2023 campaign: Tinubu full ground, e gallant sef

By Ali Smarts

It is the season of campaigns. Yes, it is. With the general elections scheduled to hold in a few weeks’ from now, all the dramatis personae, especially the hopeful contenders have been crisscrossing different parts of the country to woo the electorates with a view to swaying as many votes as possible to their sides in order to emerge victorious.

However, of the 18 presidential candidates approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the ballot for the 2023 general elections, including the standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), to mention just a few, it is just as well that Tinubu has been the most talked about of the whole lot either rightly or wrongly.

The former governor of Lagos State has been under heavy criticisms by opposition party members and their army of supporters with rumours making the rounds that Tinubu may be suffering from a very debilitating illness.

Of course, their misgivings may not be entirely misplaced as electioneering campaigns around here is not a tea party given the fact that candidates have to traverse every nooks and cranny of the country and having regards for all the challenges associated with such a torturous adventure, it is not for the faint hearted at all.

But in what may be a twist of irony and to the amazement of many people, Candidate Tinubu has literally been bursting with energy so much so that he has left tongues terribly wagging as he struts his stuff around and playing it big with his ever-busy, ever-ready, adrenaline pump-action campaign train which is continuously abuzz!

For a man rumoured in some quarters to be over 80 years of age to be junketing everywhere, and not suffer a nervous breakdown, he must really be a superhuman of some sorts or may possibly be running on steroids, some people have queried apparently awed by his unprecedented burst of energy.

While speaking with our correspondent, Joe Agbro Jrn, a media expert who has been on the trail of the campaign hustings in recent times exclaimed thus “Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is simply terrific. The way he is going, let it not surprise anybody that he may emerge victorious at the end of the day. He has been more energetic than the rest of the contestants in terms of his mobility.”

Efetobore Williams, an ex-militia in Niger Delta region who claimed to have witnessed Tinubu’s visit during one of his stopovers to canvass votes in Warri, Delta state, was effusive with praises for a man he says many just love to hate for reasons not so clear.

Speaking in staccato English Williams retorted, “Men, na wa for dis Tinubu guy oh! See de same peson wey dem say dey sick naim come dey move pass those wey no sick. Omo this guy (Tinubu) full ground and e gallant sef. Omo e choke! In fact eh, if we reason nam well based on him parole everywhere, him suppose fit win dis election. I dey tell you.” (Tinubu has taken everybody by surprise really. This is the same guy rumoured to be unhealthy but he has been traversing different parts of the country nonstop even to the envy of those people supposedly fit and healthy. From all indications, he looks good for the coveted prize, his victory is assured at the polls).

Many like Agbro and Williams have further attested to Tinubu’s unmatched drive in the campaigns thus far.

For instance, Prince Kazeem Afegbua, a member of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) who had a first-hand experience of Tinubu’s burst of energy gave a plausible explanation recently.

According to him, “But for this campaign, we would not have known how strong and energetic Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been. At his age, he did knee cap replacement and within three months, he started going about as if nothing had happened. He (Tinubu) works at least 18 hours of the day, attending to the challenges of his campaign, people, interests and scenarios.”

Pressed further, the spokesperson of former military head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida recalled that “Just late in December, he was in London, left London on the 30th, to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj, returned to Nigeria on Monday, 2nd January, proceeded to Kano for campaigns. After the Kano campaigns, he proceeded to Edo State, from there to Abuja to attend the youths summit, then proceeded to Ondo state for campaign, then entered into Lagos to receive endorsement of the Arewas in Lagos on his aspiration. From there he hosted the business community and private sector operators, then proceeded to Adamawa for campaigns. All within eight days, yet someone will tell me Asiwaju Tinubu is not strong? How else do you define strength, energy and capacity to stand your own and cope with the pressure of office, if not this way?”

Aside from coping with the pressure of campaigns, Afegbua said Tinubu stays late into the early hours of the morning attending to people and planning his next strategy with associates, like-minds and lieutenants.

“The first time I was to have a discussion with Asiwaju Tinubu, he gave me a 2am appointment. I wondered aloud, and asked from my end, if he meant to say 2pm, he answered with a chuckle, “I said 2am. I thought you people said I am not strong, so why should a 2am appointment be strange to you.” I managed to break my communication with the goddess of sleep, to honour the appointment looking forward to being disappointed by his timing.

“Getting to Asiwaju’s house, I saw a busy environment with over 20 people still waiting to catch up with him. I waited for about a few minutes, and he came out, looking like someone who was just starting his day, appearing so refreshed. He beckoned on me and off we settled down for discussion. For the next one hour, Asiwaju was upbeat, answering my interrogative questions and offering very rich insight into the rationale for his contest. He spoke so frankly and pointedly that I was left wondering about the source of the negative news against him. Well, this is politics where all manner of falsehood and orchestrated reportage are churned out to pollute the atmosphere without repercussions.

“By 3.05am, I was in a hurry to round off my discussion, but Asiwaju was still ready to push our talk further, before I cautioned that it was auspicious to allow others to have a slice of him.While I departed at about early hours, I could still estimate the number of persons that were waiting to see him and probably keep him awake till daybreak. That is his routine; keeping awake most nights, a thing that he’s so used to and had to be prevailed upon to apply break so he doesn’t break down.

“So, each time his aides unsuccessfully persuade him to slow down, they come with the option of foreign travel, which will give him the opportunity to refresh himself, even though at those times, he still works through his phones to keep tabs on people. Talking seriously, I think leadership comes with its own challenges, but one’s ability to keep tabs and burn the midnight oil in order to sustain catch up with lost time, oftentimes, define the cutting edge of leadership. Asiwaju is an uncommon leader that understands the peculiarity in a volatile political atmosphere with so much hostility, but each time those hostilities are thrust upon him, he comes out looking real refreshed and stronger.”

Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello, alias Arabinrin Aderonke, a Nigerian media practitioner and also a  member of Media and Publicity  Unit of the Presidential Campaign Council of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential campaign, is on the same page with Afegbua. Ogunleye-Bello said Tinubu is in good health.

In a statement shared on her official Twitter account recently, the social commentator tweeted thus, “In less than 72hrs, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has visited four states, namely, Akwa Ibom, Zamfara, Cross River and Anambra States. How can a sick man pull such a stunt and crowd? Enough with the propaganda. Asiwaju is as fit as a fiddle. #RenewedHope23.”

For those still in doubt about Tinubu’s strength and stamina, the duo of Agbro and Afegbua admonished that such people can join one of the campaign trains before it pulls to a stop soon.

Pray, is there anyone ready for the challenge? Time will tell!


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