By Bala Ibrahim
Barring any last minute changes, on Monday, March 29, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari will chair the 12th colloquium to celebrate the 69th birthday of Jagaba, Chief Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The Tinubu Colloquium was conceived in 1999 by the close friends of the politician, who were obviously banking on the imperative of using such platform to stimulate and oil the machinery of capturing power in future.
Unlike how it was done in the past, where the lectures hold in one location, mostly Lagos, this time around, new dimension and direction have been added to the chase game, with the obvious intent of testing the waters, by cajoling the perceived adversaries of the President, to attempt the test of their strengths, preparatory to 2023.
According to sources, this year’s colloquium would hold concurrently in three places of three different states, viz: Lagos, Abuja and Kano, and the President will preside virtually over the events, which are organised by the office of the Vice-President, Chief Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. The theme of the colloquium is, ‘Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth: The Imperative Of National Cohesion For Growth And Prosperity.
While no one is raising eyebrows about the event holding in Lagos or Abuja, there is a lot of cautious distrust on why Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is hosting the event in Kano, in fact it’s billed to hold at the state’s government house. What has Tinubu’s birthday got to do with the government of Kano State, when Lagos, his state of residence and the one he governed before, is not hosting him to such event at the state house?
Pundits are perceiving an underhand purpose, tricky or questionably planned to bring together the President’s opponents, to commence the process of pulling the carpet off his feet, from Nigeria’s biggest reservoir of crude electoral votes. A plan to embarrass the president?
Of late, the relationship between PMB and Bola Tinubu has been a subject of suspicion and public discourse, just as the 2023 presidential election inches closer. It is an open secret that Tinubu is ambitious in succeeding Buhari as the next President of Nigeria, but some are of the believe that it is a dream that would not come to fruition, because of silent distrust. Prominent amongst those with this believe is Chief Ayo Adebanjo, a Tinubu’s kinsman and leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere.
The question begging for answer now is, if Adebanjo is doubtful, why is Ganduje prayerful, and willing to use Kano state resources to bankroll the political agenda of a non indigene, against the interest of the presidency?
Yesterday, some papers went to the press with the story that there is a rift between President Muhmmadu Buhari and the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a rumour the presidency described as the handiwork of mischief makers.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, which is widely believed as mere whitewashing, the presidency noted that one of the reasons cited by authors of the rumour was that Asiwaju Tinubu had not been frequently seen around President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. It said, “The Presidency wishes to make it clear that there is no rift between President Muhammadu Buhari and his strong ally, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The President and the Asiwaju have a very strong commitment to the All Progressives Congress (APC) towards bringing change and this is a commitment they have made to the Nigerian people. If the Asiwaju is not a frequent face in the Aso Rock Villa, it is on account of the fact that he is not a cabinet member of this government. The fact that he is not every day around the Villa does not make him less of a friend to the President and this administration”, the statement said.
Since the shocking and infamous “Gandollar” scandal of 2019, and the woeful performance of the APC national delegation at the last Edo gubernatorial election, under the leadership of governor Ganduje, relationship between the governor and the presidency has been rusty, with speculations about Ganduje suspecting the hands of the presidency in his ordeal.
Only recently, he was quoted saying he would decisively deal with those behind the video, a threat that made one of the journalists that published the story to write an SOS letter to the IGP, seeking cover against any harm that may come his way from Ganduje.
Sources also said Ganduje had long marginalized members of the CPC faction from the affairs of his administration, a pointer to the belittling of the president’s members, in the alliance that gave birth to the APC amalgam.
Those who know Ganduje well accuse him of being the master of deception, because of the ease with which he projects pretext and falsehood. The regular, or frequent rash and derogatory remarks from his aides against the presidency, that only attract pretentious reproof from him, are cited as evidence of that distrust.
So in the light of this alliance with Tinubu, and the plan to deal with his perceived antagonists, would the Presidency go the Jafar Jafar way with Ganduje, or it would work on a different strategy?
Buhari may have his problem with the people of Kano, but I doubt if Ganduje is in a position to benefit from that, by attempting to cash in on such a misunderstanding, because he is equally neck deep in the anger book of the people. And cajoling the cynics may not necessarily help him to peeve the president.