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todayAugust 22, 2022

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Fact! Tinubu’s Campaign Not Gaining Expected Traction

Right from the day former Lagos State governor and erstwhile National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, declare his intention to vie for the presidential ticket of the party, it has been one issue after the other. Even after, against all odds, he picked the ticket, these issues have refused to go away. And these have made even neutral observers to start asking if his campaign is gaining any traction of achieving the kind of effects his handlers want it to achieve.

A very strong supporter of the former governor and one of his campaign team members told THISDAY on condition of anonymity that they knew from day one that it would be very difficult to market the man many have come to accept as the undisputed facilitator of the Buhari presidency in 2015. He admitted that the performance of Buhari in the last seven years have made the job of Tinubu’s campaign team very cumbersome.

“If you want to run a good campaign that will resonate with the people and make them want to listen to you, then you have no choice than to criticise the current governor,” the member said. “But you know Asiwaju cannot come out and be hitting Buhari or criticising how he has handled some issues in the country since he assumed office in 2015. That would be counter-productive. And that is the dilemma we are facing.”

But it is even deeper than that. The first brick wall the campaign faced and which is just trying to extricate itself from (perhaps due to the fact that people have moved on from it) was the choosing of a running-mate after controversially picking the presidential ticket. Since Tinubu is a Muslim, though from the South, it would be unthinkable for him to pick another Muslim from the North. But that was exactly what he did when he announced the name of former Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, as his running-mate.

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and other influential Christian leader across the country had vehemently kicked against a Muslim-Muslim ticket; insisting that it would not cater for the corporate interest of Christians in the country. Just on Monday this week, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, Yunusa Nmadu, said the Muslim-Muslim ticket was a plot by Tinubu himself to fail. Nmadu who is also the chief executive officer of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said, when speaking to reporters in Kaduna, that Muslim-Muslim ticket in both Kaduna State and at the federal level had widened the mistrust among Nigerians.

“I don’t know how anybody in their political calculation will ever think they will win election in Nigeria without Christians or win election in Nigeria without Muslims. Those who are flying the Muslim-Muslim ticket either in Kaduna or State or at the federal level, to be categorical, have failed the examination already,” Nmadu said.

He added that he would not ever support a Christian-Christian ticket either while admitting that in some states, there is nothing that could be done about either a Muslim-Muslim ticket of Christian-Christian ticket.
David Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and a known ally of Tinubu, also kicked against the same faith ticket. So also, was former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. While it could be said that furore raised by choice of Shettima might have abated, it is debatable if the issue would not come to the fore again as the campaign season runs into climax.

Outdating the picking of the presidential ticket was the issue of the real age, parentage, educational qualifications as well as the schools attended by the former Lagos State governor. In fact, in the form he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the spaces for both primary and secondary schools attended were left blank. He only completed the space for that of university attended. This questions over Tinubu’s educational qualifications first came up when he became the newly elected governor of Lagos State. While the then state House of Assembly gave him a clean bill of health, many political observers knew it was just a political solution as the reprieve from the Assembly did not take away the fact that those questions were never answered.

After picking the ticket, those questions came up again and his campaign team has been battling to respond to them while the man at the centre itself all has stoically refused to disclose the names of the schools he attended and the years. The problem is that those questions will not just go away.

Another albatross Tinubu has to deal with as his campaign team criss-crosses the country is the near abysmal performance of President Mohammadu Buhari in nearly all aspects of public administration. From insecurity to economy; from infrastructure to religious and ethnic balancing, Buhari has been close disaster. This is well known and documented. How Tinubu will defend this and still convince voters to vote, not just for him but his party is one task no one will want to envy him for.
Who Will Pacify Wike?

It was a massive political statement when current Lagos State governor and known ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, stalwart, Babajide SanwoOlu, landed at the Port-Harcourt international airport and was received by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, a People’s Democratic Party, PDP, strong pillar. SanwoOlu had been invited by Wike to come and inaugurate a newly constructed bridge by his administration.

Earlier, Wike had played host to outgoing governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, current governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, and SanwoOlu himself about a month ago. Their mission in Port-Harcourt was to latch into the axe Wike has been grinding with the PDO since he lost the presidential ticket of the party to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in May in a keenly contested exercise. Apparently relying on the deep pockets of the party and the nearly one million votes his state could deliver, Wike has been practically holding the party into ransom.

Series of reconciliation meetings have been held but none seems to have achieved any result with some of the conditions Wike reportedly gave the party was the removal of the current National Chairman of the party and former Senate President, Dr. Iyorcha Ayu. His argument, according to reports, was that Ayu is a northerner and since Atiku, another northerner, had picked the presidential ticket, then Ayu had to go. But the party was said to have rejected this.
It must be noted that while Wike was ‘negotiating’ with his party, he did not stop hobnobbing with the ruling APC and this culminated in the invitation he extended to SanwoOlu to come and inaugurate a project in his state whereas, it was doubtful if any PDP governor was in attendance. ‘

Just on Monday this week, Wike accused some PDP elders in the state of ganging up against him. Speaking at the 74th birthday reception for former governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili, Wike said some party leaders who lost out in the race for the party’s gubernatorial ticket in the state have gone to Abuja to gang up against him and ensure that he did not get the vice-presidential ticket of the party which was eventually picked by Ifeanyi Okowa, the current governor of Delta State. He said they had signed an agreement with him initially that they would abide by his decision on whoever he chose as his successor only to turn around and gang up against him after losing out on the governorship ticket.

Analysts have insisted that Wike is not likely to leave the PDP; saying he is only trying to extract as many concessions as possible from the party’s leadership ahead of the coming general elections. How true this is is difficult to say but if Wike’s actions are anything to go by, then it is obvious that he has not been placated over the loss of the PDP presidential ticket.
And the question remains: who will placate Wike?

2023: Will the Private Sector Get Involved?

Ahead of the 2019 general election, some new political parties were registered and one of them was the Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, championed by Harvard-trained medical doctor and public health specialist, Dr. Jay Osi Samuels. The party used to call itself the ‘technoticians’; a coinage that came from the words ‘technocrat’ and ‘politician’. The party was gaining some interest from the private sector who believed the party would provide them with the platform to get involved in the political process. In fact, its presidential candidate for the 2019 election was Fela Durotoye, a corporate practices coach, who polled over 16,000 votes in the election.

Though through gang-up and obvious sell-out by the then National Chairman of the party, Emmanuel Dania, ANN practically lost its way after the elections as Samuels, the man who birthed, financed it, and who even got them their national secretariat was schemed out as the national executive of the party started hobnobbing with some elements within the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. As expected, the party could not survive post-2019 but the message had been sent, that corporate individuals who were new to politics and not belonging to any of the existing political parties could actually organised themselves and create a platform to be involved in the political process.

Ahead of 2023, it seems the corporate sector does not seem to be getting a look-in. And if galvanised and made to get involved in the political process, they are a substantial voting block that will be a massive boost to whoever they choose to support during the presidential election. But is any of the leading presidential candidates  even aware of this?

Joyce Ifeoma Ogho, a Lagos-based lawyer and confirmed supporter of former Vice-President and Presidential candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, said it would be a good idea if corporate individuals and those in the private sector are convinced to get involved in the political process and even possibly endorse a particular presidential candidate. He said it was never enough to keep claiming that politics is dirty and hence, they refuse to get involved.
“I am in the corporate world and we are a substantial voting block even if many of us are not aware of this,” Ogho told THISDAY. “That is why I am involved and I am fully an Atiku supporter and I think I will also want as many corporate guys as possible to get involved and possibly support my candidate, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.”

While her words were mere wishes, it must be noted that since many in the private sector do not really belong to any political party, endorsing any particular candidate would surely require the candidates selling their programmes to them especially as they relate to business practices and incentives. Ironically, none of the presidential candidates has rolled out any economic plan that they could sell to the business community.  
A former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan who spoke to THISDAY on Wednesday, said the ruling APC should forget even going to the business community for their support; saying that the last seven years have not been business-friendly in any ramification.

“The APC should forget going to meet the corporate community and ask for their support,” Ologbondiyan said. “Their policies in the last seven years have been anti-business. That is even aside. In Lagos, where their presidential candidate comes from, just say you want to start a business and see the amount of conditions you need to meet and how different government agencies will nearly frustrate you and tax you for a business you have not even started.”
Ologbondiyan might have spoken like a partisan. But the fact remains that his own party, the PDP, has not rolled out any campaign plan that will lure the business community to its candidate.

And that is why the question remains if any of the leading presidential candidates is even seeing the corporate world or the business community as a voting bloc they could woo to win additional votes. Or perhaps, they are busy trying to win over the regular voters before reaching out to them.

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