Nigeria Presidency Race – By Babajide Okeowo
With the declaration of former Nigeria Senate President, Bukola Saraki and former governor of Imo State Rochas Okorocha in the presidential race in the 2023 General Elections, the numbers of candidates eyeing President Muhammadu Buhari’s plum job continues to rise.
The list for the Nigeria Presidency race includes Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governors Kayode Fayemi, Yahaya Bello, Nyesom Wike, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Bala Mohammed and Dave Umahi; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; ex-President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; ex-governors Ibikunle Amosun, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Sule Lamido, Peter Obi, Ahmed Sani Yerima, Ogbonnaya Onu, Orji Uzor Kalu, and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi.
Others are Rochas Okorocha; Minister of State for Education, Dr. Emeka Nwajiuba; a former CEO of Neimeth Pharmaceutical, Sam Ohuanbuwa; and a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Kingsley Moghalu.
The list also includes Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi, 38 years old female from Lagos State. She is a media personality and married to Adeshola Lamidi.
Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi is the daughter of former Federal Works Commissioner, Lateef Olufemi Okunnu.
A recurring name being propped up for the presidency is ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who is not unforthcoming on his plans.
The Contenders – Nigeria Presidency Race
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
A gifted leader whose ability for mentoring others is unequaled. He combines both political and economic vision judging by the sustainable development foundation he laid in Lagos. His political network is as huge as his large heart. Since 1991/92, he has been an issue in the nation’s political space.
He is also blindly loyal to a cause as he was to the late Chief M.K.O Abiola during the June 12, 1993 election crisis and Buhari in 2015 despite losing the vice presidential ticket to intra-party conspiracy.
No politician is as prepared for the 2023 general election, “Nigeria presidency race” as Asiwaju. And key players in the APC detected this early.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is aware he’s on the last lap of his political career. Since 1992, he has been a serial presidential aspirant and candidate. He emerged flagbearer of the defunct Action Congress in 2007, Northern consensus candidate for PDP presidential primaries in 2011; lost to Buhari at the APC primaries for the 2015 election; and was candidate of PDP for 2019 poll.
A cosmopolitan politician and a long-distance runner, the 75-year-old has a rich network across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
Atiku has two major hurdles to cross to get the PDP mandate for 2023. He needs to earn the confidence of the party’s governors, some of whom are aspiring to be president too. Atiku, who beat the governors to their game at the convention in Port Harcourt is now at their mercy for the next ticket.
The incumbent Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, is yet to openly declare his ambition but he has not disowned all the groups pushing for him, including Osinbajo Grassroot Organization (OGO) which visited ex-President Ibrahim Babangida last week.
Although he is a product of Tinubu’s political platform, Osinbajo has never been a politician until circumstances threw him up in 2015. During the countdown to the 2019 election, he showed some traits of emerging a populist politician by selling politico-economic products like Tradermoni and Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).
Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has grown from being a guerilla activist of NADECO era to one of the key players in Nigerian politics.
His rise to the office of the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has earned him more mileage in terms of access to the powers-that-be and scheming in the Presidential Villa.
Since 2011, the son of Senator Olusola Saraki has been trying to be Nigeria’s president. Twice he has failed to get the ticket. In 2011, he lost the bid to Atiku at the consensus level and in 2018, he came distant third behind Atiku at the Port Harcourt convention of PDP. He later became the Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organization for the 2019 poll.
More than any aspirant in PDP. Saraki appears to be the early bird but he is a troubled leader because APC snatched his Kwara State platform from him in 2019 through ‘O To Ge’ revolution. He is no doubt distracted for the presidency in 2023. If Saraki is given a choice, he will want to regain Kwara from APC.
Former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, was PDP’s vice-presidential candidate in 2019. He is still interested in the race but says he does not want to jump the gun.
In spite of a recent invitation by the EFCC, Obi is trusted by many as an astute politician and shrewd manager of resources. His ongoing invitation by the anti-graft agency may slow down his aspiration.
Anyim Pius Anyim
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, has proved all bookmakers wrong with his miraculous resurgence in the nation’s politics. And his push for the presidential ticket is gaining momentum.
For a leader who has always depended on providence, Anyim cannot be underrated in any form. He is blessed with humility and a divine touch to follow his dream. He is not ready to waver on his ambition.
The Pretenders – Nigeria Presidency Race
A serial contender, Kwankwaso has been weakened by the influence of incumbent Kano Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.
Except for living in the old glory days of having the backing of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Kwankwaso doesn’t have the sort of resources to contest the primaries. This is why he is preoccupied with rapprochement politics with his hitherto sworn enemies.
His ambition is taken with a pinch of salt due to his pariah political status. APC has not given him breathing space since he completed his tenure in 2015.
Presently standing trial for alleged N1.35billion fraud, the ex-governor has to remove the corruption yoke before moving to another level. PDP is unlikely to give him its ticket.
She is believed to be using her presidential ambition as a strategy to get political compensation from whoever wins the 2023 presidential election or as a publicity stunt to get noticed or boost her CV.
She has previously stated that she does not believe in Political Parties, on which platform she intends to run is still left to be seen.
She also does not have the wherewithal to contest against the likes of Tinubu, Atiku.
Mazi Samuel Iheanyichukwu Ohuabunwa OFR, is a Nigerian pharmacist, politician and business executive. He is the founder and former CEO of Neimeth Pharmaceutical. He was the former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.
Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state has also declared his presidential ambition.
Some political hawks see him as a newcomer to the APC and that he should relax first and allow others to try their luck. Though this is not an official policy, that feeling is there, among many leaders of the APC.
Mr Ihechukwu Dallas Chima has also declared his interest in the president, saying it is time the youths took over.
Not so much is known about him, but the businessman has made a lot of interesting promises. One of such is his pledge to disconnect the State House from special power lines.
Challenges Before Whoever Wins
Whoever wins the election already has his work cut out for him/her. The next president will not only shoulder Nigeria’s N38trillion public debts (inching towards N50trillion) but tackle 33.3% unemployment rate; humanitarian crisis; poverty; corruption; bad roads; rot in education and health sectors and social problems.
More importantly the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, and attacks by gunmen have not only increased the cost of conducting elections but they have heightened the fears over a free and fair poll in 2023.
Apart from states with perennial security problems, the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, a few days ago raised the alarm that bandits were massing in Falgore forest.
Some Factors will also determine who will emerge as the winner, they include the age factor, Buhari’s Influence and zoning arrangement.
Young elements in different parties have been canvassing for a youthful president but recent happenings have shown that age is not always the most important factor in a democracy.
Judging by the way he has been micro-managing APC from the Presidential Villa, Buhari is a strong factor on who gets his party’s presidential ticket this year. Unchallenged, he has unilaterally extended the tenure of APC Caretaker Committee and as the leader of the party, he is fully aware of where the party is headed.
In all, it promises to be an exciting contest and whoever wins will have a great deal of work to do to unite a polarized country and a country on the throes of economic doldrums.