How close-knit is Tinubu to Buhari?
Whenever he speaks in the public, he carries the air of one who sleeps and wakes up in the “other room” of President Muhammadu Buhari. But information that filters into the public creates the impression that the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, the Jagaban Borgu, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, may not be as close-knit to the President as it is being portrayed in the open. Perhaps, they used to be.
It was in the public domain for a long time that President Buhari abandoned or, should we say, tried to “bite the finger that fed him.” It was not a hidden alienation. It was also so serious that the First Lady, Aisha, had to cry out that those who worked for the success of her husband had been sidelined, whereas those who were nowhere to be found when the work was being done were reaping where they did not sow anything.
In February this year, Oluremi Tinubu, a ranking senator representing Lagos central senatorial district at the National Assembly, recounted how sad she felt when her husband was “trashed” after the party won the 2015 presidential election. She recalled that at some points she saw no need for Asiwaju to continue his support for Buhari as a result of the treatment meted out to the political juggernaut, whose fortress is at Bourdillon, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Now the issue of the moment. Last week, President Buhari nominated Muiz Banire, a former national legal adviser to the APC as Board chairman of Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON). But the three Lagos senators, Remi Tinubu, Olamilekan Solomon, and Gbenga Ashafa, wrote a petition against the nomination.
The takeaway here is that the National Leader of the party appears not to have a serious influence on the President, even as he is being used to galvanise votes for Buhari’s second term. The thinking is that, if Tinubu still wields any influence at all, he should have even shut down the nomination while it was being hatched. Or does it mean there are other powerful elements from Lagos that have stolen the heart of the President from the Jagaban? As the matter is playing out, it does not appear that the resistance from the three senators, which some observers have termed as “the voice of Jacob but hands of Esau” is potent enough to stop Banire.
In the event that Banire is eventually cleared, it would mean that Tinubu would have to review, not only his relevance in the Buhari administration, but also his future stake in the party. It appears that the game being played is that “well, he can go ahead claiming to be in control of the party, but we are in control of government.” And if this is the true position of things, APC victory in 2019 may not be in his favour, ultimately. Just thinking!
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