Bola Ahmed Tinubu made a tactical error.
He shouldn’t have let Godwin Obaseki go down or at the very least, get thrown out of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But being who he is, he also instantly went back to being Tinubu the wise when he made no spontaneous effort to resist the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting that President Muhammadu Buhari had agreed to attend.
Doing so would have been a direct challenge to the authority of the president and would have lost him the support of a number of political heavy weights.
He chose instead to live to fight another day.
It is likely his camp had planned to take a stand during the NEC meeting, but then it was Buhari himself that proposed the dissolution of the party’s National Working Committee (NEC) headed by Adams Oshiomhole.
And there was no way a governor like Abdullahi Ganduje and a host of others were going to take sides with Tinubu against the president.
The statement he released does more to paint a picture of a politician trying to put up a brave face after a major setback
The position he has now taken is that he is blameless in the crises that have engulfed the APC and it really was the ambitions of others that has led the party to this point.
Tinubu has even asked Adams Oshiomhole to own up to his mistakes.
The statement he released does more to paint a picture of a politician trying to put up a brave face after a major setback.
Overall though, the statement suggests that he is quickly moving on and re-strategising.
But to what end?
What is clear from the outcome of the APC NEC meeting is that the race for the presidency in 2023 is now wide open and anybody can apply.
Since 1999, no presidential election has appeared this open like the next one at the moment.
What is also clear is that Tinubu will likely not be handpicking whoever emerges as chairman of the APC when it finally holds a convention sometime within the next six months.
The governors have taken back control and it shows in the makeup of the caretaker committee that has been set up and led by Yobe governor, Mai Mala Buni.
Not surprising though, legal questions are already being raised on how Buni could hold an elective office and be a member of an organ of the party at the same against the constitution of the party.
Whether a caretaker committee constitutes an organ of the party is itself debatable and those contesting his eligibility are unlikely to find a sympathetic ear at this time.
However, a new national chairman will probably be picked by consensus, while other party officials will be selected at state and zonal levels.
That was what was missing under Oshiomhole, building consensus and giving as much people a say in political activities even in their own states.
The party was drifting towards a dictatorship where one man ruled and was no longer representative of a political alignment of the politics of local leaders in 36 states.
What is also clear is that Tinubu will likely not be handpicking whoever emerges as chairman of the APC when it finally holds a convention sometime within the next six months
The loyalty of members the Oshiomhole led NWC, very slowly had started to shift.
It was almost like, for a moment, they forgot Buhari was still president.
That they even contemplated challenging the president’s move to dissolve the NWC in court says a lot.
Their loyalty had been bought and they were working towards the actualisation of Bola Tinubu’s political goals regardless of the political sentiments in their respective states.
The question is, what now happens to Bola Tinubu’s chances of becoming president?
He claims he hasn’t decided on running when all that has taken place in the party suggests otherwise.
The question however goes back to why it was an error for him to have stood by while Oshiomhole plotted to bring down Obaseki.
Yes, the former Lagos governor’s fate as a potential presidential candidate was in some ways in Oshiomhole’s hands.
But it was always going to be a lose/lose situation for the former APC chairman in his fight to unseat Godwin Obaseki in Edo.
If Obaseki was able to maneuver his way to the APC governorship ticket, Oshiomhole loses.
And if the governor was denied the ticket, again Oshiomhole loses because other state governors watching would come after him.
And that was exactly what happened.
Of course, APC will still want to win the Edo governorship election even though Obaseki has now defected and is the candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party.
His chances of winning the governorship election have however brightened simply because Oshiomhole is no longer in possession of the office, he has been using as a bully pulpit.
To be sure, the crisis in Edo is not at all at the heart of all of APC’s problems, but it was definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Because Oshiomhole had done so in the past during the last general elections, the message he was sending to APC governors by moving against the Edo governor was that he could do the same to them and that when it comes to elections, whether at the state level or the presidency, they all do not matter.
To be sure, the crisis in Edo is not at all at the heart of all of APC’s problems, but it was definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back
Everyone person had predicted that the stakes were too high for both Obaseki and Oshiomhole, and that they would have to settle their difference or pretend to do so for them to retain their respective seats.
It turned out that passions were burning higher than reason and Oshiomhole couldn’t keep his cool enough to overlook the transgressions of one governor for the sake of the ultimate prize, the presidency in 2023.
It wouldn’t have weakened him.
Instead it would come across as one of those sacrifices you have to make in politics.
It is undeniable that Bola Tinubu is capable of making sacrifices.
He has shown it over and over again.
There is also no doubt about it, Tinubu has changed the course of Nigerian politics.
Never again will political parties be formed on a regional basis with a strictly regional agenda and hope to succeed at the national level.
In his region, Action Group (AG) was the first of such parties, and because of him, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) will likely be the last.
It took courage for him to sacrifice the party he led for one with more national spread so that Buhari could become president.
Tinubu however did it because he was tired of being in the opposition and wanted more influence at the national level.
He has gotten exactly that, handpicking a Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and is even seen as a top contender for the presidency.
For anyone hoping to fly the APC presidential ticket in 2023, taking it by force is no longer an available option, the number of people to be lobbied and cajoled has just increased ten folds
That, he could not have achieved without Buhari.
Tinubu was likely influenced by the success of Olusegun Obasanjo who exposed the futility of working in opposition and hoping to realise narrow regional interests.
Yet, from Obasanjo to Sule Lamido and countless others, predictions have been made that APC would implode because it was centered on two individuals from different regions and with different world views.
That was where the party was heading and President Buhari acknowledged as much, telling members of the National Executive Committee of the party that they were on a path to self-destruction, before sacking Adams Oshiomhole and his team from management of the party.
Unless you are the president, it isn’t really possible for one person, even two or three people to have total control of a political party in government.
For that reason, it is very misleading to continue saying the formation of the APC was strictly an agreement between two people, Bola Tinubu and Muhammadu Buhari.
And yet, under Oshiomhole, one individual was claiming ownership of the party and drowning all voices of dissent.
These are people that joined politics to advance their own political interests only to be denied the space to participate.
And in a way, it truly was a conspiracy that led to the NEC meeting and the subsequent dissolution of the NWC after months of frustration of many party stakeholders.
The origins of those frustrations go back to how the APC managed party primaries ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The scope of the conspiracy is really what made eventual success inevitable.
It wasn’t just governors, ministers were involved and the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan was also at the heart of it.
They picked the right moment just when the Court of Appeal upheld the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as party chairman and said all of the right things to Buhari in convincing him it was the right thing to do.
But one person many watchers of the Buhari government have continued to underestimate is the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
His opinion has always mattered to Buhari and carries a lot of weight in the decisions the president makes.
Now that he is channeling his legal advice towards the political arena, the effects have truly been earthshaking.
And for anyone hoping to fly the APC presidential ticket in 2023, taking it by force is no longer an available option, the number of people to be lobbied and cajoled has just increased ten folds.