Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says some of his opponents want President Muhammadu Buhari to work against his emergence as the presidential candidate at the party’s primary scheduled for next week.
Tinubu spoke while reacting to the backlash that trailed his speech to the party’s delegates in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, on Thursday.
Tinubu had categorically said without him, Buhari would have lost the 2015 election.
He also pointed towards the direction of the Ogun state governor, whom he publicly called by his first name, saying he helped get into office.
The presidential said this after the governor refused to endorse him for the 2023 Presidency.
But in a statement he issued on Friday, the former Lagos state governor said his speech at Abeokuta was misrepresented by his opponents to present a narrative that he disrespected Buhari in hopes that such a narrative would convince the president to oppose his aspirations regarding the approaching primary of the party.
He also vowed to accept the outcome of the party’s presidential primary scheduled for June 6-8 in Abuja.
“Let me also erase any doubt. My respect and regard for President Buhari as Commander-in-Chief of this nation and as a person are high and unfailing. I shall never denigrate him. I certainly did not do so in Abeokuta. We have been political partners for a long time and I hope that partnership continues well into the future. I would do nothing to jeopardize it.”
“I believe our party is the best hope for the nation to right itself. I believe I have a future role larger than the one I now have. I also believe President Buhari has a continuing and important role to play even after his tenure as president is over,” he said.
Tinubu maintained that in Abeokuta, he spoke to the unwarranted attacks against his person that have been part of the campaign of other presidential aspirants, stressing that he recounted the history of the party for those whose memories need repair.
“There are many who had no role in the birth of the APC and in its many victories. Now that the party has climbed the political summit, they want to claim credit for something they had no part in. However, this cannot be said of President Buhari. I am proud of my role in the advent of the APC and its electoral successes. But President Buhari, of course, stands as the main driver of this success. He was elected president twice. He has borne the weight of national governance for seven years. Nothing can rival that. I would not dare belittle what he has done and what he has meant to the party and nation,” he added.
Tinubu, who opined that his aspiration to be President of Nigeria is based on his desire to serve the nation and not a sense of personal entitlement to high office, stressed that governance is a sacred and solemn duty.
He said that his strategic objective was to build on the foundation laid by the Buhari administration.
“I make no apologies for seeking the party’s nomination. I believe I have something important to offer Nigeria that the other aspirants do not have, although I see them as good and committed Nigerians in their own right. While I want this office, there are certain things I will not do and certain lines I shall not cross. I shall never belittle myself by denigrating the president or his office. I dare not seek an office and disrespect it at the same time,” he said.
He added that the position of the presidency is neither to be given as a favour to someone who is unqualified nor should people be motivated by personal reasons to prevent the most qualified person from attaining the office.
“The wellbeing of over 200 million souls is at stake. Let us all realise this and act accordingly, I only desire a level-playing ground for all aspirants and an adherence to stipulated rules and due process. If in the fairness of such a process, I do not emerge as the party’s candidate, I shall have no complaints regarding an honest primary and will accept the fair outcome as a true democrat,” he concluded.