Tinubu and Obasanjo

By Miftaudeen Raji & Biodun Busari

The presidential candidate and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu paid a point-in-history visit to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday at the penthouse, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL)  in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.

While details of the meeting have not been made public, the event is undoubtedly a significant one for many reasons. 

For readers’ delight, we have compiled three reasons why the visit of Jagaban’s (Tinubu) to the Ebora of Owu (Obasanjo) is noteworthy. 

Obasanjo/Tinubu’s statutory allocation rift

Recall that Obasanjo and Tinubu were at loggerheads in 2005 when he (Obasanjo) withheld the statutory allocations meant for the local governments in Lagos state during Asiwaju’s tenure as governor. 

Obasanjo, at the time, seized the local governments’ funds over Tinubu’s decision to create additional 37 local council development areas (LCDAs) for the state to address the administrative issues.

The rift created a gulf between the two prominent politicians and was largely discussed as a mechanism that brought the best out of the APC National Leader as he resorted to creating taxes and setting up agencies to generate revenues for Lagos.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling that the ex-President should release the allocations, he did not obey the court’s order until his successor, late President Umaru Yar’Adua released the funds in 2007.

The former President and the former governor had never been together in any public event until Obasanjo’s 78th birthday lecture in 2015 held at OOPL.

Tinubu, in 2015, had said, “But how do you truly celebrate and honour a man who has kept you on your toes? Between Baba Olusegun Obasanjo and myself, what I can say is gratitude from me because you kept me on my toes.”

Gateway State and Obasanjo’s influence   

Ogun state, nicknamed “Gateway to Nigeria,” has a strong trajectory of influencing political leadership in the country. 

In the past election seasons in Nigeria, several presidential candidates had visited Obasanjo in his Presidential Hilltop residence in Abeokuta. President Muhammadu Buhari and former vice president Abubakar Atiku visited Obasanjo in 2015 and 2019 respectively to seek his backing for their presidential bid. 

So, it is not shocking to  see the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu join the league of the “big boys,” in the build-up to the 2023 general elections. 

Note that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi also visited Obasanjo in Abeokuta to seek his support and blessing for the presidential ambition.

The state is reputed for many reasons, ranging from education, journalism and civilization.  The state is also home to many political icons in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general, including Bola Ajibola, former Nigeria’s Attorney General and the Minister of Justice of Nigeria from 1985 to 1991 and a Judge of the International Court of Justice from 1991 to 1994; and Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.  

Ogun state has produced the highest number of presidents, alongside Niger state. Obasanjo was a Nigerian political and military leader who served as Nigeria’s head of state from 1976 to 1979 and later became a Nigerian civilian president from 1999 to 2007 after the military rule. 

Chief Earnest Shonekan was the interim Head of State of Nigeria from 26 August 1993 to 17 November 1993. 

Personality of Obasanjo as a former president of Nigeria adds up to his political weight and the amount of political influence he wields. Although Obasanjo has little political relevance in the Ogun state politics, he is well respected outside Ogun state and Nigeria at large. 

Obasanjo, an illustrious son of Ogun State, is one of the world’s leading socio-cultural and political icons of national global respect and reputation for peace. 

Call for unity in Yoruba land

When two elephants fight, the grass, they say, suffers! That’s the notion held by indigenous people of Yoruba land and many Nigerians as to the discrepancies in ideologies held by these two political leaders who hail from the same region. 

However, there’ve been calls for unification between the two political giants ahead of the 2023 presidential election. Only recently , the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi appealed to Yoruba leaders and politicians to seek each other’s forgiveness in the interest of Nigeria.

Recall the popular monarch also beseeched Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general election, to establish a rapport with all aggrieved Yoruba leaders and politicians for genuine reconciliation and compromise.

While noting that the appeal became necessary to have a united Yoruba house ahead of the 2023 general election, he maintained that forgiving themselves would bring a colourful outing in favour of a Southern presidential candidate.

This meeting on August 17, 2022, is very significant as Nigeria heads for the 2023 General elections.

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