Quite recently, former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), the Jagaban of Lagos, is becoming increasingly visible, hitting the roads, visiting some signatories, and making some critical statements.
This is being interpreted in many quarters as a subtle campaign by the APC national leader to make good his desire to become the President of Nigeria, come 2023.
Bola Tinubu had of late assembled a crack team of professional politicians that comprised of former Senators, former members of the House of Representatives, serving and former political office holders from different states across the southwest zone, who has been accompanying him on different visits to some parts of the country.
Under the aegis of South West Agenda 2023 (SWAGA ‘23), a group of a rainbow coalition of like-minded politicians led by former Works Minister and former Senate spokesperson, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the team had already visited the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aji Ogungunniso I, and the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, to seek their royal blessings for the actualization of Tinubu's political dream.
Other prominent Yoruba leaders on the team were Senator Adesoji Akanbi; Bosun Oladele, a former member of House of Representatives; Jide, son of a former Governor of Lagos State, Kayode Jakande; Kafilat Ogbara, Commissioner for State Audit Service Commission in Lagos State; former federal lawmakers such as Oyetunji Ojo, Rotimi Makinde, Toba Oke, Gboyega Okegbemi as well as the immediate past Secretary to Ondo State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde.
From the South West, Bola Tinubu and his team proceeded up north, to Maiduguri, Borno State, in what the APC leader claimed was "condolence visit on the Government and people of Borno State" on the recent killing of farmers by Boko Haram at Zabarmari rice field.
But rather than dwell on what he claimed was the purpose of his visit, Bola Tinubu dropped a bombshell: ordered that "all divisive forces" within the APC must be weeded out. “Any remaining rats and cockroaches should be sprayed out of the party,” Tinubu ordered.
Tinubu who said that he was not in Borno State on politics, maintained that the APC must live up to its symbol, the broom which, he said, "signifies the importance of unity and work to take out any form of disunity", explaining that the covenant of APC with the Nigerian people was to work together in unity to bring about development and progress.
While insisting that there was unity in APC, Tinubu further held that anything that would work contrary to the progress of the party and Nigeria should be weeded out.
Having visited Borno State on "condolence visit", Bola Tinubu, may have by now been on his way to Katsina State on "sympathy visit" for the hundreds of students that were abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, by the same Boko Haram insurgents, even though our President who is from Katsina State and currently holidaying there, and who took time to visit his cows, did not see any need going to visit the agonizing parents the abducted students.
With the air of 2023 around the corner and blowing incessantly, there is no doubt that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is going to be much more visible in the months ahead, while he and the people of South West zone who believe that they have been ordained to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, maybe impressing upon us to toe their political direction.
For us, we see SWAGA '23 (South West Agenda 2023), as not only aimed at drumming support for Tinubu's 2023 Presidential ambition but also at ensuring that other geopolitical zones are intimidated out from contesting the Presidency in 2023, particularly under the APC.
Already, some southwest political bigwigs in APC, like Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had told us that during the formation of APC, that there was "a deal", call it gentleman's agreement they signed, that after Buhari would have completed his tenure, it would be the turn of the South West to take over from him.
Some people had even hinted that the reason why a younger Osinbajo was paired with a very old Buhari was in anticipation that the President would not complete his tenure, due to old age or ill-health, so that the Vice President would automatically assume the mantle of political leadership. But, here we are, Buhari is still bubbling with good health!
Since politics is the art of the possible, nobody had considered it politically immoral, that the South West, after producing a President for eight years in this dispensation in the person of Olusegun Obasanjo, would still be angling to produce another President in 2023, when other geopolitical zones, particularly the South East, did not have the opportunity of tasting it.
That notwithstanding, the coming together of South West politicians under the aegis of South West Agenda 2023 (SWAGA '23), should be a good lesson for southeast politicians, who are currently running individual races.
In 1999, the South West ensured that each of the then two political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the All Peoples Party (APP), nominated their sons as Presidential candidates, so that head or tail, they would win. And they succeeded.
Can the South East equally do the same in APC and PDP in 2023? We sidon dey look.
...Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI, is a Public Affairs Commentator. NNL.