…As he responds to questions on Osinbajo’s declaration
…APC govs to meet over Tinubu’s presidential ambition, deny the division
…Senator Abba Aji asks Tinubu to step down for Osinbajo
…Aso Rock, not old peoples’ home — Osinbajo group
By Omeiza Ajayi & Emmanuel Elebeke
NATIONAL Leader of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and presidential aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has feigned ignorance of yesterday’s presidential declaration of his erstwhile ‘political godson’, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, saying he has no son grown enough to have made such declaration.
The development came as governors of the APC said they would meet soon to discuss the presidential aspiration of Tinubu, a Third Republic senator and two-time governor of Lagos State.
The governors, however, denied speculations that the aspirations of Tinubu and Osinbajo had caused a division among them.
Tinubu spoke in Abuja shortly after meeting with about 12 APC governors.
The meeting came a few hours after Osinbajo declared his interest in the 2023 presidential election.
Osinbajo, a protegè of Tinubu, had on Sunday night met with APC governors to inform them of his ambition. Those who met with the VP Sunday night were Governors Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Babagana Umara Zulum (Borno) and Babajide Sanwoolu (Lagos).
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Yesterday’s meeting, which agenda was about Tinubu’s presidential ambition held at Kebbi State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja. Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, is the chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, PGF, a think-tank for governors of the ruling party.
Those who met with Tinubu were Governors Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Mohammed Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos). Others were Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara), Simon Bako Lalong (Plateau), Hope Uzodimma (Imo), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
Speaking after the meeting, Tinubu said he met the governors to get their buy-in. He also said he had no “son” grown enough to have made a presidential declaration.
“My mission here is to seek collaboration, support and encouragement of my party, the APC, for my ambition to become the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a replacement for President Muhammadu Buhari after his tenure,” he stated.
On the declaration of his “son”, Osinbajo for the presidency, Tinubu said: “I don’t have any son grown up enough to make such declaration”.
No division among APC govs
Speaking after the meeting, PGF Chairman, Bagudu, said the aspiration of both men had not caused any form of division within the ranks of the governors.
His words: “Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, this morning, met members of the Progressive Governors Forum, where he stated what he has made public already-his intention to seek for the office of the President in 2023. He briefed us on his reasons, his thinking and his message.
Tinubu’s ambition for discussion
“All the governors in attendance graciously came to listen to him. He acknowledged the role of the governors in the last convention of our party, where, according to him, the governors steadied the party by helping in the evolution of the leadership that is accepted and widely acknowledged as that which we wish for our party.
“We appreciated him, his message and will definitely discuss the message at one of our forum meetings.
Consensus not ruled out
“In fact, on the contrary, we appreciate our party because it has become a party that has endeared itself to Nigerians. We have many brilliant people in our party, some serving and some not serving.
“The fact that we have people in our party that express desire to lead the party into the highest office in an electoral contest shows how much our party has resonated with Nigerians and our party members.
“For us, it is a hallmark of success that people are showing interest, but at the end of the day and because they are leaders of the party, they will always put the party’s interest at heart.
“We always encourage our party to go for the best. Don’t forget that in the 2015 presidential election primary, President Buhari contested against several others and it was a beauty contest. There is nothing wrong. Members of the party always want to see consensus if it is possible but we are a democratic party.
“In our last convention, we had consensus in some of the offices and election in some others. There is always misrepresentation of consensus as if people are being snowballed into positions they would rather not take.
“APC has done well as a party, President Buhari has led the party ably well and we believe strongly that come 2023, Nigerians will see another President of the APC extraction.”
“Allow Osinbajo grow’
Meanwhile, former Presidential Adviser, Senator Muhammed Abba Aji, has advised Tinubu to shelve his ambition and allow the dreams of his political godson to materialise.
In an interview in Abuja yesterday, Abba Aji, an Arewa elder, who served as Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters to two presidents, emphasized that in spite of challenges, Osinbajo had solid support base in the North, along with thriving circles of influential supporters across the South.
Senator Abba Aji, who is one of the Arewa elders in the Progressive Consolidation Group, PCG, a pro-Osinbajo lobby group that has been active since last year, also applauded the spontaneous nationwide celebrations that greeted Professor Osinbajo’s declaration for the 2023 presidency.
He said: “I have been in politics since the early ’80s and I can tell you that the Nigerian electorate is now much wiser, much more discerning and sophisticated than what you had in the past. “The spontaneous rallies are a show of strength, asserting the power of the real people and it is a strong pointer to Professor Osinbajo’s very bright chances for ultimate electoral victory.’’
Speaking further, Senator Abba Aji described Tinubu as a great party leader who should feel vindicated that the good idea brought forward in the person of Osinbajo had continued to flourish.
“Asiwaju is a great leader of our party and his role in bringing about an Osinbajo Vice Presidency has been vindicated, having performed creditably, impressing President Buhari and millions of Nigerians.
“As a leader, when you have brought a great idea, you should allow such to grow and Vice President Osinbajo’s declaration for the 2023 presidency is a reflection of very sound growth and the next step is for Osinbajo to assume the Presidency in 2023,” Abba Aji said.
Aso Rock not old peoples’ home– Osinbajo group
Also speaking on Osinbajo’s chances, the National Coordinator, National Coalition Group 4 Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Presidency, NCG, Mr Hyacinth Turnoe, said the Vice President remained the best hand to succeed President Buhari because “Nigerians are tired of experimentation in the Presidency of this country and need for continuity, experience, courage and winning qualities.”
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Turnie said Osinbajo has supporters in the 8,813 wards, 774 local councils, 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, adding that APC stood a better chance of winning the 2023 presidential poll with the Vice President as its standard-bearer.
Asked if they were not scared of Tinubu (the big masquerade), Turnie said: “There is nothing like a big masquerade or big fish in APC, every member of APC is equal and so every member can aspire to be President. And you cannot be scared of anybody as far as you have something to offer.
“We only have one leader in APC in the person of Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu is only an aspirant. When you give birth to a child in African culture it is your prayer that your child will be greater than you. We urge Tinubu to anoint his son so that we can have a breath of fresh air. “This is where Nigerians must get it right. It is our time to make a change, and showcase to the international community that we have the best we can showcase.
“Aso Rock is not old people’s home, it is for people who want to grow the economy, change the fortunes of the Nigerian people. Anybody who is aspiring for a position is not a leader of that party. ‘’People have been declaring their intentions to run for President, but I can tell you that the primary has already been won. Before this intervention, an in-depth consultation was carried out; Osinbajo did not just come out to declare.”