National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has broken his silence on the leadership crisis that rocked the ruling party lately, saying his 2023 presidential ambition is still on course.
Tinubu, in a seven-page statement, on Saturday, dismissed insinuations that last Thursday’s dissolution of the National Working Committee by the APC National Executive Committee at a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, presided over by the President Muhammadu Buhari and attended by top government officials and party chieftains, was aimed at his supposed 2023 presidential ambition.
The APC national leader, who is not a member of the party’s NEC, disclosed that he had yet to make a decision on 2023 due to the health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had infected no fewer than 24,077 and killed 558 persons in the country as of Saturday.
He said rather than dwelling on his 2023 presidential ambition, he had devoted the last few months to thinking of how to come up with policies that could help the nation ojut of the current quagmire.
Tinubu, whose close ally and former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, died of complications arising from COVID-19 last Thursday, said it was distasteful for him to start talking about what he might do or not do in 2023 at a time the country is in such a critical situation, adding “2023 will answer its own questions in due time.”
According to the APC national leader’s statement titled, ‘Becoming the party we were intended to be,’ “To those who have been actively bleating how the President’s actions and the NEC meeting have ended my purported 2023 ambitions, I seek your pity. I am but a mere mortal who does not enjoy the length of foresight or political wisdom you profess to have. Already, you have assigned colourful epitaphs to the 2023 death of an alleged political ambition that is not yet even born.
“At this extenuating moment with COVID-19 and its economic fallout hounding us, I cannot see as far into the distance as you. I have made no decision regarding 2023 for the concerns of this hour are momentous enough.
“During this period, I have not busied myself with politicking regarding 2023. I find that a bit distasteful and somewhat uncaring particularly when so many of our people have been unbalanced by the twin public health and economic crises we face.
“Personally, I find greater merit trying to help in the present by offering policy ideas, both privately and publicly, where I think they might help.”
Tinubu added that having worked assiduously like others and possibly even more than most, and that like himself, no member of the party should have problem with making personal sacrifices.
He, therefore, urged the sacked NWC officers and all aggrieved party members to sheathe their swords.
But while commending the former NWC members for the party’s “great and important victories” under their leadership, especially in ensuring Buhari’s re-election, the APC national leader asked Oshiomhole to take responsibility for his mistakes.
He said he believed strongly that the former APC national chairman tried his best but that his peace moves came late.
Tinubu added, “Those who disagreed with one another stopped trying to find common ground. Attempts were made to use the power of executive authority to bury each other. I must be blunt here. This is the behaviour of a fight club not the culture of a progressive political party.
“Some members went against their chairman in a bid to forcefully oust him. In hindsight, his fence-mending attempts were perhaps too little too late.
“I believed and continue to believe that Oshiomhole tried his best. Mistakes were made and he must own them. Yet, we must remember also that he was an able and enthusiastic campaigner during the 2019 election. He is a man of considerable ability as are the rest of you who constituted the NWC.”
The APC national leader also expressed hope that the disagreements in the party would be resolved, adding, however, that order, party discipline and mutual respect “went out of the window”, leading to unnecessary court cases, which the President; the former interim chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; and himself condemned, respectively.
He stated, “With lawsuits so numerous, one needed a spread sheet to keep track, President Buhari has reasonably decided that he had seen enough. I do not lament his intervention or its outcome. I lament that the situation degenerated to the point where he felt compelled to intervene.
“President Buhari is much more than a mere beneficiary of the party. He is one of its founding fathers. The APC does not exist in its current form without his singular contributions. That is not opinion; it is undisputed fact.
“President Buhari has done what any parent in his position and with his authority would do. The President has spoken and his decision has been accepted.”
Tinubu also urged Oshiomhole to support the APC governorship candidate in Edo, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in the September 19governorship election.
“In this, Oshiomhole has a crucial role to play. I encourage him, now, to return to Edo State to energise the campaign for the election of Pastor Ize-Iyamu,” he said.