APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, faces a legal challenge to his qualification for the election as he prepares the ground for the campaigns
Past comments are haunting some of the major players in Nigerian politics as they prepare for campaigns for the 2023 presidential election. On Thursday, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, paid a surprise visit to his old political foe, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Mr Tinubu was accompanied on the visit by a strong delegation that included billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, two former governors of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; former Governor of Osun State, Bisi Akande, and others.
The two main opponents of Mr Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, had earlier visited and many others will extend the same courtesy to the elder statesman before the election. But Mr Tinubu’s visit is significant, given that the two men had rarely been on the same side or seen eye to eye since this dispensation began in 1999.
In the maiden presidential election of that year, Mr Tinubu’s then Alliance for Democracy (AD) ensured that Mr Obasanjo and the PDP lost woefully in the South West. But as the sitting president, Mr Obasanjo created a Tsunami in the next election in 2003 that swept away five of the six governors of the AD in the zone, with Mr Tinubu the only survivor.
Their mutual animosity extended into governance as the federal government under Mr Obasanjo seized revenue allocations to local governments in Lagos State over the creation of new ones by Mr Tinubu’s government.
Although Mr Obasanjo did not openly endorse the candidacy of the former Lagos State governor, his campaign team has been celebrating the visit as a positive development.
“What I heard there – what Obasanjo said, the victory of Asiwaju is assured,” Mr Gbajabiamila later told his supporters in Surulere, Lagos while reporting back on the visit. He added that “He (Obasanjo) embraced our candidate like a brother, gave him a pat on his back and prayed for him copiously.”
While the camp of the former Lagos State governor was celebrating the outcome of the visit, his opponents posted on social media an old video clip in which Mr Tinubu described Mr Obasanjo as Nigeria’s greatest election rigger and that he should be thrown into the dustbin.
The two politicians have since remained on opposing sides, except in 2015 when Mr Obasanjo endorsed Muhammadu Buhari of the APC after the former president had fallen out with then President Goodluck Jonathan and had publicly torn up his membership card of the PDP>
However, in 2019, after Mr Obasanjo endorsed his former deputy, Atiku, against President Buhari, the APC played down the value of Mr Obasanjo’s endorsement.
During the APC presidential campaign rally in Lagos, Mr Tinubu said: “in 2007, the late President Yar’Adua said the election that brought him as president in this country was flawed and he promised to reform it. Who conducted that election? Obasanjo is the greatest election rigger in this country, let him be put in the dustbin.”
Mr Tinubu may not be worried about such video and many more that will be flying around because blasts from the past have become a major theme of this campaign.
It was an honor and privilege to spend quality time with our presidential candidate and great leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, my old friend and brother, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila a few days ago… 1/ pic.twitter.com/rlOALWjExA— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) August 19, 2022
FFK goes back to his vomit…
Controversial former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, is in full campaign mode for Mr Tinubu. On Thursday, he changed his Twitter banner to a picture of the meeting of Messrs Tinubu and Obasanjo.
Even though it is easy to change the Twitter banner, Mr Fani-Kayode will have a hard time recanting some of the things he had said in the past. For over six years, he was the author of some damning conspiracy theories about the alleged “Islamisation and Fulanisation” of Nigeria.
“They are not a political party but a satanic lodge of devil-worshippers and a cult of death. They bring nothing but death, decay and destruction,” he once said about the APC
But while appearing on Politics Today, a programme of Channels Television, he struggled to defend the APC Muslim/Muslim ticket and his stance on the matter.
“We spoke about Fulanisation, that has been thrown out of the window now because power has been shifted to the South by the APC, the party we accused of that.
“Secondly, we spoke about Islamisation. Since I joined APC, I realised that, like I said earlier, things have completely changed.
“A situation whereby in this country today we have, no less than 20 Christian governors. The whole of the South-west has Christian governors, except for Osun state, which has now changed because we have a Christian governor who is coming in.
“A situation like that tells you clearly that the country cannot be Islamised and neither is our party APC interested in that. What is happening as far as I am concerned is this, we have reformed and moving forward.”
He concluded that he prayed and consulted Kashim Shattima, the APC vice presidential candidate, on the issue.
That position is a clear departure from his stance in 2014 where he said the “biggest mistake that my party, the APC, can make is to field a Muslim/Muslim ticket in the 2015 presidential election. If we do that, we will not only offend the Christian community but we will also lose the election woefully.”
Mr Fani-Kayode claimed to be supporting the candidate of the APC because of the need for a power shift to the South. However, some months ago, he backed Yahaya Bello, a governor from North Central, who eventually lost in the APC presidential primary.
Mr Fani-Kayode has developed a reputation for changing his stands in politics like a weathercock.
Tinubu has date in court
The Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed 12 October for a suit filed by the Action Alliance seeking the disqualification of the APC candidate, Mr Tinubu, from the 2023 presidential election.
The plaintiff is seeking the disqualification of the APC candidate on the ground of alleged certificate forgery. But Mr Tinubu’s defence team, led by Babatunde Ogala, has filed a preliminary objection, asking the court not to entertain the case.
The judge, Obiora Egwuatu, on Thursday fixed the new date to allow parties in the suit to complete their fillings.
The matter arose from filings by Mr Tinubu for the governorship election in 1999, over which a petitioner accused him of perjury and perjury concerning schools he claimed to have attended in the filings. The case went to court then but was dismissed because Mr Tinubu enjoyed immunity as governor. He left the office in 2007 but the issue was raised again after he won the APC presidential ticket.
At Thursday’s proceedings, Mr Ogala said the case is statue-barred and his client had been cleared of the charges by the Lagos State House of Assembly.