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2023: Ooni, Yoruba Leaders Move To Boost Tinubu’s Presidential Bid

A week to 2023 general election, there are indications that traditional rulers in the South West geopolitical zone have waded into the crisis rocking the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in a bid to mend fences between the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and some northern interest within the party who may not be favourably disposed to his presidential bid.

LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered reliably that the Yoruba monarchs on Wednesday sent a delegation of eight royal fathers led by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, asking him to intervene.

This is coming amid allegations that some persons in the presidential villa were working against Tinubu and wanted him to lose the February 25 presidential election.

Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, earlier this month alleged that the currency swap introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was meant to incite voters against the APC and was orchestrated by the forces who are bent on ensuring that the APC presidential candidate loses the election.

The visit by the Yoruba monarchs to the Sultan, it was learnt, was intended to douse the tension within the governing party and also to speak against some anti-democratic suggestions from some political bigwigs.

It was learnt that key loyalists of the APC flagbearer who initiated the moves made entreaties to the Ooni of Ife to intercede in the interest of the nation.

The Tinubu loyalists, according to a dependable source, feared that President Muhammadu Buhari has been discouraged from supporting his presidential bid.

Pioneer interim national chairman of the APC and former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande, and a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, were part of the delegation to the seat of the Caliphate.

Other traditional rulers who joined the Ooni in the visit to the Sultan include the Olugbon of Ile-IgbonOba Francis Olusola Alao and Elegushi of Ikate, Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi.

Contrary to some media reports suggesting that the Yoruba traditional rulers welcomed the APC presidential candidate in Ibadan on Friday, LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the Ooni’s team to Sokoto was billed to give feedback to other traditional rulers at a special meeting held in Ibadan.

The meeting, however, coincided with the APC rally in Oyo State where Tinubu seized the opportunity to visit the royal fathers.

A source at the palace of the Sultan in Sokoto confirmed to this paper that there are attempts to secure the support of traditional rulers in the North for Tinubu’s presidential bid.

This, according to the source who did not want his name in print, was the rationale behind the visit by the traditional rulers from the South West to the Sultan of Sokoto’s palace last Wednesday.

When contacted, the palace PRO, Aminu Haliru, confirmed that some traditional rulers from the South West visited the Sultan of Sokoto last Wednesday.

Probed further about the purpose of their visit, Aminu Haliru said, “I am not privy to their discussion but one thing you can take from me is that the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, is not only apolitical but, remains father to all.

“You would recall that he played host to all presidential candidates who came to Sokoto in this palace, admonished them to go about their campaigns peacefully and ensure free and fair elections.”

Meanwhile, as the shuttle diplomacy is going on underground, the APC seems to be tottering towards implosion following mounting opposition against the position of the party’s leader, President Buhari, on the Naira policy which has led to shortage of the currency in circulation.

More governors on the platform of the governing party are rebelling against Buhari over his directive on Thursday that only the N200 old notes should recirculate in the economy in spite of a Supreme Court order that all old notes should remain legal tender.

Kaduna State governor, El-Rufai, quickly countered the presidential directive, insisting that all old notes remain legal tender in Kaduna, the law being on his side.

The governor, in his broadcast shortly after the president’s directive, alleged that there was a plot to truncate democracy the members of the president’s inner circle.

Similarly, Kano State governor, Abdallahi Ganduje, also broke ranks with the president on the issue, insisting on aligning with the Supreme Court order, instead of the presidential directive.

The governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, toed the same line, saying the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes are legal tender in the state.

The Jigawa State government warned against rejecting the old Naira notes by individuals and organisations as it vows to enforce the Supreme Court order on using them as legal tender.

This was contained in a statement issued and signed by the state commissioner for Information, Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon Bala Ibrahim.

The statement explained that the Jigawa state government is concerned about the difficulties people are passing through in the state as a result of rejecting the N1,000, N500, and N200 notes by some individuals and organisations despite the Supreme Court order.

“Some state governments, including Jigawa State, have filed a suit against the Federal Government and Central Bank on the deadline for using old Notes. The court has given injunction restraining the defendants from implementing the deadline policy pending to the court determination of the subject matter.

“In accordance with Section 287 (1) of the constitution as amended, no one has the right or reason to reject the old notes after court order. Therefore, the Jigawa State Government will not be hesitant to enforce the Supreme Court order accordingly.”

The state government called on the general public to continue accepting the old notes as a legal tender until the Supreme Court disposed of the matter, and also to report anyone rejecting the old notes to nearest authority for appropriate action.

Also, Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, asked the people of the state to wait for the outcome of the case before the Supreme Court on the naira swap policy of the federal government.

The governor who spoke during his tour of Niger North to canvas for votes as a senatorial candidate of the zone called for patience as the state government joins others to seek the Supreme Court pronouncement on the matter.

Noting that Niger State is among the states that approached the Supreme Court due to the suffering of the people, Sani Bello said the highest court in the land will bring the entire situation to a proper perspective.

“The president has spoken and is allowing the old N200 notes to remain in circulation, while the Supreme Court has adjourned hearing on the matter filed by states to 22nd of this month. So as law abiding citizens, we will wait to see the outcome of the case before the Supreme Court,” he said.

The governors are however not alone in the protest against the president’s directive. Buhari’s own minister, Festus Keyamo who doubles as chief spokesman of the APC presidential campaign council also said yesterday that the president acted illegally by ignoring the Supreme Court injunction that all old notes remain legal tender until it gives its final verdict on the matter brought by state governors.

Keyamo, who is the minister of state for Labour and Employment, was speaking last night on Channels TV.

He defended the state governors who are challenging the president, saying the governors are defending their territory and have also sworn an oath to defend the constitution.

The president, the minister said, had good intentions but acted on bad advice, adding that if he had been the one advising the president, the Supreme Court ruling would be obeyed.

All authorities, Keyamo noted, must obey Supreme Court rulings and anything to the contrary is a descent to anarchy.

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Segun Akinlabi

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