Politicians to watch in 2022

Politicians to watch in 2022

By Wilfred Eya and Sunday Ani

The year 2021 is now history and it is time for stocktaking and sober reflections. Globally, the year just ended was a calendar of mixed fortunes bordering on the devastating effects of a post COVID-19 pandemic and consequent threats to the global economy.

For obvious reasons, the year would be a busy one considering that it is coming before the general elections. It would certainly be a one of intrigues, horse-trading, mudslinging, blackmail, defections and all manner of shenanigans; indeed, it would be a year of politics and more politics.

Governance would take the backstage as electioneering campaigns would dominate the landscape from the centre to the federating units. While 19 governors would be concluding their tenures, 12 shall still be eligible for a second tenure.

As preparations for the next general elections gather momentum, the question on the lips of many is –who are the likely political actors that would dominate 2022 which is a pre-general election year?

Expectedly, Nigerians are eagerly waiting for those who want to take over the mantle of leadership from Muhammadu Buhari. In the public domain, many names are already being bandied from the serious to the ridiculous.

While some of them have publicly declared their intention to run for the coveted office, others are still putting finishing touches to their public declaration, even though the handwriting is very clear on the wall.

So far, below are some of the prominent names that are likely to shape the politics of 2022 as 2023 beckons.

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Though not apparently obvious, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo is believed to be interested in running for the office of the president in 2023. Although he has not officially declared his intention, several support groups have been subtly campaigning for him and projecting his name.

One of such groups is the Progressive Consolidation Group, which recently debunked a media report that Osinbajo had dumped his purported presidential ambition.

A professor of law and pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), many have argued that his humility and loyalty to his principal, President Buhari, is unparalleled; and as such deserves to be rewarded with the presidency after Buhari.

Others are of the opinion that the harmonious working relationship he has had with the President since 2015 has placed him above every other person as he is best placed to continue with policies and programmes of the current administration.

Like any other Nigerian, he is adequately qualified by all standards to run for the presidency. However, analysts fear that the snag is Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidential ambition from the same political party. It is believed that his position as the vice president was made possible by Tinubu. Those who are pushing this argument are also insisting that it would amount to biting the finger that fed him if he decides to contest for the APC’s presidential ticket with Tinubu. As governor of Lagos State, Tinubu made Osinbajo the state attorney general and commissioner for justice. He also recommended him as Buhari’s running mate in the build up to the 2015 presidential election.

Many Nigerians, particularly, Tinubu’s loyalists and supporters believe that Osinbajo could only have the moral right to contest if Tinubu gives up his ambition.

However, those angling for Osinbajo are also saying that Tinubu should concede the position to Osinbajo who is much younger and healthier to face the rigours of presidential responsibilities. For them, Tinubu should assume the position of an elder statesman, since age and health are already telling on him.

While supporters of Osinbajo and Tinubu continue in this cold war, neither of the two political heavy weights has publicly declared his intention to contest for the plum position.

The permutation is that perhaps, the vice president may have been waiting to know Tinubu’s mind before making his intention public.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Turakin Adamawa

has become like a recurring decimal in the presidential race. Some see him as a serial contestant.

His political history dates back to 1990 when he contested election to be the governor of Adamawa State.  He repeated the contest in 1998 and won, and was waiting to be sworn in before he was picked as the vice presidential candidate to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He eventually became the vice president from 1999 to 2007 alongside Obasanjo who became the president.

He was the presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress (AC) in the 2007 presidential elections where he was defeated by the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua.

He contested the PDP’s presidential ticket before the 2011 general elections but lost to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

In 2014, he joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2015 presidential elections and contested the presidential primaries but lost to Muhammadu Buhari.

He later supported Buhari’s presidential bid to Aso Rock but when he felt that he was being sidelined by the APC, he returned to the PDP in 2017, where he eventually secured the party’s presidential ticket for the 2019 general elections.

As the PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, he contested against Buhari, but again, lost to him.

A business mogul and an astute political heavyweight, he has never left anyone in doubt as to his ambition to have another shot at the presidential race in 2023. With a heavy war chest, a deep pocket and well oiled political machinery and structures spread across the country, he appears to be battle ready.

Although he has not openly declared his intention to contest in 2023, there are indications that he will. One of the indications is a statement credited to his son, Adamu, who is the Commissioner for Works and Energy in Adamawa State.

Adamu was quoted to have said at the presentation of his scorecard as Commissioner for Works and Energy in Adamawa State: “I don’t see anything wrong with my father contesting for the presidency. In 2023, my father will be aspiring to the number one office in the land because he has been an astute, strategic, and master politician for almost four decades.”

However, the issue of which zone, between North and South, should produce the next president after Buhari, may work against him as the political mood of the country favours a Southern president after the current president who is from the North.

Again, the campaign against politicians above 70 years of age assuming the presidential seat after Buhari seems to be gaining traction among Nigerians, and if the movement eventually succeeds, then Atiku may likely lose out in the political game one more time.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, started his political journey in 1992 on the platform of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP).

He, alongside the likes of Rabiu Kwankwaso, Dapo Sarumi, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Magaji Abdullahi and Yomi Edu was a member of the faction of the Peoples Front led by the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, which merged with other parties to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

He contested and won a seat in the Senate to represent the Lagos West Senatorial zone in the Third Republic, following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, allegedly won by late Chief MKO Abiola.

The annulment forced him into the pro-democracy movement. He became a founding member of the National Democratic Coalition, a pro-democracy group that mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of the results of the June 12, presidential election.

In 1994, when the military of late Gen Sani Abacha became so draconian and declared war on all the protagonists of the pro-democracy movement, clamping some of them into jail arbitrarily and assassinating others, the maverick politician went into exile. After Abacha’s death in 1998, Tinubu returned to Nigeria to join the transition to civilian rule.

As a protégé of Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo, leaders of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD), Tinubu contested and won the AD primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial election. He defeated Funsho Williams and a former Minister of Works and Housing, Wahab Dosunmu, in primaries held in January 1999 to clinch the AD’s gubernatorial ticket for Lagos State.

He contested and won as governor of Lagos State, and was sworn into the office of the Governor on May 29, 1999. He served out his first four years, re-contested for a second tenure and won. He served out his second tenure on May 29, 2007, and handed over to his successor and former Chief of Staff, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), who is currently serving as the Minister of Works.

Ever since 1999 when he became governor of Lagos State, till date, Tinubu has remained politically relevant. He has become what is generally known in political parlance as a godfather; a very powerful and successful one at that. He has built such a powerful political empire that has produced governors, senators, House of Representatives members, state House of Assembly members, local chairmen and administrators as well as several political appointees and aides within the South West geopolitical zone and even beyond.

Such political icons that are products of Tinubu’s political empire include but not limited to the current vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the current Minister of Works and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, the current Minister of Interior and immediate past governor of the State of Osun, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila among others.

The defeat of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from the central is largely due to his political sagacity. Following the victory of the PDP in the April 2007 general elections, Tinubu became active in negotiations to bring together the fragmented opposition parties into a mega-party capable of challenging the PDP in 2011.

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The mega party could not upstage the PDP in 2011. But in 2015, he persisted and his efforts led to the merger of his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), some factions of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) led by the former governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and other parties to form the APC, which eventually defeated the PDP in 2015 general election.

With that singular feat, Tinubu’s political profile soared higher, hence his new position as the APC national leader.

While most of his political contemporaries, particularly his counterparts as governor between 1999 and 2007, have gone into political oblivion, Tinubu is still more relevant than ever, with his political tentacles spreading even beyond his South West political stronghold.

Asiwaju, as he is popularly called, is generally believed to have deep interest in the presidential ticket of the APC after President Buhari has served out his second term.

On two occasions, his media aide had issued statements debunking his principal’s ambition. However, so many groups crusading for Tinubu to be made president after Buhari have continued to spring up everywhere, particularly in the South-West.

Those who know him are convinced that he has his eyes set on the coveted seat, and he has been consulting those who matter, particularly in the north to support his aspiration. The meetings have been held offshore, to keep prying eyes at bay and onshore, to convince doubting Thomases.

However, the challenge for Tinubu’s aspiration lies mainly in the South-West where he hails from. Although APC is in commanding lead in the region, governing five out of six states, there are insinuations that some politicians referred to as Buhari’s men would sternly work against him.

He is also believed to be old and not in good health condition to handle such responsibilities. Those who are pushing this argument are insisting that Nigeria at this point needs a very young and energetic leader and not someone who would spend the better part of his tenure on medical tourism abroad.

Aminu Tambuwal

The Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal was the Speaker, House of Representatives, under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), until late 2014, when he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC). He contested for the governor of Sokoto State in 2015 under the APC platform and won.

In the build up to the 2019 elections, his name featured prominently in political discourse as one of the favourites, particularly among the young, ebullient politicians, to clinch the presidential ticket. The high wire politicking and pressure from some quarters forced him and others to queue behind the party leadership in total support of Atiku Abubakar.

Apart from his lack of experience in presidential politics and possibly, not so large political war chest, there was no other factor that prevented him from the presidential race in 2019, according to close political observers. As the 2023 presidential election inches closer and politicians begin to align and realign so as to join the race, Tambuwal’s name has kept reverberating as a potential contender in the contest. Like in 2019, he is rumoured to be prepared to pair with a prominent southern politician for the ticket.

As Speaker, House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015, he is said to have built a national network transcending the conservatives and progressives borderline.

He is believed to enjoy vast goodwill from power brokers from across the country. He is seen by most of them as reliable and imbued with a strong sense of duty.

Apart from the issue of zoning, which may not favour his zone since the incumbent president is also a northerner, he perfectly fits into the age bracket of politicians which majority of Nigerians are yearning to become the next president after Buhari.

Orji Uzor Kalu

Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu is a two-term former governor of Abia State, between 1999 and 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). An accomplished businessman and astute politician, he sits as the chairman of a business conglomerate, SLOK Holdings. He is also the chairman of the Sun Publishing Limited and New Telegraph Newspapers.

Before his election as Abia Governor, he served as chairman of Borno Water Board as well as chairman of Cooperative and Commerce Bank Limited.

He was a presidential candidate of the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) in the 2007 general election.

He is currently a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after he officially announced his resignation as the PPA Board of Trustee Chairman (BOT).

In 2019, he contested to represent the people of Abia North Senatorial District in the Senate on the platform of APC and won, defeating the incumbent Senator Mao Ohuabunwa with over 10,000 votes. He is currently the Senate’s Chief Whip.

Although he has not officially declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2023, there are indications that he would throw his hat into the ring.

He is believed to have built a solid political bridge across the Niger with his business tentacles spread all over Nigeria. In the north, he is highly welcomed as can be evidenced by the number of traditional titles he has been given over the years in that region. The same scenario is playing out in the South West, where the bulk of his business empire is situated.

His political allies cut across all ethnic nationalities and with the South Easterners making a strong case for the presidency to be zoned to them in 2023, all he needs is to reactivate and re-energize his political machines across the country for a victorious presidential outing in 2023.

Owelle Rochas Okorocha

With the deafening agitation for a Southern presidency in 2023, particularly the Igbo stock of the South East, the former governor of Imo State, and Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has presented himself as one of the candidates to fly the APC’s flag.

As a former chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), he may enjoy a nationwide reach and with the Igbo fighting tooth and nail to get the presidency, he might equally enjoy some advantage like other Igbo aspirants.

His humanitarian service through Rochas Foundation, which has given education scholarships to hundreds of Nigerians irrespective of tribe or religion, from primary school to University level across Nigeria, particularly in the north, is a tool that some groups have started campaigning with for him.

He may not be accepted as the face of the Igbo and the right candidate to champion that course because his performances as the Imo State Governor have been found to be not as stellar as he painted the picture when he was there.

He should be prepared to face tougher challenges than he did in 2019 when he wanted to foist his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, on the people of Imo State.

Kayode Fayemi

The Ekiti State Governor, currently on his second term, has been identified as one of Buhari’s men in the South-West. He is also said to be one of those being positioned to represent a new generation of leaders for the region. Fayemi, at the moment, enjoys huge national prominence in the APC.

There are insinuations in some quarters that a joint presidential ticket is being considered for him alongside a governor from the North West in the APC after Buhari.

Close political watchers believe that his antecedents as a pro-democracy crusader, an egghead in the progressive vanguard and an erudite scholar are some of the credentials that could work in his favour.

Yahaya Bello

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has made it loud and clear that he is interested in the presidential seat after Buhari in 2023.

Bello’s declaration shocked many as close watchers of political developments in Nigeria have expressed surprise that a young man of Bello’s age could muster the uncommon courage to contemplate changing the political status quo in the country; a dream they described as very tall and audacious.

At his declaration, the Governor was quoted to have said: “I don’t refer to this as my presidential ambition. It is the ambition of the youths, the younger generation, the women, the less-privileged, the deprived and the oppressed in the society.”

Bello and his supporters are insisting that it is the turn of the North Central to produce the next president, but political observers see his move as a tall dream considering the fact that he is not from one of the three major ethnic groups in the country – Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba. Goodluck Jonathan’s case, they said, was circumstantial and by happenstance. This is one of the major political storms that must be weathered by Bello if his dreams must come to reality.

Again, analysts are of the opinion that for the young Bello to think of becoming president in a country, where the youths are considered incompetent and immature to occupy such a position amounts to a big joke. Age-wise, they don’t see Bello going far; because the old political war horses would definitely unite to frustrate and rubbish his efforts. This line of argument tends to make meaning bearing in mind that presidential contest involves a very massive financial war-chest, which Bello may not be able to muster when the chips are down. The older politicians may be better disposed, particularly as it relates to the financial muscle to prosecute the presidential contest. This is another hurdle that the Kogi Governor would have to seriously think of scaling if he must make any headway in the contest.

A combination of the above factors plus more is what analysts perceive to be among many political landmines on the path of the Governor’s tortuous journey to presidency in 2023.

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But, Bello’s supporters, loyalists and foot soldiers are not bulging; they have been drumming support for his presidency in 2023 through various social and traditional media platforms, banking their hope on the fact that it is now the turn of the North Central geopolitical zone to produce the next president.

Sam Ohuabunwa

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa is an accomplished pharmacist, industrialist, prolific writer and a wealth creator. He is the immediate past president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN). Recently, he declared his intention to contest the position of the President in the 2023 general elections on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Ohuabunwa cited the worsening socio-economic and political conditions in the country as his motivating factors even as he berated the political elites for paying attention to wealth accumulation at the expense of the people they sought to govern.

He joined Pfizer Products Plc in 1978 and rose to become its Chairman/Chief Executive Officer in 1993. In 1997, he led the management buy-over of Pfizer Inc shares in Pfizer Products Plc, transforming the resultant company, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, into a medium-sized Nigerian R&D based pharmaceutical company.

Mazi Ohuabunwa is a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, the Nigerian Academy of Pharmacy, the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists, the Nigerian Institute of Management, the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, the Institute of Management Consultants, and the Association of Corporate Governance Professionals of Nigeria, among others.

He is a former chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), former president, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), former chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ikeja, former president of the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce, and until last month, November, the president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.

With such an intimidating and massive wealth of experience from the private sector, his desire to ensure that Nigeria becomes a nation of knowledge, industry, integrity, liberty, justice, patriotism and fear of God, is not in doubt.

However, one of the obstacles on his way, according to analysts, is the fact that he has been a private sector professional all his life; with little or no much knowledge about the operations in the sector.

Aside from that, if given the opportunity by Nigerians, he would certainly deploy his private sector magic wand to turn the country’s economy around for positive developments. His statement at his formal declaration can attest to that. “We will also ensure that Nigeria becomes a nation where the federating units will be liberated from the shackles of oppression and suffocation from the Centre, so they can compete, soar, prosper and provide maximum democracy dividends to their citizens,” Ohuabunwa stated.

The 2021 financial window is fast winding down. It has been a calendar of mixed fortunes on the back of a post COVID-19 pandemic and an economic crunch that hit the top and bottom end of the pyramid. As it stands, Nigeria’s middle class is fast eroding with the craze for migration abroad to seek greener pastures in the front burner. The 2022 Budget appropriation will be the last full year budget to be implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration. It’s a window that Africa’s most populous nation must get right in economic and political terms. These Siamese twins work hand in hand and it’s imperative to get it right to make things happen. This article seeks to gaze through the crystal ball to highlight ten factors that will influence the 2022 fiscal year.

It’s an election season – Governance will come to a screeching halt.

As electioneering campaigns dominate the landscape from the centre to the federating units. Nineteen State Governors are about to conclude their tenure while twelve State Governors are eligible for second tenure. It’s a colossal headache, as most helmsmen don’t have any visible succession plan in place to drive the wheels of governance. Public policy affects all and sundry. It’s an albatross of sorts

If this important wheel of progress is enmeshed in a potpourri of selection drawbacks. The choices of the new crop of leaders to emerge via the internal mechanisms of democratic platforms christened political parties. It remains to be seen how the political gladiators will meander through this potential landmine of sorts as the momentum towards the 2023 continues to gather steam. Like the old mantra: “All politics is local”. The consultation(s), nocturnal visits, alignment and re-alignment has begun in earnest as political aspirants are in the trenches to bring their political ambition to fruition.

Crucial Issues In APC, PDP’s Pending Rematch

The coast may not yet be clear, but the stage is gradually getting set for the race to Aso Rock Villa in 2023, just as names of those that are showing practical interest in it have started making the rounds.

Indeed, if the election holds this month, two broad categories of contenders would be discernible – veterans and newcomers.

For now, the familiar faces on the turf with covert and overt interest in the contest include, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, former Lagos, Imo, Kano, Kwara and Abia state governors, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Rochas Okorocha, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Bukola Saraki, and Orji Uzor Kalu. There are also Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, and Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim.

First-timers in the race are Governors David Umahi, Kayode Fayemi, Bala Mohammed, Yahaya Bello and Nyesom Wike, as well as Chris Baywood-Ibe, Peter Obi, Rotimi Amaechi, Danjuma Goje, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, and Senator Ahmad Lawan.xxxx

Prof. Moghalu

Apart from Prof. Moghalu who is yet to disclose the platform he intends to gun for the plum job, the rest are unevenly divided between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). How far they will go in ventilating their ambition, therefore, depends on how the two parties reconcile the various issues dogging their leadership structures at the national convention.

According to observers, the journey to the 2023 general election would have begun in earnest by the time the two predominant political parties hold their national convention later this year.

While the main opposition PDP has fixed its national convention for October 30/31, the governing APC believes that only after the October 2 state congresses, would the stage be set to fix a date for its national convention.

The two main political parties –the APC and the PDP are spoiling for another major political battle in 2023 and both believe that whichever party wins the presidential contest stands the chance of diminishing or even dismantling the other.

Consequently, 16 months to the 2023 presidential showdown, both the APC and the PDP are looking up to their national conventions to strengthen their structures for a competitive outing. And as they prepare, their chieftains are enmeshed in arguments over zoning.

Pundits believe that the emergence of national chairmen of the two major parties would provide ready indicators regarding which zone (between North and South) that would produce the presidential standard-bearers of both parties.

However, the Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, told The Guardian that the position of national chairman of the party would not determine where the presidential candidate would come from, adding that the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi committee would come up with the necessary guides for the zoning of those offices.

Also speaking in a television programme, the former PDP national chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, said that not being in power, the preoccupation of the party was to elect capable candidates to lead it to victory in the presidential poll after the successful emergence of the chairman.

On its part, the governing APC is battling with fundamental challenges, which include the zoning of the offices of the national chairman and the presidential candidate. The party is also divided over the claim that there was an agreement that power would shift to the South and that Tinubu would succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.

Atiku Abubakar:

ATIKU has been a veteran of presidential contests dating back to the 1992 Ibrahim Babangida’s convoluted transition to civil rule. He narrowly missed becoming the presidential running mate to late Chief Moshood Abiola on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

That exposure, however, placed him at a vantage position to emerge Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy in 1999, shortly after he won the Adamawa State governorship poll.

Having fallen out of favour with Obasanjo in their second term, Atiku moved over to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), on which platform he unsuccessfully contested the 2007 presidential ballot.

In 2010, shortly after he returned to the PDP, Atiku lost the party’s ticket to President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2011 contest. In 2013, peeved by President Jonathan’s quest for another term in office, Atiku moved over to the freshly founded APC. His search for the party’s ticket ended on a sour note as the party’s stakeholders, led by Tinubu, picked Buhari as the APC standard-bearer for the 2015 poll.

Atiku featured in the 2019 presidential contest after he rejoined the PDP and clinched the party’s ticket at the Port Harcourt convention. His loss to President Buhari was shrouded in controversies, even as PDP believed that the governing party manipulated the ballot to favour the incumbent.

Waving the banner of right of first refusal, Atiku is currently oiling his political machinery to seek the presidential mandate. Atiku is reputed to have the financial capacity and political network to make a big show of the 2023 contest. However, the main snag in his latest quest is the bandwagon agitation for power shift to the South.

Asiwaju Tinubu

REPUTED as a strong power broker and political godfather, the Jagaban Borgu yielded his ambition on two occasions to ensure power shift to the North in 2011 and 2015, when he supported the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and Buhari respectively for the Presidency.

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Having worked for the successful consummation of the merger of former opposition parties to form the APC, Tinubu was allegedly pleaded with to sacrifice his right to the presidential running mate, with the assurance that at the end of Buhari’s second term, he would be free to seek the presidential mandate.

It is believed that the former Lagos State governor has the war chest to contest favourably and help the governing party to retain the Presidency in 2023. However, sources within the APC said that the pressure on incumbent governors from the opposition PDP to join APC is an attempt to defray the former Lagos State governor’s command of delegate votes.

Apart from the push by some APC governors to prop up Governor Fayemi, Tinubu is said to enjoy the confidence of the South West bloc, significant parts of the North as well as votes from many non-APC states.

Prof. Moghalu

AS a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Moghalu enjoyed the demographic support of young people when he joined the fray in the 2019 presidential election. Having rebuffed overtures from Atiku to pair up with him as presidential running mate, Moghalu, ran with a promise of innovative leadership and paradigm shift, insisting that the old order must give way to the new if the country must make progress.

With the endorsement of such great personages as the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Moghalu’s first attempt at the presidential contest did not return with the laurel, but he made his mark.

Since the former CBN chief resigned his membership of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), upon which platform he contested the 2019 poll, he is yet to announce his new platform, even as massive mobilisation of funds and support is ongoing on his behalf across the country, particularly in the North. Moghalu’s chief bragging right is said to be the age of his ideas and non-attachment to any ethnic bloc. Having founded the To Build A Nation (TBAN) political movement, Moghalu wants to be the face of the new Nigeria in the presidential contest.

Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim

Olawepo-Hashim contested the 2019 presidential election on the platform of Peoples Trust (PT) shortly after he was displaced from the Association of New Nigeria (ANN). Last month, the international business and former democracy activist migrated to the governing APC to vie for the party’s ticket.

Olawepo-Hashim is among northern politicians that have rejected zoning as the basis of leadership recruitment in the country, stressing that zoning has no place in a democracy.

Rochas Okorocha

APART from Atiku Abubakar, Senator Anayo Rochas Okorocha is about the oldest presidential contestant that is still in the race. In 2003, Okorocha went around the country in search of votes on the platform of Action Alliance (AA). He quit the PDP and picked the presidential ticket of the AA for the 2003 Presidential poll. After contesting and winning the Imo State governorship in 2011, Okorocha joined the merger process that birthed the APC.

However, rebuffing entreaties from APC leaders, particularly Buhari’s allies from the Southeast, the former Imo State governor contested for the APC presidential ticket against Buhari. For that audacious display, in addition to his insistence on fielding his son-in-law as the APC governorship candidate in 2019, Okorcoha, who currently represents Imo West in the Senate, is embattled within the APC.

Despite the supremacy war between the former Imo State governor and the incumbent, Senator Hope Uzodimma, Okorocha’s supporters are mobilising support for him to pick the APC presidential ticket for the 2023 ticket.

For other feted aspirants, especially the former Senate President, Saraki, Senator Kwankwaso and Tambuwal, it is as if they are being slowed down by Atiku’s interest and the ongoing discussions over zoning of the presidential slot.

New Soldiers

THE fresh entrants’ camp is populated by APC stalwarts. Indeed, most of them, excluding the Senate President, Lawan, governors Bello of Kogi State, and Mohammed of Bauchi State, are from the southern part of the country, which supports the impression that the APC is going to abide by the North-South rotation of political power in the country.

Governor Umahi

THE chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum, Umahi, joined the APC early to prepare grounds for his quest for the presidency. Leadership has always located Umahi, and that explains why he was drafted into the Ebonyi State working committee at a moment of great political upheaval between supporters of the former governor,

Senator Sam Egwu

From serving as caretaker chairman and doing a good job, Umahi went on to serve as state chairman, deputy governor and governor. His movement to the APC came at a time of great promise for power shift and search for a Nigerian president of South-East extraction.

Through his years as state chairman of PDP and leader of Southeast governors, Umahi was widened his network of political contacts. With the assistance of his elder brother, General Abel Umahi, the Ebonyi State governor has maintained friendly contacts in the military, a strategic and crucial partner in Nigeria’s political space.

Umahi is believed to be APC’s political mallet to break opposition PDP’s hold on Southeast, particularly given the general perception in APC that he performed well in the areas of infrastructural and social development of Ebonyi State.

Governor Fayemi

DR. Fayemi has been wary of the implications of open presidential aspiration in the light of the looming influence of Tinubu’s well-known presidential ambition.

Losing his second term election in 2014, Fayemi congratulated his conqueror, former governor, Ayo Fayose, whose first term was also truncated before his rebound.

Amid that political gamesmanship, the victory of APC at the national level opened up new opportunities at the centre for the former governor. Within the intervening four years, Fayemi’s political experience increased ditto his national clout, especially with his appointment as Minister of Mining and Solid Minerals Development. Armed with the new poAs he rounds off his second term in 2022, Fayemi’s supporters, who have established campaign cells across the country, believe that he is ripe to gun for the Presidency in 2023, since according to them, age and experience are in his favour.

However, Fayemi’s constraints include Tinubu’s aspiration, and the perception among Southwest chieftains of the APC that he is being propelled by outsiders that are envious of Tinubu’s political clout, and electoral worth.litical impetus, Fayemi contested and reclaimed his governorship mandate in 2018.

Rotimi Amaechi

AS the governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi fell out with former President Goodluck Jonathan. At the end of his second term, Amaechi worried about his future political safety and therefore worked for Buhari’s success.

Amaechi teamed up with his then Lagos State counterpart, Babatunde Raji Fashola, to pick the cost of Buhari’s campaign. Based on the lifeline they provided for the APC Presidential campaign in 2015, Amaechi and Fashola secured access into the inner caucus of the Buhari Presidency.

After six years at the top of the Ministry of Transportation bureaucracy, Amaechi has widened his political clout and enlarged his financial war chest for 2023. Amaechi’s presidential ambition pitted him against Tinubu, culminating in the Minister’s recent denial that there was a pact between Buhari and Tinubu regarding the 2023 APC presidential ticket.

Yahaya Bello

GOVERNOR Bello has said that he was running for the 2023 presidency to give expression to the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act that paved the way for young people to participate in the leadership of the country.

He is about the first fresher to commence campaigns for the presidency, and he believes that the North Central or Middle Belt should be allowed to produce Buhari’s successor.

Hesitant Aspirants

TOP on the list of this class of aspirants is the 2019 vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr. Obi, who at the expiration of his second term as Anambra State governor, crossed over from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to the PDP.

In the buildup to the 2019 poll, Obi’s selection by Atiku Abubakar to serve as his running mate roiled the South-East chapter of the party. The PDP stakeholders that kicked against Obi’s nomination alleged that he was a recent member of the party.

As the race to the 2023 election hots up, Obi’s name is being mentioned in certain quarters as a feasible presidential candidate from the South East. However, Obi’s declaration that Nigeria is like a car, which engine has knocked, puts a cloud of doubt about his preparedness to throw his hat into the ring for the Presidency in 2023.

It is believed that unless he gets assurances from the Atiku camp in the PDP, Obi may not be bold enough to declare interest in contesting the party’s presidential ticket.

Governor Mohammed

Another middle of the road presidential aspirant is Governor Mohammed of Bauchi State. Coming from the North-East geopolitical zone, and just in the first term of his governorship mandate, Mohammed is seen as merely testing the waters and hanging on the possibility of state governors’ opposition to Atiku.

Senate President Lawan

Senate President, Lawan, is among North East politicians that believe that it is the turn of the geopolitical zone to produce the president after the stint of the late Nigerian Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

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