Spokesman for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential campaign, Mr. Festus Keyamo, has weighed in on the controversy rocking the ruling party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Among the controversies trailing Tinubu is that of identity, with his critics claiming he had changed his names at different times to hide his record.
Tinubu’s critics have claimed that his real name is Amoda Ogunlere, an allegation that the politician has distanced himself from.
Weighing in on the conversation during a Twitter Spaces Programme organised by the ABAT (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu) media team, Keyamo, who is the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, said “The Constitution section 131, Paragraph A says you have to be a Nigerian by birth. That’s the first requirement. So if Tinubu is from Osun State or from Lagos State, thank God they are not saying he is from Cameroon. He is not in the mode of those who claimed to come from one part of the country whereas by the time they were born that part of the country was in Cameroon.
“So whether Asiwaju is from Osun, Lagos or anywhere, Asiwaju is from Nigeria. So Asiwaju is qualified. It is very disrespectful and unfair to just generate cock and bull story against families. Either the family from Osun State, Amoda Ogunlere or the Tinubu family, you are disrespecting the families. The Amoda family has not come out to say this is my son or my brother and the Tinubu family has also not denied him. So what are they looking for? Is it that the Amoda family or Ogunlere family are not Nigerians or they are of lesser human beings. They need to tell us what they are saying.”
He added that Tinubu gave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a lifeline when he was “thrown out” of the PDP.
He said at every point in his political career, Tinubu had always put national interest above himself.
According to him, Atiku’s decision to contest by not respecting the zoning principle is one of the reasons the opposition party is in crisis.
He recalled that Asiwaju in 2007 gave Atiku a soft landing by handing the Presidential ticket of the then Action Congress (AC) to him to contest the 2007 election.
He said, “In 2007, Asiwaju decided to call on Atiku who had been thrown out of the PDP at that time because Obasanjo ordered a re-registration of all PDP members because he wanted to wield out people like Atiku.
“And so when Atiku went back to his Jada ward, even as Vice-President, they refused to give him a membership card. That was how they threw Atiku out of the PDP. What happened? Asiwaju had already oiled the political machine called the AC at that time. He invited Atiku and gave him the ticket on a platter of gold. Asiwaju could have gone for President but he saw the mood of the nation because Obasanjo was just finishing his Presidency. So he knew that the presidency could not remain in the South. That’s a kind of nationalist, patriotic person that Asiwaju is. He decided to give Atiku the ticket, Atiku failed in 2007.
“In 2011, Asiwaju was still the leader of the ACN, he had every right to pick the ticket of the party, he did not. He decided to invite Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to run for President. And what happened after 2011, he stretched his hand across the Niger through President Muhammadu Buhari and created a platform and supported President Muhammadu Buhari.
“At every point in time Asiwaju has put the nation before himself. He has never thought of himself. He bided his time and when the North had finished its eight years, that was what brought the popular phrase of Emilokan. He is not doing it as a matter of right, but he is just saying that, ‘I have paid my due, its time for the nation to look at my way,’ he is not doing it out of arrogance.”