The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has commended the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for leaving the party’s presidential ticket open for all aspirants.
He said this in a letter to the President, which he personally signed. The letter was made public by Buhari’s media aide, Femi Adesina, on Saturday.
In a copy of the letter obtained by The PUNCH, Tinubu said he didn’t believe that Buhari had no preferred presidential aspirant until the night of the primary when the aspirants walked up to the podium and spoke.
He also described Buhari as a “true leader, brother and friend” who demonstrated a “sense of purpose, composure, and maturity” in the weeks leading to the Special Convention of the Party.
Tinubu expressed gratitude for the President’s congratulatory letter to him, adding that while all the contestants expected President Buhari to “choose” his successor, he simply allowed a level playing field.
The PUNCH had reported that Tinubu defeated 13 other aspirants to emerge as the party’s candidate at the end of the Special National Convention of the party on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in Abuja.
Tinubu scored 1,271 votes to clinch the APC presidential ticket for the 2023 general election.
The other aspirants included Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajuba, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Mr Tein Jack-Rich and Governor Ben Ayade.
Others were Governor David Umuahi, Senator Ahmad Yarima, Dr Ahmed Lawal, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, Governor Yahaya Bello and Mr Ogbonnaya Onu.
The race began with 23 aspirants but nine withdrew shortly before the commencement of voting at the convention.
They included Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohnenye, Dr Felix Nicholas, former Gov. Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, former Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Sen. Ajayi Boroffice, Gov. Muhammad Badaru of Jigawa, Sen. Ken Nnamani and Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
Read full letter:
Dear Mr President,
I bring you sincere fraternal greetings and congratulations on the successful conclusion of the special Presidential Convention of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
On behalf of my wife, Oluremi, and my entire family, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the very special and personal congratulatory letter you sent to me. I am deeply honored. Your words in that letter were reassuring, reenergising, and reinvigorating.
Your Excellency, one must admire the sense of purpose, composure, and maturity you demonstrated in the weeks and months preceding the primary elections of our great party. As aspirants and party leaders, we all pleaded with you to “choose” your successor.
Naturally, this is expected especially in African democracy. Up until the 6th of June, 2022, the day of the APC Presidential primaries, the whole of Nigeria, including myself, was waiting for you to announce your preferred candidate. All of us thought and believed this was a very simple matter.
However, it was only as the primary went into the night and as the candidates walked up to the podium and spoke that I fully and truly appreciated your position and stance to be neutral and non-aligned to any of us. As the first person to speak, I also had the special vantage point to carefully hear, without any distraction, what the other candidates had to say.
As the hours rolled by that evening, it became clear to me that all of us were your preferred candidates. As you captured it aptly in your letter to me, the “spirit” of 2013 and 2014 when we created and built APC was there for all to see.
In your letter and in our many meetings over the years, you fondly reminisced on fraternal attitude in the days and months before and after formation of the APC, when we all worked day and night to create, sustain and nurture our nascent movements into a credible opposition party and ultimately, become the ruling party. That time, no one spoke about tribe; no one spoke about religion. That was not what drove us. We were driven by a common desire to save and transform Nigeria.
One by one, I saw my colleagues and partners stand on the podium, full of the same passion and patriotic zeal they had in 2013/2014, presenting their ideas on how to build on your successful legacy. Back then, as it is now, we were from all parts of the country, all tribes, and all religions. We all had deep personal and strong bonds with you. We were together back then and our bonds remained strong up till now.
Mr. President, as the night of 6 June turned to morning of 7 June, I fully understood and appreciated your stance. “You belonged to everybody in the party and you belonged to none of the individual candidates of the party.” A true leader, brother and friend.
Mr. President, the delegates from all over the country nominated my humble self to be their candidate. I must acknowledge that my nomination would not have become a reality without your support and that of the party leaders across the country. Indeed, as I reflect on my political journey, most of the 2022 APC presidential aspirants, members of the Progressive Governors Forum and National Assembly leaders and members all had a role to play in my successes and achievements thus far.
I will forever be grateful to them for shaping my political journey over the decades. I want to assure you that I will continue to work with them going forward. My emergence as a candidate is also a victory for them.
I have met most of them in the past few days and will continue these engagements as we plan for the general elections. Mr. President, APC is united and will remain united as we move towards the general elections.
I have taken note of the message you sent to all Presidential Candidates in your Democracy Day speech to the nation on the 12th June, 2022. Our country is going through a very sensitive period and no one should put their personal desires above and beyond the nation’s peace and prosperity.
As you said, the “message we set at the top will be replicated in our followers.” At this point, I will take this opportunity to assure Your Excellency of my commitment to running an issue focused campaign as we move into the general elections. I will personally engage the candidates from other political parties to urge them to do same. Voters should elect us based on our policies, programmes, and projects. By the grace of God, we as candidates will avoid having divisive, destructive and disruptive campaigns.
I will conclude by once again thanking you for being there for all of us. By the grace of God and with your leadership, guidance and support, I am confident that we will lead our great party, the APC, to victory in the February 2023 general elections. We will ride on the back of your successes. We will build on the foundations of transparency and integrity which you have laid.
Mr President, together, side by side, in the spirit of 2014, we will win and Nigeria will move forward to a progressive, peaceful and prosperous future.
Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu
APC Presidential Candidate