Despite all odds, the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Wednesday clinched the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 presidential election.
There were 13 void votes.
Tinubu polled a total 1,271 votes to beat former governor of Rivers State and immediate past Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to the second position with 316 votes.
Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo garnered 235 votes to come third.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, who the National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, earlier announced as the consensus candidate of the party endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari to the consternation of many, polled 152 votes.
Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, scored 47 votes; former governor of old Abia State and immediate past Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, garnered one vote; Engineer Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi State, garnered 38 votes; governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, got 37 votes.
Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba, immediate past Minister of State for Education, scored one vote. Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, former governor of Jigawa State, polled four votes. Pastor Tunde Bakare, who claimed that God anointed him the 16th president of Nigeria to take over from President Buhari score zero vote, thereby making his God a liar.
But Tunde Bakare was not alone in the zero lane. Former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha; Mr. Tein Jack Rich and Chief Ikeobasi Nwaokelu, scored zero votes.
The voting which started at about 12 midnight didn’t close until about 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
There were 2,223 delegates that cast their votes in 40 ballot boxes. There were 23 aspirants in all. But Nwajiuba didn’t even bother to turn up at the Eagle Square.
Out of the 23, nine voluntarily stepped down or withdrew and signed the withdrawal form, leaving 14 others to slug it out.
Out of the nine that stepped down before voting began, seven declared support for Tinubu while one went for Osinbajo.
Tension was palpable and the picture quite unclear at the beginning but all that changed as the special convention commenced.
Tinubu was not the preferred choice of President Buhari but he muscled himself into the race during the week when Buhari apparently lost control of the process, despite his vow last week to take effective charge and provide robust leadership.
At the convention ground at Eagle Square Abuja shortly before the voting started, seven aspirants – Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State and immediate past minister of Niger Delta Affairs; Senator Ibikunle Amosun, former governor of Ogun State; Dr Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State; Mohammed Badaru, governor of Jigawa State; Senator Ajayi Borrofice, Barrister (Mrs) Uju Kennedy Ohanaenye, the only female aspirant in the race; and Dimeji Bankole, former Speaker of the House of Representatives – all stepped down and asked their delegates to vote for Tinubu.
That apparently became the game-changer.
As they were making the declarations and stepping down, Buhari kept squeezing his face while his wife, Aisha Buhari’s face was deadpan.
The youngest aspirant, 40-year-old Nicholas Felix, stepped down for Osinbajo.
Tinubu who said he had a lifelong ambition to be President of Nigeria fought the political battle of his life.
In what many saw as a political meltdown, Tinubu in an unprovoked tirade in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Thursday, boasted how he made Buhari president in 2015.
“If not me that led the war front, Buhari wouldn’t have emerged. He contested first, second and third time, but lost. He even said on television that he won’t contest again,” Tinubu told his audience.
“But I went to his home in Katsina. I told him you would contest and win … This time, it is Yoruba turn and in Yoruba land, it’s my turn.”
On Monday, Buhari responded, asserting that many people played parts, large and small, in his historic election in 2015, making history as the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting President
According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari said the past should not decide the outcome of the next general election and that what mattered today is to elect a candidate that will “make our country better than it has ever been.”
Speaking at the convention on Tuesday, Tinubu said he wanted the party’s presidential ticket because he had what it takes to lead the nation to a brighter future.
Addressing the delegates, he said the party must come out of the convention stronger and better, poised for victory.
Tinubu said he had the experience, having led Lagos to being the fifth largest economy in Africa today.
“I will use the experience and it will benefit all Nigerians,” he said.
According to him, his experience makes him unique among other aspirants.
Tinubu who apparently but advisedly moderated his Abeokuta outburst said: “My experience in office and the knowledge gained through hard work, tough trials and patient undertaking have prepared me for this hour.
“I am a man of purpose with a serious mission. My vow is to use all that I know and all of my abilities to the benefit of the nation and its people.
“I do not step forward because I think this nomination is my due. I step forward because I can help lead our nation to become what it ought to be.
“I do not say this as a boast. Hear me out. I claim not to be special nor great. My training, experiences, acquired knowledge are what are special and uniquely suited for this moment. I am merely a conduit, a servant of a cause much larger than myself.
“Now is a time for progressive vision and singular purpose. There is a general agreement that 2023 will be an encounter with destiny when our nation shall need a certain type of leader to realise a better Nigeria.
“We need to build a Nigeria where sufficient jobs for the urban population are available and lead to a good life that wholly benefits the nation.
“Think big at this moment that we may accomplish great things in the next APC administration that will come on May 29, 2023.”
Tinubu’s victory means that he will compete with former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who has already picked the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State, who won the ticket of the Labour Party, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former governor of Kano State who is the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria peoples Party (NNPP), among others.
Here is the result at a glance:
Pastor Tunde Bakare – 0
Hon Emeka Nwajiuba – 1
Gov. Dave Umahi – 38
Senator Ahmed Sani – 4
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi – 316
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu – 1
Gov. Yahaya Bello – 47
Senator Rochas Okorocha – 0
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo – 235
Senator Ahmad Lawan – 152
Gov. Ben Ayade – 37
Tein Jack Rich – 0
Chief Ikeobasi Nwaokelu – 0
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu – 1271