Over four months after the national convention which produced him as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has said the role played by President Muhammadu Buhari, the governors elected on the party’s platform from the North and other northern leaders proved to him that Nigeria can survive its myriad of challenges.
Asiwaju Tinubu said this Sunday in Akure, Ondo state at the residence of Afenifere Leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, where he presented his 80-page policy document – Action Plan for a Better Nigeria – to the leading Yoruba socio-cultural group.
During the visit, the national leader of the pan-Yoruba group poured his blessings on Tinubu while kneeling before the renowned Yoruba leader who placed hands over his head and offered prayers.
Fasoranti’s position ran counter to some members of the group, including Ayo Adebanjo, who had offered their support to Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, on account of regional “fairness and equity.”
The APC national leader had March 4, this year, visited Pa Fasoranti during his nationwide consultation before the APC primaries, and promised the Yoruba leader he would return after picking his party’s ticket as the flag bearer.
In this regard, the former Lagos state governor said he was in Akure to fulfill his promise and also urged Yoruba leaders to thank President Buhari and the northern governors for their support and being promise-keepers.
Addressing the gathering, he said: “The North proved to me Nigeria can survive its unity. Some people want President Muhammadu Buhari to announce someone but the President said No. He insisted the process must go on democratically. The President said anyone that would mess up the APC process would see the other side of his eyes. He remained upright and saw to the process to the end.
“Northern APC Governors resolved that the Presidency must go to the South and especially South West. Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Abdullahi Ganduje and others supported me to the end. The battle was tough and at a point I was in doubt. There were many rumours and I became confused of what to believe.”
On Buhari’s role, Tinubu said: “President Buhari told me I promoted his name with the way I won the primary election because the process was clean and transparent and nobody can accuse him of manipulating the process. President Buhari said I gave him credibility and I deserved to be President. When I asked him to nominate the VP candidate for me, he said I should pick whoever I want and it is the reason I chose a competent man in Kashim Shettima who never lost any election and protected Christians in time of trouble in his state.”
While admitting there were disagreements among members of the group, the APC leader said given that democracy is a game of numbers, it was necessary to be “strategic” and “tactical” to win the presidential election next year.
Tinubu said he needed the votes of the South-west and a sizable part of the north to emerge victorious as it was in 2015 and 2019, just as he thanked Fasoranti for providing formidable leadership in the South-west.
Welcoming Tinubu and his entourage, General Secretary of Afenifere, Chief Seinde Arogbofa, charged the APC standard bearer to be a leader that would unite Nigeria and work for the progress and development of the country.
“You are not just a Yoruba man but a Nigerian. When you become President take Nigeria into consideration in all you do but never forget home. Our demands are what you know already; restructuring, security and fixing the economy. Our country is no longer safe. We want state police so that the country will be safe,” Arogbofa said.
Also, in a statement after the meeting, the Afenifere group said Tinubu “shared with us his vision of a greater and more prosperous Nigeria where democratic rights, rule of law, justice and fairness will reign supreme. He also gave assurance on steps to be taken to ensure safety and security of Nigerians and their properties.
The statement signed by its national organising secretary, Abagun Kole Omololu, said: “Following exhaustive deliberations informed by presentations by various stakeholders, the Afenifere states as follow:
“We affirm that Nigeria as a country must be established on the basis of democracy, true federalism and social justice; we affirm that Democracy is the most civilised method of governance because it is based on the fundamental human rights of every citizen to determine how he or she wants to be governed; we support the decision of all qualified citizens to exercise their fundamental rights of seeking offices provided by the federal Constitution.
“Having taken cognisance of his commendable antecedents as Lagos State Governor and his demonstrated ability in building physical and human capital, the Yoruba Leaders at today’s meeting are in no doubt that Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria offers the best opportunity to produce a government of that will usher in a new Era of hope, peace, security, harmony, gainful employment for the multitude, economic development, social and political stability.
“We were also assured us of his commitment to the promotion of true federalism that will give states more control over their affairs. Afenifere wishes him success in the pursuit of his vision. The Meeting urged other presidential candidates to utilise similar opportunities to articulate their vision,” they added.
Earlier, Ondo state Deputy Governor, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who received Tinubu and his delegation on behalf of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, said people of the state would support Tinubu to win.
“Asiwaju has the reach, the competence to lead Nigeria,” the deputy governor said.
Also in his remarks, Ekiti state Governor Biodun Oyebanji assured the Yoruba leaders that all the governors of South West and Ekiti people were solidly behind Tinubu.
“We are happy to receive our leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, today. I want to assure him and our fathers that we will support him to the end.”
Also speaking, an Afenifere leader and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, charged the APC presidential flagbearer to fix the economy.
Falae who decried the falling value of the Naira, said he used all his life to serve Nigeria and at his old age he does not want all he used his life for to be wasted.
“When you become President, please work to fix this country. We are here to offer advice. I am old and no longer looking for job. We need to fix security, fix our economy. Our naira is almost becoming useless and will soon become N1000 to a dollar. We must change that. I know your ability. We will always be here to support and I wish you well. We will be here when you bring the trophy home by the grace of God,” said the ex-SGF.
Leaders of Afenifere from the six South West states, including Kwara and Kogi were present at the Akure residence of the Afenifere leader to offer support to Asiwaju Tinubu.
The roll-call of the Afenifere leaders in Akure who came to receive Tinubu and offered their full support included retired Methodist Bishop, Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Chief Pius Akinyelure, Professor Isaac Adewole, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, General Alani Akinrinade (rtd)., General Olu Bajowa (rtd)., Mr. Sola Iji, Dr Kunle Olajide, General Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders, Senator Cornelius Adebayo, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Chief Bisi Akande, Dare Babarinsa, Chief Pius Akinyelure, Deputy governor of Oyo state, Bayo Lawal who represented Governor Seyi Makinde.
Others were Chief Segun Adesegun, representing former Governor Segun Osoba, Senator Tony Adefuye, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, state leaders of Afenifere and several others.