The power play over who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 may have created a wedge in the relationship between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and his mentor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Daily Independent has gathered.
Though he is yet to confirm or deny reports that he is nursing a presidential ambition in 2023, many loyalists of Tinubu, who played a significant role in President Buhari’s election in 2015 and 2019, have confirmed that he is passionate about becoming the number one citizen in the next political dispensation.
It was gathered that Tinubu had decided to lie low in respect of his ambition for now so as not to upset Nigerians and President Buhari, who is just six months into his second term.
It would be recalled that Tinubu’s rumoured plan was to serve as running mate to President Buhari during the 2015 presidential election but some stakeholders such as Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, opposed the move, saying a Muslim-Muslim ticket would affect the fortune of the APC, which was then the opposition party.
Given the option of nominating one of his protégé, who is of the Christian faith, Tinubu nominated Osinbajo, who had served as his Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice between 1999 and 2007 when he was governor of Lagos.
However, he was said to be miffed when reports got to him that Osinbajo was also nursing the ambition to succeed President Buhari.
Daily Independent had earlier reported that some stakeholders in the APC were asking President Buhari to ensure that Osinbajo succeeded him so as to continue the programmes of the administration, having worked hand-in-hand with the president as his deputy.
Some others, however, want the North to retain the position in 2023.
Speaking on the relationship between Osinbajo and Tinubu, a credible source in the party said it had not been cordial as both men rarely see and discuss like it used to be.
According to him, “Even a political layman will know all is not well between the duo as Tinubu has not uttered a word since the humiliation of Osinbajo began few weeks ago.
“While many Nigerians also condemned the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, for travelling to London to present the amended Deep Offshore Act to Buhari in London while the vice president is at home, Tinubu saw nothing wrong in that and even praised the president.
“Also, there are two glaring incidents involving the two which shows all is not well. When Asiwaju Tinubu went to Aso Rock some time ago, he didn’t visit the vice president’s office. A lot of people were surprised.
“Also, the vice president was in Lagos few days ago for Hajia Bola Shagaya’s 60th birthday in Lagos. He didn’t visit Asiwaju in Bourdillon before he left for Abuja even though they both met at the function.”
However, speaking on the issue, a staunch loyalist of Tinubu, who preferred not to be named, admitted that while there was no serious rift, both men had been cautious of each other since it was clear that they were both nursing the same ambition for 2023.
“I don’t think there is any serious rift between the two. There is nothing to fight for in nursing an ambition. But I must admit that both men are now cautious of each other and that is logical. We can’t be aiming for the same thing and you expect me to be revealing all my secrets to you.
“As for the vice president not visiting Asiwaju Bola Tinubu after Hajia Bola Shagaya’s birthday, I don’t see anything wrong in that. Both men exchanged pleasantries and they even stepped aside and had a discussion before going their separate ways. The vice president has a very busy itinerary and Asiwaju Tinubu’s schedule is also very tight.
“Tinubu has no reason to fight anybody over presidential ambition. All these people who are talking about presidency, do they have the structures and other necessary things needed?
“He has always said the presidency is like the head of an elephant, which is not something a child can carry. He believes when the time comes, they will all meet at the field and the best will emerge.”
Speaking on Tuesday on the plight of the vice president, Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, said the options available for Osinbajo was either to fight or resign.
Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of the organisation, also said it had not decided whether to support the embattled second-in-command because Osinbajo had not admitted that he had any problem in the presidency.
“The options left for him at this point are to either fight or resign. As for Afenifere fighting for him, that does not arise as yet as he has not even admitted that there is anything wrong.
“The Yoruba say that if the person beaten says he is very cool and comfortable, what then is your own greeting him over injuries?
“All we are doing is to insist on constitutionalism, which we did for Goodluck Jonathan in the days of power hijack and which we will do for anybody, no matter the nationality,” he said.