By Dansu Peter
Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has debunked report by ThisDay Newspaper that he is resolved to contest 2019 Presidency, even against President Muhammadu Buhari, should he still wish to vie for the second time on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, News Punch understands
Contrary to ThisDay's report, Tinubu has declared that he will not contest against President Muhammadu or support anyone for a contest against the ailing President.
Tinubu in a statement released by his media aide, Tunde Rahman said he stands behind President Buhari. He wishes the president well and that he returns soon. He, however, pledged his unflinching loyalty to the President.
His media aide's statement reads:
Meanwhile, ThisDay Newspaper had yesterday reported that the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bola Tinubu, has been holding a series of meetings and consultations for his bid for the presidency in 2019, THISDAY has reliably learnt.
According to sources close to the former Lagos State governor, he is also putting together a team, preparatory for the race and has developed an elaborative strategic plan to make a bold bid for the coveted office.
In so doing, Tinubu, sources confirmed, has abandoned his initial plan of aligning with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to build a mega party to take on the APC in 2019.
Instead, Tinubu, the sources volunteered, has decided to remain in the APC, a party that he played a pivotal role setting up in 2013 and leading it to a historic victory in the 2015 elections.
Tinubu had hinted of his interest to contest for the presidency in Akure last Friday when he told reporters during the inauguration of the new governor of Ondo State, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), that he could run for the office in 2019.
“There is nothing wrong with such ambition,” he said, adding: “It depends on the timing, the environment and what the political leadership dictates. I will not brush aside such an aspiration.”
Following his brushes with the leadership of the APC and his perceived marginalisation in the Muhammadu Buhari administration, he was said to have opted for building a huge alliance, using the PDP and some other parties to form a new mega party that would serve as a counterweight to the ruling APC and wrest power from it in 2019.
But Tinubu, according to sources, has had a change of mind and has decided not to leave a house he helped to build for others.
Although Buhari’s absence and concerns over his health, which may rule him out of the contest in 2019, may have played a role in Tinubu’s decision to contest for the presidency on the platform of the APC, sources informed THISDAY that the former Lagos governor’s mind is made up to make a go for the presidency.
According to a source in the know, “Asiwaju would actually prefer that the president recovers and returns hale and hearty, but he does not seek a second term.
“But even if Buhari decides to seek a second term, Asiwaju’s mind is made up, as he will contest for the post in the APC under any circumstances.
“He is tired of being a kingmaker and has decided that he will contest under any prevailing circumstances.”
In this regard, the source said Tinubu remains on course to build a strong counter force within the APC, first in South-west, by stepping up his efforts to reconcile with all his erstwhile political associates, including former Governors Segun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel, as well as other political leaders like Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.
His goal, according to THISDAY sources, is that a reinvigorated alliance in the South-west would help him checkmate his estranged younger associates, including former Governors Kayode Fayemi and Babatunde Fashola, as well as Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, who he believes are being used to clip his political influence in the region.
With the South-west tidied up, the presidential aspirant is said to be consulting widely in the North, reaching out to the region’s political heavyweights and sourcing for alliances that will strengthen his hand in building a strong base in that part of the country.
Already, Tinubu’s team has pencilled down three names as possible running mates, a source close to the APC leader disclosed.
They are Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State due to name recognition and political considerations; Senator Abu Ibrahim who represents Buhari’s Katsina South Senatorial District, to placate the president’s people and power bloc; and possibly the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II, his well-known political associate and an expert on economic reforms that could prove very useful to a Tinubu presidency.