Below is a condensed transcript of the press briefing of Bola Tinubu, a former Lagos governor, at the State House on Monday signalling his interest in the 2023 presidential race. The transcript has been slightly edited for clarity.
Q: Why are you here?
T: I came to see the President on general issues concerning Nigeria, including our political party, APC. Security issues, the achievement, and the New Year agenda. That’s all I can tell you. The new strategy that we must have party congresses and all that.
Q: President Buhari recently said he does not want to divulge his favorite for the APC 2023 presidential ticket. Have you informed him about your ambition?
T: I can answer that with a categorical yes. I’ve informed the President of my intention but I have not informed Nigerians yet. I’m still consulting. And I have no problem consulting. And I’ve not set a parameter of limitation to the extent of how many people will I consult. You will soon hear, all you want to hear is the categorical declaration. You’ve gotten that truth from me that I have informed Mr. President of my ambition, and you don’t expect more answers than that.
Q: What was his response?
T: That’s our business. He is a Democrat. He didn’t ask me to stop. He didn’t ask me not to attempt and pursue my ambition; it is a lifelong ambition. So, why do I expect him to say more than that? Why do you? You are running a democratic dispensation, and you must adopt the principles and the values, and the virtues of democracy. That’s it.
Q: We have seen a number of support groups, drumming up support for your ambition, that of Vice President Osinbajo and Governor of Kogi state too. What’s your perspective on this? How do you see a potential race between you and these other persons for the APC ticket?
T: I don’t want to discuss individuals now. I must discuss myself. I have the confidence, the vision, the capacity to rule, build on the foundation of Mr. President, and turn Nigeria better. I have done that with commitment and unyielding you know, in Lagos State. You’ve seen that experience and the capacity to turn things around and that is what we are doing. You know, the confusion, the drift of the past in PDP is being corrected. And you can’t take away from that. As we are today, go back to the data on how many barrels of oil were we producing when we first came in and what it is today. At the time we came in we did not pay the counterpart funds to start our rail line. Today you enjoy the comfort of having rail from Lagos to Ibadan, you have the Kaduna and you have the one for Kano State on the aggressive pipeline, you see excellent infrastructure. I just came from Azare and I have seen good roads, the carnage of dying on motor vehicles is reducing except you know, lack of compliance with a lot of Nigerian drivers and VIOs. Let us think back, let us be intellectually inquisitive as to the past and the present and what the future holds for Nigeria.
Q: Tinubu as Nigeria’s President, what do we hope to see?
T: You want my manifesto now? Not yet. Not yet.
Q: I would like you to speak on the direct primaries and the convention. And secondly, what would be your response to those that say, the cap of being a kingmaker fits you more than you throwing yourself into the ring, you should remain a kingmaker.
T: First of all, the National Assembly and the president must be encouraged to review and review again. Whatever they come up with electoral amendment is what we must comply with. There is no unlimited elasticity in what we face, because we have to plan and plan well, and be able to manage the time effectively. The great roadmap to success is the ability of a leader to do what he must do at the right time that it should be done. So that to me, the electoral amendment point we will still look at that collectively. And it is our country. It’s our democracy. We had adopted it and we will pursue it rigorously.
About the cap of kingmaker. I’ve never seen the cap of a kingmaker before. That is the truth. And I’ve never seen where it is written in the rule book anywhere in any country, that a kingmaker cannot be a king, unless you commit murder. So, 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 and your story based upon your own perception.
Q: What about the (APC) Convention?
T: It is certain that we are going to get it.
Q: When next month?
T: Oh, well. I’m not a spokesperson for the party. And the President is the leader of the party. So, expect convention, maybe if that’s added to your own anxiety, or the other party’s anxiety, it is good for us. We will get it and we will get it done properly.