Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON) and founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Osita Okechukwu, has urged the party’s national leader and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to retain his position as a Kingmaker.
Okechukwu said looking ahead to the 2023 Presidential elections, the best thing Tinubu should do was to jettison his presidential ambition and back a younger aspirant from the South in line with the country’s zoning convention.
While appreciating the huge contributions of the former Lagos State governor to Nigeria’s democracy, Okechukwu, who was also a member of the merger committee that birthed APC, Okechukwu said Tinubu should resist the temptation of political greed.
The VON DG stated that: “If one has the ears our national leader, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on whether he should run or not for the exalted office of the President of Nigeria in 2023, my candid advice is that he should use his abundant endowments to unite the APC, mobilise the South and our beloved country, by backing a candidate from the southeast.”
Okechukwu recalled President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to youths in 2018, when he signed the not-too-young-to-run bill into law, saying that Jgaban Borgu should support President Buhari by throwing his weight behind a younger person from the South, particularly the Southeast geopolitical zone to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
He stated that: “As one of the major participants at the merger talks that produced APC, I am confident that Tinubu’s job as a national leader is well carved out for him. He is a strategist and has the eyes to spot excellence and winning ways.
“Asiwaju should do the job of a mobiliser by helping to galvanise the party for a compromise candidate. By so doing, he would have united the South forever and dispelled the notion by some northerner stakeholders that their reluctance to support southern candidates is based on lack of cohesion among the two major geopolitical zones in the south.
“If Tinubu widens his search he will definitely find a credible candidate from the Southeast that could easily defeat the presumed PDP candidate and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
“So, what am saying is that Tinubu would have wittingly used one stone to kill two birds, namely, uniting APC, the South and by extension, the entire country.”
Okechukwu, who made the remarks while taking questions from journalists at the 2021 Eke Day in Abuja, yesterday, emphasized that it will be statesmanlike for Asiwaju to be a Kingmaker than throwing his hat into the ring after more than three decades in the field.
On why he thinks Tinubu should be restricted to being a Kingmaker rather than being the King himself, Okechukwu went scriptural, saying “there is time for everything, which happens on earth.”
“I am one of those Buharists that have tremendous respect for Asiwaju for the critical supplement he added to Buhari’s 12 million Vote-Bank, which resulted in our 2015 presidential election victory. It is not a mean feat, when you consider that with Buhari’s Vote-Bank, we were unable to win in 2003, 2007 and 2011, until the merger of the legacy political parties, where Tinubu played major role,” he added.
Reacting to an alleged power transfer agreement between Tinubu and Buhari in 2015 to be his running mate in the presidential election, Okechukwu denied any such agreement, adding, “All I recall is that there was raging debate on the propriety of Muslim/Muslim ticket as to whether it can guarantee victory of the APC at the 2015 presidential election.
“This was, to the best of my knowledge, what denied Tinubu the Vice Presidential slot and not the flimsy insinuation of breach of agreement. The scale of Muslim/Muslim ticket was weighty unlike in 1993 when Abiola/Kingibe ticket was explored. It was thoroughly debated and dropped, for defeat phobia.”
While insisting that realpolitik heldswya, Okechukwu said President Buhari did not breach any agreement with Tinubu, adding that against that rich background, Tinubu should etch his name in gold if he utilises his God-endowed resources to support anyone from the Southeast to be Nigeria president of Igbo extraction.
Responding to suggestions that Tinubu should support his protégé, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, instead of a Southeast candidate, the VON DG asserted that since the power rotation started from the South-West in 1999, equity and natural justice demands that the South-East should be allowed to produce the President in 2023.
His words: “One, it is based on the zoning convention that has governed the fourth Republic since 1999, which states that the president should rotate between north and south. In 1999 the southwest took the slot through Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Secondly, our brothers in the South/south has taken their turn to preside over Nigeria, as such Southeast remains the only geopolitical zone in the south yet to preside over Nigeria. An uncommon statesmanship from Tinubu’s gesture will unite the south by building the much needed synergy between politicians from South-East and South-West geopolitical zones.”
Okechukwu said his proposition had nothing to do with age factor as alluded to by some commentators, noting that “whereas one cannot canvas age in any particular manner; we at same time need generational transformation.”