The ancient town of Owo in the Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State played host to prominent politicians from across Nigeria on Saturday during the funeral of Lady Evangelist Grace Akeredolu, mother of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
The funeral of the nonagenarian matriarch of the Akeredolu dynasty, who died on September 15, 2022, was another reunion for rivals who briefly put politics aside and relished lighthearted laughter and hearty banters.
At the event held at the St Andrews Anglican Church in Owo, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, met Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, one of his challengers at the party’s primary in June.
Others at the church service to pay final respects to the deceased include Governors Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) as well as former Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi – all of the APC family in the South-West.
Tinubu and Osinbajo have a long history as political associates. Osinbajo served as Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice when Tinubu was the governor of the state between 1999 and 2007.
Osinbajo later became the vice-president in 2015 when the former military head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, was elected as President on the platform of the APC which Tinubu was instrumental to its establishment.
However, Osinbajo and Tinubu both jostled for the party’s presidential ticket back in June, a very charged political moment for supporters of both politicians.
More than 2,300 delegates voted in the contest that produced Tinubu at a special convention held in Eagle Square, Abuja in June. The ex-governor of Lagos polled 1,271 votes – over four times the votes scored by his closet rival – former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi who had 316 votes.
Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State came behind the duo with 235, 152, and 47 votes respectively.
The APC Presidential Campaign Council in September excluded Osinbajo from its list but the spokesperson for the Council, Festus Keyamo, said the President “specifically directed” that he should be left out to concentrate on the governance of the country.
Aside from Osinbajo, other prominent members of the party not included in the campaign council include former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who fiercely opposed the APC same-faith ticket.
Having jumped the first hurdle, Tinubu, 70, is confronted with yet another challenge in February. The ex-governor, who forged an alliance with northern governors to brighten his chances in the north which boasts of numerical voters’ strength, has come under heavy criticism over his choice of a fellow Muslim, Kashim Shettima, as running mate.
Tinubu is in the 2023 contest for Aso Rock’s top job alongside frontline contenders like Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) in a poll many analysts have described as a three-horse race.