By Lateef Adegbite
With barely 16 months to the 2023, general elections and for Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission , INEC and his Electoral officials to blow the whistle for full lown political activities in the country, the political heavy weights from both the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, and the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, who appear to be a hurry to be the next occupant of the Presidential Villa are gradually heating up the polity.
At the last count, no fewer than six Presidential Candidates have emerged from both the ruling All Prrogressive Congress APC, and the Opposition, People’s dem cratic Party, PDP. They are Senator Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state, and National Leader of the APC, described in political circles as a Kingmaker, Orji Uzoh Kalu, and Okorocha, both Senators of Federal Republic of Nigeria, and incidentally former governors of Abia and Imo state, respectively, Engineer Dave Umahi governor of Eboyi state. Interestingly, the four Presidential Candidates, are from the APC and they have all at one time or the other visited the Villa to tell Buhari of their Political ambition. Tinubu, had told those that cares to listen that he had has come out for the Presidential because it was a long time plan.
The other Candidates may have from the south east may have come out for the race because the south the Katsina state born Nigerian President has made a case for the region to produce the next president on the ground that since the return of Democracy in 1999, on the north and south west have produced bot the President and Vice Presidents of the country excluding the south east, which is another major region in in the country. The region alone has produced three Presidential tickets on the ticket of the APC, meaning that its votes would be shared by the three Presidential contenders, leaving Tinubu with block vote from the south west during their convention, from his region while they share the northern delegates vote during the party Convention in February 2022.
Many have expected the political Chieftains from the south east to go back to the drawing and put their axe together to select one Candidate that would be supported by all in order to be able face Lagos Jagaban at the party Convention. For now, the south east which have the support of the Nigerian President to produce the next President may lose out for lack of political calculation.
What is happening in the APC, may be different from what is happening in the PDP, as three political gladiators from the north east, nort west and south east have jumped on the race. The trio have held various positions in the past. They are atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President, who had slugged it with the retired in 2019, but lost to him, despite claims that he won the election, Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and one-time Senate President and SenatorAyim Pius Ayim, from the south east, who was the Secretary of the government of the Federation during former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration. Babangida Aliyu, a former governor of Niger, Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army and former Nigerian military President and Raymond Dokpesi, a Media magnate and Chairman, AIT/ Ray Powers plc, have thrown their weight behind him.
There is no gain saying the fact that almost all the Presidential Candidates have at one time or the other been a guest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over one allegation or the other, meaning the Commission , could ply the spoiler’s role for some of the Presidential hopefuls.
Suffice to say that the 20203 general elections, starting with the party primaries to select the Candidate thst would fly the party flag in the 2023, election, would be a struggle by the money bags, to test their financial strength before the election proper. Tinubu, may have sent a message to his political opponents in the APC, as he has started his Campaigns on a grand style in the north by visiting the north western state of Zamfara, described as home of the Bandits Group, now terrorists and the north central state of Niger, which had been under the siege of the Bandits over the years, where he doled out N50 million each to the families through the state government to the families of the recent bandits attacks in the APC, controlled states. It is is not surprising why Abubakar Bello, the Niger state governor and Matawalle Bello, his Counterpart I Zamfara , have pinpointed to be among the four northern governors working for the former Lagos governor to emerge as the Presidential Candidate. He had doled out the millions to the two state and likely to do so in other terrorists ravaged states like Sokoto, Kebbi, Borno and Yobe , including Benue and Plateau states, where the armed herdsmen are having a running battle with the farmers..
Many see the donation to the victims of Bandits in the states and other states to come as a scratch in the ocean, goning by his expenses in 2019, to see that that the APC, wins the entire south west geopolitical region in 2015 and 2019, general election, despite the incursion of the PDP. This is where the APC, Presidential Contenders may find it difficult to rival Tinubu, at the party polls but to struggle for the VP, slot which may still go to the north.
It is instructive to note that Tinubu, dominates the APC, politics but may have to wait after the party Convention to see if he will the party ticket. The Nigerian President is still keeping a closely guided secret his preferred Candidate for the APC Presidential ticket. He had said that he would not disclose the identity of the person to avoid exposing hi to danger. Many are insinuating that he may have in Yemi Osinbajo , the Vice President or Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and current minister of Transportation, described as a’’ General’’ without troops.
Atiku, who has virtually dominated the PDP, over the last six years, may have tried to win party members heart as he has promised to serve one term, if selected as the next Nigerian President. However, he would have Senator Saraki, described as a political tactician and who had worked closely with him in the 2019 , general elections to contend with in the struggle for the party’s Presidential ticket..
Although, the Kwara state born politician may not have the kind of’’ fat bank account’’, that Atiku may have , but Political analysts see him as a strong force in the Opposition PDP, who could spring surprise, going by the way and manner he had emerged as the 8th National Assembly , Senate President, by mobilizing the PDP and aggrieved APC, Senators, to get himself elected as Senate President against the retired Army General first choice of of LAhmad Lawan, the current Senate President.
He could be described as tough and bold as he ensured that Buhari, never borrowed any money from the world, multi-lateral financial Institutions or approach the Asian country of China or any other country for loan. With the support of the Lawmakers, he had had ensured that Buhari, in his first term never throw the country into huge debt trap as is the case now. This is all his requests borrowing outside the country have always been approved by Lawan led Senate, amidst cries by Nigerians.
But Political analysts, who are conversant with Nigerian politics believe that the only person, in the PDP, who could give whoever APC, would throw out as their Presidential Candidate a run for the 2023, general elections in terms of resources money is Atiku.
While the APC and the Opposition PDP, are still optimistic of winning the 2023, Presidential elections, Attahiru Jega, a former INEC, boss, had repeatedly urged Nigerians will no longer entrust the destiny of the country on either of the two parties , stressing that ‘’they have ruined Nigeria’.
The former INEC boss, had said that ‘’the APC isn’t a party, but a makeshift vehicle fabricated to knock former President Jonathan from power in 2015’’. He had alluded to the inherent contradictions that became manifest no sooner than won the election as the various factions in the Coalition, new People’s Democratic Party, nPDP, Alliance Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Congress For Progressive Change, CPC, All Progressive Grand Alliance,APGA and All Nigerian People’s Party, ANPP, started struggling for positions and the subsequent emergence of araki as Senate President. He noted that what is happening in the rulling APC, IS the struggle for control of the soul of the party between the remnants of the CPC and the CAN, and the ACN, are not ready to let go.
Going by the pact between the parties in 2014, as allegedly revealed by Jega, in August, 2021, that the CPC, was to produce the President while , ACN, would control, the party political machinery. He noted that the Palace Coup of 2020, against Adams Oshimhole, a former governor of Edo state and Chairman of the Party, was mastered-minded by CPC foxes were said to have imposed one of their own as caretaker.
Here Jega: the Party has no Board of Trustees, no governance structure, no substantive officers, no programme, nothing. He had described the APC as a ‘’house with roof or windows, a tent without peg or pillars’’. An aggrieved Jega, who could not hide his feelings, had said that though, the party has drawn three governors from the Opposition PDP, into its fold in the last one year or so, not because ‘’ it offers anything materially different from the other finger of the ‘’ Leprous hand’’ but because it is the most ecure sanctuary for fugitives from political accountability’’.
He had said that that over the last six years, the ruling APC, has carefully dug it own grave, prepared the gravestone and given the shovel to those who would seal its fate, insisting that ‘’APC is its own worst enemy’’.