By Emameh Gabriel |
Barely two years after President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into office for second term after being declared winner of the 2019 presidential election, it looks more likely than anticipated, that politicking for the 2023 presidential election is already gathering momentum.
With the country currently battling with what many would agree to be a challenge of quality leadership, it would not be out of place for someone to say that it is ‘not’ too early for political manoeuvring and horse trading to find the best minds who will manage the affairs of the country in the next few years. The current state of the nation’s economy has no doubt shown that the country is indeed in need of leaders of thought, masters in state craft, economy and sound policy makers.
Indications from camps of the two major political parties have shown that bigwigs in the parties have intensified scheming for their party’s presidential ticket ahead of the 2023 general elections.
President Buhari’s second term will elapse in 2023. Currently, the ruling APC is faced with the challenge of zoning as a result of discordant tunes among stakeholders of the party. However and against the backdrop, there seems to be a subsiding agreement which was brokered among leaders of the party in 2015 that its 2023 presidential ticket would be zoned to the South.
While Asiwaju Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor and national leader of the ruling APC has been busy setting up structures, posters of Senator Sani Yerima, Rotimi Amaechi, Nasir el-Rufai, Kayode Fayemi and others have already started flooding the streets of Abuja.
The posters indicate that Amaechi will run for president while el-Rufai will be his running mate, with the inscription, ‘Today may not be the best, but tomorrow will be better.
Ahmed Bola Tinubu
The former Lagos governor and national leader of the ruling APC has been in the news for long about his ambition to occupy the number one seat in the country. Tinubu’s interest to contest first surfaced in 2013 as a running mate to President Buhari under the defunct Action Congress.
He was however asked to step aside to give way for a Muslim/Christian ticket. The decision gave way to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was not known then by most Nigerians, to run with Buhari.
Osinbajo, a former commissioner under Tinubu’s administration in Lagos and a product of Tinubu, ran on a joint ticket with Buhari and they defeated the then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan.
Like many others who were tutored by Tinubu, Osinbajo has been Tinubu’s eyes and ears in the scheme of governance at the central. Although Tinubu has not officially declared interest to contest the 2023 presidential election, several groups have come out to declare support for him to run.
His spokesman, Tunde Rahman, recently debunked rumours of his interest to contest, saying, he had not even declared his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election let alone opening a campaign office.
“He has repeatedly said 2023 is still some years away and that he is at present focused on helping President Buhari to deliver on his mandate as he is doing and coast home to victory,” Rahman said.
However, there are indications that Tinubu will contest the 2023 presidency or nominate one of his prodigies should things work against his interest.
Sources from his camp have repeatedly declared that the APC stalwart is very interested in the 2023 presidency and this might be his best shot given that his party is likely to zone its 2023 ticket to the South.
It is believed that the former Lagos governor is already shopping for a Christian running mate from the North as he continues to build structures across the six geo-political zones of the country. Tinubu, a Muslim, would need to pick a popular Christian from the North but it is not clear who it would be.
Analysts believe that a Christian running mate from the North might be a setback for him as the North is widely dominated by Muslims.
But Tinubu is not the one to under rate, as he knows the game. He is a master strategist who has dominated the politics of Nigeria’s commercial capital for over two decades. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s political network, his ability to horse trade and his deep pocket put him ahead of other contenders.
Like late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu best symbolizes in many respects commitment to what many liken to creative value added politics and ideas but would all of these count as his enemies continue to swell in their numbers?
They are two among the top five figures calling the shots in the APC today. They have gained the confidence of President Buhari and it is believed that their scheming sent a former APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, parking from office.
The campaign materials displayed in various places in the FCT show Amaechi as presidential aspirant and Nasir el-Rufai, current governor of Kaduna State, as vice presidential running mate, and though there is no logo of any political party in the campain materials, they carry the name of an organisation–National Consolidation Movement (NCM).
A politician close to the ruling platform as well as the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gave reasons to buttress this.
Aside the zoning consideration which most likely is going to the South-South, Amaechi and el-Rufai’s unrestricted access to President Muhammadu Buhari is an added advantage against their would-be-rivals.
Analysts believe that the South-South may have the advantage ahead of the South-West, given that the South-West has for 13 years occupied the two topmost positions in Nigeria since 1999.
Their network and contacts, incumbency as office holders, influence within the APC, and clamour for power to return to the South are all going to work for them.
As it stands, Ameachi and el-Rufa’i are a good match and they have some level of influence over the party’s structure at the national level but would have a Tinubu to contend with.
Both are prudent administrators and had delivered as minsters and governors in their various states. But el-Rufa’i might just be a baggage for Ameachi if they win the party’s ticket. The Kaduna State governor is not loved by many who believe he is a religious fanatic.
Kayode Fayemi, a former minister and second term governor of Ekiti State, is one of those that have been in the news lately and whose name has been linked with the APC’s 2023 presidential ticket.
He is from the South-West and currently the chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum. Like Amaechi and el-Rufa’i, Fayemi is among the most influential persons in the ruling party today. His battle with Ahmed Bola Tinubu is unconnected with the scramble not only for the soul of the party but the party’s 2023 presidential ticket.
Fayemi, Amaechi and el-Rufa’i were said to be responsible for the removal of former APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and the subsequent defeat of their party in Edo State in the last gubernatorial election in the state.
Fayemi is yet to officially declare his interest for his party’s 2023 presidential ticket but his posters have surfaced in some parts of the country. If he is officially declared, it would renew his fight with Tinubu in the South- West. Although Tinubu controls the APC structure in the region, Fayemi might as well spring a surprise from the central just in the same manner they removed Oshiomhole to neutralize Tinubu’s chances.
As it stands, while Tinubu may have all the money to throw around, Fayemi has an advantage, he belongs to the class that has an overwhelming public support.
A former governor of Zamfara State, Ahmad Sani Yerima, first declared in January this year that he would contest the presidency in the 2023 general elections. He said his decision was informed by calls from various political groups in different parts of the country to contest the position.
“By the grace of Allah, I will contest for the seat in 2023,” he said, adding that after serving as governor and senator for eight years each, there was no other position he could contest other than the president or vice president.
Yerima is one of the northern elites who have come out to speak against the idea of zoning by political parties, saying it is unconstitutional.
He is a money bag politician but it remains to be known on which platform he would contest.
Pastor Tunde Bakare is the General Overseer of the Citadel Global Church who has never hidden his aspiration to become the president of Nigeria since he came into the ring with President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2011 general elections as a running mate.
He declared his interest to contest again in 2023 just moments after Buhari was sworn in 2019.
Bakare claims to be God-sent, that he would emerge just as Joe Biden emerged as the United States president-elect.
The clergyman disclosed this recently in Lagos during an interface with journalists, where he said he would succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
“There is something called destiny. I am not one to hide under the umbrella of one finger and make ambition look like vision, I do not camouflage.
“It is not a matter of life and death, but you can write it down. As the Lord lives, and as I am given the opportunity, the day will come, like Joe Biden, that I will be the president of Nigeria.”
Bakare is a proponent of political pan-Nigerianism. In 2018, he announced that he would be starting his own political movement, the “New Nigeria Progressive Movement”.
For now, it is not clear under which platform he will emerge, but Bakare will have to be more political than spiritual when he enters the ring again.