TRANSPORT minister Rotimi Amaechi has denied any knowledge of a pact between President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu involving the latter becoming the All Progressive Congress’s (APC) presidential candidate in 2023.
In 2015, Asiwaju Tinubu was the main architect of President Buhari’s victory after his Action Congress of Nigeria merged with the Congress for Progress Change and All Nigerian Peoples Party to form the APC. They fielded President Buhari as their candidate and their joint efforts were enough to oust the ruling Peoples Democratic Party of the then President Goodluck Jonathan.
After being re-elected in 2019, President Buhari is due to stand down in 2023 and jostling has already begun for the APC presidential ticket. Although Asiwaju Tinubu, the former Lagos State governor has not formally declared himself a candidate, posters have appeared announcing his candidacy and offices have been opened to support his presidential bid.
However, Asiwaju’s candidacy appears not to be attracting any support in APC circles and this has become more pronounced of late after the health challenges he has had. At the moment, Asiwaju Tinubu is recuperating in London after undergoing knee surgery in the US and there are now serious doubts about whether he will be able to withstand the rigours of an election campaign.
Mr Amaechi, who was the director-general of APC campaign organisation in 2015, said he never witnessed a pact between Buhari and Tinubu regarding succession. Before the 2019 polls, President Buhari was said to have re-assured Asiwaju Tinubu of the APC ticket at a meeting in January 2018 in the presidential villa.
Attended by Bisi Akande, the former Osun State governor and first ever APC chairman, the meeting was said to have involved President Buhari restating a promise he made in 2015. However, Mr Amaechi stated that he was not privy to details of the alleged agreement and was not sure if President Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu held such a private meeting.
Mr Amaechi said: “If there was a private meeting between President Buhari and our leader, Tinubu, I wouldn’t know. If it was a public APC meeting and I was not there, then something must be wrong as I was not told that there was an agreement that power should be handed over to Tinubu.”