Lagos – Ahead of the presidential primary election of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) scheduled for May 30, the ambition of some political gladiators in the South-West may threaten the chances of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor and national leader of the party, who is a leading presidential aspirant in the 2023 general elections, Daily Independent exclusively gathered.
Following resistance by major stakeholders and presidential aspirants to the consensus mode of election which was adopted at its national convention in March, the APC has chosen indirect primaries as the mode of choosing its presidential candidate for the 2023 election. Reacting to the report, loyalists of Tinubu had said they were excited with the development as their principal will win the primary, given the massive support he enjoys among members and leaders of the party, who will be delegates at the convention.
However, checks by Daily Independent revealed that while he still enjoys large followership in the South-West region, Tinubu’s foothold in some South-West states have waned following opposition to his leadership by some of his erstwhile protégés.
Already, with the entrance of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo into the race, the delegates are already divided as some of Tinubu’s key loyalists in the party have already queued behind the vice president, sensing that he may likely be the president’s anointed candidate.
Former governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, is expected to announce his presidential ambition on May 5 in Abuja while Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, is still embarking on nationwide consultation.
Giving a detailed analysis of how things may play out, a former senator and ex-minister from the South-West who is also a chieftain of the APC said while Tinubu’s chances are high, he may have some hurdles to cross at the home front.
“From the way things are at the moment, all the aspirants will share the delegates.
We have six states in the South-West. The only two states that Asiwaju has is Lagos and Osun states. Even in Osun, he can’t boast of getting all the delegates votes because Governor Oyetola, his cousin, is not completely in charge of the party structure.
Also, there are some loyalists of former Governor Rauf Aregbesola who are in the party and in the governor’s cabinet but are pretending to be loyal to Oyetola in order to continue getting political patronage.
“Automatically, Ogun State belong to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Governor Dapo Abiodun is firmly on his side and don’t forget that he (Osinbajo) has moved his political base away from Lagos to Ikenne in Ogun State.
Abiodun will do everything in his power to deliver the state to the vice president who also played a huge role in his emergence as governor in 2019.
“Also, the fact that former Governor Ibikunle Amosun is contesting is another factor why Tinubu can’t get delegates votes in Ogun.
Amosun will likely get delegates votes in Oyo, Ogun and Ondo states. Given his close relationship with President Buhari, even if Amosun steps down, he may not ask his supporters to vote for Tinubu at the primaries.
He will rather ask them to give it to Osinbajo or whoever the president endorses. “All the aspirants will struggle for delegates’ votes in Oyo and Ondo.
Governor Akeredolu and Fayemi are also like siamese twins given the manner they have always supported each other. If Fayemi is truly contesting, Akeredolu will ensure his loyalists vote for him at the convention.
“In Ekiti, of course Governor Fayemi is fully in charge. That was evident in the APC governorship primaries where his anointed, Biodun Oyebanji, won.
Also, if Fayemi steps down, he will likely ask the Ekiti delegates to vote for Buhari’s choice. He is not on the same page with Tinubu at all on the issue of the presidential election”, he said.
When contacted, the South- West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA’23) said the likes of Osinbajo, Fayemi, Amosun and others do not constitute any threat to Tinubu’s presidential ambition, especially at the primary election.
Hon. Bosun Oladele, the National Secretary of the organisation, said Tinubu has better political networks than all of them across the country.
“We don’t see them as a threat and we sincerely believe that whoever has the best network across the country will be the person that will eventually emerge as the presidential candidate.
“When you are talking of network, it is obvious to a blind man just as it sounds real even to the deaf that among all of them, Asiwaju has better network across the country.
“Nobody will ask all the other aspirants not to come out and contest. It is their constitutional and political rights.
The morality of it is a topic for discussion for another day”, he said. Also speaking, a serving senator from the South-West who is also advocating Tinubu’s emergence as president said the likes of Amosun and Fayemi are not really contesting but drafted into the race to act as spoilers for Tinubu.
“These people are just spoilers. It is a calculated ploy by them to divide the delegates’ votes in the South-West. Just imagine an Amosun saying he wants to become president under APC.
From where to where? Do you think APC will be stupid to give him the ticket except they have made up their minds to lose to PDP? Do they know him in the North? Can he defeat an Atiku, Peter Obi or even Wike in a presidential election? Their plans is to scatter the votes of the South-West which they know is Tinubu’s home base.
“It is highly unfortunate that these men are allowing themselves to be used to scuttle the chances of the South- West but they will be put to shame”, he said.