At least over 30 politicians have visited the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, in London, the United Kingdom in the last two months.
Tinubu, who celebrated his 69th birthday in March 2021 and command an arguably large following of political loyalists, has been rumoured to nurse presidential ambition in 2023.
Tinubu’s health has been a subject of controversy of late but in a press statement on July 31, 2021, his Media Adviser, Tunde Rahman, said though the former Lagos State Governor was out of Nigeria, he was not hospitalised as claimed by some reports.
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“He (Tinubu) is out of the country at the moment. He will be back shortly,” he said, adding that his boss was “hale and hearty”.
In an effort to dispel the overwhelming rumour about Tinubu’s reported ill health, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, told reporters in Lagos on August 4, 2021, that he visited Tinubu in London and took photos with him.
Sanwo-Olu said, “Yes, indeed, I am the one you saw in the picture that I took when I visited our leader in London just to dispel all of the rumours that were flying around that he was sick and hospitalised.
“You saw him (Tinubu). He is well, he is healthy and we conversed. We talked about what is happening in our party, what is happening in the nation and just to say to him that all is well.
“I went to see things for myself. It is just to put the mind and heart of people to rest that there is nothing for us to worry about,” the governor disclosed.
In recent years, the UK has become a choice destination for the Nigerian elite including the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who frequent London for medical tourism while perpetual industrial actions, lack of modern equipment, failure of government to pay doctors’ salaries, amongst others, mar Nigeria’s health sector.
On August 12, 2021, presidential aide, Bashir Ahmad, shared photos on Facebook that showed Tinubu leaning on a walking stick as he posed for a shot with the President, who was also in UK at the time for medical check up.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, subsequently confirmed that Buhari visited the APC chieftain in London.
In a statement by his Media Office, Tinubu described the President’s visit as “friendly and welcome one”, adding that, “By this gesture, Mr. President has, again, demonstrated his personal thoughtfulness and humility; defying the erroneous commentaries peddled by his critics.”
Following Buhari’s visit, scores of politicians and loyalists of the APC leader including governors, senators, amongst others have jostled to visit him in London as seen in viral photos after such visits.
Aside from Sanwo-Olu, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu; his Ekiti State counterpart, Kayode Fayemi; as well as Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje, have visited Tinubu in London in the last two months.
In the entourage with Ganduje are his wife Hafsat Ganduje; their son, Umar Ganduje; three lawmakers as well four other members of the Ganduje’s family.
Others who also visited Tinubu in London include House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; ex-Governor of Ogun State and current Senator representing Ogun Central, Ibikunle Amosun; former Governor of Borno State and current Senator representing Borno Central, Kashim Shettima; and member representing Gubio, Kaga and Magumeri Federal Constituency of Borno State, Usman Zanna.
Also on the list are Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Obafemi Hamzat; Chief of Staff to Lagos State Governor, Tayo Ayinde; Deputy Chief of Staff to Lagos State Governor, Gboyega Soyannwo; Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Education, Tokunbo Wahab; former APC National Legal Adviser, Muiz Banire.
Others are Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, Temitope Adewale; Chairman of the House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development, Nureni Akinsanya; as well as Chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Investments and Sustainable Development Goals, Sylvester Ogunkelu.
The Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Adetokunbo Abiru; Senator Adeola Solomon from Lagos West; Senator Opeyemi Bamidele from Ekiti Central; Senator Adelere Oriolowo from Osun West; and Senator Mohammed Sanni from Niger East also visited the ex-Lagos governor in London.
Chairman of Isolo Local Council Development Area, Adebayo Olasoju; another politician, Adekunle Akanbi; and popular Fuji musician, Wasiu Ayinde, popularly called KWAM 1, also visited Tinubu in London.
Though Tinubu’s spokesman had said his principal was “hale and hearty”, the APC leader continues to receive dignitaries, mostly serving politicians, in his London home, with many Nigerians wondering the purpose of the seemingly unending visits.
Some critics of the visitors have also taken to social media to ask whether the serving politicians funded their UK trips to check on Tinubu with taxpayers’ money.
Tinubu, who was Lagos State Governor between 1999 and 2007, is the husband of the Senator representing Lagos Central, Remi Tinubu.
The former governor was one of the major players in the formation of the ruling APC before the 2015 election that brought in Buhari as president.