Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, says his presidential aspiration is not an act of betrayal of his erstwhile political associate, Bola Tinubu.
He spoke on Wednesday when he featured on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme monitored by The PUNCH.
Fayemi, the current Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, had earlier on Wednesday declared his intention to run for the office of the President in 2023.
The Ekiti governor and member of the All Progressives Congress is in the race with Tinubu, who is also interested in clinching the presidential ticket of the ruling party at the APC primary election later this month.
Tinubu had in January declared that his intention to succeed the incumbent, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in May 2023, saying his presidential ambition is a “lifelong” one.
However, speaking on Wednesday night, Fayemi said, “Running for office is not an ambition; I’ve always maintained that it is service, it is sacrifice, it is duty.”
On his relationship with Tinubu, Fayemi said, “I’ve had a very good relationship with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu whom I met in exile in 1994 when he came out after the annulment of the election and the establishment of NADECO (National Democratic Coalition)…We maintained a very cordial relationship ever since then.
“So, when I was asked by Governor Niyi Adebayo, the current Minister of Trade and Investment, to come and run for office in Ekiti, Asiwaju supported me; he was out there for me because of his knowledge of my involvement in the pro-democracy movement and we’ve worked together on a number of issues.
“This is not a personal contest; this is about Nigeria, the future of our children. It is about competing visions of what that future holds for Nigerians.
“I have the greatest respect for Asiwaju and I will continue to do that but I do believe that I have a strong vision on how to reposition Nigeria and build on the legacies of the current President.”
Responding to claims on whether or not he had betrayed Tinubu by throwing his hat in the same ring with him, Fayemi said, “The Asiwaju that I know is a democrat; he believes that politics is a marketplace of ideas and people should test their own convictions. His (Tinubu’s) courage of conviction is not in doubt and I do not think he will want to stamp on the convictions of others in terms of how Nigerians should go…
“I don’t believe that we should see that as a basis for demonizing anyone and I know that the Asiwaju that I know, that I have interacted with would not subscribe to that. I don’t believe that he will use terminologies like betrayal.
“This is not an inheritance; it is about Nigeria – Nigeria is the commonwealth of all Nigerians. It is not a traditional title that we are seeking, the office we are seeking is to make an improvement for all Nigerians.”
Tinubu’s former political associates including Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo have also declared their intention to run for the exalted seat in Aso Villa.
Aside from Osinbajo and Fayemi, other southerners in the APC presidential race include former Governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi; former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha; former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu; and former Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has also emerged from the north while Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and some other northern aspirants have been reported to consider throwing their hats in the ring ahead of APC presidential primary later this month.
Tinubu is also in the race with ex-governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, of the Peoples Democratic Party. Other PDP aspirants include ex-Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi; media personality, Dele Momodu; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed; amongst others.
Both the PDP and the APC presidential primaries have been scheduled for the end of May while Nigerians watch with rapt keenness as the two prominent parties elect their flagbearers at their conventions in four weeks’ time.
Whilst the APC pegged its Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms for N100m, the PDP sold its own for N40m.