes but that has not been the case. APC

has wasted no time in sending PDP to an early

grave by throwing poisonous darts at it from

every angle.

The war against corruption has been a most

veritable weapon with stupendous impact used

by APC to scatter most of the PDP apparatchik

to the winds. The strategy was to weaken them

by showcasing the humongous corruption that

was perpetrated and perpetuated during their

reign. The PDP brand was thus obliterated in a

jiffy. Many of their bigwigs confessed to

nefarious and horrendous crimes of looting and

brigandage. They coughed up or vomited

incredible sums of cash.

All entreaties and shouts of a vengeful witch-

hunt against President Buhari fell on deaf ears.

The more they screamed the more they were

horse-whipped into submission and made to

weep bitterly.

As if that was not bad enough, PDP engaged

itself in a war of attrition and became a house

divided against itself. It was only a matter of

time before it crumbled like the proverbial cookie

does. Today, PDP has become its own worst

enemy with the brickbats being thrown at one

another by members of what used to be touted

as the biggest political party in Africa. How are

the mighty fallen!

The aim of my piece this week is to attempt

what I did in 2014 when I wrote a permutative

article titled ‘In Search of Mathematicians’. That

was how I predicted a win for Buhari when many

pundits still doubted such possibility. I intend to

do so again in this column by painting a picture

of what to expect in 2019. If you think that year

is still far away, perish the thought.

The battle for the next Nigerian Presidential

election started as soon as the last one was lost

and won. The hurly-burly of the elections had

not yet settled down when the potential

gladiators picked up their gauntlets in readiness

for the next combat.

The ruling party APC has suffered its own

casualties as a result of its self-immolating wars

of anticipation. What do I mean? The new men

of power are already thinking ahead and

wondering who may be too ambitious within their

own fold. Any of such recalcitrant and ambitious

rebels must be cut down to size, no matter his

or her contribution to past victory and glory.

Without mincing words, the Senate President,

Bukola Saraki, is the first victim and he has

suffered massive collateral damage on account

of suspicion. APC itself has suffered almost

fatally in the process. The only thing holding it

together for now is the fact that it is the party in

power and thus presumably has limitless

opportunities to distribute largesse to the army

of party operatives and their cronies.

By this time next year, as this government enters

its third year in power, reality would begin to set

in and President Buhari will begin to discover and

see original animals in human skin.

I foresee and predict a re-alignment of political

forces from 2017. President Buhari will be

encouraged and persuaded to run a second term

by those who are currently profiting from his

government. It is only normal and it is their

legitimate right. Nothing stops the President

from seeking a re-election within our

Constitution. The only snag is that many

politicians are going to gang up against him

because they see him as an outsider in politics

who has benefitted from their massive support

but in return has been messing things up for

them.

If the President remains stoically stubborn and

refuses to play ball with politicians, he would

have to fight dirty to win his ticket. It seems to

me that he would have to do everything to retain

the loyalty of one man by all means, Asiwaju

Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It is almost impossible for

any candidate to become President of Nigeria

without the overwhelming support of the Yoruba

and their current generalissimo, Tinubu, in

particular.

Tinubu derives his stranglehold on power from

his iron grip on Lagos. Lagos is a microcosm of

Nigeria. Whoever controls Lagos owns the

commercial nerve-centre of Nigeria, just like the

California of America. Tinubu has been very

lucky in that his anointed candidates, Babatunde

Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode, have been

very cerebrally successful. The current Governor

of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, is

already set, after just one year in office, to

surpass all expectations.

According to impeccable sources, Buhari may

therefore be forced to risk and pick Tinubu as

his running-mate if push comes to shove.

Tinubu’s protégé, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is the

current Vice President, who comes with

intimidating credentials but may not have enough

political muscle to deliver enough votes to the

kitty. The dilemma for Buhari is whether he

should buck the trend set by his predecessors,

starting from Shehu Shagari, and jettison his Vice

President, especially when a cordial and mutually

respectful relationship exists between them. In

addition, Osinbajo has been doing exceedingly

well and he is seen as one of the few shining

lights of this Administration.

There is also the fact that Prof Osinbajo is a

highly regarded and esteemed senior Christian

figure and the President has needed him to

silence those detractors that consider him an

Islamic fundamentalist.

However, I believe that the controversy that

could ensue from a potentially volatile Muslim/

Muslim ticket may have been fixed substantially.

Firstly, there is a precedent set by Chief

Moshood Kashimawo Abiola the acclaimed

winner of the 1993 elections who picked a fellow

Muslim, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, as his running-

mate and still won in Nigeria’s freest and fairest

election to date. Secondly, though Tinubu is a

devout Muslim, his beloved wife is a hard-core

Christian and a top-notch member of the same

Redeemed Christian Church of God as the Vice

President. Thirdly, there is the fact that Tinubu

supported a Christian, Akinwunmi Ambode, as his

anointed candidate for Governor of Lagos State,

a deft move calculated to pacify those who may

wish to foment religious crisis and conflagration

then and in the future.

Tinubu is believed by many to have served

Nigeria meritoriously and selflessly by

suppressing his own personal ambition for that

of others and it is believed that the kingmaker

deserves a chunky reward the next time around if

he so desires. He is acknowledged as being one

of the most knowledgeable leaders in Nigeria

today and a lot of people feel that his

background in business and politics could bail

Nigeria out of the economic quagmire of the

moment. He is known to be a practical politician

who knows how to make the world better for

most people.

If the hawks succeed in getting Buhari to snub

Tinubu because of his perceived threat to the

President himself, the APC may split like PDP did

before the collapse of the Jonathan Presidency.

One potential candidate is hovering in the wings

and that is the Turaki of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku

Abubakar, who has never hidden the fact that he

wants the Presidency by all means. My next

permutation is that the former Vice President

and Tinubu who are two of the three most

powerful and influential politicians in APC today

(the third is Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki with his

firm control of the Senate) may combine forces

to thwart a Buhari re-election bid. They have

been old allies since the time of Major General

Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. If they join forces, it may

therefore spell doom for those seeking the re-

election of President Buhari.

After the seeming lull in the Buhari-Tinubu love,

it seems the recent appointments given to some

of Tinubu’s acolytes appear designed to assuage

his feeling. But would this be sufficient to bury

the combustive ambition of a man who believes

he still has so much to give to his country?

The third option which also involves Tinubu in

the mix is one on which for a variety of reasons

Buhari chooses not to run again. Without doubt,

there are several other forces contending for

power in case Buhari decides not to seek re-

election. In this category, Tinubu’s name still

features prominently. No one can deny the ability

of Tinubu to transform Nigeria the way he did in

Lagos. It is presumed that Buhari may

generously want to pay Tinubu back for the

support he gave him. He may also want to leave

a lasting legacy and shed the toga of an ethnic

jingoist by handing over to a Southerner. If this

happens, I foresee the visionary Governor of

Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, a core Buhari

loyalist, becoming Tinubu’s running-mate,

notwithstanding that this is another Muslim/

Muslim ticket. Many APC loyalists believe this

combination may fly.

There is a fourth option and this is coming from

the direction of PDP. The theory here is that

PDP can still spring a surprise on Buhari and pay

him back in his own coin. The PDP apologists

believe the North has lost more under Buhari

despite allocating many political appointments to

the region. They are of the opinion that former

President Jonathan did more for them and gave

them access and respect than their own man

Buhari who they accuse of being standoffish.

This is the reason that many Northerners, apart

from his kinsmen in the South South, have

become the biggest promoter of PDP.

However, I believe that the controversy that

could ensue from a potentially volatile Muslim/

Muslim ticket may have been fixed substantially.

Firstly, there is a precedent set by Chief

Moshood Kashimawo Abiola the acclaimed

winner of the 1993 elections who picked a fellow

Muslim, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, as his running-

mate and still won in Nigeria’s freest and fairest

election to date. Secondly, though Tinubu is a

devout Muslim, his beloved wife is a hard-core

Christian and a top-notch member of the same

Redeemed Christian Church of God as the Vice

President. Thirdly, there is the fact that Tinubu

supported a Christian, Akinwunmi Ambode, as his

anointed candidate for Governor of Lagos State,

a deft move calculated to pacify those who may

wish to foment religious crisis and conflagration

then and in the future.

Tinubu is believed by many to have served

Nigeria meritoriously and selflessly by

suppressing his own personal ambition for that

of others and it is believed that the kingmaker

deserves a chunky reward the next time around if

he so desires. He is acknowledged as being one

of the most knowledgeable leaders in Nigeria

today and a lot of people feel that his

background in business and politics could bail

Nigeria out of the economic quagmire of the

moment. He is known to be a practical politician

who knows how to make the world better for

most people.

If the hawks succeed in getting Buhari to snub

Tinubu because of his perceived threat to the

President himself, the APC may split like PDP did

before the collapse of the Jonathan Presidency.

One potential candidate is hovering in the wings

and that is the Turaki of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku

Abubakar, who has never hidden the fact that he

wants the Presidency by all means. My next

permutation is that the former Vice President

and Tinubu who are two of the three most

powerful and influential politicians in APC today

(the third is Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki with his

firm control of the Senate) may combine forces

to thwart a Buhari re-election bid. They have

been old allies since the time of Major General

Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. If they join forces, it may

therefore spell doom for those seeking the re-

election of President Buhari.

After the seeming lull in the Buhari-Tinubu love,

it seems the recent appointments given to some

of Tinubu’s acolytes appear designed to assuage

his feeling. But would this be sufficient to bury

the combustive ambition of a man who believes

he still has so much to give to his country?

The third option which also involves Tinubu in

the mix is one on which for a variety of reasons

Buhari chooses not to run again. Without doubt,

there are several other forces contending for

power in case Buhari decides not to seek re-

election. In this category, Tinubu’s name still

features prominently. No one can deny the ability

of Tinubu to transform Nigeria the way he did in

Lagos. It is presumed that Buhari may

generously want to pay Tinubu back for the

support he gave him. He may also want to leave

a lasting legacy and shed the toga of an ethnic

jingoist by handing over to a Southerner. If this

happens, I foresee the visionary Governor of

Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, a core Buhari

loyalist, becoming Tinubu’s running-mate,

notwithstanding that this is another Muslim/

Muslim ticket. Many APC loyalists believe this

combination may fly.

There is a fourth option and this is coming from

the direction of PDP. The theory here is that

PDP can still spring a surprise on Buhari and pay

him back in his own coin. The PDP apologists

believe the North has lost more under Buhari

despite allocating many political appointments to

the region. They are of the opinion that former

President Jonathan did more for them and gave

them access and respect than their own man

Buhari who they accuse of being standoffish.

This is the reason that many Northerners, apart

from his kinsmen in the South South, have

become the biggest promoter of PDP.

In case you think Jonathan is dead and buried

politically, perish the thought! He still holds the

biggest ace in PDP. In fact, many in PDP today see

him as their best candidate in 2019 because some

of his transformation agenda are beginning to

come to fruition. They are hoping and banking on

Buhari becoming so unpopular that Jonathan

would be sorely missed by Nigerians who would

practically beg him to come back.

The rising profile and the promotion of Jonathan

in the international community is part of that

systematic way of re-polishing, repackaging,

redefining and preparing him for a return to

power. Every attempt to smear him with a tar

brush would be rebuffed by his die-hard loyalists

who see Buhari as someone trying to kill any

future role for Jonathan as Nigerian President.

They are totally committed to ensuring that

Jonathan is well protected between now and

next year when serious politicking would have

reached a crescendo again. The hope is that as

a former civilian President, he can bounce back

to power like President Mathieu Kerekou did in

Benin Republic, when he returned in 1996 after

quitting in 1991.

Who knows tomorrow?

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