National leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has urged former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Military President Ibrahim Babangida to leave the political space and join the club of retirees.
He said the two former leaders should otherwise join politics. Tinubu said this in an interview yesterday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He was reacting to statements Obasanjo and Babangida issued recently on the state of the nation. Obasanjo in his statement had advised President Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.
He said: "I don't address those shadows. We should let our former presidents join retirees' club and take pensions, but they can participate in our politics if they are interested.
"It is a free world, but this freedom is not served a la carte. But they should allow us to move our country forward. It is a challenge to every Nigerian."
Tinubu described his appointment by Buhari as head of the APC reconciliation committee as a very strong political challenge.
President Buhari last week appointed Tinubu to lead the APC committee that would reconcile aggrieved members of the party. Asked how he felt about the assignment, Tinubu responded thus:
"Well, l feel greatly honoured with the mutual confidence that the president has reposed in me which is a very strong political challenge.
"We have started in earnest. He has given me free hand to put coercion, confidence and trust in the party.
"Democracy is about conflict resolution process. You can't do it without resolving conflicts. We can't build it without understanding the conflicts and sources where we are coming from.
"But we want to leave the country with a legacy. It's not about Mr. President. That is what he's telling the country. It's about our country, and no other choice to democratic tenets than through political party platforms.
"He (Buhari) is one of those rare beings around the country, around Africa who had experienced both worlds: he fought a battle to save Nigeria and came to politics to save Nigeria.
"Very rare people have such an opportunity in their lives time and that's what we talk about; legacy. And where we have all the challenges, do what we should do.I'm enjoying the challenges so far."
The APC national leader said the party has a better chance to win the 2019 general elections which, he assured, would be conducted in a most transparent and democratic manner.
Asked what the chances of the APC are in 2019, Tinubu said: "You are asking me an obvious question! I belong to this party. My commitment is to this party.
"We have a better chance and we are strongly determined to prosecute election in a most transparent and democratic manner. And we will win."
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, Chief Bisi Akande, said his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja was not political but to commiserate with him on his bereavement.
Akande, pioneer National Chairman of the party, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) shortly after leaving the Villa that his visit with Tinubu to the president had nothing to do with politics ahead of 2019 elections.
According to him, Buhari's popularity in the country is unshakable."I must point out clearly that my visit in the company of Asiwaju has nothing to do with politics. There is no crisis in our party that is not being adequately handled.
"Our visit is a friendly one; it is a visit by friends commiserating with another friend, who recently lost family members. Every other thing is in the imagination of mischief makers.
"The problem is with those who brought this nation to its knees. These people cannot be redeemed.
"They are the ones making all hues and cries, because free money they were used to have ceased," he said.
Akande said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ruined the country almost beyond redemption.
"President Buhari is doing everything possible to redeem the situation of the country.
"No one said it is going to be easy, given the scale of destruction of the recent past, but with steadfastness and patriotism, a lot is being achieved," he added.
On Tinubu's recent assignment to reconcile members of APC, Akande said the former Lagos governor was the best man for the job.
"If you will recall, Asiwaju was the deciding factor that brought together the alliance that birthed the APC. He has the energy, the doggedness and the discipline to replicate this in bringing together all feuding sides.
"It is all about the nation. In the APC, we put the country first, and once we are convinced that what we are doing is in the interest of the country, every other thing is secondary."
Some of Tinubu's visits to Buhari
On September 9, 2015, Tinubu visited Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa at the time Nigerians were expecting the appointment of ministers.
On June 16, 2016, Tinubu visited Buhari in the United Kingdom where the President was on holidays and also attending to his health.
Tinubu, alongside Akande, also paid a similar visit to Buhari at the Nigerian House in London on February 9, 2017.
On October 30, 2017, Tinubu met Buhari at the State House where he denied report that his relationship with the president was no longer cordial.
On November 28, 2017, Tinubu accompanied Buhari to the 5th European Union-African Union Summit in Abidjan, Cote d' Ivoire.
Tinubu and Akande met with Buhari on January 23, 2018.