Tinubu and his divided APC team

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By Anthony Echi

Football tacticians and lay statisticians will tell you that when a player is sent off the pitch, the probability of the team losing widens by over 60% and it makes no difference whether they are playing at home or away.

This is the situation facing Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC’s presidential flag bearer as his First Eleven team seems to be hemorrhaging players.

First was Hajia Naja’atu, Director, Civil Society Liaison, who pulled a Cristiano Ronaldo on the APC. In a January 19, 2023 letter of resignation addressed to the national chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, Hajia Naja’atu expressed her desire to quit the Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In her letter, she gave a damning indictment of Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s mental capacity or lack of it while averring that he is not the right man for the job. In her words, “I am committed to supporting individuals that are truly interested in addressing the root causes of our challenges.”

Following her resignation from the APC campaign, she said in a telephone interview with an online publication, that Tinubu was physically and mentally impaired. “Asiwaju that I sat with for two hours, he slept most of the time, it was Bisi Akande that I was really talking to. Most importantly, he is not only physically unfit, he is mentally unfit, whether we want it or not, this is the truth,” she said.

The Presidential campaign council of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was quick to note that she was a mole who had been sacked upon discovery of her duplicity.

While the loss of Hajia Naja’atu was still roiling the waters of Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s campaign, whispers were growing louder regarding what many insiders perceived as President Muhammadu Buhari’s lack of support for Tinubu’s campaign.

The President has only appeared thrice at rallies since Tinubu launched his campaign and at one of the stops, he left without making a speech and flew to Lagos.

A few days ago, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai highlighted that lack of support on a TV programme which Aso Rock, in a statement signed by Garba Shehu, quickly poo-poohed.

“Yakasai’s questioning of the loyalties of President Muhammadu Buhari stands in sharp contrast to the actions of the President. Only on Monday, he was out at a rally in Bauchi supporting the flag bearer of the party. Presidential duties permitting, he is scheduled to make further appearances at campaign events in the coming weeks. His support for the party’s candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is unquestioned.”

But claims and counter-claims notwithstanding, it has become glaring that all is not well with Team APC as what had hitherto been seen as simmering disaffection has ballooned into full-scale skirmishes.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu is clearly frustrated at what he perceives as Buhari’s lackluster support for his presidential bid, something that has been evident from the primaries when Buhari’s Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo ran against Tinubu who was perceived as the founding father of the party and a key figure in the emergence of Buhari. With polls mere weeks away, the self-styled political tactician is flailing.

The boat of his ambition is leaking and quiet attempts to bail out water have all but failed. Tinubu, who was relying on Buhari’s power of incumbency and perceived messianic influence in the North is now seeing the handwriting on the wall – Buhari does not give a hoot about Tinubu’s ambition.

During a campaign stop in Ogun state, a state that seems to bring out the worst in him (remember the denigrating reference to Governor Dapo Abiodun as “Ele yi”) Tinubu who has boasted for years that he put Buhari in power lost it and told the world that the naira redesign and fuel scarcity were grand plots by “the powers that be” to scuttle his ambition.

“Let them increase the price of fuel, let them continue to hoard fuel, only them know where they have hoarded fuel, they hoarded money, they hoarded naira; we will go and vote and we will win. Even if they changed the ink on naira notes. Whatever their plan, they it will come to naught. We are going to win.”

The CBN acting on Presidential approval unveiled redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes on November 23, 2022 and upon release announced a January 31, 2023 deadline for the exchange of old notes for the new.

Justifying the naira redesign, The CBN had noted that “as at the end of September 2022, available …indicate that N2.73 Trillion out of the N3.23 trillion currency in circulation, was outside the vaults of commercial banks across the country; and supposedly held by the public.”

Politicians cried foul, hinting at the fact that the redesign and short exchange window was a ploy by the CBN governor whose political ambition was truncated to get back at the political class especially with the limits placed on cash withdrawals. Governors, lawmakers and politicians of various stripes have been insistent in their call for an extension of the deadline.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s reference to “powers that be” is therefore being interpreted as a dig at the president who approved the redesign and his public outburst may well be the anguished cry of a frustrated man.

To extend the football analogy, Tinubu has often styled himself a Mourinho, The Special One; the kingmaker who installs and dethrones. But with Buhari clearly not enamored with his ambition and with Bola Ahmed Tinubu now feeling the pinch a simple fact is emerging.

Unlike Mourinho, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is actually not special. There is no Midas touch. Without access to his bullion vans, he is a god with feet of clay.

His hope that Buhari’s power of incumbency would help, is fast dwindling and like a drowning man, he is clawing at real and perceived enemies.

While Aso Rock is yet to respond to Tinubu’s subtle dig, it is not difficult to surmise what the thinking must be within Buhari’s inner circle; if you say you put Buhari in power, oya go ahead and do it for yourself.

•Anthony Echi is a Lagos based public affairs analyst.