The Asiwaju Bola Tinubu presidential campaign has said it is not bothered by the rumoured presidential ambition of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Daily Trust had exclusively reported on Monday that Osinbajo had informed President Muhammadu Buhari of his presidential ambition.
Osinbajo, who was Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State during the eight years’ reign of Tinubu as governor of the state, has not formally announced his intention to vie for the presidency but many groups have been promoting his candidature.
Tinubu, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who reportedly nominated Osinbajo as Buhari’s running nominate in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, has since declared for the presidential race.
Political allies and support groups of Tinubu said the former Lagos State governor is not bothered by Osinbajo’s ambition.
The highest decision-making body of the APC in Lagos, the Governors’ Advisory Council (GAC), said Tinubu remains its choice.
Leader of the GAC, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, said the council has endorsed Tinubu as well as recommended him to Nigerians as a genius in statecraft.
He said there is no evidence that Osinbajo is running, adding that his ambition has remained a rumour.
“I have not seen any conclusive evidence that Osinbajo is running. There are only rumours that the vice president wants to declare. Has he made any categorical pronouncement about his ambition?
“For instance, former VP Atiku has declared, visited former president Obasanjo and told the world that he is running. Others have made similar declarations but as of now, has the VP made such declaration?” he queried.
Olusi, who maintained that a good relationship exists between Asiwaju and Osinbajo, opined that it will be wise to exercise caution as the VP has not declared his intention to run.
The National Coordinator of the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA), Senator Dayo Adeyeye, said the group is committed to its purpose of promoting the presidential ambition of Tinubu and cannot be distracted by any other declaration.
He, however, said the group will not comment on rumour or speculation.
“We will comment when he declares,” he said.
Tinubu Support Group (TSG) led by a member of the national assembly, Hon. James Faleke, said the acceptability of Asiwaju by political and traditional rulers in the South West has shown that he is the preferred candidate of the region, stressing that anyone contesting against him will be doing so against the wish of the people.
A grassroots politician and social commentator, Malam Ahmed Jaji, who said Osinbajo has the right to contest, expressed worry that such action will not speak well of the unity of the South West
The former Executive Secretary of Ojodu Local Council Development Area added that Osinbajo’s political antecedents can be traced to Tinubu.
“If he chose to contest for the APC ticket, it could lead to votes from the region being divided. Another person with bloc votes can take advantage of this,” he said.
Lagos APC spokesman, Seye Oladejo, who maintained that the party is committed to Tinubu’s ambition, rubbished reports that some members of the party in the state are clamouring for Osinbajo to be given its 2023 presidential ticket.
“Lagos APC is aware of Asiwaju’s ambition. The other is in the realm of rumour-mongering and speculation, so there is no way our members will declare support for rumour,” he added.
Daily Trust reports that some card-carrying members of Lagos APC, last week, urged the party to give its presidential ticket to Osinbajo.
The members, who spoke during a political rally organised by the Osinbajo Global Movement at Ilupeju in Lagos, said the VP is the most suitable aspirant to fly the flag of the party in 2023.
The members, who displayed their APC membership cards during the rally, said Osinbajo performed excellently when he was acting president and that the former Attorney General of Lagos State, understands the pains of ordinary Nigerians.
A retiree and Lagos State Coordinator of Osinbajo Global Movement, Akinyemi Omoniyi, refuted reports that APC members in the state have been asked not to support the aspiration of the vice president.
“Lagos State is for Osinbajo. We know him and he knows us. Nobody can force us to submit our membership cards or sack any member supporting Osinbajo from government job,” he said.
The Diaspora coordinator of the movement, Dayo Akintobi, said it is no longer up to Osinbajo to decide either to run or not as there is growing support for his aspiration.
“It is no longer up to him to decide whether he is going to run or not. There is a groundswell of support, of encouragement and of hunger for his leadership.
“Morally, he cannot turn his back on the masses beckoning on him to run,” he said.
The Director of Operation of the movement, Princess Temi Okesanjo, said the vice president is the best suited to lead Nigeria at this crucial time, stressing that his antecedents speak loudly for him since he entered public service in 1999.
Contacted, a member of the House of Representatives, Abubakar Lado Suleja, said he did not see Osinbajo’s entry into the presidential race as a big deal, insisting that Tinubu is the preferred person to succeed Buhari.
“Osinbajo is a Nigerian and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has given him the right to contest any position of his wish as long as he possesses the requirements.
“To me, I don’t think it’s a big deal despite the fact that we know the relationship between Tinubu and Osinbajo; it’s not going to be a kind of crisis or a fight between the two camps.
“But my take here is we are with Asiwaju and to us, he is the most preferred candidate to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari looking at his contributions and commitment towards the emergence of this government and this administration,” he told this reporter.