When the first batch of President Bola Tinubu’s ministerial nominees list was presented before the Senate on Thursday, it revealed the President’s resolve to put in place competent lieutenants in charge of the ministries.
Beyond that, however, the list also indicated a Commander-in-Chief’s strategic plan to have full grip of political structures in each of the 36 states ahead of future elections.
Although the President may be particular about having a strong grip on politics of the North and Southwest, he is also seriously calculating how to make inroads into the South-South and Southeast geopolitical zones ahead of 2027.
Zeroing down on the South West, Tinubu’s political base, and taking a cursory look at his appointments from Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun and Oyo states, while awaiting nominations from Lagos and Osun, there are tell-tale implications and interpretations.
Recall that President Tinubu lost Lagos to the candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, during the February 25 presidential election, while Governor Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is currently in charge of Osun State.
Tinubu’s blood brother, former Governor Gboyega Oyetola lost the Osun gubernatorial poll to Adeleke last year while Tinubu suffered defeat in the presidential election.
Atiku won in 20 local council areas in Osun with a total of 354,366 votes to defeat his closest rival, Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 343,945 votes and won in 10 local councils.
It is understandable why Tinubu would have to be cautious in picking whoever will represent his interest and that of the APC and would also work from Lagos and Osun, where he had issues in previous polls.
He may have had similar issues in Oyo, which is currently controlled by PDP under Governor Seyi Makinde, but the dynamics of politics played out to his advantage where he (Tinubu) won all the 33 local councils, as APC also won the three Senatorial seats, only for the ruling party to ruthlessly clear the governorship election to return Makinde.
FROM Oyo State, Tinubu has appointed Mr. Bayo Adelabu, the gubernatorial candidate of Accord Party as minister designate, leaving Senator Teslim Folarin, flag bearer of APC in the 2023 gubernatorial poll.
In the first instance, Adelabu’s appointment is perhaps a kind of compensation. The former Deputy Governor of Central Bank was the governorship candidate of APC in 2019, which was facilitated by Tinubu. He, however, lost the election to Makinde because of the challenges faced by former Governor Abiola Ajimobi over his meddlesomeness in the Ibadan Chieftaincy title.
It was said that Joseph Tegbe was the preferred candidate of the late Ajimobi as successor in 2019 but when Tinubu intervened and recommended Adelabu, the former governor was left with no choice than to concede.
When the processes for the 2023 elections started in Oyo APC, Folarin and his PDP conservatives group in the party used their Abuja connection to hijack the party’s structure to produce the State Chairman in the person of Isaac Omodewu and consequently used the same to take the governorship ticket. This triggered anger within the Oyo APC, which led to Adelabu and others’ defection.
The former CBN deputy governor went to take the Accord Party gubernatorial ticket where he contested but lost again to Makinde. He was one of the first contestants to concede defeat. It was also gathered that the Accord Party joined forces with PDP to assist Tinubu in winning Oyo.
Adelabu is also said to be more trusted among the chieftains of APC, who has the resources and the charisma to reposition APC for Mr. President ahead of the coming 2027 election.
He is also an astute technocrat, especially in the economy and finance sectors. He can as well combine his experience as a technocrat, and politics, to rebuild the dying party.
In a nutshell, he stands a better chance of succeeding Makinde, while the governor also stands a better position of taking over the ministerial slot of Oyo in 2027 if Tinubu decides to run for second term. His appointment is part of the future strategy of President Tinubu.
Wale Edun, a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State is a ministerial nominee representing Ogun State. Although Edun has been playing all his politics in Lagos, it was rumoured that Tinubu had first recommended him to former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 as minister to handle the finance portfolio but former Governor Ibikunle Amosun preferred Kemi Adeosun, whom Buhari appointed instead. When Adeosun ran into a scandalous crisis, Buhari also looked elsewhere to replace her.
The appointment of Edun is said to be strategic, in that Amosun, one of the presidential aspirants of APC who stepped down for Tinubu during the party’s primary would have been expected to be appointed as minister to represent Ogun. But the president’s men said that would amount to surrounding incumbent Governor Dapo Abiodun with two political hawks, in Amosun and Senator Gbenga Daniel, who currently represent Ogun East.
A source within Ogun APC said Abiodun is very comfortable with the choice of Edun, who is not a politician and may likely not want to contest anything with the governor, who might likely prefer Senator Solomon Olamilekan, who currently represents Ogun West zone to succeed him.
To further create peace in Ogun and avoid the kind of bitter struggle that occurred during the party’s governorship primaries in 2015 and 2019, sources said Tinubu might concede an ambassadorial slot to Amosun to push his out of Ogun politics ahead of 2027.
Edun has since gone to renovate his family house in Ogun State. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo is a member of the House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/Akoko North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State. During his first term in the 9th Assembly, he was the Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Tunji-Ojo is said to be the preferred candidate of immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives and current Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The significance of his appointment is that Tinubu may have picked him to replace the old politicians in Ondo State also to take the party’s structure away from Governor Rotimi Akeredolu ahead of 2024.
He is also trusted to finance the party in Ondo based on his antecedent as chairman, House Committee on NDDC. He is said to have used his office to create several infrastructure both in Ondo and Lagos as a sign of being a loyal party man.
For several years, President Tinubu had made several efforts to have inroad to Ondo politics but failed. The former governor of Lagos State sometimes tried to use Segun Abraham, one of his political sons to penetrate Ondo, but failed. The erstwhile NDDC House Committee chairman may be the anchor the presidency will eventually use to penetrate Ondo.
Apart from politics, Tunji-Ojo also possesses a sound mind to handle whatever ministry committed to him.
Dele Alake, from Ekiti State, is also a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State. He has also played his politics and practised his profession in Lagos. On a few occasions, he showed interest in Ekiti politics. He has remained one of the most trusted and most effective members of the Tinubu political dynasty.
The president is yet to make nomination from Lagos and Osun but there are insinuations that he may consider either the lawmaker currently representing Lagos East, Tokunbo Abiru or former Governor of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, just as there are other intellectual options at Tinubu’s disposal in Lagos.
If the body language of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is anything to go by in recent times, his immediate predecessor may be lucky to get the ministerial slot of Lagos.
Tinubu may face few challenges in appointing the ministerial designate from Osun if he does not pick Oyetola. The question is, can Oyetola really rebuild Osun APC, considering how he lost control of the party while he was governor. One of the reasons APC eventually lost the state to PDP was due to internal crisis within the APC.
A source within the party said fingers are still crossed to see where Mr. President is going. “The truth is President Tinubu must be proactive about whom to pick because APC will need to oust Governor Adeleke and PDP in Osun ahead of the 2027 general polls.” The President may also find a means to accommodate the likes of immediate past Minister of Works and Housing, Babajide Fashola, former governor of Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi and host of others.