Former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has described the struggle to unseat an incumbent president in an election as the toughest political battle he has ever fought in his life.
Tinubu was the arrowhead of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, one of the legacy political parties that make up the APC, which went on to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, then President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 presidential elections.
The former Lagos governor not only played a crucial role in the formation of the APC, he pulled his weight to ensure Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) emerged as the party’s flag bearer and later president.
The APC chieftain revisited the political battle to unseat Jonathan in an interview with senior editors at The Sun ahead of the Sun Man of the Year Award, which he will be honoured in Lagos tonight.
“President Jonathan’s battle was the toughest”, Tinubu confessed. “When you are fighting the incumbent, it is tough.
You had the challenge of terrorism; you had a class that is divided and a nation that was almost moving from its focus of religious tolerance and diversity to religious division. You had a system that had been corrupted beyond anybody’s imagination. People were being bombarded with money in Lagos. But you have to forget personal temptation”.
On how he engaged former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the political field during his tenure as Lagos governor, he said, “Obasanjo, during his time disobeyed court order on the disbursement of money for local governments in Lagos but you knew where he was coming from; you just had to be careful. That period was also a bit challenging.
There are different situa¬tions that you had to face with different strategies. But to unseat an incumbent president in Africa was the toughest battle. It was not easy”.
On his perceived role in politics as a godfather, Tinubu further said “Godfather is not negative but godlords are. They are the mafias. Godfathers exist even in the church. If you call me a godfather, it is alright. I have many children everywhere”.
Explaining his position further, Tinubu added that, “You are talking about imposition in a democracy. If you are a strong adviser, you would get blackmailed; you have seen great qualities in an individual and one that has capacity to do good; you identify those you believe can deliver on the evolution of good governance.
“I have a responsibility to recommend. My party has a right to reject the person. When I identified Babatunde Fashola, some people shouted imposition but when he started to blossom like flowers in the garden, Fashola now became their child. The umbilical cord is buried and the baby has survived. In democracy, sometimes, you have the sprinkle of dictatorship too when you know that you are working on the overall interest of the people. You have facts that some people do not have; so you do not get angry”.