By Obinna Amaobi, Abuja
Tongues are wagging over recent meetings between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
There are permutations in the nation’s polity as political pundits believe that a meeting of such heavyweight politicians at a time the 2023 general elections are under discussion in the country must have a political undertone.
Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and power broker in the APC, has met twice with Atiku – on December 14, 2019 and January 11, 2020. The meetings were short but the general consensus is that the two political gladiators are “cooking a political meal.”
Atiku, Tinubu met at Abuja airport
What is believed to be the first meeting between the two political bigwigs took place on December 14, 2019, when they reportedly ran into each other at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Tinubu was reportedly on his way to Minna, Niger State, to receive a doctorate degree award from IBB University, Lapai, when he met with Atiku, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections at the Abuja airport.
Atiku was attending his son’s wedding in Kaduna, but the two politicians exchanged banters and had a brief meeting at the airport before departing. The meeting was said to have lasted for just few minutes, but pundits argue that a minute was enough for politicians of such high status and pedigree to discuss top issues.
Tinubu’s spokesman, Mr Tunde Rahman, also shared a picture of the encounter on his Facebook page. The caption of the picture as posted by Rahman read, “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar exchanging views when they ran into each other at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.”
Atiku, Tinubu met at wedding
Similarly, Tinubu and Atiku reportedly met last Saturday, during the wedding of a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu’s daughter, in Abuja. Saturday’s meeting was the second time Atiku and Tinubu were spotted together under one month. But what they might have deliberated on is what is causing a stir within the nation’s political space. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also graced the occasion among other dignitaries.
Why the polity is twitching
There are speculations in the social media that Tinubu, Atiku, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, former Senate president Bukola Saraki and Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State have an agenda to float a new political party or revive an existing one as part of the 2023 calculations.
A former minister of Information and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the 2019 elections in Nasarawa State, Labaran Maku, was also alleged to be part of the team angling for a third force. Maku, however, on Sunday debunked the claim. This has sent the polity twitching especially as there is a saying that in politics there are “no permanent enemies but permanent interests.”
The meetings also generated concerns considering that both Tinubu and Atiku allegedly worked in the build up to the 2015 general elections, for the emergence of Buhari as president when the latter was still in the APC.
Similarly, there are agitations in both APC and PDP over zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket of both parties.
The major political actors from the South in both parties are agitating for power shift to the South while some northern elements are clamouring for the retention of power in the North come 2023. The situation, according to analysts, is dicey and especially as both parties have not reached any decision on the matter, apparently because of the inevitable intrigues and power play.
Atiku, others dispel claims
The Special Adviser to Atiku on Media, Mr. Paul Ibe, could not be reached at the time of filing this report but he had told some journalists last Saturday, that the meeting between Tinubu and Atiku had no political undertone.
“When people are invited to a wedding fatiha, nobody should make undue interpretation beyond that, otherwise, every other meeting at every other wedding or social event will be interpreted one way or the other.
“How can there be a political undertone? Has wedding become a place for political meeting? The same way people across political divides attended the wedding fatiha of Atiku’s son two weeks ago in Kaduna is the same way he attended Ribadu’s son’s wedding fatiha,” Ibe said.
A political Analyst from the South West, Chief Jackson Lekan Ojo, said it was good for the two political giants to meet in order to define their ambition and determine their direction