By Ayo Oladele Peters

Not unexpectedly, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s visit to the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, on Monday to inform President Muhammadu Buhari of his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election has thrown the camp of some other aspirants, who have been too cowardly to announce their ambition and have been operating through shadowy groups and individuals, into confusion and panic.

Tinubu’s move was a strategic master stroke. And the immediate result has been the intensification of their campaign of disinformation and calumny against Tinubu and the attempt to malign his character by aspirants whose level of desperation has taken a quantum leap.

This is particularly so as regards the camp of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who has been too timid to unveil his all too obvious presidential ambition preferring to project superficial and hypocritical lack of interest while surrogates campaign for him.

An example of this was an utterly illogical and puerile article obviously sponsored by the camp of this sinking aspirant titled ‘The Demystification of the Jagaban’ written and spread in the social media by one clearly fictitious Tanko Yusuf who claimed to have written from Jalingo.

It was a cocktail of outright lies and baseless insinuations.

First of all, the writer claimed that Tinubu went on his mission to the President alone and without his political friends or associates. This is idiotic. Tinubu has not made a formal declaration. There will certainly be an elaborate event and an occasion for celebration.

As he made it clear, he had only come to discuss national and party issues with President Buhari. He only responded to a question about his Presidential ambition from State House Press Corps who wanted to know if he had informed the President about his ambition following a Guardian Newspaper report on Monday.

Asiwaju only responded in the affirmative that he had informed the President while he is still continuing with consultations across the country.

Did the phantom Tanko Yusuf expect Tinubu to storm the President’s office with a retinue of friends and supporters on such an occasion? Would that not be disrespectful of the highest office in the land?

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Again, according to the writer, “Tinubu came cap in hand to ask for permission to run for office from a man that didn’t need to give it”. This is daft. Buhari is the national leader of the party. Tinubu’s informing him of his intention to run is only the right thing to do and it is not surprising that other aspirants are beginning to follow in his footsteps and this will continue to grow.

Anyone who interprets this as asking for permission to run is either mischievous or deranged. The fictitious Tanko opined that Tinubu was expected to take “the bottoms-up approach, not the top-down approach to power”. This is meaningless mumbo jumbo. No aspirant has more groups than Tinubu working for the realization of his aspirations at the grassroots across the country.

According to the writer, Tinubu’s speech on the occasion was ‘rambling’. But there was no speech. Tinubu briefed the President in private and interacted with reporters publicly.

The widespread consensus with the exception of this writer is that his responses to the questions were magisterial, authoritative, witty and informed. His carriage was charismatic, confident and presidential.

Does it occur to this writer that the aspirant he is working for, a famed professor of law, can hardly deliver speeches in public without the aid of a TelePrompTer?

The writer opines that “only the inexperienced and desperate jump out early before the whistle is even blown in a consequential election like Nigeria’s Presidential race”. This assertion is ignorant and nonsensical with primary elections statutorily mandated to be held by all parties only in a matter of months.

Tanko lists a number of candidates who lost past elections purportedly because they were the first to declare their ambitions but he did not demonstrate empirically and logically the linkage between the timing of their declaration and their loss in elections. This demonstrates a superstitious, unscientific and simplistic mindset.

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According to Tanko, Tinubu disrespected Buhari by “allowing himself to be goaded on to be called the kingmaker” right in the Villa. Now, what was Tinubu’s conclusion in his response to the kingmaker question? I quote him, “Whatever is your attribute is your own opinion. Me, I want to pursue my ambition without the title of a kingmaker. You can write your literature or your story based upon your own perception”. The whole interview session with the journalists is in the public space.

Tanko Yusuf sought to discredit Tinubu’s record of performance in Lagos State. It was an effort in futility. Lagos today is a model of progress that all other states strive to emulate and the foundation for this ongoing success story was laid between 1999 and 2007.

He accuses and finds Tinubu guilty of unproven allegations of corruption as governor of Lagos State without an iota of evidence. Thus, he constitutes himself into a laughable and comical court of law. He even asserts that aspects of Tinubu’s governance of Lagos ought to be litigated apparently forgetting that his preferred aspirant was the chief law officer of Lagos State throughout Tinubu’s tenure!

Throughout his piece, Yusuf repeatedly refers to Tinubu as an old man without stating how this is a sin or a crime or whether his preferred professor-aspirant is getting younger. He obviously does not possess the analytical rigour to establish a logical linkage between age and the competence to perform across time and space.

Tanko interprets Tinubu’s assertion that his aspiration is a lifelong ambition as implying that “this is about me, this about my personal ambition”. Again, this is the height of mischief, daftness and idiocy. Throughout his political career spanning over three and a half decades, Tinubu has consistently and incontrovertibly demonstrated his unflinching commitment to public service and the common good.

• Ayo Peters is a public affairs analyst