Presidency says Buhari wasn't referring to Tinubu in that interview

The presidency describes the inference as malicious.

L-R: APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi [Facebook/Femi Adesina]

President Muhammadu Buhari wasn't referring to Bola Tinubu when he said that one man cannot sit in Lagos and decide for the All Progressives Congress (APC), according to the Nigerian presidency.

Asked about who will succeed him in 2023 during his AriseTV interview aired on Thursday, June 10, 2021, Buhari had said: “The hope of this administration is to see APC last beyond it. Therefore, we should allow the party to decide. You cannot sit there in Lagos, for instance, and decide on the fate of APC on zoning.”

Tinubu is a former governor of Lagos. He pulls his political strings from the nation's commercial capital.

The president's remark has been interpreted as a reference to Tinubu whose brand of politics and godfatherism often includes imposing candidates on his party at grassroots and state levels.

Some sections of the social media have also interpreted the president's comment to mean that he isn't favorably disposed to the APC presidential ticket being 'zoned' to the south--a region from where Tinubu hails--in 2023.

However, the president's spokesperson, Garba Shehu, says the spin and interpretation of an otherwise innocuous remark, is malicious and mischievous all at once.

“The presidency wishes to distance President Buhari from a malicious campaign aiming to drive a wedge between him and a staunch ally, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“This is nothing short of a mischievous attempt to drag the President into controversies. Our citizens and especially the members of the APC should not fall for this.

“The ruling party, the APC, unlike others before it is a popular political party owned by its entire membership, hence Mr. President was making the point during the 45-minutes interview that neither he nor anyone in the leadership could impose their wishes on the party.

“This is a basic consensus that binds the entire party leadership. The party leaders remain firmly committed to the principles that succession must be through democratic norms and processes.

“The mention he made of Lagos was not a reference to the respected party leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, as the opposition party’s predatory designs would put it in order to damage the excellent relationship between the two of them.

“The President, the Asiwaju and the rapidly growing members of the party want a dynastic succession of elected leaders.

“The APC should not be distracted from its progress as a democratic party," Shehu's statement reads.

Tinubu, 69, is widely believed to be nursing a presidential ambition ahead of the 2023 general elections, with several reports suggesting that he's already set out his stall and a campaign structure, ahead of the crucial vote.

There have also been recurring reports of a fallout or rift between Tinubu and Buhari.


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