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2023 General Election in Nigeria: Tinubu or Who?

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the new dates for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria earlier this year on February 18, 2023, for the presidential election. The Presidential and National Assembly elections have been slated for February 25, 2023, while governorship and state assembly elections will now be held on March 11, 2023.

2023 General Elections

According to our source. President Muhammadu Buhari’s body language as to his preferred candidate for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2023 general election has unsettled the aspirants including

  • Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
  • National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
  • Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, among others.

It was gathered that the inability of the Presidential aspirants for the 2023 general election to properly deduce the direction of the president delayed the declaration of some of the aspirants including Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Rotimi Amaechi.

Starting with Bola AhmedTinubu

The presidential aspirants of the ruling party for the 2023 general election had sought the blessings of the president before declaring for the race. The lack of clarity on the president’s direction is fuelling agitation among the aspirants and their supporters as the deadline for the conduct of the political parties’ primaries approaches.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had issued a deadline of June 3, 2022, for political parties to conduct their primaries for the 2023 general election.

So far 8 aspirants in the ruling party have indicated an interest in the president’s seat. They include

  • Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu
  • Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo
  • Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi
  • Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State
  • Business tycoon Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim
  • Former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha
  • Ihechukwu Dallas Chima (IDC).

Impeccable sources around the presidency said President Buhari did not object to the plans by all the aspirants to vie for the presidency during the 2023 general election but he is keeping close to his chest his preference among the contenders.

President Buhari had on January 5, this year during an exclusive interview with Channels TV, said he does not care who succeeds him during the 2023 general election in the country.

His words

2023 is not my problem, I don’t care who succeeds me, let the person come, whoever the person is.”

President Buhari also declined to mention his favourite, saying if the person is named, he would be eliminated.”

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One of the sources said the president’s action was causing ripples among the aspirants, their supporters and critical stakeholders of the ruling party.

A founding member of the APC, said, unlike the party positions, the presidential candidate of the party cannot be singlehandedly handpicked by the president.

“What I can tell you is that the scenario that brought Abdullahi Adamu, where the president handpicked him cannot be repeated now. The primaries must be conducted for the party to emerge victoriously in 2023 general election.

“Mr President is being mindful of this fact, hence is being careful. In the build-up to the 2015 general elections, even when key stakeholders knew that the party ticket was for him (Buhari), we still conducted primaries in Lagos, where he defeated Atiku, Kwankwaso, Bukola (Saraki), Okorocha and others,” the source said.

However, another source said the president seems not to be comfortable with the candidature of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the presidential ticket during the 2023 general election.

“This is my reading of him but let me tell you, the odds favour Bola Ahmed Tinubu, power is not given, it is taken. He will pick the ticket,” the source said.

Sources said despite his open declaration that President Buhari does not care who succeeds him, the president seems to be in a tight corner. One of them said those who supported him when he needed it most and their supporters think this is the payback time.

While those with Tinubu are saying the president owed them given the role played by the former Lagos governor in the victories of Buhari in 2015 and 2019, those in the camp of the vice president believed that his emergence as the running mate did the magic in the 2015 polls.

It will be recalled that Buhari had contested thrice before emerging victorious in 2015.

Professor Yemi Osibajo Supporter’s Agitations

The vice president’s supporters are also saying that as the number two person in the administration, he should be given the right of first refusal for continuity of the relative success of the APC administration.

On their part, those in the camp of Rotimi Amaechi, the former governor of Rivers State are saying that their candidate should be considered given the role he played as the director-general of the Buhari’s campaign organisation.

In the build-up to the 2007 general elections, former President Olusegun Obasanjo allowed all the aspirants under the then ruling party, PDP to contest.

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The key aspirants at that time were sitting governors

  • Peter Odili (Rivers)
  • Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi (Kaduna), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa)
  • Donald Duke (Cross River), among others to promote their candidature.

But before the presidential primaries of the PDP, Obasanjo threw his weight behind late Umaru Musa Yar’adua who was rounding off his tenure as governor of Katsina State even though he had not indicated an interest in the race.

Soon, Obasanjo mobilised the state apparatus to ensure Yar’adua picked the party’s ticket and won the election. The late Yar’adua had during his inauguration accepted the fact the election that brought him to power was flawed.

Responding to the issue

A Political Scientist from the University of Ilorin, Dr Isiaq Atanda Abdulwaheed, described President Buhari’s disposition as “very political” and may spell doom for the party.

According to Dr Isiaq Atanda Abdulwaheed

“What I think everyone should know for now is the fact that President Buhari has not come out to endorse anybody for the race and this is highly political and shows that he is keenly interested in whoever succeeds him.

“Now, another thing we should learn from this is that if care is not taken, Buhari’s politics may lead to some caucus breaking out of the ruling party.

“The reason is that, with the way things are going, if the VP, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, gets the APC Presidential ticket ahead of Bola Tinubu for the 2023 general election, which is likely now in the present circumstance, though the dynamics may change along the line, then the party will be facing a very serious issue.

“The implication is that if the opposition PDP produce a strong candidate with wide acceptability of the people, there is every tendency that they may have a free day during the poll to produce the next president in a violence-free election,” he said.

A public affairs analyst, Comrade Achike Chude warned of a possible implosion in the APC with the number of presidential aspirants that have so far emerged for the party presidential ticket for the 2023 general election in the country.

Chude, who is Deputy National President of the Joint Action Front, a civil society coalition, said the decision of the president not to endorse any candidate could be counterproductive. According to him,

The situation is still very complex as all the aspirants that have so far emerged believe the president owes them his support.

He said,

“Our observation of politics in Nigeria is that when candidates going for various political positions go to traditional rulers for endorsement, they bless them and wish them well. In most cases, they do not tell them, ‘I will support you.’

“This is what we are seeing with the president. If the president has a candidate, which he has told us he has if you remember during a media chat, he said, “He has his favourite but he is not going to expose him because he doesn’t want him to be eliminated.

“Now, the debate over that statement was whether the elimination is physical elimination or political elimination. At least, he told us he has a favourite.

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Now that favourite might be Tinubu, he might be the Vice-President, he might be Pastor Tunde Bakare who has said clearly that he is number 16th President and Buhari is number 15, that when Buhari leaves, he will step in. We don’t know whether it is any of them or any other person that comes out from the APC.”

Meanwhile, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, revealed in a telephone interview last night that the party was yet to fix a date for the presidential primaries.

“That information is not available for now, but in a short while, the party will release the details,” he said.

A party source said the leadership of the ruling party under Senator Abdullahi Adamu is working on the timetable for the primary to select a credible individual that’ll represent the party for the 2023 general election. (Daily Trust)

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