Although Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has not officially announced his presidential interest or bid, the writing seems to be on the wall. In fact from the moment his party, the All Progressives Congress, found its way to the centre in 2015, it seems Tinubu had kick started his presidential interest.
Although he has neither come out to confirm it nor has he denied it, the only political position someone of his level would be eyeing is the presidency.
Tinubu’s political goodwill still remains strong even though he hasn’t occupied any elective position since 2007. His political tentacles have spread beyond Lagos making him a sort of a king-maker. With President Buhari constitutionally expected to end his tenure in 2023 and the south expected to pick up the baton, Tinubu seems poised to be the projected candidate.
While it might seem Tinubu is well-positioned for 2023 presidency, below are four Yoruba politicians that can stall his presidential ambition for 2023.
Bode George who is a former deputy national chairman of the PDP has vowed to contest against Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election. The former PDP chieftain and one of the founding fathers of the main opposition party has been a staunch opponent of Tinubu. Although all his attempts to wrestle Lagos out of the grip of Tinubu have been unsuccessful, he still remains a formidable opposition.
Bode George has even vowed to exchange his Nigerian nationality for the Togolese one if Tinubu wins the 2023 presidential election. This to an extent hints at the level of opposition he is building against the APC national leader.
Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has largely been credited with Nigeria’s sustenance of democratic government in the country since Nigeria returned to democratic practice in 1999. After his second term in office, he tried to get the National Assembly to pass a bill for a third term option for political office holders but this failed. After that, the country conducted a Presidential election which was won by the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
It may be argued that Obasanjo has had a hand in every single person who emerged as president since he left power except for Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in office. He openly supported Yar’Adua in 2007, Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 and Buhari in 2015. This to a great extent proves the level of relevance and power he wields in Nigeria’s political landscape.
Perhaps Tinubu would have been the unanimous Yoruba leader but for Obasanjo who some consider a more national heavyweight than Tinubu. The relationship between the two men cannot be summarily defined as their different political ideology between 1999 to 2007 pulled them apart. Obasanjo then reportedly withdrew allocation to Lagos after Tinubu expanded the state’s local government from 20 to 57.
Although the two briefly united when Tinubu sought the support of Obasanjo for the APC and its presidential candidate, Buhari, things seem to have gone sour between them again as Obasanjo withdrew support for Buhari and the APC in 2019.
If Tinubu plans to contest for presidency in 2023, getting the support of Obasanjo would be very difficult and without Obasanjo’s support, it may split the vote of the south west thereby jeopardizing the APC chieftain’s chances.
While Obasanjo has said he has left partisan politics and has become a sort of an elder statesman, his relevance and influence cannot be undermined.
Ayo Adebanjo who is a chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural and political group, Afenifere, has been one of those who have publicly spoken against a Tinubu presidency for 2023. The foremost Awoist who is also an influential and well-respected Yoruba leader has spoken against Buhari’s presidency and by extension Tinubu’s perceived political interest.
Although the Afenifiere is not as influential in the south west as the Ohaneze Ndigbo is in the south east. However, people like Adebanjo who is an elder statesman command political respect especially among the Yorubas and can make things very difficult for Tinubu in 2023.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo
Although vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has shown that he is loyal to his political godfather, Tinubu, he still remains one of those Tinubu has to be wary of for 2023 presidency. Osinbajo’s exponential political rise is all down to Tinubu’s support as he rose from a relatively unknown commissioner under the APC chieftain’s governorship administration to becoming a vice president. However, his performance as vice president and as acting president during Buhari’s numerous absences has made him eligible for 2023 presidency. Many people now see him as a worthy candidate for 2023 presidency.
While Osinbajo himself has not made any comments about his plan for 2023, his desirable figure particularly in the APC can cast a shadow over Tinubu’s image. If this happens, this can put a dent on Tinubu’s 2023 ambition as Tinubu himself knows too well the essence of a political party’s support and if this support goes to Osinbajo, it can end Tinubu’s presidential ambition.
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