Bola Ahmed Tinubu says he did not decide to run for President in 2023 despite speculation, claiming that he was more concerned about the health and economic problems facing the country at the moment.
In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, he first commented on the overthrow of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress(APC).
The NWC was dissolved on Thursday by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at an emergency meeting.
This was seen as a blow to Tinubu’s rumored presidential ambitions due to his proximity to Oshiomhole.
“To those who actively bleated about how the President’s actions and the NEC meeting put an end to my supposed ambitions in 2023, I ask for your pity. I am only a mere mortal who has neither the foresight nor the political wisdom you claim. You have already assigned a colorful epitaph to the death in 2023 of a supposed political ambition that has not even been born yet, ” he said.
“At this mitigating moment, when COVID-19 and its economic consequences haunt us, I can’t see as far as you can. I have not made any decision about 2023, because the problems of this hour are quite important.
“During this period, I did not engage in policy for 2023. I find this a bit distasteful and somewhat indifferent, especially when so many of our people have been unbalanced by the dual public health and economic crisis we face. I have spent the past few months thinking about policies that can help the nation here and now. What I can or can’t do in 3 years seems too remote, given the current needs.”
FULL STATEMENT: BECOME THE PARTY WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE
I would like to begin by thanking the members of the National Working Committee. Under their collective leadership, the party has achieved big and important victories, not least thanks to the vital second mandate awarded to President Buhari. The victory of President Buhari and the overall electoral success of the APC speak highly of them. Our task as a party is to build on the progress that has been made so that both the nation and the party can move towards a better future.
However, we must admit that something important has gone wrong. For several months, we have experienced growing dissent in the party leadership. This ill-fated competition became so intense that it degraded the NWC’s performance, thereby undermining the internal cohesion and discipline vital to success.
Some people have gone so far as to predict the complete collapse of our party. Most of these grim predictions came from critics, whose predictions spoke more of their ill-will than of the objective state of our party. Forecasts of the imminent death of the armored personnel carrier are premature and for the most part mean. However, an honest person must admit that the party has entered a space where it had no good reason to be.
The problem is not that we will lose our collective existence, but that we will lose our collective purpose. In a sense, this possibility is of great concern. A political party that has lost sight of the reason for its existence becomes only a vehicle for blind and contradictory ambitions. This is not what led to the creation of the APC.
Those who believe that Nigeria can be turned into a better nation and deserves good governance should go back to creating our party. Those who were there and made the greatest contribution to the Genesis of the party adopted a common vision. Not only did we believe that a corrupt, blind PDP was leading the nation into a hole, we sincerely held a shared vision of progressive good governance. This was the main reason for the APC.
Those most directly involved in the creation of the party remain loyal to this kind and timely appointment. Unfortunately, many members of the club lost their balance. Clearly, their personal ambitions far outweighed the obvious national imperatives.
Even in the best of times, Nigeria is faced with myriads of problems. Poverty and economic inequality, insecurity, and lack of infrastructure are long-standing obstacles that have blocked our access to national greatness for too long.
Through no fault of our own, we are now living in a moment of increased complexity. We didn’t ask for COVID-19, but It found us. We must fight it and focus on its gross economic consequences. At the same time, we must fight the violent instability caused by increasingly desperate terrorists and criminals. People need specific help from us. We must focus on building roads and creating jobs. For the average person, watching politicians fight for their position is a poor substitute for seeing politicians working for the good of all.
However, this internal party struggle began to occupy the attention of many high-ranking party officials and party members.
The national working Committee itself was torn by unnecessary conflicts. Those who disagreed with each other stopped trying to find a common language. Attempts were made to use the power of the Executive branch to bury each other. I must be Frank here. This is the behavior of a fight club, not the culture of a progressive political party.
Some members of the Council went against their Chairman in an attempt to forcibly depose him. Looking back, we can say that his attempts to mend the fence was, perhaps, too late. I believed and continue to believe that comrade Oshiomhole tried my best. Mistakes had been made, and he had to admit them. However, we should also remember that he was a capable and energetic campaigner during the 2019 election. He is a man of considerable ability, like the rest of you who made up the NWC.
I was hoping that the differences could be resolved. After all, a political decision should not go beyond the competence of the leaders of a major political party. But this decision was not implemented. It was as if some invisible but powerful force continued to Stoke the coals. Instead of calling for a reasonable cease-fire, too many people were looking for more destructive weapons against each other.
Order, party discipline, and mutual respect went out the window. The members of the club brought all sorts of legal cases, most of them destructive, some of them frivolous, but none of them were necessary. At the same time, a thick fog descended on our party.
When this issue first came to a head a few months ago, I made a statement against this judicial trend. President Buhari and former interim party Chairman Akande issued strong words against such abuse of the courts as contrary to the spirit of the party and the letter of its Constitution. Each of us knew that nothing good would come of such behavior. Instead of listening to that advice, members of the party have increased their visits to the courts. While he was busy providing sufficient sustenance for a gaggle of lawyers, these actions threw the good of the party to the wind.
After a series of lawsuits and counterclaims, two members of the NWC put forward competing claims for the post of Chairman. One of them was legally elected at our national Convention; the last, whose claim was based on the dubious removal of the first.
With so many lawsuits that an expanded sheet was needed to track, President Buhari wisely decided that he had seen enough.
I do not regret his intervention or the result. I regret that the situation deteriorated to the point where he felt the need to intervene.
President Buhari is much more than just a beneficiary of the party. He is one of its founding fathers. The APC does not exist in its current form without its exceptional contribution. This is not an opinion, it is an indisputable fact.
Given these assumptions, he cares about the state of the party as any parent would care about their offspring.President Buhari did what any parent would do in his place and with his power. A more troubling consideration is that so many trusted people have acted in a way that forces the President to put aside issues of public administration in order to solve these problems.
The President spoke, and his decision was made. Now we all, as members of the APC, are obliged to confirm our commitment to the ideals and principles on which our party was founded. While we recognize that people have personal ambitions, these ambitions are secondary, not sacred. Party members must subordinate their ambitions to the health and well-being of the party. Our party should never be defined by the interests of one person, or even by the totality of the individual interests of all its members. A successful batch must be more than the sum of its parts.
In this regard, I call on all former members of the National working Committee and all members of our party to put their swords in their scabbards and look at the big picture.
The Edo gubernatorial election is just around the corner, as well as the primary and Ondo elections. We must focus our immediate energy on these important events. In the long run, we must restore the party’s collegial character so that it can come to the President’s aid, not save the party from itself.
In Edo, we must rally around our candidate, pastor Osagie ize Iyamu. In this case Comrade Oshiomhole have a crucial role to play. I congratulate him for showing coolness and loyalty to the party and our President by taking the decision to disband the NWC. I now encourage him to return to Edo state to step up his campaign to elect pastor ize-Iyamu.
In Ondo, we must establish procedures for holding primaries and conduct them fairly and transparently to show the Nigerian people that the party has left the turmoil behind.
In addition to the daily functioning of the party, the Interim Committee has a mandate to prepare for a mini-national Congress within six months. We must provide the Committee with the support necessary to carry out this task in an impartial manner.
As far as I understand, no one was prevented from applying for any party position to which they would otherwise have been entitled. Former members of the NWC are free to seek re-election to the NWC. Provided they receive the support of party members, they will have the opportunity to return to serve the party as leader. This reflects our overwhelming desire to restore and maintain internal democracy, rather than undermine it.
To those who actively bleated about how the President’s actions and the NEC meeting put an end to my supposed ambitions in 2023, I ask for your pity. I am only a mere mortal who has neither the foresight nor the political wisdom you claim. You have already assigned a colorful epitaph to the death in 2023 of supposed political ambitions that haven’t even been born yet.
At this mitigating moment, when COVID-19 and its economic consequences haunt us, I can’t see as far as you can. I have not made any decision about 2023, because the problems of this hour are quite important.
During this period, I did not engage in policy for 2023. I find this a bit distasteful and somewhat indifferent, especially when so many of our people have been unbalanced by the dual public health and economic crisis we face. I have spent the past few months thinking about policies that can help the nation here and now. What I can or can’t do in 3 years seems too remote, given the current needs.
Those who seek to pass themselves off as a political Nostradamus are free to use their energy. I trust that an astute public will give the views of such impatient visionaries the scant weight that such predictions deserve.
Personally, I find great merit in trying to help in the present by offering political ideas, both private and public, where I think they could help. I will continue in this spirit in the near future. 2023 will answer its own questions in due time.
I have worked as hard for this party as any other person, and perhaps more than most. Despite this investment, or perhaps because of it, I have no problem with personal sacrifice (and none of us should have such a problem) as long as the party remains true to its progressive, democratic credo. Politics is just a means to power. Good policies promote good governance. However, politics is also a risky venture. No one gets everything they want all the time. Even in a close-knit family, differences and competing interests must be balanced and taken into account.
My fellow party members who now feel offended by the meeting with the NEC, I urge you to accept the sacrifice you were asked to make so that the air is cleared, the party can assume its proper role in helping this government lead the nation to enlightened improvement, and the party itself can grow and firmly establish itself as the best, most democratic party in the country.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
June 27, 2020.