The media space was awash with the video clips of the vituperation of one of the frontline presidential aspirants of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu pooh-poohing President Buhari.
Tinubu who was in Ogun State continued his consultation with party leaders and delegates to seek their support at the National Convention of the party in Abuja.
While speaking in his native Yoruba language, the former National Leader of APC who was visibly angry recalled how he had helped enthrone Buhari as President after three failed attempts at the polls. He further told a bewildered audience that the President was seen weeping on National Television.
While some persons particularly the leadership of the APC at the centre and some leaders of the party of the Northern extraction took a swipe at Tinubu for his unguarded, demeaning statements, some others who are close associates of the Lagos strongman rose in his defence.
Although Tinubu is said to have recanted his widely publicized statement, it is surprising that the President’s aides have not uttered a word in response.
The crux of my article is the undertone of the venomous attack, even if it is laced with some truth. Tinubu did not unconsciously fire the shot. It was a well-calculated onslaught against Buhari. His reason stems from Buhari’s statement when he met with the Progressive Governors of APC, over the search for the party’s flag bearer for the presidential ticket. Buhari had sought “reciprocity” from the governors whom he said had earlier chosen their successors and in some cases, obtained the party’s ticket for a second tenure. The signal was clear that Buhari was poised to influence the choice of who flies the party’s flag.
This position did not go down well with Tinubu’s camp which believes that the President may not favour their principal.The bottled-up anger forced Tinubu to unleash his hidden thoughts of how he is expecting payback from Buhari for ensuring he fulfilled his ambition to become the Nigerian President after several attempts. It was a subtle force majeure to stop Buhari from going against an existing ‘ ‘contract’ albeit without a binding document.
Buhari who had indicated a few months back that he has his candidate who would become his successor seemed to have backtracked after Tinubu’s outburst. There were insinuations before this time that the former military Head of State would endorse one of these three: Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Emeka Nwajiuba and Ogbonnaya Onu. Amaechi seemed to have been mostly favoured considering his exceptional courage in helping Buhari win the ticket of the party in 2014 when Abubakar Atiku and Rabiu Kwakwanso were both tipped and supported by Tinubu. Amaechi it was thought would have been Buhari’s running mate but the President asked Tinubu to choose the Vice President, to curtail the fallout from the primaries where Tinubu felt crushed by Amaechi who had not long joined the party from a faction of the ruling PDP, known as the nPDP.
It was no wonder Buhari sustained his winning streaks by maintaining Amaechi as the Director-General of his campaign, back to back. Amaechi since being appointed as Transportation Minister has not only proved his mettle as an experienced administrator but has further given the government a face and the party, reasons to campaign for the next election.
Ogbonnaya Onu and Emeka Nwajiuba may not have any visible significant contributions toward the actualization of the APC manifesto but they have been close allies of Buhari. They form part of his kitchen cabinet having followed him from his political sojourn through APP to ANPP to CPC and APC.
It is not in doubt that the battle would have been between an older Tinubu and a younger Amaechi.
The strategy to withhold Buhari’s endorsement of his own choice seems to have favoured the Tinubu group as the President has asked the party and the aspirants to continue the search for a consensus candidate or at least trim down the list of aspirants to three.
While some believe that Amaechi would emerge through a consensus arrangement largely influenced by the President, and Tinubu would succeed at a delegate election due to the number of Governors supporting his ambition, the President still has a constitutional and moral burden to ensure that he contributes to the success of a candidate of his choice if he has run a check on all of them based on the state of the nation.
It is not likely that any one of them would have a perfect rating but there are essential parameters that any candidate beyond just being favoured to win, must possess.
Whatever the dynamics that play out, the simple truth is that Buhari has to prove his ‘blackmailers’ wrong or go down in history as one who succumbed to the antics of his mockers.
Christie Oby Ndukwe is a political analyst based in Abuja