May 15, (THEWILL) – The Lagos State Coordinator of Tinubu Support Organisation (TSO), Akinduro Ibesanmi, speaks with AYO ESAN, about Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s chances in the forthcoming presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress scheduled for the end of May and other issues as they affect the country. Excerpts:
Since you support Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s presidential ambition, what are his chances of winning the forthcoming presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress?
We are very anxious and as the primary draws nearer, we are waiting for the day to come. We know and we are sure that in the end, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will carry the day. He has done so much and he is still working seriously. You can see that of all the aspirants that have signified their intention to contest in the presidential election on the platform of the APC , he is the only one that is serious . We hope that at the end of the day, he will emerge victorious.
What is it about Tinubu that has endeared him to you? Why are you backing him for the country’s topmost job?
Yes, I have spoken with journalists on this subject many times. Tinubu is a man that has a track record. We can trace his performances to when he was Governor of Lagos State. He did very well and the template he left behind is still being used today. Today, Lagos is regarded as the fifth largest economy, thanks to Tinubu who laid the solid foundation. So we believe that with his performances in Lagos , if he is allowed to rule Nigeria , the country will become a better place for all of us to live in.
Surprisingly some of his political godsons, such as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, have also obtained nomination forms to contest in the APC primary. What is your take on this?
Well I am not surprised. I am not in any way surprised because everybody has the right to whatever is good. The Nigerian constitution permits whoever is qualified and has attained a particular age to contest in the presidential election. For me, it is no big deal that Osinbajo and Fayemi have signified their intention to contest. It is normal.
How will that affect Tinubu’s chances in the APC presidential primary?
Their coming into the race will not affect Tinubu’s chances. The thing is that running for president is no child’s play. Before you can run for the presidency in Nigeria you must have structures in place. You are a Yoruba man and I am a Yoruba man, let us even look at the South-West. Where is Fayemi’s structure, where does the structure of Osinbajo lie? Osinbajo was in Lagos before, but because he wanted to contest in the presidential election, he moved to Ogun, his home state. Where is his structure in Ogun State?
The present structure in Ogun State belongs to the incumbent governor of the state. So where is Osinbajo going to get a structure? Or does he have his structure in Abuja? So their entrance in the presidential race will not affect Asiwaju Tinubu in any way. Instead, it will attract more sympathy for Tinubu, especially from members of the public who are aware that these people contesting against were beneficiaries of his political school. How on earth would the people that benefited so much from him decide to backstab him? A lot of delegates would say no, we won’t support these people. To me it is a healthy rivalry and it is not a problem at all.
Aren’t you worried about the large number of aspirants in the APC?
I think the more, the merrier. It shows that APC is a party that everybody wants to be part of. It is a party that a lot of people are aspiring to belong to and that is why you see a lot of aspirants. But, to me, some of the aspirants are coming out, just for the sake of it. Like I have said, you must have a structure before you can aspire to become a councilor, not to talk of aspiring to become President of Nigeria. Some of these aspirants that you are talking about do not have structure anywhere, some of them are opportunists. Maybe because they have money, they decided to make some noise so that people will know that they are rich. So they decided to come out. I think that in the end, the champion of champions will carry the day.
Are you optimistic that Tinubu will emerge victorious in the primary?
Definitely. I wish you had listened to Asiwaju talk recently. He promised to return home quietly, if defeated in the APC presidential primary. But he said he would continue to work for victory. He also assured us that at the end of the day, he will emerge victorious. This is a man that has traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria. This is a man who has been to the national assembly; both the red chamber and the green chamber and they both endorsed him. Tinubu has built structures everywhere in Nigeria. So let us see how the whole thing goes. At the end of the day, let us see what happens. But we are optimistic of his victory and I can assure you Asiwaju will carry the day.
What is your advice to APC delegates as they prepare for the primary?
My advice to them is very simple. They should ‘shine their eyes’ and avoid distractions. Know what Nigeria needs now. Muhammadu Buhari has tried his best, but things can get better, if only we will allow somebody who has a track record, who we all know is a performer and a reformer to take over from him. I will only appeal to the delegates not to base their decisions on sentiments. They should not base their decision on cash and carry. Look at the track records of all these aspirants and you will see that of all of them, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the best.
How would you assess the performance of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos?
In one word, I would describe Governor Sanwo-Olu as a man who has performed creditably well, despite the problem posed by the COVID-19 pandemic initially. Shortly after the pandemic, we had the @endsars protest. Despite all that, Sanwo-Olu has been able to touch all aspects of the economy. He has been able to do so much. I will not regard him as a road-contractor governor, but I will describe him as an infrastructure – governor. He has done so much for the people of Lagos State.
Penultimate Friday, Sanwo-Olu was anointed by the APC leaders and members in Lagos State for a second term. How do you see the development, considering that his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was denied a second term ticket?
It gladdens my heart. I remembered that during a TV interview, he was asked how he would feel if denied the opportunity to come back for a second term. And he said, “Lagosians will miss our good work.” And when the news came that he has been endorsed by the leadership of the party, I was happy. It means that the governor will be given the opportunity to take Lagos to a higher level.
What is your advice for Lagos APC members concerning the governorship primary coming up soon?
Yes the advice is that though we have heard that somebody else has obtained the form, it is still good. There is no problem. Let the delegates decide. And I know the delegates that have seen the track record of Sanwo-Olu, the good things he has done in the last three years in office. There won’t be a misplaced priority. The delegates will choose right by supporting Sanwo-Olu for a second term. All the good work he has done in the first term, they will allow him to continue and complete it so that Lagos state will be a place for everybody to live.