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Nigeria: Presidential Hopeful Tinubu Joins Political, Business Leaders in Saudi Arabia for Prayers and Networking

With the presidential primaries of political parties about a month from now and the election proper less than a year away, some of the nation’s prominent political and business leaders,

With the presidential primaries of political parties about a month from now and the election proper less than a year away, some of the nation’s prominent political and business leaders, have literally moved to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj, not just prayers but to ponder the options open to them and the nation ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The latest personality and political heavyweight to join other Nigerian leaders in prayer at a high octane networking, is the former governor of Lagos State and frontline presidential hopeful, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was though in Mecca for the Umrah as with others, however, found the atmosphere conducive for political networking, as usual.

Apart from Tinubu, who just arrived Saudi Arabia for the conventional last 10 days of Ramadan as an optional Islamic practice, others who also left for lesser hajj were former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Africa’s richest man and Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Founder and Chairman of BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu and former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu.

Some of the other known political names seen in Saudi Arabia, included former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who is itching to be redistricted to Lagos West, from Central, where he initially represented, for another senatorial bid and a former two-time Senator for Lagos West, Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon.

Traditionally, while some devout Muslims travel for Umrah to seal the last 10 days of Ramadan in supplication to Allah, Nigerian politicians, have also found in the practice, an opportunity to broker and seal political deals, design strategies for elections, and mull options open to them, either collectively or individually.

Particularly, this has become a political culture in Lagos State, where Tinubu was governor for eight years and has continued to dominate its politics in the last 23 years.

During political seasons, an average Lagos politician with ambition struggles, almost compulsorily, to be at the lesser hajj, since it is most likely the place, where crucial political decisions, relating to the career and future of others, would be taken, and often, whatever deal sealed in Saudi remains unchangeable.

Thus, Tinubu, who described his presidential aspiration as a life-long ambition, had set the standard for the campaign pattern ahead of 2023, when he started traveling round the country for consultations and to seek the blessings of prominent Nigerians for his aspiration.

It was not surprising, therefore, that for an avowed kingmaker, who decided to throw his hat into the ring, joining other like-minds for Umrah, both for prayers and political networking, was almost a question of when.

Seen exchanging banter with others in Saudi after a video of him and Ribadu went viral, many believed that this meeting in the holy land before the elections, would afford Tinubu an opportunity to review his ambition and consider some of the options still open to him.

“Obviously we all met in Mecca here for Umrah by accident and. Not that this was planned. But, as usual, such a gathering always affords us the opportunity to critically look at the state of the nation, particularly, now being an election season. Yes, we’re – all networking and programming for the 2023 elections,” said one of the political leaders, who is also in Saudi for Umrah.

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