It was easy to see that all was not well in the relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu.
Although Tinubu kept denying it, no one believed him. The evidence was clear: Again and again the former Lagos governor was sidelined, his proposed nominees for appointments were ignored, his preferred candidates for positions from senate president to speaker of house of representatives to Ondo governorship candidate lost out woefully, and his voice no longer carried weight within the party.
This was not the outcome Tinubu expected when he lent his considerable weight towards ensuring victory for Buhari in both the APC presidential primaries and the national elections in 2015.
When asked to respond to news that he had been sidelined last October, Tinubu described it as “fake news.”
“I have confidence in this President. There is no doubt about that. We worked hard to bring about the government. There are certain things that are unpredictable and those are things that can lend themselves to gossips, insinuations and all of that. But once you create leadership and it is functioning, you don’t have to babysit that leadership, unless there is a loss of confidence and I don’t have that.
”What is cabal? It’s a myth. We are the party of the people for the people and by the people and this is a democratic environment,” he said.
My husband was trashed
But his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who represents Lagos Central in the National Assembly, has made a counter claim. She said in a TVC interview on Tuesday that the APC leader was “trashed” by the Buhari administration that he helped bring to power.
She claimed that she even tried to dissuade the APC leader from further backing the administration but he refused.
“He was campaigning, I did too. We were running three campaigns in my house. And for him to be trashed like that? But I saw somebody who has love for this country… Occasionally, I would chip in and I would say, ‘You’re still helping out? Why are you helping out?’ He would say, ‘This country matters to me more.’”
Things appear to be smoothing between Tinubu and Buhari with the former governor’s recent presidential appointment as head of the party’s reconciliation committee ahead of the 2019 polls.
Buhari remains the candidate to beat
Sen. Tinubu however said that despite all that has happened and the massive criticisms being faced by the administration, Buhari remains “the candidate to beat” in the forthcoming poll.
“And Buhari, how many years has he been there? I am not campaigning for him. I am not; because I have looked at the dynamics; the poor still trust him. I will tell you: when it comes to integrity, Buhari has it. I don’t know about now.”