June 3, 2023

Examining Tinubu’s rough road to Aso Villa, his many legal battles

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By Ise-Oluwa Ige

In this report, Saturday Vanguard examines the various battles fought by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu between January 10, 2022 and May 29, 2023 at the court of public opinion, the regular law courts and the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and argues that though his road to Aso Villa has been very rough, it is not yet Uhuru for him until the three remaining petitions against his election are decided by the Supreme Court.


Although, former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu was inaugurated as Nigeria’s 16th President at the Eagle Square in the nation’s capital city, Abuja, on May 29, 2023, his political opponents have still not relented on their common mission to invalidate his election and terminate his lifetime ambition to rule the country. His trouble began on January 10, 2022 when Tinubu visited the immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari, at Aso Villa to inform him of his intention to run for the number one political office in the country.

He confessed to newsmen after meeting Buhari in his office in Abuja that occupying the highest political office in the country has been his lifetime ambition.

Tinubu’s battle to get APC’s presidential ticket

But soon after he made his intention known, an intra party ‘war’ ensued between some politicians and businessmen close to President Muhammadu Buhari, the so-called ‘Aso Rock cabal,’ and some northern governors over the control of Nigeria’s political lever.

His ambition also received opposition from some of his erstwhile associates including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Worse still, the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari who appeared to have his preferred candidate did not sincerely support the ambition of Bola Tinubu.

The Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom however understood the enormity of the battle facing him as he trudged to crush all obstacles on his way to realizing his ambition.

Tinubu’sdaring outburst in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he had publicly claimed to have helped to secure victory for the outgoing President Buhari and many political leaders in the country was though rumoured to have widened the existing gap between him and Buhari, it also did some magic.

That fierce preliminary battle by Tinubu with powerful forces in the ruling party to get the ticket of APC spanned almost six months.

Vanguard reports that after all the political gymnastics that characterized the APC’s primary electioneering campaign, seven of the aspirants stepped down for Tinubu at the convention ground where he polled 1,271 votes to defeat 13 others in the race including his closest opponent and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who scored 316 votes and Yemi Osinbajo who polled 235 votes. The Jagabanwho was eventually announced winner of the APC’s primary poll on June 8, 2022 to challenge the candidates of other parties, picked Ibrahim Shettimah as his running mate.

In all, eighteen candidates were in the running for Nigeria’s highest office after all political parties in the country were done with their primary polls, but opinion polls suggested three were leading the race including the APC’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi.

2023 Poll: Opponents within and outside APC work against Tinubu’s election, approach court

But as soon as Tinubu became the presidential flag-bearer of the ruling APC, his opponents within and outside his political parties mounted fresh opposition to his realizing his ambition.

For instance, the PDP had, on July 28, 2022, approached a Federal high court in Abuja with a lawsuit to challenge the validity of Tinubu/Shettima ticket for the 2023 presidential election, arguing that Shettima’s nomination as the running mate was in breach of the provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35 and 84(1) (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended.

The PDP claimed that Shettima had a double nomination, arguing that his nomination as a vice-presidential candidate, as well as the candidate for the Borno Central Senatorial seat, contravened the law.

Therefore, the PDP sought an order disqualifying the APC, Tinubu and Shettima from contesting the 2023 presidential election and a separate order compelling the INEC to remove their names from its list of nominated or sponsored candidates eligible to contest the election.

Tinubu dragged before court of public opinion

Besides, Vanguard reports that there were various allegations of graft made against Bola Ahmed by his opponents which he strongly denied.

Besides, some critics said he was not suitable for the job because during campaigns, he was unable to convincingly address concerns about his health, and had, at times, appeared confused and incoherent on the campaign trail.

He, indeed, made few gaffes that made him the butt of jokes and viral memes on social media.

His decision to abstain from presidential debates and delegating questions about his manifesto to members of his team during an outing at the UK think tank Chatham House was also used to campaign against his suitability for the job.

Worse still, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, a couple of weeks to the election, gave his approval to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to implement a twin-track policy of naira redesign and new limits on cash withdrawal from banks, capable of truncating the chances of any candidate who has deep pocket like Tinubu to take advantage of their money to win election.

Buhari’s administration also worked against Tinubu’s election

Buhari who did not hide his intention had explained through a national broadcast that one of the reasons for implementing the policy was to minimize influence of money in politics.

“Fellow citizens, on the 25th of February, 2023, the nation would be electing a new President and National Assembly members. I am aware that this new monetary policy has also contributed immensely to the minimization of the influence of money in politics. This is a positive departure from the past and represents a bold legacy step by this administration, towards laying a strong foundation for free and fair elections.

“I urge every citizen therefore, to go out to vote for their candidates of choice without fear, because security shall be provided and your vote shall count,” he had argued.

That was the situation few days before the election until the Supreme Court temporarily stopped the implementation of the policy.

After the presidential election held nationwide, Bola Tinubu, the candidate of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, defeated 17 other candidates who took part in the election and was accordingly declared winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Tinubu had scored a total of 8,794,726 votes, the highest of all the candidates, thus meeting the first constitutional requirement to be declared the winner. He also scored over 25 per cent of the votes cast in 30 states, more than the 24 states constitutionally required.

Atiku who came second polled a total of 6,984,520 votes in the election, Peter Obi of the Labour Party came third in the election with a total of 6,101,533 votes while Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP came fourth with 1,496,687 votes.