By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
LAGOS— Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, vowed never to contest the Presidency against President Muhammadu Buhari.
He noted that a newspaper report to the contrary was conjured to put him at odds with the President.
In a strongly worded rebuttal to the news report by the daily, Tinubu affirmed his unwavering loyalty to Buhari, saying permutations of him defecting were ignorant of his consistent political principles.
The daily in its front page report, Tuesday, had alleged that Tinubu had stepped up plans to contest the presidential election, irrespective of Buhari’s intentions, saying he had pencilled down three possible running mates, including Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Senator Abu Ibrahim and Serikin Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Tinubu in his reaction issued by Mr. Tunde Rahman, his Media Assistant, said: “The story is a manufactured tale weaved by its authors to try to create division where there is none. Those who wrote this fantasy piece seek to place Asiwaju Tinubu at odds with President Buhari. Writing such a baseless report is a very foul and wrong thing to do.
“As long as that patriotic and committed man named Muhammadu Buhari holds and seeks to hold the mantle as our president, then Asiwaju Tinubu stands behind him in unwavering support and confidence.
“Asiwaju Tinubu remains faithful to the mission of progressive reform and change that President Buhari, he and the All Progressives Congress, APC, have started. Tinubu was instrumental in the formation and success of the APC.
“His toil and efforts helped establish this government. He is not one to tear down something he laboured so dutifully to build.”
Noting that the report aimed to skew the banter the APC leader had with reporters in Akure last weekend, he said the report “opted to gain false sensation by completely mocking the tenor of the brief banter Asiwaju Tinubu had with journalists at the inauguration of Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
“When asked about future political office, Asiwaju said he could not discount that possibility if the nation called upon him for such service, provided, he emphasized, that all political conditions were appropriate; particularly the office in question would have to be vacant, even if it’s local government chairmanship.
“In our political lexicon, this means the office is not held by a member of the APC in good standing. We all know this.
“Moreover, if you really listen to his words, Asiwaju did not mention any office or any time-frame. The conditions he mentioned may not become ripe for years to come and they might not pertain to the Presidency. In effect, all Asiwaju said was the position that any political figure would hold.
“As a politician, he cannot preclude the possibility of running for office in the future because no man knows what the future will hold. To translate this general statement of political reality into a tale that he is actively preparing for a 2019 presidential run is reckless in the extreme.”
No list of possible running mates
“Asiwaju Tinubu has not held any planning meetings for any such presidential campaign and is not contemplating any such meetings. He has no present list of possible running mates because he has no present intention of running.
“The headline also libels Asiwaju by asserting he was going to join the PDP. This is as shameless as a lie can be. Asiwaju is acknowledged to be the intellectual father and the driving force behind the APC.
“It makes no sense that he would abandon the party that he worked hard to build in order to enter the dilapidated building the PDP has become. Asiwaju worked for over 16 years to break the PDP yoke on the nation.
“After breaking that yoke, it is not in his nature to voluntarily place it back on our necks. Anyone who has followed his career, even his staunchest critics, knows Asiwaju for his partisan consistency.
“He is not a party hopper. He is loyal and sticks with the party to which he belongs.”
After fighting for so many years to elevate his party to the position of national leadership, he would not give that away in order to join with those who blame him for their currently bleak political circumstance.’’
Concluding that the newspaper had joined “with those who seek to put Asiwaju Tinubu at odds with our President,” he said: “This scam will fail. Asiwaju supports and stands behind President Buhari. He wishes the President well and that he returns soon. ‘’Whether the President is here or away, he has the full loyalty of Asiwaju Tinubu. President Buhari can rest assured on this point: Asiwaju Tinubu will never contest against him nor will he support anyone who does.”