Tinubu

 Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja

On Monday, January 17, thousands of supporters of a national leader of the All Progressives Congress APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu converged on the International Conference Centre ICC in Abuja to discuss strategies aimed at ensuring the emergence of the former Lagos State governor as the party’s presidential flag-bearer.

All roads leading to the ICC were shut down by thousands of supporters who came from across the country.

They were in fact drawn from over 2, 500 support groups working for the actualization of a ‘Tinubu presidency’ in 2023.

Some of those who spoke at the well-attended summit was a former Governor of Borno state and incumbent senator, Kashim Shettima, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal, Kano APC chieftain, Senator Abu Ibrahim, Hons. James Faleke, Abdulmumuni Jibrin and Kano state Assembly members led by their speaker.

The event tagged, Support Group Conference, was organized by Support Groups Management Council SGMC of which Hon. Jibrin as its director-general.

They expressed readiness for the battle ahead, saying Tinubu towers above all his political rivals.

Bricklaying, weight lifting

So much has been said about the age and health status of the former Lagos State governor, but his supporters say he is just 69 and that despite his firmness of mind and body, they are not going to the Villa to lay blocks or lift weights.

They also spoke of the recent road trip they made with the APC leader to Sokoto, describing his quick recovery from recent knee surgery as evidence of the fact that his vital organs are still very active and easily respond to treatment like a young man.

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Mental, physical alertness

At the event which was chaired by Sen. Ibrahim, keynote speaker, Sen. Shettima harped on the mental acuity and physical fitness of Tinubu.

According to him, the mudslinging that has trailed Asiwaju since his presidential bid took the top spot in the country is a mere acknowledgement of his political track record and inimitable influence on the nation’s political firmament.

Shettima noted that the attempts at weaving ridiculous fiction “to override the history we’ve all witnessed demonstrate the detractors’ utter desperation and cowardice. One of such is the mischievous fixation on his age and the wild conclusions that he is physically unsuitable for the Office of the President. This obsession characterizes the thinking of those who have no understanding of Asiwaju’s incredible work ethic”.

“A few days ago, I joined him on a trip to Zamfara state to condole with the people and identify with their realities, and the experience made a nonsense of the propaganda that he is unfit to run Nigeria.

“On the eve of the trip, Asiwaju had retired at 6 am, after Subhi prayers, and was already awake and attending to guests by 11 am. We departed for Sokoto around 2 pm and had to traverse the menacing hinterland of that part of the North-West for seven hours from Sokoto to Gusau—where he made a generous donation of N50 million as he had in other places struck by tragedies—and then back to Sokoto.

“On returning to Abuja by midnight, his schedule was entirely a series of meetings that kept him up till 3 am. Now, excuse my curiosity, how many of us here can match or endure such a demanding schedule? Asiwaju’s alacrity, therefore, has never been a subject of scepticism for those who have worked with him, and even his critics are aware of this. If he were half the man in their tales by moonlight, they would have long succeeded in subduing him”, Shettima submitted.

Mark of leadership

Shettima who is reportedly eyeing the APC National Chairmanship seat specifically told Nigerians that the mark of true leadership is not in the ability to lift a bag of cement.

He said it is in the mental effort to think rationally of solutions designed to redeem one’s people and territorial jurisdiction.

“This was why leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States of America, stood out. Roosevelt took power in a country wrecked by the Great Depression of the 1930s and guided its economy through the Second World War, and the quality of his thoughts and ideas made the United States a superpower under his watch. Similarly, the accident that had Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki confined to a wheelchair didn’t disable his ability to produce sound ideas, and Kenyans were sold on his virtue that they chose him as their President over what some would consider a fitter option.

“I am not asking you to tone down critical assessments of your future leaders, but redirect you to see the bigger picture. We are not here to prepare for the Olympics, but an institution that relies on the superiority of ideas to thrive. Asiwaju’s credentials aren’t only appealing, they are proof of the qualities this country needs to redeem its vast potentials and possibilities. We are here to testify to this power of ideas—one that overturned the fortunes of Lagos state sustained its supremacy as the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa and kept the opposition alive when it was more profitable to sell out.

“Those who seek to make us go low hope to present the presidency as a brick-laying exercise. But that’s the work of a machine created by an idea, and who else to guide us towards manufacturing the best ideas to redeem this country?

“To derail us at this point is a futile ambition. The conversations we are prepared for aren’t pedestrian obsessions with the mundane, but comparisons of ideas and track records of service to the nation.

At the top of our expectations from Nigeria’s next president should be mastery of the dynamics of the modern economy, testified leadership skills and competence, and, very significantly, sensitivity to the complexities of Nigerian sociology”, he stated.

He also told President Muhammadu Buhari that it was payback time for Asiwaju who was greatly instrumental to the emergence of Buhari first as APC presidential candidate and then going on to defeat an incumbent in the 2015 general election.

He said when uncertainty loomed over the country during the military era, Tinubu was the man who disbursed his resources to fight for the return to this democracy. In fact, his supporters said he had opened a gas station in the United States, the proceeds of which he used to support pro-democracy activists, some of who squatted in his apartment in exile.

Cabals hijack APC

On his part, Babachir said the APC has derailed from the vision of its founding fathers, hence the need to pull it from the brinks.

He said cabals have now hijacked the APC and that it is this current state of the party “that we, gathered here, must operate to deliver Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the party’s flag bearer at the 2023 presidential election.

“And this we will do be it through consensus, indirect or direct party primaries by the grace of God. We are neither offended nor threatened by whichever method the party chooses to adopt for the emergence of its presidential candidate. But of course, being Democrats, we prefer a method that involves all the card-carrying members of the party in this choosing process.

“Therefore our task, beginning from today, is to develop a smart strategic plan that we will faithfully execute to deliver Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the candidate of APC and to thereafter deliver him as a landslide winner of the 2023 presidential election”, he stated.

No one can defeat us

Also speaking, Hon. Jibrin who said the delegates came from 2,500 Tinubu support groups, said his team had worked day and night to also streamline the groups and be sure that the 2500 delegates are all rooted from the national to the state level; from the local government to the wards and of course the units.

Jibrin said though campaigns have not started, the event was part of the group’s preparatory activities in its own foresight to continue to organize the support groups for easy management and to be able to achieve set objectives.

“All you can do now is when we all go back to our constituencies is to continue our aggressive political mobilization based volunteering. We must continue to recruit people.

“It is going to come handy whether it is the direct primaries or the indirect primaries that is adopted, support groups are key. If it is the direct primaries, you are the voters. I don’t see how anybody can defeat us in an election.

If it is indirect primaries where delegates are going to vote, these delegates are not going to drop from heaven. These delegates are your neighbours. They are your relatives. They are your brothers. They are your sisters. They are your mothers. They are your uncles. So if it is in the other primaries, if we have our members of the support groups, of course, it is an automatic vote. If we do not have, the support groups will play a key role in going door to door, house to house to campaign to these delegates”.

From his days in the Alliance for Democracy AD, through the Action Congress AC, then the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN and now the All Progressives Congress APC, the former Lagos State Governor has proven to be a dogged fighter. As a kingmaker, he has installed and dethroned kings. Now that he seeks the crown for himself, it remains to be seen how he intends to convince other “palace chiefs” to support his bid.

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