Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu thought he got all of it figured out. Even before the presidential primaries he launched his campaign to capture Arewa, the Muslim-North. As far back as 2021, Tinubu went to celebrate his 69th birthday in Kano. He went to visit the Emir and National Council of Traditional Rulers as part of his birthday celebration. Even then everyone knew it was because of his last ambition, to become the president of Nigeria.
Jagaban, as he is popularly known, would storm Abuja mosques and flash the photos on social media Friday after Friday to show Arewa people he is a Muslim. Before now showing himself praying in mosque was not one of Tinubu’s thing. It was clear Tinubu was very serious about becoming president. Eventually Tinubu would emerge as the APC flag bearer after an intriguing presidential primaries in which President Buhari does not want power to go to South but to Arewa. Tinubu came from behind to clearly top all the candidates. The truth was that Tinubu was five steps ahead of all of the contestant, he has got the money and the man who has got the money runs things in Nigeria.
After winning the primaries, a desperate Tinubu was caught in-between choosing a Northern Christian candidate since he is a Muslim or a Northern Muslim candidate and face the wrath of Northern Christians who felt it was their chance to be selected by Tinubu to balance the Muslim-Christian mandate of the APC. Tinubu went for a Muslim-Muslim. The calculation was that if they vote for him the way they did for Buhari, he would need the Western vote to win. What he did not completely figure out is the fact that the people in Arewa are not simplistic as some people in South assume. Arewa people can be very pragmatic when it comes to pressing issues that needs them to be pragmatic, especially that Tinubu is not their tribe.
Despite his Muslim-Muslim strategy some Imams and Sheikhs have launched campaigns that Tinubu should not be voted for because he doesn’t look fit and his ill, using the Holy Quran as a point of reference. One said that the Holy Quran said that people who should be appointed as leaders should be well and fit so that they can be able to carry out their duties effectively. Since Tinubu’s victory as the APC flag bearer he has come on television to show that things are not right with him, the recent being a speech at a townhall meeting where he went, “Bala blu, blu blu, Bala blu.” Nigerians were stunned. What was Tinubu saying? It is visible that the man is battling with an ailment that affects his speech, his movement and his nervous system. This is making it easy for some religious leaders to buttress their point that it will be against the religion to make Tinubu the president.
The Atiku factor, emerging as PDP candidate, has also become a problem for Tinubu to deal with. Will Arewa vote for Tinubu against their own? It is becoming clear that Tinubu cannot hit his chest that he can sway the Arewa voters. It is glaring that the Middle Belt states have largely gone to Peter Obi and Arewa are swinging towards Atiku.