Politics is not a game for saints,it is meant to be played by men like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu


Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu wasn’t lying when he said he made Muhammadu Buhari President in 2015.Tinubu as National Leader of the ACN did not just float the idea of a merger in the press,he reached out to the other components of what is known today as the APC; notably Buhari’s CPC and an agreement was struck in 2013 for the retired army general to run on the party’s 2015 ticket.Buhari faced far more richer opposition in Former Vice-President and wealthy businessman Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and then Governor of Kano,Engr Rabiu Kwankwaso who had both just moved into the APC with loaded GMGs (Ghana Must Go) and were also vying for the 2015 ticket but Tinubu ensured they didn’t buy over the delegates and kept his promise to Buhari.He was the leader of South West politics and it was with little or no effort that he delivered what Buhari had lacked in his failed attempts at the Presidency; the bloc vote of a region other than the North in a Presidential election.

You may however be right to say Tinubu wasn’t doing all these from the goodness of his heart.It all looked like the pieces were falling in place perfectly for him; Crown a President who will forever be in his debt and have him deploy everything at his disposal to back him after 8 years.There were no flaws.

Buhari finally became President and things took a wild turn not just for the 15 million nigerians that voted him but also for the man that got him that far.Buhari handed the reins of the party entirely to party chairman,John Odigie Oyegun and denied Tinubu any wriggle room as Party Leader.When the Kogi gubernatorial flag bearer,the late Prince Abubakar Audu passed away before the state elections,what looked like an easy stroll to the ticket for his running mate and Tinubu boy,James Faleke turned out not the case.A certain Yahaya Bello who finished second was instead asked to run.Then came the Ondo APC gubernatorial primary that produced Rotimi Akeredolu SAN as winner.Tinubu’s preferred candidate was Olusegun Abraham,an international businessman and despite getting party leaders to label the process as ‘corrupt and laden with irregularities’, all efforts to hold another primary were thwarted by an Oyegun strongly backed by President Buhari.Tinubu had had it.Or so we thought.
When Atiku Abubakar couldn’t run in the PDP for the 2007 Presidential election no thanks to his battle with President Obasanjo,he teamed up with Tinubu who also was an arch-enemy of OBJ to form the ACN.In 2016 it was Tinubu reaching out to the ever desperate Atiku to unite and either form a new party or decamp to their old party in the ’90s; the SDP.Perhaps it was a bluff intended to make Buhari jittery and prompt him to extend an olive branch but the President didn’t bulge.

Leaving a house he built was never really an option and an open show of opposition against the President from within the APC would necessitate the enthronement of a new guard in the South West to demystify him completely.Tinubu made the best choice for his career; he was not only going to take whatever the President threw at him with a smile and bid his time,he was going to support the President and make it difficult for the man to declare war against him.

When he mobilized his political capital of Lagos to deny incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode an APC return ticket,a committee was sent from Abuja to hold a fresh primary.But of course common sense prevailed as it would be unwise to fight a man as influential as Tinubu as in the entire South West with general elections just months away.Ambode’s ouster was allowed to stand and Tinubu never took offence.He worked hard for Buhari in the 2019 elections and won him Lagos by every means necessary.
Like they say,no one knows the corners of a house better than the man who built it.Soon after the 2019 election,Tinubu set his 2023 machinery in motion.He was silently making allies and making sure he kept it difficult for Buhari to fight him openly.When Mrs Funke Olakuri; the daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti was gruesomely killed by suspected herdsmen,Tinubu said at his residence that he didn’t know who did it but he knew it wasn’t fulani herdsmen before ending his interview with the now famous “If so,where are the cows?” line.
When the South West was being ravaged by insecurity and other leaders of the South West were championing the establishment of para-military outfit, Amotekun and fighting the refusal of the Buhari administration to allow it,Tinubu laid low and pretty much sat on the fence when he was made to say something.When he was being blamed for the killing of End Sars protesters by soldiers in Lagos,he never directed them to the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.He only denied sponsoring the protests and asked protesters why they were there in the first place.If he couldn’t win Buhari’s support,he might as well keep the hate at same level and not be made a blatant enemy.

By the time the APC 2023 Presidential primary came,Tinubu had made inroads to just about every corner of the party and was undoubtedly set to clinch the ticket.Insane money had been piled up while he was scheming behind the scenes and there was simply no way even a sitting President could fight him dollar for dollar without raising eyebrows.Tinubu and his people had identified what needed to be done and had gone about it before others even had one foot in the race.
The only available option to the President was to push for a consensus candidate.The APC primary was postponed by a week and series of meetings held but it was already too late.The lame move to push forth an argument that only a Northern candidate would be able to match the PDP’s choice of Atiku Abubakar was met with stiff resistance by the Northern Governors who were supposed to back it.Tinubu had them in his kitty.

The primary finally held and delegates were said to have gotten $40,000 each with the intention to go higher if his foes wanted a dollar war.A video that emanated from the venue of the primary showed Northern APC governors queuing up to receive cheques.Tinubu achieved what everyone thought impossible-win the APC ticket against Buhari’s will.

That Tinubu has still chosen to bow before Buhari despite the opposition to his aspiration tells you just how shrewd a politician the man is.With his campaign team on one hand headed by Gov. Lalong of Plateau state,a presidential campaign council was also established with Buhari as the head.The story about Buhari sponsoring Atiku’s victory at the PDP primary was lent credence to by Gov. Wike who all but confirmed same at one of his numerous musical speeches and Tinubu is keeping his enemy closer to feel safe.His patience has not run out and his focus on the long run has not wavered.

With the APC in control of 22 states plus a foot hold in 9 others at the very least,Tinubu is the realists’ favourite to win the 2023 election.It doesn’t matter whether you hate or love the man,you just have to salute the man’s political prowess.

Politics is not a game for saints,it is meant to be played by men like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano