Tinubu denies plan to run against Buhari in 2019
Media reports over the weekend suggested that a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Tinubu would be contesting for Nigeria’s presidency in 2019, whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari would seek reelection.
But Tinubu has denied the reports and has, instead, pledged his loyalty to both his party and Buhari, insisting that his support for the Nigerian president was unwavering and that he would never support anyone but him if he seeks re-election in 2019.
“As long as that patriotic and committed man named Muhammadu Buhari holds and seeks to hold the mantle as our president, then Asiwaju Tinubu stands behind him in unwavering support and confidence,” Tunde Rahman, a media aide to Tinubu said in a statement on Tuesday. “Asiwaju Tinubu remains faithful to the mission of progressive reform and change that President Buhari, he and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have started.”
Tinubu had told reporters on Saturday at the inauguration of Rotimi Akeredolu as the governor of Ondo State that he would not rule out contesting for the public post again. But Rahman said in the statement that his principal did not specifically mention the presidency or any timeframe.
“If you really listen to his words, Asiwaju did not mention any office or any time-frame. The conditions he mentioned may not become ripe for years to come and they might not pertain to the presidency. In effect, all Asiwaju said was the position that any political figure would hold,” Rahman said.
In 2016, both Buhari and Tinubu were forced to deny rumours of bad blood between them. At the time, Tinubu had a running battle with APC’s national chairman John Odigie-Oyegun over the Ondo primaries and had openly called for his removal in a published statement. He alleged that Odigie-Oyegun, with others, conspired to ‘steal the Ondo primary,’ the outcome of which did not favour Tinubu’s preferred candidate, Olusegun Abraham.
But Tinubu has since publicly declared his support for Akeredolu, who won the primary and has gone one step further to become the governor of Ondo State.
“I appeal to all party members including the disenchanted to unite for the good of APC and rally round Gov Akeredolu to ensure success,” he said on Twitter on February 24.
Tinubu was also rumoured to be planning the formation of a new political party with the aim of dislodging the ruling APC from the centre in 2019; a tittle-tattle he has also denied.
“This is a party I laboured with others to build.We would not abandon it for another. Millions of Nigerians who voted are watching,” he said.