By Tunde Rahman
By the time the results of Saturday’s presidential election are announced and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is declared the winner, as expected, his victory will leave no one in doubt because it will be a well deserved victory.
In this election, Asíwájú Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, offers by far the most well thought-out, comprehensive and realistic solutions to the myriads of problems besetting the country. The solutions put forward in his policy document give our people a new lease of life. Among his competitors, he unarguably, ran the most holistic, all-inclusive and gruelling campaign schedules.
Sometimes during the campaigns, in ancient town of Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, which has now become accustomed and famous with Asíwájú’s sagely and piercing remarks, he spoke, perhaps in consonance with the history of the city as the cradle of free press. It was at that Ogun State capital that Asíwájú added ‘Emilokan’ to Nigeria’s ever-expanding political vocabulary while addressing party delegates. It was an assertion of his will and readiness to be President of Nigeria.
Contrary to the negative spin by his traducers, that insightful statement was never made out of any vainglorious sense of entitlement. It was a bold and audacious statement, asserting his suitability for the exalted office. It was meant to convey the fact that having worked to advance democracy in the land, having contributed immensely to Nigeria’s growth and development, and having also helped others achieve their political goals, he is also deserving of the topmost office by virtue of his qualifications, competence and capacity.
Anyone claiming self-entitlement would sit at home, fold his arms and expect the presidency to be delivered to him on a silver platter. Not Asiwaju. He traversed the length and breadth of the country, speaking directly to the people and selling his candidacy and message of Renewed Hope.
By Tuesday when the curtain was drawn on the party’s open campaign after a hugely successful and an unprecedented rally at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere in Lagos, the APC candidate would have gone round the entire country, visiting many states several times over.
For the record, Asíwájú Tinubu and his campaign train mounted rallies in 35 states and FCT Abuja, except in Taraba State where some issues within the state chapter were yet to be resolved by the date the rally was slated to hold. He was even ready to proceed to the state when words came that the rally had been called off.
In some cases, two rallies were organised in one day like in respect of Anambra and Cross Rivers, and Kebbi and FCT Abuja. Additionally, the APC candidate organised other campaign activities including townhall meetings with critical stakeholders. He met business leaders and entrepreneurs in the Organised Private Sector, youth groups, healthcare professionals, Labour Unions, religious leaders, traders, farmers, livestock development and commodities dealers. Asiwaju also interacted with strategic stakeholders in mining, agro-processing and creative arts. There were townhall meetings on key sectors of the economy in at least 20 states including Niger, Kano, Nasarawa, Katsina, Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Edo, Jigawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Kaduna, Kogi, Imo, Ebonyi, Cross Rivers and Delta before the APC candidate again returned to these states to mount political rallies.
The precursor to the campaign stops and townhall meetings were initial trip round the country before the June 8, 2022 primary election to meet party members and major party actors to seek their support.
I have taken the time to present Asiwaju’s comprehensive journey round the country before this important election to underscore how hard he had worked and how rigorous his campaign activities had been.
Now, the first point that is remarkable about this is Asiwaju engaged in ceaseless, consistent and sustained trips around the country, in some cases to difficult and uncharted terrains, soliciting support for his candidature. These demanding schedules belied baseless insinuations that he was ill, unhealthy, unfit to rule. For the life of me, how can an unhealthy man travelled, for instance, to and fro the dreaded bandits-ravaged Sokoto -Gusau road, a distance of about three and a half hours apiece, to meet the people only to retire that same evening to some round of meetings lasting till the wee hours of the next day.
Or undertake the 6-hour journey to the far-flung and largely avoided ancient Birnin-Gwari town in Kaduna State, by so doing becoming the only presidential candidate or aspirant to ever visited the area.
These trips sometimes undertaken late in the night and the late night meetings and engagements also unearthed another aspect of him: Asiwaju’s has an extremely high work rate, working till the early hours of the day only be woken up with another call for one meeting or another.
Asiwaju’s message of Renewed Hope as disseminated during the campaigns and well laid out in his Action Plan, encapsulates his vision for the country in various areas including insecurity which he plans to confront with injection of cutting-edge technology and by putting more boots on the ground with recruitment of more personnel alongside necessary training programmes.
On the economy, Asiwaju seeks to catalyse double-digit growth through massive resource-mobilisation and increasing megawatt of available electricity to pave the way for rapid industrialization.
Asiwaju’s turnaround plan includes continuous and increasing investment in physical infrastructure such as road and rail networks. The Asiwaju plan gives agriculture and particularly crop farming and rice production priority attention. These areas, which form parts of the achievements of President Buhari would be revved up and consolidated by Tinubu-Shettima presidency.
There are many more to talk about in these programmes; cutting across education, particularly university education, industrial relations, fighting corruption, etc, but for space constraints.
On the campaigns, apart from the APC National Working Committee members led by National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and the party’s governors, Asíwájú usually had President Buhari in attendance. The president was physically present at campaign rallies in 8 states namely Plateau, Adamawa, Bauchi, Sokoto, Katsina, Nasarawa, Imo and of course the Tuesday February 21, 2023 grand finale rally in Lagos.
What this vividly demonstrates is that President Buhari and Asíwájú Tinubu are on the same page on the matter of the 2023 presidency.
Indeed, the president is working to ensure the victory of Asíwájú in the election. At every turn during the campaign, in the video he put out last weekend while in far away Addis-Ababa, and at the grand finale of the campaign in Lagos, he again strongly sold Asiwaju to Nigerians, raising his hands up as the next president, God willing. President Buhari made it clear that though he is not a candidate in this election, APC has a qualified and competent flag bearer in Asíwájú who would continue with and consolidate his achievements.
A number of other issues also stood out from the just-ended campaigns. The party and the governors are standing solidly behind their candidate. The National Chairman of the party, Senator Adamu, and majority of the governors and members of the National Working Committee and other party chieftains were always in attendance at each campaign stop. The import of this is since throwing their weight behind power shift to the South and backing Asiwaju Tinubu at the party’s primary, the governors have remained steadfast with him. They have never looked back.
Speaking at the campaign rally in Abeokuta and talking about the Naira swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Asiwaju Tinubu said as good as the policy could be, its implementation has become a problem and huge burden to the people in the informal sector, particularly the poor people who have been made to bear the brunt. He urged that the policy be given a human face. Only a bold and courageous leader could have come out the way he did. Whereas other candidates went quiet or were ambivalent, with one, a former Vice President contesting on PDP platform, even saying “don’t extend the currency swap deadline, the fact that the people are suffering is not enough to change a state policy,” Asíwájú was firm on the side of the people. Asiwaju showed that when elected he would take very bold decisions, but in the interest of the people.
– Rahman is Media Adviser to Asiwaju Tinubu