He is a cat with nine lives. The plots against him were deep and varied. A lot of people believed he was finished for daring the Presidency, the party and the cabal. But like a sphinx, the world watched Bola Ahmed Tinubu rise from the ashes of his multiple battles to clinch the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at Abuja.
What was forecasted to be a very tight race turned out a near landslide victory for him.Tinubu polled 1, 271 votes, representing 56.9 percent of the 2,232 votes cast.
Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi came a distant second with 316 votes, while Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came third with 235 votes. Ahmad Lawan, president of the Senate polled 152, while Governor Yahaya Bello came fifth with 47 votes. Governor David Umahi got 38, while his compatriot, Ogbonnaya Onu polled a disappointing one vote to place seventh. Rochas Okorocha, Tein Jack-Rich and Tunde Bakare scored zero votes respectively.
A total of 23 aspirants were screened for the presidential primary. Former president of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, withdrew from the race, citing injustice to the Southeast.
Six aspirants stepped down for Tinubu. They were former Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio; former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru; former Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole; Senator Ajayi Boroffice, and the only female aspirant, Uju Ohanenye.
All the aspirants were given two minutes each to address the delegates and market their manifestoes.
Abdullahi Adamu, National Chairman of APC, in his address, reprimanded other members of the National Working Committee who had gone public to deny the endorsement of Lawan for washing their dirty linen in public. He said it was a mark of irresponsibility and indiscipline, not courage.
“On the 20th of April this year, I drew the attention to the need for our party to be disciplined; that a political party such as APC, the ruling party, at the heart of our national development, must be exemplary and discipline and fidelity in its core values.
“Washing our dirty linen in the public is not a mark of courage; it is a mark of irresponsibility, indiscipline, and indiscriminate failure to obey extant rules and regulations, and play by them.
“It doesn’t take rocket science to unite a party; it takes sincerity of purpose, commitment and determination to sacrifice our individual interest and ambitions for the larger interest of the party.”
Despite the feud in the NWC, he insisted that “things are not falling apart; things are holding up and I am grateful to you all for standing by me and members of the National Working Committee in seeing that we carry out the first order of business in our party, and that is, the total reconciliation of all the state branches of the APC that were held hostage by avoidable grievances.
“We have nothing to gain in portraying our party in a bad light. We have everything to lose in undermining the integrity of our great party. I found it necessary to make these observations.”
President Muhammadu Buhari surprised everyone by refusing to endorse any aspirant. He rather urged all the aspirants to maintain decorum.
”As we go into the presidential primary, I urge all to keep to the same spirit. We must avoid acrimony and maintain the spirit of sportsmanship. The critical task ahead of the Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC remains to continue to forge the unity of purpose among party members and to keep securing needed compromises in the interest of our great party.
”I enjoin you all to be fair to all and to create a level playing field for all the presidential aspirants in the coming crucial party exercise.
”Please, follow due process in all the party decisions; and I call on all party members, particularly, the party officials and delegates, to abide by all extant laws, rules, and regulations, and to consider voting for the presidential candidate with the best chances of securing victory for our great party in the coming general election.
”Please do not hesitate to call on me and all other appropriate quarters for the help that will propel our great party to the victory that we all seek. To ensure a hitch-free presidential primary, please, let us work collectively in the interest of our great party and our great country,” he said.
Tinubu, who was the first aspirant to address the delegates, said he was the best hand for the job.
“The other candidates are all good men. But I sincerely believe I am the person this moment calls for.
“I cannot, on this day, talk of a bright and prosperous future without also declaring my determination to fight terrorism and insecurity to the very end. I mourn the lives already lost and vow to do everything possible to ensure justice, and forever erase terror from our land.
“Today, you decide our presidential nominee. Let it be the man who can best articulate a vision of progress and development, then implement it. Let us always honour the promise the APC made to Nigeria.”
Osinbajo urged the delegates to vote according to their convictions: “Two thousand, two hundred and thirty-two delegates will decide the future of our children and their own children. The future of our children compels all our distinguished delegates to vote right tonight.
“You cannot wish this country well and vote for someone you do not believe in. To our dear delegates, when you vote tonight, know that your votes tonight carry the answer for the future of our children and for our country.”
He said he was better prepared for the job.
“One thing is certain; the circumstances of the country will not allow the next leader to learn on the job. For the past seven years, I have learnt on the job. I will be prepared from day one.”
Amaechi urged the delegates not to base their choice on money.
“Dear delegates, assess us by our contributions. Do not assess us by how much we bring here, because if you assess us by how much we bring here, ask all of us what is our source of revenue? How did we get all these funds?
“The problem of the Nigerian State is all of us. Nigerian politicians will come and talk to you, bring out money, and we accept them. Four years after, they will come back and still make the same promises. Do not vote for me if I lie to you. Do not vote for me if I have not performed; but I have performed.
“There is need to move forward to ask Nigerians to hire me and fire me if I fail. If you vote for me, the first thing is that we must develop our economy, bringing it back to industrialisation and production. We will rebuild our universities to be places of learning. There will be rule of law. People will be punished for their crimes.”
Yahaya Bello, who resisted all the pressure to withdraw from the race, insisted “I didn’t come this far to chicken out.”
Tunde Bakare said his focus is on the people. “It is about your people, it is about my people, the Nigerian people, who will once again have a reason to believe that they have a stake in their nation when our Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Rebirth restores lasting peace to Nigeria.
“The time is now, and the hour has come. Tonight, I am not here to step down. By the grace of God, I am here to step up with the support of the delegates as the 16th president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Dear delegates, as we converge in our nation’s capital to collectively take a historic step towards the realisation of a nation that works, vote for me.”
Ogbonnaya Onu, former minister of Science and Technology, accused APC of injustice for not zoning the ticket to the Southeast. He said that in March, the chairmanship of the party was zoned to the Northcentral but the Southeast was being denied its turn at the presidency.
He recalled the leading role he played during the formation of APC and the sacrifice he made in 1999 when he stepped down after picking the presidential ticket of the All Nigerian People’s Party, ANPP for Olu Falae to slug it out with Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in an all all Southwest contest.
All his plea, logic and history fell on the rock.
Ken Nnamani had earlier hit the dirt on the campaign trail of stakeholders and withdrawn, citing injustice to the Igbo by APC.
The case of the Southeast was a total catastrophe as personal interests took precedence over regional interest. Hope Uzodinma, chairman of the Special Screening Appeal Committee, was alleged to have played deep roles on how the delegates from Imo and Enugu states voted.
According to insiders, Uzodimma frustrated Tinubu in the Southeast to the extent he gave up trying to reach the delegates. He was said to have been working for Amaechi and Lawan.
Tinubu could not meet the Southeast delegates from Enugu and Imo States. The delegates lamented that because of Uzodimma, they could not benefit as other delegates did.
Even worse, the actual delegates’ list from Enugu State was replaced with a fake one. The real delegates were screened and accredited at the International Conference Centre and were allowed into the Eagle Square. But when the time to vote came, they were shocked to see that their names had been substituted in the register.
Those fake names that voted were alleged to have been paid $11, 000 each. The elected delegates found themselves orphans. They alleged they only got ₦50, 000 and accommodation from a Southwest aspirant who paid delegates from other zones $25, 000 each.
Enugu APC is under the control of Uzodimma who is calling the shots from Owerri. He is said to be funding the party as the party is broke. He installed the present chairman and allegedly appointed the flag-bearers for various positions.
He split the votes between Amaechi and Lawan, who he had mistakenly assumed would be the consensus candidate.
Onu, the brightest prospect from the Southeas, was a victim of the tyranny of Uzodimma and Umahi. Umahi pocketed 38 out of Ebonyi’s 39 votes, and got zero votes from his consultations across the country.
Only one delegate rebelled and voted for Onu. And that was the only vote Onu got. He was said not to have consulted widely like others. He had hoped on Buhari’s endorsement, which never came. He also did not spend money on the delegates.
Osinbajo got the shock of his life. He came third, despite spending considerably, and engaged in wide consultations. He too was misled to think he had Buhari’s endorsement.
Tinubu craftily took the rug from under his feet. Osinbajo’s ambition was orchestrated from Kano. He must have been shocked to see Kano delegates attired in Tinubu’s uniform. Indeed, the highly populated Northwest States of Kano, Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto turned up in Tinubu’s attire. That was the major indication that Osinbajo’s ambition was in trouble.
According to an insider, Buhari refused to help any aspirant through an endorsement. Chance now favoured Tinubu who was prepared mind and pocket. Suspecting that Buhari would not endorse him, he had burrowed into the Northern governors and cut deals with them.
The governors waited to hear from Buhari on his preferred aspirant but it never came so, 13 out of 14 of them endorsed Tinubu.
The Buhari cabal got Adamu to announce Lawan as the annointed one. The governors went to Buhari and he affirmed a free and fair contest.
He was the only person that was neutral. Everybody around him was supporting one candidate. Even his wife wore a Tinubu promotional, which means she supported the man who made her husband president.
The Northern governor were said to have done their analysis and found that Tinubu was the strongest contender, and that denying him the ticket will bring the party down. So they resolved in favour of the strongest.
They reasoned that Osinbajo could not carry APC in the Southwest. He just does not have the structures, the loyalty, nor the investments.
Those who enticed the VP to run could not deliver him because they too have no structures outside the power of incumbency.
And Tinubu won. He was so nervous that his hands were shaking when he was reading his address to the delegates. But it was his strongest political battle yet. His courage paid off in the end.
Richard Akinola, spokesperson for Osinbajo Campaign Organisation, congratulated him shortly after the final result.
“Congratulations, Asiwaju Tinubu, the presumed winner of the primaries.
“In any contest, there must be a winner. However, I’m very proud of my choice of support in the person of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
“I have no iota of regret over my support for him. It was a privilege to play a pivotal role for him during the process. I would gladly do it over and over again. It’s a matter of conviction”, he wrote.