- Presidency Lashes Back At Critics: Buhari, Tinubu Inspired By National Interest Not Partisan Motivation
By Kolawole Ojebisi
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, elderstatesman and a chieftain of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organization, has said he knew that both President Muhammadu Buhari and former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would reportedly attempt to outwit each other in the unfolding dynamics within the All Progressives Congress(APC).
Chief Adebanjo, an elder statesman and an avowed Awoist said this in reaction to the developments in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which many believe is a reflection of an alleged rift between the President and Asiwaju Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state.
The nonagenarian also dismissed the APC as a disparate group of people whose main drive is to grab power with no defining ideology, adding that Tinubu and Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo have kept mum on the principles and values of restructuring that brought Buhari to office.
The elder statesman said he is a master of the game of politics having played it for 70 years and the experience he garnered over the years help him to decipher when a political association won’t work.
He said, “I have worries for him (Tinubu). He knew all these things but he relied on Buhari and worked to make him the President. I said it before publicly that Buhari is deceiving Asiwaju and Asiwaju is deceiving Buhari. Everybody is trying to use the other. Why can’t Tinubu hammer on restructuring knowing that this was what brought Buhari to office?
“I have been in this game for 70 years. So, many of those who are talking now were not born then. That is the truth – even Buhari was a toddler. He is now 74. Each time I tell you, why should Tinubu, the Vice-President (Yemi Osinbajo) and all those who were in Alliance for Democracy run to the APC? Why are they hesitating now to stand for restructuring? They can’t talk.”
Reiterating his stance that the APC lacks cohesion, he advised Tinubu and Vice-president Osinbajo to jettison the party because remaining there is a disservice to the Yorubaland.
“All the things I am telling you now – it is not the first time. I said both Jagaban (Tinubu) and Osinbajo should get out of the APC. I said it openly. It is a disgrace and disservice to the Yorubaland. So, what is happening now shows there is nothing to bind them together, ”he said.
Meanwhile, Tinubu on Saturday broke his silence on the leadership crisis that has rocked the party in recent times and the fact that the NEC resolutions were allegedly targeted at him. In his reaction was contained in a seven-page statement, Tinubu dismissed the belief that the dissolution of the NWC by the NEC at a meeting, presided over by the President and attended by top government officials and party chieftains, was targeted at his supposed presidential ambition in 2023.
Tinubu, who is not a member of NEC, stressed that he had yet to make a decision on 2023 given the health and economic crises occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said rather than engage in politicking around 2023, he has devoted the last few months to thinking of policies that would help the nation during the present exigency.
The former Lagos state governor who lost a close ally and former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, to the virus on Thursday, stated that he found it distasteful talking about what he might do or not do in three years’ time (2023) when there is a national emergency. “2023 will answer its own questions in due time,” he added.
The statement titled, ‘Becoming the party we were intended to be’, partly read, “To those who have been actively bleating how the President’s actions and the NEC meeting have ended my purported 2023 ambitions, I seek your pity. I am but a mere mortal who does not enjoy the length of foresight or political wisdom you profess to have. Already, you have assigned colourful epitaphs to the 2023 death of an alleged political ambition that is not yet even born.
“At this extenuating moment with COVID-19 and its economic fallout hounding us, I cannot see as far into the distance as you. I have made no decision regarding 2023 for the concerns of this hour are momentous enough.
“During this period, I have not busied myself with politicking regarding 2023. I find that a bit distasteful and somewhat uncaring particularly when so many of our people have been unbalanced by the twin public health and economic crises we face.
“Personally, I find greater merit trying to help in the present by offering policy ideas, both privately and publicly, where I think they might help.”
Tinubu added that he had toiled for the party as much as any other person and perhaps more than most, and that like himself, no member of the party should have problem with making personal sacrifices.
He, therefore, appealed to the sacked NWC members and all party members to sheathe their swords. The reaction from the Presidency also maintained that there is no rift between President Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja on Saturday, said the requests Buhari put to the party’s NEC which were unanimously approved were aimed at saving the party, which at the time faced an existential crisis.
In arriving at the decision, he said the President followed the constitution and carried everyone along. He said while Buhari’s action had been widely accepted by lovers of democracy and party members, the Presidency was concerned that some people were seeing it as a “Buhari-Tinubu showdown.”
“Nothing can be farther from the truth,” he said. Shehu said in the formation of the APC, Buhari and Tinubu were both inspired by democratic norms, national interest and not by partisan motivations.
These, he said, were the qualities that have made them move past cynical distractions. The statement added, “They (Buhari and Tinubu) are in touch with each other. Their relationship remains as strong as ever and between the two of them, only they know how they manage their enviable relationship.”