Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Nation Newspapers, wrote in his latest book titled “Beating All Odds: Diaries and Essays on How Bola Tinubu Became President.”

“I knew the president – Muhammadu Buhari – did not want him. The peacocks and vampires around him did not want him. Some stakeholders in the country did not only resent him, they were afraid of him. The plot thickened quickly.

“Conspiracies festered in sewers and in the open. And it began with the party’s top brass. In cahoots with the presidential cabal, they edged out Adams Oshiomhole’s executive as the first major step to immobilise Tinubu’s ambition. They also broached a consensus candidate. Law crippled them as they fell foul of defining the phrase they coined, and they could not even manage the idea of open and closed primaries. At every turn, they stumbled into crosswinds. Their own weapon turned their own folly.

“Tinubu was never fazed about the task ahead. He peered a rose-scented garden when others saw for him a forest of a thousand demons. In 2021 December, he said he was preparing a speech towards the end of January, 2022, to announce his intention to run. He would wait for the yuletide and new year euphoria to ebb out before throwing himself in the ring.

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But he was not a man to predict. Early January, he paid a visit to President Buhari at the Aso Villa, and on his way out he walked into a storm of reporters.
“I wondered what I was going to tell the reporters,” he recalled. He decided instanta to tell them that he had just discussed his ambition with the president. There was no need to formalise his entry into the race. No fanfare or ceremony necessary. It was there he uttered the phrase, “It is my lifelong ambition,” a quote that set in motion a long train of quotable quotes that juiced up his campaign north and south, spilling over to the first flushes of his presidency.

The word was out. Not that it was not out before. It was now out like taking the peel out of a groundnut. Everyone knew what it was, peel or not. Everyone knew he was running. Everybody knew the hour was coming. Announcing it was only a technicality. As Poet Samuel Coleridge wrote, “Anticipation is more potent than surprise.”

I had said once to him that I didn’t fear the general election, but only the party primary. Little did I know that after the party wheelhorses failed at the primary, they would move their artillery to the final battleground.

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“If you win the primary, you will have nothing to fear,” I had declared in my naivety. He did not say a word in reply, only a smile, half-quizzical, half knowing. Very close to the primary, though, we spoke on the phone and I wondered if he was wary of the moves among the other contestants. I asked him, if he had a plan B in case the party cabal wrung the ticket from him and played a Houdini with the primary. He did not sound worried. I wanted to know if he might contemplate another platform, or party, or if he intended to fight it early or preempt any move to foist another candidate. His voice was aplomb.

This time, he replied, saying that he did not see or sniff any such major impediment and if he saw it, he would know how to respond. He would not say how he would respond. He did not think the party was capable of mounting any resistance or throwing any punches above the muscle and cunning of his ambition. He had a lot to depend on, his long history as a political matador, his inner reserves of strategy, his repertoire on the battle stage. He was ready. He said something I took to heart. “I have looked at the whole situation,” he said speaking about his ambition and reason for running. “I told myself, If I didn’t run, I am damned; If I ran, they may want to damn me. So, I had to run anyway. And I know that I will win.” He was speaking like a man in the eye of battle, suited for war like David and damning Goliath.

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“It had always been his attitude never to abandon the party he formed. In the heady days of the Buhari era when he was ignored and alienated, he resisted overtures. He saw it as self-betrayal and a cop-out. He was set to fight for his place in his own home.

“So, when he picked up the APC ticket, and said in the air of celebration that he did not expect to win, it was the humility of triumph. The battle gear was no longer important. The brow and fury of war were already calm. The guns were mute. The party was won over. That part of the quest was over. Humility was the next virtue”.