The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday night released its 422-member presidential campaign council list chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, while the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, retained his position as the Director-General of the campaign team.
Notably, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was Tinubu’s major contender for the APC presidential ticket, which the latter eventually clinched, is missing on the list – a development that has raised dust over the strained relationship between the two figures who used to be close allies.
Osinbajo was Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice under Tinubu administration as the Lagos State Governor and it was widely believed that Tinubu played a major role in his emergence as the running mate to Buhari in 2015.
In the run-up to the APC presidential primary in June, emotion ran high as Osinbajo threw his hat into the ring and soldiered on, despite the interpretation of his move as betrayal in some quarters.
There was also a cold battle between the duo’s camps and it was later amplified by Tinubu himself while he was canvassing delegates’ support at Abeokuta, Ogun State, where Osinbajo hails.
At the event, Tinubu drew the ‘battle line’ between him and Osinbajo who was bandied as his political ‘godson’, saying “I don’t have any son grown up enough to make such declaration [run for presidency].”
Aftermath the primary, it appeared both had put the issue behind them as the vice president spoke glowingly of Tinubu in his congratulatory message.
“For many decades, our Flagbearer has shown passion, patriotism, courage and determination in the cause of nation-building. His sterling contributions to our democracy and its progress stand him out. His wealth of experience will certainly be critical in our party’s continued efforts to attain a more secure and prosperous Nigeria.
“To all members of our great party, regardless of who you voted for at the primaries, we must now unite behind our Presidential Candidate and Flagbearer to ensure victory for our party in the 2023 elections.
“As true progressives, we must remain strong and united in pursuing our collective vision as a party towards building a country that can provide a decent life and livelihoods for all our people,” Osinbajo had said.
Tinubu also visited Osinbajo – like he did to other aspirants – in what could be described as the spirit of being humble in victory. But after these gestures were displayed by the former close associates, it seems they have kept each other at arm’s length.
This is further reinforced on Friday as Osinbajo was conspicuously absent in the 422-man list released by James Faleke, the APC Presidential Campaign Council Secretary..
Whether the exclusion of Osinbajo was his choice or a deliberate decision by Tinubu, who doubles as the Deputy Chairman of the council, remains unknown – at least for now. However, the development will have many wonder if it is the end of the road between the two former political allies.