2023 presidential aspirants and their chances

Posted by News Express | 26 April 2022 | 617 times

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•Tinubu, Osinbajo, Obi


As Nigerians prepare for 2023 general elections, which will afford the citizens an opportunity to elect or re-elect governors in some of the 36 states, new federal and states’ legislators and especially, a new leader that will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, several aspirants have already signified interest in the race. By February 18, 2023, Nigeria will go to the polls and elect one of these individuals to take over the steering of the nation’s wheel for another four years. As these personalities continue to consult and talk to Nigerians about their plans, a look at their background and their individual chances is important

 Asiwaju Bola Tinubu 

It’s no longer news that the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has vowed not to leave any stone unturned to actualise his age-long dream of becoming the president of Nigeria in 2023. 

Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007, has grown his political structures to one of the biggest in modern day Nigeria. As Lagos State governor, Tinubu raised the Internally Generated Revenue of the state from N900 million to N30 billion monthly. 

His political career began in 1992, when he joined the Social Democratic Party where he was a member of the Peoples Front faction led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and made up of other politicians such as Umaru Yar’Adua, Atiku Abubakar, Baba Gana Kingibe, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Magaji Abdullahi, Dapo Sarumi and Yomi Edu. He was elected to the Senate, representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic. 

After the results of the 12 June 1993 presidential elections were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition, a group that mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of Moshood Abiola as winner of the 12 June election. 

Following the seizure of power as military head of state of General Sani Abacha, he went into exile in 1994 and returned to the country in 1998 after the death of the military dictator, which ushered in the transition to the Fourth Nigerian Republic. 

In the run-up to the 1999 elections, Tinubu was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He went on to win the AD primaries for the Lagos State governorship elections in defeating Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing. In January 1999, he stood for the position of Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket and was elected governor. 

Tinubu, alongside a new deputy governor, Femi Pedro, won re-election into office as governor in April 2003. All other states in the South West fell to the Peoples Democratic Party in those elections. He was involved in a struggle with the Olusegun Obasanjo-controlled federal government over whether Lagos State had the right to create new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to meet the needs of its large population. 

The controversy led to the federal government seizing funds meant for local councils in the state. 

Relations between Tinubu and deputy governor Femi Pedro became increasingly tense after Pedro declared his intention to run for the gubernatorial elections. Pedro competed to become the AC candidate for governor in the 2007 elections, but withdrew his name on the eve of the party nomination. He defected to the Labour Party while still keeping his position as deputy governor. Tinubu’s tenure as Lagos State Governor ended on 29 May 2007, when his successor Babatunde Fashola took office. 

For Tinubu, observers believe that there are many rivers the APC national leader will have to cross. First, many Nigerians, especially the younger generation, from all nooks and crannies are calling for a youthful president in 2023, saying anyone 70 years and above should not be considered. 

Another river is that of health. Nigerians are complaining that Tinubu’s health is not up to what is needed by a digital president in a country like Nigeria. Even though Tinubu has dismissed the issue, the excuse he gave that he is running for president and not a marathon, did not go down well with some Nigerians who believed that the state of health of a president and his age have a lot to do with his ability to govern and do not want a repeat of what happened during the first term of the Buhari presidency. 

Then comes the third river, which is the issue of moral justification. Tinubu and Osinbajo are from the South West. Between 1999 and 2023, the zone has held sway in the presidency for 16 years. Obasanjo was president for eight years and Osinbajo has been vice president for another eight years. The South East has never produced a president nor a vice, the South South has done it for eight years while the South West has had 16 years. 

If the presidency will be going to the southern part of Nigeria on the basis of zoning, Tinubu should rather be seen as the projector in chief of fair play. The failure of Tinubu to speak for other regions of the South, such as the South East that has not benefited from the presidency since the return of democracy, will make him appear to be a self-centred person. 

As activities for the APC primary elections are coming closer, Tinubu will definitely face challenges from his inner house, his health and the moral justification for a Yoruba president when the South East is yet to produce one. Analysts are of the view that among all the aspirants that have indicated interest, Tinubu has the strongest structure base across the country but fear that the “powers-that-be” may stand against his emergence as the APC flag bearer. 

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday, April 11, declared his interest to run for the office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2023 general election. 

Osinbajo was employed as a law lecturer at the University of Lagos in 1981. From 1983 to 1986, he was a Senior Lecturer of Law at the University of Lagos. From 1988 to 1992, he was an Adviser (legal advice and litigation) to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ajibola. 

From 1997 to 1999, he was made professor of law and head of Department of Public Law, University of Lagos. 

From 1999 to 2007, Osinbajo served as a member of cabinet, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, also Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice under the administration of Tinubu. He was instrumental in the Supreme Court judgment that got the release of the seized allocations of Lagos State by President Obasanjo. 

From 2007 to 2013 Osinbajo was once again employed as a Professor of Law, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. He was also a Senior lecturer at Lagos State University. 

After the formation of the APC in 2013, he was tasked with other notable Nigerians to design and produce a manifesto for the new political party. This culminated in the presentation of the “Roadmap to a New Nigeria”, a document published by APC as its manifesto if elected to power. The highlights of the Roadmap included a free schools meal plan, a conditional cash transfer to the 25 million poorest Nigerians if they enroll children in school and immunize them. There were also a number of programmes designed to create economic opportunities for Nigeria’s massive youth population. 

In December 2014, Buhari as the presidential candidate of the APC, announced Osinbajo as his running mate and vice-presidential candidate for the 2015 general elections. During the 2014/2015 campaigns of the party, Osinbajo held numerous town hall meetings across the country as against the popular rallies that many Nigerians and their politicians were used to. One of his campaign promises, which he has recently reiterated, was the plan to feed a school child a meal per day. Beyond feeding the school children, he has recently emphasized that this plan will create jobs (another campaign promise) for those who will make it happen. 

Analysts have said the candidacy of Osinbajo would divide the Southwest governors and indeed the ruling APC, especially the chances of a Southern president. 

Since the Vice President declared his intention, there have been critics from the Southwest region in particular where they have called him a traitor for daring to challenge his benefactor (Tinubu). 

There are those who have also argued that it was in the right of the vice president to throw his hat in the ring and that he (Osinbajo) shouldn’t be seen as betraying Tinubu. 

However, the claim in some quarters is that the VP is likely to be the most favourite who may likely to succeed President Buhari. The APC initially was mulling consensus for electing who will fly the party’s flag but as at today, the party has settled for indirect primary, which many sources will favour Osinbajo. 

On the political and administrative turf, Osinbajo has chances just as he has hurdles associated with first clinching the ticket of APC and subsequently winning the presidency. 

As the Vice President, the former Attorney General of Lagos State is the leader of the party and by its Constitution, a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), the highest decision making body of the APC as well as the Board of Trustees, the ‘conscience’ of the party. 

That is to say, Osinbajo will be present anywhere any decision concerning the affairs of his party is taken, whether zoning, microzoning or consensus arrangement as he doubles as a member of the National Caucus as well. 

Also, Osinbajo always presides over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) each time President Muhammadu Buhari is not around. He has also acted as president several times in the president’s absence and has, not to a large extent, been found wanting. 

Thus, the Vice President automatically has a personal relationship or needs no introduction to anybody that matters politically and otherwise in the country and could deploy that to his advantage. 

In addition, the APC zoning of its National Chairman to the North where Abdullahi Adamu from North-central zone is presently enjoying the slot implied that the Presidency has been zoned to the Southern region where Osinbajo hails from, South West, and is also a Christian. 

Pundits are of the opinion that, having served Buhari faithfully in the last seven years and above, his loyalty to the Northern oligarchy is not in doubt and could be a good successor that would not work against the region. 

Above all, it is argued that he is in the good books of APC Governors who always call the shots in the party, especially as they are insisting that one of them from the North should be his running mate and believing that their interest would be protected under him. 

The major hurdle before Osinbajo is the thinking that he cannot defeat Tinubu at the APC primary election; hence he lacks the political structures to dislodge his former boss. Others also see see his declaration as an affront to Tinubu and have labeled him as a traitor. 

Pundits believe that Osinbajo is not a politician per se who can maneuver his way to get the APC ticket, especially when Tinubu is involved, except the presidency or the powers that be imposes him on the party. 

There are also fears that as a Pentecostal pastor, an Osinbajo presidency will not be favourable to the Muslims with some accusing him of religious bigotry and tribalistic tendencies, a claim his office has vehemently denied. 

Atiku Abubakar 

Atiku, as he is popularly called, is a politician, businessman and a philanthropist, who served as the 11th Vice President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. In 2019, he contested for the position of president under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). 

In 1989, Atiku was selected to represent his constituency at the Constituency Assembly, set up to draw a new constitution for Nigeria. But the government denied the registration of The People’s Front, although they found a place within the Social Democratic Party (SDP). 

In 1992, Atiku ran for presidential office under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and came third in the convention primaries, losing to the late Chief M.K.O Abiola and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe. 

On September 1, 1990, Atiku announced ambition to run for the governorship of Gongola State. However, in 1991 before the election could be held, the Federal Government split Gongola State into two, Adamawa and Taraba states. Abubakar fell into Adamawa State. Luckily, he won the SDP primaries in November 1991, but was disqualified from contesting in the election. 

However, in 1998, he contested as the governor of Adamawa State under People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and won. However, before his swearing in, he accepted to be the running mate to Olusegun Obasanjo PDP’s presidential candidate. 

Atiku was sworn in as Nigeria’s vice president on May 29, 1999. He worked together with the then South-African Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, to launch the South Africa Nigeria Binational Commission. 

However, in 2006, Atiku clashed with President Olusegun Obasanjo over his intention to amend the constitution, to allow him to run for presidency for the third time. This did not go down well with Atiku and this affected their relationship. 

In the 2011 elections, Atiku contested for president under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But, he lost at the primaries to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. 

On December 20, 2006, Action Congress (AC) selected Atiku as their presidential candidate. But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) omitted his name in the final list of 24 aspirants for the April 21 presidential election. 

Apparently, his name was omitted because a panel set up by the government listed him among corrupt persons in the country. However, he contested the action in court on March 16. The Supreme Court ruled in his favour and was able to contest. 

After the election, Atiku Abubakar came third, behind Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, PDP’s candidate and Muhammadu Buhari, ANPP’s candidate. 

Also, in 2018, Atiku announced his interest to contest again as Nigeria’s president under PDP. He won the party’s nomination on October 7 at its convention and became the presidential candidate 

However, at the presidential election , Atiku lost to President Muhammadu Buhari on February 27, 2019. He challenged the outcome of the election at the court and also lost. 

Having declared to run for the presidential position for the 2023 general election. Atiku is confronted with the zoning dilemma as many Nigerians, including some stakeholders in his party, PDP are calling for power shift to the South. Atiku has however pressed on in his quest, saying zoning shouldn’t be a factor. Will he be lucky this time around? 

Peter Obi 

Among the multitude of presidential aspirants who want to step into Buhari’s shoes and take over the Aso Rock seat of power, is Mr. Peter Obi, a two-term governor of Anambra State and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). 

Who is the man, Peter Obi? Born on July 19, 1961 at Onitsha, Anambra State, Peter Gregory Obi as he was named, is a businessman turned politician. 

He attended Christ the King College, Onitsha, where he completed his secondary school education and was admitted to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1980. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A Hons) in Philosophy in 1984. 

He attended several business schools, which made him one of the foremost technocrats in Nigeria. They include the Lagos Business School, Nigeria, and did his Chief Executive programme; Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, where he did two programmes, London School of Economics, Columbia Southwest School, New York, USA, Institute for Management Development, Switzerland, where he also got two certificates in Senior Executive Programme and Chief Executive Officers Programme. He also attended Kellogg Graduate School of Management, USA, Oxford University: Said Business School, and Cambridge University: George Business School. 

As a businessman, Peter Obi has been very active, occupying very prime and apex positions in several companies and groups. These included being a one-time chairman of Nigeria Security and Exchange Commission, and chairman, Next International Nigeria Ltd. 

He was also former chairman and director of Guardian Express Mortgage Bank Ltd; Guardian Express Bank Plc; Future View Securities Ltd, Paymaster Nigeria Ltd, Chams Nigeria Ltd, Data Corp Ltd and Card Centre Ltd. 

Peter Obi has a reputation of being the youngest chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc. 

In the 2003 elections, Peter Obi left his exalted position as the chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc to contest the governorship position in Anambra State as a candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). However, his opponent, Dr Chris Ngige, then of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 

This led to a protracted electoral dispute. After nearly three years of litigation, Ngige’s victory was overturned by the Court of Appeal on March 15, 2006. Obi took office on March 17, 2006. On November 2, 2006, he was impeached by the state House of Assembly after seven months in office. He was replaced the next day by Virginia Etiaba, his deputy, making her the first-ever female governor in Nigeria’s history. 

However, Obi successfully challenged his impeachment and was reinstated as the governor on February 9, 2007 by the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu. Etiaba handed power back to him after the court ruling. 

However, Obi once again left office on May 29, 2007 following the general elections, in which Andy Uba was declared the winner. Obi returned to the courts once more, this time contending that the four-year tenure he had won in the 2003 elections only started to run when he took office in March 2006. 

On June 14, 2007 the Supreme Court of Nigeria upheld Obi’s contention and returned him to office. This brought to an abrupt end to the tenure of Obi’s successor, Andy Uba, whose April 14, 2007 election was nullified by the Supreme Court on the grounds that Obi’s four-year tenure should have remained undisturbed until March 2010. 

However, Obi went in for his second term election. On February 7, 2010, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him the winner of the 2010 Anambra State gubernatorial election. He defeated Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). By this election victory, Obi had an additional four years as the governor of Anambra State. He served out his second term as the Anambra State governor and on March 17, 2014, Obi handed over to Willie Obiano. 

After his second term as the Anambra State governor, Obi dumped the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) due to irreconcilable differences with his successor, Willy Obiano and defected to the PDP. 

However, on October 12, 2018, Obi emerged as the running mate to Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate in the Nigerian 2019 presidential elections. His party came second in that election which produced President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the president, who is now at the tail end of his second term. Currently, Obi is one of the presidential aspirants of the PDP for the 2023 election. Will he emerge as the party’s candidate? This can only be known after the coming PDP presidential primary that comes up soon. 

However, the only seemingly dark spot in Obi’s life is the Pandora Papers revelations that made some allegations against him. As a result of the Pandora Papers leaks, some online media reported on Obi’s alleged involvement in offshore companies in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands. 

Rotimi Amaechi 

The incumbent Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi on Saturday, April 9 declared his intention to become president in 2023. The former Governor of Rivers State believes his 23 years of service in various capacities have equipped him with great experience in governance and public service. 

In his declaration speech, he added that the period has allowed him to show compassion for the ordinary citizens of the country. 

“After more than two decades in the public arena, I had wanted to go on a holiday and spend more time with my family before charting a new course outside politics, but at 56 … I am compelled by the urgency of our present challenges to place my experience and proven capacity at the service of the nation at the highest level,” Amaechi said. 

Amaechi has proven severally that he can never be counted out of anything as he is a battle-tested general in the political space. Having been in the political space since 1999 as a two-time speaker, governor for two terms, and minister for almost eight years, he indeed has the required experience to contest the 2023 presidency. 

Many political analysts also contend that he is one of the few performing ministers in the Buhari administration. The railway infrastructure across the country is there for all to see. The railway revolution is arguably the major and visible success story of the Buhari administration. 

There are whispers that he is President Buhari’s favourite for the APC ticket. According to this line of thought, the presidency is not comfortable with power going to the southwest in 2023 given the fact the region has tasted 16 years in power either as president or Vice President. The presidency seems to favor a shift to the South-South. 

In February, Amaechi was turbanned as the Dan Amanar of Daura. In the Hausa dialect, Dan Amanar is used about someone trustworthy, of noble character and carriage, a confidant and one whose words can be relied upon. 

Many saw the turbaning as a direct endorsement of Amaechi for the presidency by the powers that be in Katsina. The thinking is that an Amaechi presidency will achieve two aims – solve the Igbo presidency issue and the South-South will get a second shot at the presidency. 

According to some insiders, the Amaechi camp is waiting patiently in the wings for Tinubu and Osinbajo camp to wear each other out and the party may settle for an outsider to calm frayed nerves. Already Tinubu and Osinbajo’s supporters are already fighting dirty in the media space and at the end of the day, it may be a lose-lose situation. (Daily Independent)


Source: News Express

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