National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Gen Sani Abacha regime, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe at the weekend held a meeting in Abuja to salvage the defence to the ongoing legal challenge of the February 23 presidential election.
Atiku Abubakar and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, had following the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the 2019 presidential election, mounted a legal challenge to the outcome of the election. The Justice Mohammed Garba led President Election Petition Tribunal had upon hearing of the final written addresses of the parties reserved judgement.
Sources close to the meeting said that Tinubu and Kingibe, who met over dinner during which they discussed matters of interest including the ongoing presidential election petition which judgement is being anxiously awaited.
Having reached some understanding, the duo of Tinubu and Kingibe proceeded to meet with Mamman Daura, a nephew and close associate of Buhari.
It was gathered that the trio discussed the state of the Buhari’s, INEC’s and All Progressives Conference’s defence to the Atiku Abubakar petition at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and concluded that they were on “slippery ground”.
According to the source, they were concerned that there were “gaping holes” particularly the issue of the contentious Buhari’s certificate and his form CF001 which could undermine their victory when judgement is eventually delivered. “From what is available in the public space, the case (election petition) is not good for us, we are on slippery ground”, Kingibe was quoted to have said.
Tinubu impressed on Kingibe and Daura that the viability of his own presidential bid in 2023 can only be sustained by Buhari’s victory in court.
And because of Tinubu’s own presidential ambition in 2023, both Kingibe and Daura prevailed on the APC National Leader to “lobby” Justices at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
The Asiwaju had informed them that he was traveling outside the country, but was committed to executing the mandate as requested. He assured them that on return to the country, he will relocate to Abuja until judgement was delivered “to do the needful”.
It has been speculated that Kingibe, who was a key figure in the truncation of the June 12 mandate that was given to late Chief MKO Abiola in the 1999 presidential election, was nursing presidential ambition for 2023. But what is apparent from the weekend meeting, according to the source, is that the former running mate of Abiola is now aligned with Tinubu for now to “truncate” Atiku Abubakar’s legal challenge.