Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has showered encomiums on President Muhammadu Buhari staying neutral during the presidential primaries.
In a letter to Buhari, Tinubu said while all the contestants expected Buhari to ‘choose’ his successor, the President simply ensured a level playing field.
By being neutral, Tinubu said Buhari showed that Buhari belonged to everybody in the party and he belonged to none of the individual candidates of the party.
He congratulated Buhari for the successful conclusion of the convention and assured him of an issue focused campaign leading to the 2023 general election.
His words: “I bring you sincere fraternal greetings and congratulations on the successful conclusion of the special Presidential Convention of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“On behalf of my wife, Oluremi, and my entire family, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the very special and personal congratulatory letter you sent to me. I am deeply honoured. Your words in that letter were reassuring, reenergising and reinvigorating.
“Your Excellency, one must admire the sense of purpose, composure and maturity you demonstrated in the weeks and months preceding the primary elections of our great party.
“As aspirants and party leaders, we all pleaded with you to “choose” your successor. Naturally, this is expected, especially in African democracy.
“Up until the 6th of June, 2022, the day of the APC presidential primaries, the whole of Nigeria, including myself, was waiting for you to announce your preferred candidate. All of us thought and believed this was a very simple matter.
“However, it was only as the primary went into the night and as the candidates walked up to the podium and spoke that I fully and truly appreciated your position and stance to be neutral and non-aligned to any of us.
“As the first person to speak, I also had the special vantage point to carefully hear, without any distraction, what the other candidates had to say. As the hours rolled by that evening, it became clear to me that all of us were your preferred candidates.
“As you captured it aptly in your letter to me, the “spirit” of 2013 and 2014 when we created and built APC was there for all to see.
“In your letter and in our many meetings over the years, you fondly reminisced on fraternal attitude in the days and months before and after formation of the APC, when we all worked day and night to create, sustain and nurture our nascent movements into a credible opposition party and ultimately, become the ruling party.
“That time, no one spoke about tribe; no one spoke about religion. That was not what drove us. We were driven by a common desire to save and transform Nigeria.
“One by one, I saw my colleagues and partners stand on the podium, full of the same passion and patriotic zeal they had in 2013/2014, presenting their ideas on how to build on your successful legacy.
“Back then, as it is now, we were from all parts of the country, all tribes, and all religions. We all had deep personal and strong bonds with you. We were together back then and our bonds remained strong up till now.
“Mr. President, as the night of 6 June turned to morning of 7 June, I fully understood and appreciated your stance. ‘You belonged to everybody in the party and you belonged to none of the individual candidates of the party.’ A true leader, brother and friend.
“Mr. President, the delegates from all over the country nominated my humble self to be their candidate. I must acknowledge that my nomination would not have become a reality without your support and that of the party leaders across the country.
“Indeed, as I reflect on my political journey, most of the 2022 APC presidential aspirants, members of the Progressive Governors Forum and National Assembly leaders and members all had a role to play in my successes and achievements thus far.
“I will forever be grateful to them for shaping my political journey over the decades. I want to assure you that I will continue to work with them going forward. My emergence as a candidate is also a victory for them.
“I have met most of them in the past few days and will continue these engagements as we plan for the general elections.
“Mr. President, APC is united and will remain united as we move towards the general elections.”
He said: “I have taken note of the message you sent to all presidential candidates in your Democracy Day speech to the nation on the 12th June, 2022. Our country is going through a very sensitive period and no one should put their personal desires above and beyond the nation’s peace and prosperity.
“As you said, the “message we set at the top will be replicated in our followers.” At this point, I will take this opportunity to assure Your Excellency of my commitment to running an issue-focused campaign as we move into the general elections.
“I will personally engage the candidates from other political parties to urge them to do same. Voters should elect us based on our policies, programmes and projects. By the grace of God, we as candidates will avoid having divisive, destructive and disruptive campaigns.
“I will conclude by once again thanking you for being there for all of us. By the grace of God and with your leadership, guidance and support, I am confident that we will lead our great party, the APC, to victory in the February 2023 general elections.
“We will ride on the back of your successes. We will build on the foundations of transparency and integrity which you have laid.
“Mr. President, together, side by side, in the spirit of 2014, we will win and Nigeria will move forward to a progressive, peaceful and prosperous future.”