Tinubu celebrated his 12th colloquium to mark his 69th birthday in Kano, 29 March 2021. He arrived on a Saturday evening to a large crowd that thronged the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport. They all came to welcome the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A large number of his supporters had earlier arrived at the airport in a motorcade and broke into cheers on sighting the APC leader with shouts of ‘Shugaban Kasar Gobe’ (the next president).
One of the supporters, who simply identified himself as Haruna, said “Ahmed is our next president. He has done a lot for the party and his loyalty to Baba Buhari has been proven over time. I know he is not in Kano to campaign but for us it is an opportunity to appreciate him and show him support.”
Another APC faithful, Ibrahim Dahiru, said: “Politically, Bola Tinubu is a Northerner and a democratic who fought for the return of democracy in Nigeria. He has paid his political dues as a defender of President Buhari administration and deserves our support here in Kano.” Pedestrians were also caught in the excitement as they shouted “Sai Tinubu” and “Sai Ganduje” at the airport road, as the motorcade moved to the Government House.
The icing on the cake was the revelation by the APC National leader that he actually chose Kano for his 12 colloquium to promote unity between the Yorúbà and Fulani/ Hausa. While speaking at the event which also marked his 69th birthday, the APC stalwart said his choice of Kano as a celebration venue stems from a longing to unite ethnic groups in the North and the South.
According to the APC National leader, Nigeria at this critical time needs such a move as the inter-ethnic interaction he had undertaken to ensure that her citizens live in harmony and show love to one another.
It was Williams Shakespeare who wrote that all the world is a stage. In politics, it is a chess board one navigates with nifty strategy. The aim is to draw your opponent’s attention to one direction, while your target is another. In Nigeria, almost anyone on the country’s political turf would agree that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not just a typical political player. The respect the name commands in the political space speaks volume. Sometimes it works wonders for the bearer.
Tinubu has nurtured several Nigerian politicians. He is responsible for the rise of a good number of political figures, many of whom owe their positions to “his role and investment in their political lives”. For this political colossus, ethnicity and religion are nothing but appellations compared to integrity, competence, industriousness, and political ingenuity. The likes of Yemi Osinbajo, Babatunde Fashola, Dele Alake, Rauf Aregbesola, are astute professionals nurtured by him.
If politics was a game of chess, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would undoubtedly be the perfect chess master. He knows the move to make that will yield massive results. Although he hasn’t formally announced his intention to run, the recent happenings regarding his colloquium in Kano constitute a bold statement ahead of the 2023 presidential elections.
Far from what Merriam Webster defines it as the methodology or activities associated with running a government, politics is a game and only those who know how to play emerge victorious. Knowing how to play entails understanding the dynamics of the system. In the context of the Nigerian situation, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu wields so much experience and information regarding the mechanisms of Nigerian politics.
Anyone who wishes to contest against Tinubu must gird his loins properly. This is because Tinubu has a very strong presence in Nigeria’s political landscape. No politician, perhaps in contemporary Nigerian politics, wields so much power as a political Gladiator like Tinubu.
Even as pressure mounts and tense situations begin to emerge, Tinubu has managed to stay out of rift with the president. The president of the Senate described the former Governor of Lagos State as a leader who is unwavering in his commitment to the unity of Nigeria:
“A leader of leaders, political strategist and astute administrator, Asiwaju Tinubu has in three decades of active roles in the politics of Nigeria impacted many lives and greatly contributed to improving the polity.
“His achievements and the development foundations he laid in Lagos as the first elected governor of the state in the Fourth Republic have secured his place in the history of the state.
“Asiwaju Tinubu has been unwavering in his commitment to the unity of Nigeria and in his belief in its destiny as a great nation with a happy and prosperous people, despite the current challenges of nation-building.”
Observers note that all of these are very good for his candidacy and his chances in winning the 2023 presidential elections.
Not only are these moves covert statements of his ambition to run, their dividends are bold statements of the direction his party may take ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Any keen political observer would know that to win an election in Nigeria, a lot of bridge building across the six geopolitical zones has to be done. The political groundwork has to cemented. This is in view of Nigeria’s dynamic federal structure.
Although the North has the numbers, none of the three major ethnic groups or all the minority ethnic groups on their own can determine the leadership of the country to the exclusion of the other major ethnic groups, as well as the plethora of minority groups. Galvanising the support of diverse ethnic groups is the area Tinubu might have the edge come 2023.
The APC National leader is shooting his shots at the side of the net where a goal is most certain. It may not be intentional, but the dividends are profitable. In this regard, it is the North. This is because it bags the numbers. Any keen observer or political analysts would understand that once any politician has the backing of the North, every other thing is secondary or the rest as they say is history.
Most politicians presently who are gunning for the top position, or expected to, are doing little or nothing to cement the grounds upon which their victory in any case at the party primaries or the main election will stand. Tinubu like the others has maintained a quiet position on his intentions. As earlier mentioned, there is no formal declaration of his presidential ambition. But his recent moves speak for him. This is in view of the cliché that says don’t just do the talking, let your action speak for you. Tinubu is stealthily doing the political groundwork.
Despite the fact that his political enemies have said that no amount of donation whatsoever to the North can make him president, the odds seem to be in his favour as evident in the instances where speakers of the Northeastern Houses of Assembly gathered to endorse his candidacy.
This is coupled with the fact that he chaired the Arewa House lecture and that the Kano State government hosted his birthday colloquium. All of these constitute a bold statement on his candidature and his chances of retaining the All Progressive Congress’s hold on the presidency. It might not be a conscious move, but the dividends are immense for both Tinubu and his party.
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