MEMBERS of President Muhammadu Buhari’s inner circle are reported to have told him to place the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on a watch list as he could be the one behind the growing opposition to the government in the southwest.
Over the last week, the presidency has been rocked by growing demands for Fulani cattle herdsmen to leave the southwest geo-political zone. In Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu asked the herdsmen to leave because of their involvement in kidnapping and violent crime, while in Oyo State, political henchman Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Igboho has been involved in a big altercation with the local Fulanis.
Yesterday morning, Mr Adeyemo’s house in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital was set ablaze by hoodlums suspected to be Fulani herdsmen. Despite the fact that several meetings have been holding to calm tempers, tensions remain high, with some northern groups saying that if the Fulanis are forced out of southern Nigeria, southerners will be made to leave northern Nigeria too.
With President Buhari reeling from the crisis with no apparent solution to the problem, members of his kitchen cabinet believed to comprise extended family members and friends have asked him to keep a close eye on Asiwaju Tinubu. This group, led by President Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura, are accusing Asiwaju Tinubu of sabotaging the war against insecurity in the country and instigating Nigerians, especially those from his southwest geo-political zone against the Buhari government.
Among other things, the group has urged President Buhari to order security agencies to investigate the recent activities of Asiwaju Tinubu. Although he has yet to openly declare his political plans for the next election, Asiwaju Tinubu is widely believed to be gearing up to succeed President Buhari, whose tenure ends on May 29, 2023.
One presidency source said: “They accused Tinubu of instigating Nigerians against Buhari and he was also accused of sponsoring different groups to cause unrest across the country. I think the cabal see this is another method to tame Tinubu ahead of the 2023 elections after a lot of noise in the APC in which his allies lost out.
“They are doing everything within their power to stop the president from supporting Tinubu’s ambition come 2023.”
At the moment, it is unclear how far Asiwaju Tinubu and President Buhari trust each other and whether the president would support the former governor as the APC candidate for the next presidential election. Recently, the APC dissolved its national working committee based on the recommendations of President Buhari, which some political analysts have alleged was done to reduce Asiwaju Tinubu’s influence in the party.
Already, a group alleged to be sponsored by some northern politicians called on the police to arrest Asiwaju Tinubu over the ultimatums issued to Fulani herdsmen in Ondo and Oyo states by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and Mr Adeyemo. Over the weekend, the group known as Northern Patriots Assembly, accused Asiwaju Tinubu of being responsible for the crisis between Yoruba youths and Fulani herdsmen in the southwest.
A Northern Patriots Assembly spokesman said: “All these threats, suspense and deliberate heating of the polity, we believe are at the instigation of the so-called southwest political leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, all in the name of politics. We cannot but see the hand of Tinubu in all these because of his inordinate ambition to become the president of Nigeria and his penchant for bellicosity anytime he is targeting a political prize horse.
“Tinubu as we all know is seriously eyeing the presidency come 2023 but as we inch closer to the election year, it is becoming glaring to him that the odds do not favour him. Instead of accepting his fate quietly as power does not come from man, Tinubu is trying to upset the apple cart by heating up the polity and making the country ungovernable.
“This is with the hope that after he has turned the country upside down, he will be called to negotiate, to state his demands where he will insist that the presidency be handed over to him or the mayhem continues. This is self-serving and an unpatriotic act that should be condemned by all as a country cannot be set ablaze just for the ambition of one man no matter how stupendously rich he thinks he is.”
Last year, several people close to President Buhari also fingered Asiwaju Tinubu as one of the sponsors of the #EndSARS protests. They claimed that he sponsored the protests in the southwestern geo-political zone in order to cripple the country and bring the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari into disrepute on the global front.