20th January, 2022
By Michael Adeshina
It’s no news that the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has thrown his hat in the ring for the 2023 presidency.
The staunch supporters of Tinubu and his critics all confirmed that he will vie for the number one job in the country long before the former governor of Lagos State officially informed President Muhammdu Buhari of his intentions.
However, as a Nigerian with a keen interest in the 2023 election, I analyzed the arguments of the supporters and opponents of Tinubu and one thing became clear – The opposing team needs to do better.
In truth, from the statements of his critics, I could only observe the fear of Tinubu’s popularity.
The best shot the opposing team has fired since Tinubu’s declaration has been about “age” but none has challenged his competence to rule or reposition Nigeria for better or come out with a proven criminal record that could damage his reputation.
Let’s start from the Ohanaeze Ndigbo
The group, via a statement issued by its National publicity secretary, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, on the 13th of December 2021, urged Tinubu to step down and support Igbo Presidency.
Ogbonnia said posterity would be kind of Tinubu if he toed the “path of reason, conscience, and equity” on the matter.
Parts of the statement by Ogbonnia said; “I have my fears that Tinubu is embarking on a political adventure that lacks both conscience and principle.”
After Tinubu’s declaration, Ohanaeze said: “Tinubu knows that he is embarking on a cause that has no foundation in anything: foundation in equity and justice, and of course is a project that will not succeed.”
So I asked myself, what is wrong with Tinubu declaring his interest to run for president. Is he not a Nigerian?
Why the fear?
In my opinion, Ohanaeze ought to be projecting a candidate to Nigerians rather than seeking Tinubu’s support because Nigerians will ultimately decide who rules in 2023.
But all I see is fear, why is Ohanaeze afraid of Tinubu instead of showing Nigerians who is better to rule Nigeria in 2023?.
I also recently came across the comments of Tinubu’s critics concerning the statement credited to Ibrahim Babangida in a recent interview.
Babangida never mention Tinubu’s name but the ex-military ruler noted that he will not support any candidate above 60 years.
However, IBB listed other criteria that should be considered by Nigerians.
He said Nigeria’s President should be able to engage people on any issue concerning the country.
He said: “He should be able to communicate because a president should be able to walk into a group of people and talk to them on issues concerning Nigeria; not all the time but most of the time.
“He must have somebody he knows in every part of the country. It is not a tall order.
“You could limit it to states, you could limit it to local governments even to the wards if you can but somebody such that once you hear the name, it is somebody you will say, yes, I have heard that name before either in the country or in his profession; if he is a doctor, a journalist or whatever, all areas, we have heard the name before; okay then I will make an effort to know more about him.”
After reading the article, I understand why the critics of Tinubu focused on the age factor and not other areas mentioned by Babangida.
The critics obviously know who is the better candidate in terms of criteria listed aside from the age factor.
But the funny thing is, none of them could boldly say “This candidate is better than Tinubu” with facts.
Okay now, I think it’s time to talk about the “age” of Tinubu.
Tinubu will be 70 on March 29, 2022, and 71 in 2023.
So what is the noise all about?
Obafemi Awolowo was 74 when he contested to be President in 1983.
The United States of America we all adore is currently ruled by 79-years-old Joe Biden.
In fact, Biden transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris on November 19 for a brief period of time when he was under anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy.
And yet America remains stronger despite Biden’s age.
The president before Biden, Donald Trump emerged victorious when he was 70 years, 220 days.
Nancy Patricia Pelosi the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives since 2019, is 81 years old.
The current chancellor of Germany is 63. The President of China Xi Jinping is 68 years.
All these proved that aside from personal hatred, there is nothing stopping anyone above 60 from properly ruling a country.
I think we should also examine the comments about Tinubu from both members and non-members of his party, APC.
Governor Makinde’s statement about Tinubu
Tinubu recently paid a condolence visit to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on the recent deaths of two prominent traditional rulers and a former Governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala.
Speaking during the visit, Makinde said: “During this political season, you may have to question yourself on why you need to come to the Oyo State Government House because people might have different interpretations to it.
“But, you sent a message across to me and I was delighted to host you in Ibadan.
“We really thank you for this visit and we have taken proper notice that you have risen above politics.
“And for your going around to come and share with us at this moment that we are grieving, we say thank you.”
The above confirmed one of the criteria listed by Babangida, Nigeria’s president must be able to communicate with the people irrespective of political affiliations.
Osinbajo in 2020 described Tinubu as a visionary, transformative leader, and patriot.
He said: “Your exceptional political career and service have inspired millions; it is true that few leaders have developed as many leaders from the ranks of their protégés as you have done.
“Your incredibly large and generous heart, political astuteness, and uncommon intellect have become the stuff of legend.”
In an October 26, 2019 article, Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu said Tinubu is eminently qualified to contest for the No.1 seat in Nigeria.
“What gives Tinubu pre-eminence over most of the others who are contending for the crown but presently hiding behind one finger is his glittering records and achievements in both the private and public sectors”, Momodu wrote in his Pendulum Column in ThisDay.
“I really do not care about his past because as a Christian, none of us can judge anyone, and I have ample examples of the possible transformation and transfiguration of human beings, as the Lord pleases. That is a long time ago and gone with the winds. He has done more than enough to remove that from his narrative”.
“It is Tinubu’s achievements as a two-term Governor of Lagos State that has projected him to the prominent and exalted position that he now occupies in the Nigerian political sphere”, Momodu added.
Pastor Tunde Bakare in December 2020 said: “Like Jephthah the Gileadite, he (Tinubu) has fought many battles on behalf of the Yoruba people and won despite his rough beginning and God does not need anybody’s permission to put such in his hall of fame despite their past deeds and ancestry.
“Despite his growing up challenges, the dents and the detours of his life, he like Jephthah delivered Lagos State and nearly all the southwest states from the onslaught of the PDP from 1999 to 2007.
“Truth be told, without his cooperation and political dexterity, the APC victory at the polls in 2015 and 2019 would have been impossible.”
The truth is, with the record of Tinubu in politics, his adversaries must come out with better strategies to come close in the 2023 polls.
It is clear that the current “attack” tactics won’t work. Oppositions must come forward with candidates proven records or lose credibility even before the 2023 election.
Michael Adeshina is a journalist with PM News Nigeria