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2023: Over 30 Nigerians aspire to succeed Buhari

2023: Over 30 Nigerians aspire to succeed Buhari

More than one year ahead of the 2023 Presidential election, over thirty prominent politicians have either directly or indirectly indicated interest to seek their parties’ tickets to run for the presidency. While there are agitations for power shift to the South, no political party, including the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has zoned the plum job to any section of the country, thereby throwing the race open to all sections. So far, the following personalities are jostling or said to be showing interest in the highest office in the land.

Atiku Abubakar

He is Nigeria’s former Vice President who first indicated interest to wrest power from his then boss, President Oluesgun Obasanjo in their second term in 2023. Atiku could not succeed with the plan and again settled for the number two seat. His quest for the presidency took the Adamawa-born politician to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2007, but was not successful.

Still not relenting in his ambition, the former Customs Officer returned to his former party, the PDP, and was made the Northern consensus candidate for the 2011 Presidential ticket of the PDP but was defeated at the primary election by the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. In the build up to the 2015 general election, Atiku jumped ship to the newly-formed APC and contested for its Presidential ticket but lost the bid to Muhammadu Buhari.

Just like in 2011, the serial Presidential contender returned to the PDP and won its ticket for the 2019 general election, but was defeated by Buhari of the APC. Now, with the PDP yet to zone the slot, the old horse in the game is once again, positioning himself to struggle for the party’s ticket in readiness for 2023 contest. His ambition is an open secret as his posters flooded Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the last PDP National Convention while many support groups continued to spring up for him.

But like most Nigerian politicians, Atiku is not stable. He has shown this by moving from one party to another in a space of years, which borders on lack of ideology. The former vice president is from Adamawa State, North East. He is a strong believer in fair play and rule of law; and he preaches equity. That being the case, analysts say he should yield ground for a South Easterner to occupy that post which is overdue.

Bola Tinubu

The Asiwaju, as he is fondly called, is a former Lagos State governor and National Leader of APC, the party he was instrumental to its formation in 2014. Tinubu was also a senator in the botched Third Republic. The political ‘godfather’ in the contemporary Yourubaland, deciding who gets what, when and how, has tentacles spread across the country. He has continued to play the godfather role since after leaving the Lagos State Government House in 2007 at the end of a two-term of eight years.

The Jagaban of Borgu had positioned for Vice President ahead of the 2015 general election but that ambition was thwarted due to the opposition to a Muslim-Muslim of himself and Buhari. Now, the permutation for power shift to the South with the South-west seriously agitating, Tinubu is considered the arrow head, especially within the APC fold.

Although he has not openly declared for the race, his campaign posters are everywhere and consultations by him and for him are said to be going on while support groups are springing up by the day for his Presidency. One of such is Tinubu Support Group (TSG), an umbrella organisation, housing an amalgam of sibling groups.

He has built bridges across the country and understands Nigeria very well. But many Nigerians say the country can ill-afford another president whose precarious health can be a huge burden. Moreover, as a die-hard professor of equity, he should allow other geo-political zones in the South that have not had a bite on the apple since 1999.

Yemi Osinbajo

He is the incumbent Vice President and former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justsucceed Buhariice in Lagos State. Currently, there are many groups championing his cause for the upcoming Presidential election on the platform of APC. Osinbajo’s veiled ambition which is yet to be heard from his very mouth is hinged on permutation for the South-west to take over the Presidency after Buhari whose exit is due on May 29, 2023.

A support group under the aegis of the Progressives Consolidation Group (PCG) had recently, at a rally in Ikeja, Lagos, called on the APC to adopt him as its consensus candidate for the 2023 Presidential election.

Goodluck Jonathan

Jonathan, a former deputy governor-turned governor of Bayelsa State, was first Vice President and later President after the demise of his principal, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He subsequently contested and won the 2011 Presidential race on the platform of PDP against Buhari of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC).

He was however, defeated by Buhari in the 2015 polls and unlike many power-drunk African leaders, Jonathan conceded defeat and handed over to his closet rival who is now superintending over the Nigeria’s affairs. The former President is said to be the choice of many APC power brokers who have been wooing him to the ruling party with the belief that he would do only one term, paving the way for the quick return of power to the north. But analysts warn that he would be caving in to the pressure at his own peril.

Ahmed Sani Yerima

He is a former Zamfara State governor and former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has indicated interest to contest for APC Presidential ticket for the 2023 polls, despite being from the same north-western Nigeria with the incumbent President Buhari. But Yerima appears not to be deterred by this as he unequivocally told journalists in one of his interviews declaring his ambition that both the Constitution of Nigeria and that of his party, the APC, have not barred him from contesting for the 2023 Presidency. By his past experiences, Yerima is qualified to contest the highest political office in the country. However, his past utterances and activities while presiding over Zamfara as governor cast a pall at his suitability for that sensitive office in a pluralistic society.

Bukola Saraki

He is a former President of the Senate and former governor of Kwara State, the period within which he was the Chairman of the ‘powerful’ Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF). He is the son of the late Olusola Abubakar Saraki who too was Senate Leader in 1979. The younger Saraki has obviously continued the dynasty of his father in Kwara State and at the national level as he currently stepped into the exalted shoes of the Waziri (Prime Minister) of Ilorin held by his father while alive.

Read also: Electoral Act: How history will remember Buhari

He has garnered so much experience in the area of governance by virtue of the positions he has held. He also has all it takes to rub shoulders with other global leaders. But Saraki’s rolling stone nature seems to cast doubts in the minds of many Nigerians on his political ideology. Saraki has so much moved and shifted loyalties too many times that he appears to have lost the followership of many of his admirers. Although he has declared interest in the post, it is left to be seen if the PDP will zone the slot to North Central.

Orji Uzor Kalu

Kalu, a former governor of Abia State is currently the Senate Chief Whip. He is said to be eyeing the APC Presidential ticket ahead of the 2023 general election. Kalu is waxing stronger and stronger as APC leader in the South-East geo-political zone where the party is making inroads. He is also said to be banking on the clamour for power shift to the zone. Although he has been around and possesses leadership charisma, his political activities have been trailed with a lot of controversies. His jumping from one party to another has cast him in the mode of “rolling stone politicians without ideology.”

Rochas Okorocha

He is a former governor of Imo State and a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was the chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), an umbrella body of governors of the APC fold. Okorocha is seeking APC Presidential ticket and many groups such as the Coalition of Bishops and Imams have endorsed his ambition. He is fearless and courageous, attributes needed to lead in Nigeria. But with his activities in Imo when he governed the state, analysts say that he must need to purge himself of the “acquisitive spirit” that came into play while leading a state that was a cynosure of all eyes when the likes of Sam Onunaka Mbakwe was in charge.

Yahaya Bello

Bello, the incumbent governor of Kogi State, has for a very long time announced his aspiration. He was amongst the first whose posters flooded the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and some other parts of the country. He is vibrant and fits the bill of the age bracket that Nigerians want for the presidential job, not geriatrics. But some of his activities as governor, including the non-payment of salaries of civil servants, do not show he is the right man to succeed Buhari, except there is a drastic change. He is from North Central and his party is yet to zone the ticket to anywhere.

Rotimi Amaechi

Amaechi is a former governor of Rivers State and the current minister of Transportation. He was also the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the oil-rich state. He is one of the ministers under the Buhari administration who could not be said to have failed in their assignments to their boss. After he defected along with others as a governor on the platform of the PDP to APC, the erstwhile NGF Chairman was Director-General of the Campaign Organisation that brought Buhari to power in 2015 and handled the same assignment in 2019. There is clamour for Amaechi to run for the APC Presidential ticket ahead of the 2023 race. But analysts say he is a very controversial politician with little or no regard for ideology. They also feared he could love neighbouring countries above Nigeria, judging by some of the projects his ministry is currently handling.

Babatunde Fashola

He is a former Lagos State governor and presently the minister of Works and Housing. He is being rumoured to be nursing Presidential ambition on APC platform. Fashola is one of the mentees of the Tinubu political dynasty. He served Tinubu as Chief of Staff, and succeeded him as governor of Lagos State. With his superlative performance in Lagos as governor, he is eminently qualified to succeed Buhari, but it is doubtful if he can muster the balls to challenge his former godfather for the APC ticket.

Aminu Tambuwal

He is a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and incumbent governor of Sokoto State as well as the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum. He had vied for the 2019 Presidential ticket of the PDP and is rumoured to be in the race for the position as evident in his posters that flooded the Eagle Square Abuja venue of the last National Convention of his party. He came very close to clinching the PDP ticket in 2019. He is intelligent and experienced enough to lead the country. But critics say that the manner of his past defections does not show him as a man committed to ideology, but rather driven by the aphorism, “The end justifies the means.”

Nyesom Wike

He is a former Minister of State for Education, Local Government Chairman and Chief of Staff to a former governor of Rivers State and has been the sitting governor of the oil-rich state since 2015. Hardly does any month passes without him commissioning a project. His outspokenness appears to have drawn friends and foes on equal measures. Some analysts believe that a Nyesom Wike-presidency would be a blessing to Nigeria, but it is too early to have another South-South president after Jonathan.

Babagana Zulum

There are permutations within the APC cycles that the former Commissioner in charge of reconstruction of the war-ravaged Borno State and the incumbent governor of the state, whose performance has attracted the applause of many Nigerians, would be a good Presidential material for the APC. However, Zulum on his own appears to be more concerned with the job he has at hand than future political ambition.

Adams Oshiomhole

The erstwhile president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, a former governor of Edo State and immediate past National Chairman of APC is in the race for the 2023 Presidency as his posters have being flooding the social media and other platforms recently. He is from the South-south geo-political zone that made up the Southern region which has been craving for power shift. Oshiomhole’s temperament and his past activities while leading the APC could be his nemesis.

Kingsley Moghalu

He is a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the 2019 Presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP). The Professor of Political Economy has since declared to contest for the 2023 Presidency when he joined Democratic Congress (ADC). He is believed to be a technocrat with the intellectual wherewithal to salvage Nigeria from the shackles of socio-economic malaise. Many Nigerians yearn to see a day someone like Moghalu would become the president of the country. It is believed that Nigeria needs a president with international exposure that could rub shoulders with other refined presidents of other nations. The major problem of Nigeria is economy. While it may amount to naivety to think that a Moghalu-presidency may be cure-all; but with his background as an astute economist, and having played at a very high level in that field, he can change the narrative for Nigeria. He hails from Anambra State in the South East, a geo-political zone that now clamours to produce the President in 2023.

Fayemi Kayode

He is a former minister of Solid Minerals and the present governor of Ekiti State who doubles as the Chairman of NGF. Fayemi had earlier served as the governor of the Fountain of Knowledge State before becoming a Minister and bouncing back to his former seat. He is amongst those believed to be eyeing the 2023 Presidential ticket of the APC. But observers say he should yield ground for other parts of the country in the spirit of “what is good for the goose is also good for the gender.”

Ahmad Lawan

Lawan is currently the president of the Senate and he is from Yobe State. He is said to be positioning himself to move from number three to number one citizen of the country on the platform of the APC. Lawan has been in the National Assembly since the return of Nigeria to civil rule in 1999. He transited from the House of Representatives to Senate in 2007. But it would appear his manner of running the National Assembly, which many Nigerians have dubbed “a rubber stamp” legislature, is not a good sign of a man looking for a higher post and needing the people’s votes.

Nasir el-Rufai

He is the former FCT Minister and incumbent governor of Kaduna State. He is amongst those seeking to replace Buhari from North-West in 2023. The member of the Northern intelligentsia is also said to be in alliance with some aspirants of likes minds in the South to be a running mate in case APC zones the Presidency to that region. But the problem some Nigerians have with him is his controversial nature. Some of his utterances on national issues do not bode well with many citizens.

Moses Ayom

The Benue-born businessman of Tiv extraction is aspiring to be President of Nigeria in 2023 on the platform of APC. Ayom is from the North-central and a known Christian minority vying for APC Presidential ticket and has been enjoying the support of Christian leaders and other minority groups across the country.

Rabiu Kwankwaso

He was a former governor of Kano and senator. He is aspiring for the 2023 Presidential election on the platform of PDP. Kwankwaso was Buhari’s closest rival in the 2014 race for Presidential ticket of the APC and came fourth to Atiku in the 2018 PDP Presidential ticket contest. He had also served as Minister of Defence under the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo. Prior to that, he was a member and deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Bala Mohammed

A former senator, FCT Minister and incumbent governor of Bauchi State, the Kauran Bauchi is in the race for the 2023 Presidency under the PDP. The journalist-turned politician had his ambition expressed through posters that have flooded many cities, especially in states across the north.

David Umahi

He is the governor of Ebonyi State who had defected to the APC last year when he dumped his then party, the PDP. Umahi had dumped PDP in a controversial manner, an action that attracted opprobrium, not only from his state, but across the country. Although he stands a good chance with the clamour for power shift to South East, he may have serious contentions, even within the APC on that front.

Sule Lamido

He is a former governor of Jigawa State, seeking the PDP ticket to run for the 2023 Presidency. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the first tenure of Obasanjo is 73 years old. He contested for the 2019 Presidential ticket of the PDP but lost on the sixth position to Atiku.

Ibrahim Dankwabo

He is a former governor of Gombe State. He is aspiring for PDP Presidential ticket for 2023. He had held the offices of the Accountant General of Gombe State; Accountant General of the Federation and also served on the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria before venturing into politics. He had also vied for the PDP ticket in the 2019 Presidential poll.

Tanimu Turaki

Turaki is a former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs. He served under the then President Jonathan who added the responsibility of Supervising Ministry of Labour and Productivity to the renowned lawyer. Turaki is again, contesting for PDP Presidential ticket ahead of 2023 polls. He did so in 2019 also.

Doyin Okupe

He is a former Presidential Spokesperson to both Obasanjo and Jonathan, and also the National Publicity Secretary of National Republican Convention (NRC). He is amongst those seeking the 2023 PDP Presidential ticket.

Sam Ohuabunwa

He is the immediate past president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PCN). For a long time, he has declared for the 2023 Presidency on the platform of the PDP. Ohuabunwa is not a regular politician and analysts feared if he had some solid political structures to prosecute his ambition. Ordinarily, he is one of the best hands to lead Nigeria, if given the opportunity.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Gburugburu)

He is the incumbent Enugu State governor. He was a member of the House of Representatives where he chaired the Committee on Maritime Transport. He is said to be in consultations to clinch the PDP ticket for the 2023 Presidency, especially with the agitations for Igbo Presidency.

Anyim Pius Anyim

Anyim is a former President of the Senate and Secretary to the Government of Federation. He has since openly declared his interest to contest the Presidency of the country under the PDP platform.