Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said on Sunday that his interest in the leadership of the ninth National Assembly had nothing to do with any personal or presidential ambition in 2023 as being speculated in some quarters.
Tinubu is supporting Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila to be the next Senate President and House of Representatives’ speaker, respectively.
In a statement by his media office titled, ‘Tinubu Focusing on the Issues of Today: Tomorrow is the Master of itself”, and made available to newsmen, Tinubu, who had earlier warned national lawmakers-elect to either succumb to the dictates of the party as regards the zoning formula or leave the party, said all he had done in respect of the impending election of presiding officers of the National Assembly was to support the party and President Muhammadu Buhari’s position.
The former Lagos State governor said, contrary to impression being created, he had no ulterior motives in making his position known, and insisted that all his mind, heart, and efforts were focused on backing the APC and President Buhari in achieving their shared vision of a flourishing economy and a prosperous people.
Speaking further, Tinubu said he would have committed a terrible blunder by navigating against the president’s position, and added that those who cast aspersions at him were in reality bucking against the stated position of President Buhari.
He said: “We have monitored, with rising incredulity, the rash of news stories claiming Asiwaju Tinubu is manipulating the APC nomination process for the National Assembly leadership.
“The stories claim this supposed manipulation is the first salvo in Asiwaju’s effort to position himself for a presidential run during the 2023 election cycle.
“Not only are these reports utterly false, based as they are in the febrile imaginations of those persons by whom they are being peddled, they are injurious to President Buhari’s historic quest to reform Nigeria. It is for this latter reason that we find cause to speak out where otherwise we would have continued to watch on in silent amusement.
“Nigeria has barely emerged from President Buhari and the APC’s resounding victory in the last election. The president, with the support of an APC majority in both chambers of our National Assembly, is now preparing to lead the nation forward for the next four years.
“Instead of covering the president’s exciting Next Level agenda and what it promises in terms of economic and social growth & development, these people want to skip ahead to the next election as if they can cast aside the next four years.”
He urged rumour-mongers to court greater discipline and wisdom, adding that there was no action a person could take that constituted a political guarantee as to what might come four years from now.
He also dismissed the claim that having allies in the National Assembly leadership positions would greatly enhance someone’s presidential ambition as spurious.
He added: “Asiwaju is neither inclined, nor sufficiently naïve, to take his eye off the present in the futile attempt to peer through the thick fog that is the future.
“The peddlers of these rumours have arrogated to themselves the preternatural ability to read Asiwaju’s mind more than he himself can know it.
“They also seem to have acquired the unique gift of bending time so that 2023 appears before we even reach the midway point of 2019.
“If these people would only enlist their uncanny talents in the service of the nation instead of in the service of political intrigue and gossip mongering our country would be much the better.
“This attempt to caricature Asiwaju as if his words and actions are all aimed at grabbing power will fail because this portrait distorts the plain truth.
“While the headlines are sensational they are also senseless because they are not grounded in fact. Asiwaju has not run for elected office since 2003.
“He last held office in 2007. He has never vied to become chairman of the APC nor has he tried to insinuate himself into any major government office.”
While noting that the National Assembly positions were important to the fulfilment of the president’s agenda, he lamented that a painful lesson was learned in this respect in the last four years.
“With the Senate leadership usurped by regressive elitists, that chamber constituted a brake on progress and good governance.
“The Senate leadership and, to a lesser degree, the House leadership, stymied APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious, reactionary, and self-interested legislation on the nation,” he said.
Describing the outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and their ilk as regressive elitists, Tinubu said they hijacked the budget process in the last four years and constituted a clog in the wheel of the progress of the Buhari administration.
He continued: “Just look at the way Saraki, Dogara and their ilk high jacked the budget process these past four years. National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them.
“Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted the average person.
“After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.
“If we are truly committed to optimal governance, then we also must be equally committed to ensuring that the National Assembly leadership is competent and experienced as well as imbued with a progressive mindset and a desire to work in close cooperation with executive.
“This is all Asiwaju has hoped to achieve. There are no ulterior motives. Everything he has done is in concert with and in furtherance of the wishes of President Buhari and the party.”