The campaign organisation for Bola Tinubu, former Lagos governor seeking the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says the recent remarks by Tinubu in Ogun was not meant to disrespect President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu, while addressing APC delegates in Ogun state on Thursday, had said without him, Buhari wouldn’t have won the presidential election in 2015.
“If not for me that led the battlefront, Buhari wouldn’t have won. He contested first, second and third time, but lost. He even said on television that he won’t contest again,” Tinubu had said.
“But I went to his home in Katsina. I told him ‘you would contest and win, but you won’t joke with the matter of the Yoruba’. Since he has been elected, I have not been appointed minister. I didn’t get a contract. This time, it’s Yoruba turn and in Yorubaland, it’s my turn.”
The comment has generated varied reactions from Nigerians on the circumstances surrounding the 2015 elections.
Speaking on the development in a statement issued on Friday by Bayo Onanuga, its spokesman, the organisation said the former Lagos governor was only trying to convince the delegates on why he is the best aspirant.
“The attention of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation has been drawn to the erroneous, misleading and mischievous interpretation of his address in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun State on Thursday,” the statement reads.
“It is on record that the leading presidential aspirant in the forthcoming primaries of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, addressed the national delegates of the party in Ogun State , with Governor Mr. Dapo Abiodun in attendance.
“In his effort to convince the party delegates to vote for him at the primaries, he went down memory lane to provide specific instances when he brought his political clout and strategic skills to assist individuals, groups and tendencies in the party to gain political power.
“These factual references are already in the public realm. They have been reported and analysed in the media in the last eight years. They are therefore, matters of public knowledge.
“While we recognise that recent unexpected interventions in the timetable and the heat generated by the proximity of the event might have led to some anxiety, this campaign organisation believes that the main thrust of Asiwaju’s presentation, was that his huge contributions to the formation and electoral success of the All Progressives Congress should count in his favour as a true party man who desires to be the flagbearer.
“There is also no doubt that the fresh conditions proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari for the consideration of a presidential candidate of the party made it necessary for Asiwaju to labour to convince the delegates that he fits the bill.
“The campaign was surprised at the way the opposition and Tinubu’s traducers had turned his statement to give an interpretation Tinubu did not mean and did not say.
“At no time did Tinubu play any ethnic card or denigrate any ethnic group. That is surely out of his character, as Engineer David Babachir Lawal, attested in his viral WhatsApp statement.
“Tinubu’s speech in Abeokuta did not demonstrate any disrespect to President Buhari, for whom he has a very high regard, and whose re-election campaign he chaired in 2019.”
The former governor, who spoke in Yoruba on Thursday, had also said without him Dapo Abiodun would have never won the Ogun governorship election in 2019.
But the campaign organisation accused the “opposition” of “twisting” the presidential hopeful’s comments, adding that Tinubu was misrepresented.
“Since the video of the speech he delivered in Yoruba hit the social media, varied interpretations have been given to the speech, which in the main was about Governor Abiodun, who in the true tradition of Yoruba culture bowed to his leader after Tinubu’s short speech,” the statement reads.
“The Tinubu campaign is not surprised why the opposition in the APC have decided to turn and twist the statement. The former Lagos governor, a great party man, remains the man to beat at the party’s convention on Monday.
“We are least surprised that he is the target of well-calculated and most unkind virulent attacks.
“The campaign organisation hereby appeals to the media to avoid over- sensationalising issues of facts and play its constitutional role of informing the electorate to make informed choices at the presidential primaries.”