Gunning for Buhari’s seat

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The 2023 presidential election is approximately 23 months away. Notwithstanding this fact, politicians, across party lines, appear to have picked up the gauntlet as they have begun oiling their political machinery preparatory to contesting yet to be vacant public offices. ADEYEMI ADEBANJO takes a critical look at those who have indicated interest- albeit, vaguely – in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari in office.

There are 18 registered political parties in Nigeria (following the February 2020 deregistration of 74 others by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Historically, most of these parties never fielded candidates, particularly for governorship and presidential elections, while some others simply adopt candidates of the two frontline parties – People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).

In the 2019 presidential election for instance, only a handful out of the then existing 92 parties presented candidates. This scenario is not expected to be remarkably different in 2023 despite the reduction in the number of parties. At it stand, APC and the PDP appear to be on the driver’s seat with identifiable aspirants. While it can said that only God knows who will succeed the incumbent on 29 May, 2023, a critical analysis of the strength and weaknesses of some of the aspirants is apposite.

ALHAJI YAHAYA BELLO

Mr. Yahaya Bello is the current governor of the North-Central state of Kogi. The 45 year-old transport business mogul shot into political limelight in late 2015 when, quite unexpectedly, he “inherited”  votes already cast for the APC governorship candidate in that year election, Prince Abubakar Audu, who died shortly after casting his vote at his LGEA School in Ogbonicha,/Ofeche, Ochi-Ogbonocha Omodofa Ward 10 polling unit, and before sorting and counting of votes began. The development confounded  election officials as well as legal pundits as the 1999 Nigerian Constitution was silent on such exigency. The court was later called in. The issue was resolved in Mr. Bello’s favour, to the consternation of Prince Audu’ running mate, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke. Mr. Bello has since gone on to win re-election in 2019, becoming the second governor -after Ibrahim Idris-  to achieve such feat in the Confluence State.

Although, he has not formally declared interest in the number one seat in the land, the clearest of likely intention came during the presentation of the 2021 state budget to members of the Kogi State House of Assembly. The Assemblymen, particularly those elected on the platform of APC, were not unequivocal  in the ‘Bello for President Project’.

Shortly after the governor presented the budget, they passed a resolution, urging him to run for president. And true to their vow to mobilise support for the governor, early January, 2021, the lawmakers were in Plateau State to seek the support of their counterparts in the state for Mr. Bello.

Also sometimes last year, the lawmakers, again, led by their Speaker, Mathew Kolawole, met their counterparts in Kwara State and also interfaced with Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on the need to support Mr. Bello to become Nigeria’s president, come 2023.

The lawmakers’ message was unambiguous: it is the turn of the North-Central to produce the president in 2023. In addition, they said Mr. Bello is qualified in every ramification, going by the quality of leadership he is offering in his state, as well as his unifying roles in the APC at the national level.

The lawmakers may indeed have a point. APC’s Chairman of Committee on Youth, Women and Persons Living with Disability’s administration is credited with tackling criminality which had held the state by the jugular until he came on board in January 2016. Aside this, he also holds the enviable record of the most gender friendly governor under the current dispensation. Apart from his aide-de-camp who is a lady, the Secretary to the State Government, the Head of Service, all Vice Chairmen of the 21 Local Government Areas in the state are of the female gender. This is aside numerous commissioners and other public office appointments.

On the flip side, the governor is undoubtedly one of the most controversial public office holders under the current political dispensation. For instance, not few are taken aback by his insistence that there was no case of COVID-19 in Kogi State. Not even the death of some prominent residents of the state was enough to convince the governor otherwise. Inspite of existing law prohibiting non use of facemask, the governor has never been seen in public complying with the order. This is counted a minus against him.

Being from the North-Central could be seen as a gambit on his aspiration as the region and Southeast are the only two regions that are yet to taste power either as president or vice president since the return to democratic rule in 1999. However, that fact may indeed work against his aspiration. 

Although there is no rotational clause in the APC constitution, unlike the PDP, however there are appears a gentleman agreement that the position will rotate between the North and the South. This fact has been alluded to by stalwarts of the party including Kaduna and Kano governors, among others. If this is true, it can only mean one thing,  Mr. Bello may only be day dreaming. Perhaps, what is whispered around may be the true position – Mr. Bello is actually interested in the vice presidential position rather than the substantive office.

DR. GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN

The immediate past President endeared himself into the heart of not a few Nigerians when in 2015 he conceded defeat even before the final result was released by the Professor Attairu Jega-led INEC.

The Otuoke, Bayelsa State born university lecturer turned  politician is for different reasons, becoming a beautiful bride for two contending political interests in Nigeria. Little wonder therefore that stalwarts of both the APC and PDP appear to be falling over themselves in their bid to woo the ex-president.

Earlier in 2021, some APC governors led by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who doubles as the Acting  National Chairman of the party, paid a visit to the former president in his Abuja home.

David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi who recently defected to the APC from the PDP; Atiku Bagudu, governor of Kebbi and Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum; and Abubakar Badaru, governor of Jigawa, were reportedly at the meeting. Also in the team was Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, former presidential Liaison Officer to the National Assembly.

It is unclear what was discussed at the meeting but observers believe it may not be unconnected with 2023. 

Barely few days later, PDP big wigs stormed same residence of the former president. Members of the party Reconciliation and Strategy Committee, led by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, held a meeting with Dr. Jonathan

Members of the committee at the meeting were ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim; former governors Ibrahim Shema, Liyel Imoke and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Katsina, Cross River and Gombe states, respectively. Also at the meeting was a former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives leader, Mulikat Adeola-Akande.

The committee was inaugurated to reconcile aggrieved members who left the PDP as well as woo new members into the party ahead of 2023 general elections. Details of what was discussed at the meeting was not made public.

It will be recalled that Dr. Jonathan has been a regular face at the Aso Rock presidential villa. On the few occasions he spoke with State House correspondents, he had simply ascribed his visit to the need to brief Mr. President on his mission as Special Envoy to some African countries.

One thing is however clear, President Buhari has never hidden his softspot for the former president. He was admittedly enthralled by his willingness to abdicate power in 2015. Whether this is enough to consider handing over power to him in 2023 is a matter of conjecture.

Meanwhile, Jonathan’s political stock is believed to have risen in the last few months amongst Nigerians who feel disappointed with the poor handling of the affairs of the country by the incumbent. These Nigerians have been quick to compare what was obtainable under Jonathan to the suffering pervading the land at the moment. They cite the exchange rate to what they use to have before 2015. Naira now exchange for over ₦400 to a dollar as against ₦150 to a dollar pre-2015. This is inspite of promise made by President Buhari to equate the two currencies 

They also point to price of a litre of petrol which is now more than double to what was obtainable during Jonathan era. Ditto for the parlous state of security as kidnaping, banditry, herdsmen – farmers crisis have been on the increase. Indeed, many disillusioned with parlous state of affairs, have called for Jonathan’s return to office.

Pundits have also pointed to alleged lackluster performance of the current administration in the fight against corruption, improvement in the living standard of the people and lots more, as lending credence to the strident call for Dr. Jonathan’s return.

Completely unrelated to the above but sharing same outcome is the interest of the Northern oligarchy. Hawks in the region appear to be comfortable with Dr. Jonathan’s purported interest. It’s been said that the fact of having to spend only a term is the motivator. Indeed, if Dr. Jonathan gets another shot at the office, he is entitled to only one term having occupied the office previously. The North, it is said, is not comfortable with having power domiciled outside of the region for eight years!

Dr. Jonathan’s alleged aspiration is also buoyed by the fact that his region, South South, despite been the country’s cashcow, has suffered unimaginable neglect from successive governments. Its only shot at the highest office was by happenstance, thanks to the death of the then president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The beneficiary in that instance was same Jonathan. It will therefore not be out of place for the region to enjoy, at least, eight years of headship of the country.

However, Dr. Jonathan’s greatest albatross will be his performance while in office earlier, and his political party, the PDP.

Not a few hold the view that the former president was soft in his handling of state affairs, particularly the fight against corruption. For this category of Nigerians, corruption and corrupt practices thrived under his watch, even as he did little or nothing to curtail the malfeasance.

His administration’s handling of the Boko Haran menace was also singled out for criticisms. Indeed, the insurgents grew in leaps and bounds during the five years plus he was in office, without a viable or feasible solution. At some point, official government functions that were normally conducted outdoor became restricted within Aso Rock as Boko Haram attempted to snuff life out of the then Inspector General of Police, right inside police headquarters! It was as bad as that.

The PDP may be Dr. Jonathan’s other undoing. The party has become so fragmented, vile and tenuous following its loss at the 2015 elections. From being the “largest political party in Africa” at the dawn of the Fourth Republic, the PDP can now boast of the Southeast and South-South, as the party is virtually not in existence in the four remaining geo-political zones. Except something remarkably happens between now and when the election takes place, aspiring on the platform of the PDP may be a dead rubber venture.

ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is an old warlord in the game of politics in Nigeria. Though he won election as governor of Adamawa State in 1999, he did not take oath of office as he was chosen by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as his running mate ahead of the 1999 presidential election. Occupying the number two seat in the country may turn out to be the zenith  of his political career as events thereafter merely harbingered a downward slope, no thanks to his political benefactor turned arch enemy, Obasanjo

Aside the current office holders, Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Atiku is the only other Nigerian that have shown more interest in the highest office in the land.

Since his entry into politics in 1993, Atiku Abubakar has unsuccessfully contested six times for the Office of President of Nigeria in 1993, 1998, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. In 1993, he contested the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential primaries losing to Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe. In 1998, he showed interest in contesting for the presidency under the platform of United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP), losing out to General Sani Abacha, who forced all the then five political parties to endorse him. Atiku was a presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2007 presidential election coming in third to Umaru Yar’Adua of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). He contested the presidential primaries of the PDP during the 2011 presidential election losing out to the  then incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan. In 2014, he joined the APC ahead of the 2015 presidential election and contested the presidential primaries losing to Muhammadu Buhari. In 2017, he returned to the Peoples Democratic Party and was the party presidential candidate during the 2019 presidential election, again losing to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.

Alhaji Atiku has though not publicly declared interest in the 2023 election, his body language and utterances from his son point to it. During the first anniversary of the administration of current governor of Adamawa State, Ahmudu Fintiri, Atiku’s son reportedly said: “personally, I don’t see anything wrong with my father contesting for the presidency (in 2023)”.

Adamu, who serves as a commissioner in Adamawa State, further said his father will contest for the presidency because he is an astute politician with an experience spanning four decades.

Mr. Atiku is one of the few who could monster financial muscle to take on any government at the federal level, and he sure knows how to do just that. From his days as the arrowhead of People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), Atiku has built bridges across the Niger. The erstwhile Customs Officer is also rumoured to be stupendously wealthy, with business interests in key sectors of the economy.

However, that may be the farthest he could go. For instance, his political career was dealt a blithering blow by his benefactor, Obasanjo. Obasanjo, in one of his trilogy, My Watch, had rather unkind words for his former Vice. Although, there were attempts at a rapprochement ahead of the 2019 presidential election, the damage has already been done. 

Atiku’s bid may equally be hampered by his age. At 74 and considering clamour for generational shift, not many youths, who now constitute bulk of voters, may find his candidature something worthy of consideration.

His business interests has also been dealt inexorable blow by the current administration. In 2018, the Federal Government dispensed with the services of Integrated Logistics Services Limited (Intels). The company is believed to be owned by Mr. Atiku. It is also believed to be a major revenue source for the Adamawa State born politician. Perhaps out of frustration, Atiku early in the year announced his divestment from Intels. In a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, the former Vice President said the divestment has assumed greater urgency in the last five years.

According to him, (Buhari’s) administration has been preoccupied with destroying a legitimate business that was employing thousands of Nigerians because of politics.

“There should be a marked difference between politics and business. Yes, he has sold his shares in Intels and redirected his investment to other sectors of the economy for returns and creation of jobs,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Atiku’s major headache may be securing his party, the PDP, ticket. It is not clear if hawks within the party may be favourably disposed to having him once again in the ballot. It will be recalled that the Rivers State governor, Nyesome Wike, was a latter day convert into Atiku project in 2019. His preference was for the more youthful Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal. It is not likely he may be enthused with an Atiku project again. This, and the clamour for rotation of the office to the South, may not work in Atiku’s favour.

PROFESSOR YEMI OSINBAJO

He shot into limelight following his appointment as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State in 1999 under the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is credited with massive reforms of the justice system. Indeed, his initiatives during the time has been replicated in many other states across the country.

Hitherto not known as card carrying member of any political party, the Law Professor simply returned to his law practice after his tour of duty in 2007. This was until 2015 when providence came calling as nuances within the newly formed APC clearly necessitated that a Muslim-Muslim ticket which a Buhari-Tinubu represented may not be sellable to Nigerians. Tinubu therefore had no qualms recommending his erstwhile aide, who is not just a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), but indeed a Pastor in the church.

Osinbajo twice proved to be a loyal and dependable deputy to his boss, Buhari when the latter had to seek medical attention outside the shores of the country. His sterling  performance, no doubt, endeared him to otherwise cynical Nigerians. Reno Omokri, a member of the opposition, PDP and a spokesman to former president, Jonathan aptly captured the mindset of most Nigerians on those two occasions  when Osinbajo was acting president, 19 January – 13th March, 2017 and 7th May – 19 August, 2017 thus:

“I am loving the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo right now and for good reasons too. In the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, Pastor Osinbajo-led the Executive Council of the Federation’s meeting and ministers were forced to deliberate for seven hours!

“It is the longest meeting ever under this administration and my reaction to it was WOW! This is my kind of man!

“I have previously said that Nigeria actually attains more progress when President Muhammadu Buhari travels out of the country and Vice President Osinbajo has again vindicated my judgment.

“Only on Monday the 13th of February, 2017, while in Rivers State, Vice President Osinbajo declared that the federal government would work with illegal refineries and help convert them to modular refineries.

“Such forward thinking! Professor Osinbajo represents the Progressives in the name, All Progressives Congress. I applaud and celebrate him today.

“His approach to the Niger Delta challenge is an approach of intelligence and diplomacy and will achieve far more than President Buhari’s shock and awe approach!

“The man approached the region with compassion and understanding, not with threats and bluster as his boss did when he had the chance. He physically visited and toured the region whereas his principal made promises to visit but chickened out when the time came to implement his promises.

“Professor Osinbajo spoke kindly and respectfully to the governors of the region and praised them for their efforts, even giving one of them the pet name, ‘Mr. Projects’.

“Is it any surprise then that oil production has continued to rise and militancy has waned in the period that Vice President Osinbajo has been acting?

“The man speaks to Nigerians as a leader should. He does not talk at us like the President”.

But that’s as far as it could go. While doing what he thought he knew best, Osinbajo inadvertently stepped on toes. In August, 2018 following a siege on the National Assembly by operatives of Department of State Service (DSS), Osinbajo perfunctorily sacked it’s Director General, Lawan Daura. Daura was a close associate of President Buhari Although Mr. President refused to reverse the decision – as expected -on his return from medical trip abroad, not a few believed Osinbajo may have stepped on tiger’s tail with that action. What is observed is a progressive reduction in the duties assigned to the office of the Vice President.

In September 2019, the President replaced the Economic Management Team headed by the Vice President (EMT) with an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) under the chairmanship of Prof. Doyin Salami.

Announcing the constitution of the EAC in a statement, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the council will be reporting directly to the President.

Lately, Prof. Osinbajo has become object of ridicule, particularly on social media, with some calling on him to resign from office. A fellow pastor and the head of Dominion Hall, Citadel Global Community Church,, Tunde Bakare called on the VP to resign.

Osinbajo may also be fighting a silent war with his political benefactor, Bola Tinubu. Mr. Tinubu, who has never hidden his interest in the number one seat in the land, may see in Osinbajo a potent threat to the realisation of that goal. Rulers World observed a rather innocuous but far reaching development recently. When Prof. Osinbajo was to revalidate his membership of the APC, he travelled to his home state of Ogun rather than the Victoria Garden City (VGC) Lekki, Lagos where he had always exercised his franchise. Could this be a sign that it is not well between him and his benefactor?

Aside the foregoing, Osinbajo’s relative inexperience in politics may work against him. It is not known if he has any political structure anywhere in the country.

Except he gets the total and unflinching endorsement of his boss, his purported ambition may be termed DOA (Dead On Arrival).

ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU

It should ordinarily be a payback time for the former governor of Lagos State going by his numerous  contributions and sacrifice to his party, the All Progressives Congress.

It is to his credit that APC, as it is known today, became a reality owing to his commitment. Even the emergence of President Buhari, both at the Lagos APC  convention and subsequently at the national election, were product of his sweat. Aisha, wife of President Buhari admitted this much shortly before the 2015 election when she said: “My husband, General Muhammadu Buhari has been contesting presidential elections for over a decade now, but this particular election is unique because our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu jettisoned his personal interest for the sake of Nigeria.”

One would therefore not have expected too much if political power was literally handed over to him. But that may be far-fetched.

People Tinubu sponsored to power; his hegemonic control of the party in Lagos (and by extension, Southwest geo-political zone); the alleged loss of confidence between him and President Buhari; his perceived inordinate ambition; political enemies he inadvertently created for himself in the course of his political journey and alleged unmitigated corrupt practices, may all combine to deny him the plum position.

Taunted as the most visible of all who may nurse same ambition in the entire South,  the former Lagos State governor appear to have kickstarted his campaign with visits to some governors across the country. Also, a group, South West Agenda (SWAGA ’23), spearheaded by one time senator, Dayo Adeyeye, had began campaign for him. Indeed, SWAGA ’23 is one of more than 50 such groups clamouring for the colourful politician. The loyalists of the erstwhile senator said that they launched the campaign movement in a bid to support his candidature. They also said that the former governor towered over others who may be interested in the position.

To drum  up support for their idol, the loyalists had visited the palaces of the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji and Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyeml III, to seek the support of the monarchs for Tinubu’s candidature.

Those present at the launch included Dayo Adeyeye, who is the chairman of the planning committee, Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi, Oyetunji Ojo, Bosun Oladele, Rotimi Makinde, Kafilat Ogbara, Toba Oke, Deji Jakande, Gboyega Okegbemi and immediate past Secretary to Ondo State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde.

Others were Suraj Adekunbi, Prof. Abideen Olaiya and politicians from both the southern and northern parts of the country.

In a welcome address, Adeyeye pointed out that Tinubu towered above others jostling to occupy the coveted office, saying that Tinubu is the most experienced politician in the country to succeed Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. He maintained that 2023 election was already on the front burner of the national discourse.

“We are gathered here today to make our own contributions to the arduous and crucial task of helping to shape the future direction of our beloved country, Nigeria.

“For the discerning mind, 2023 election is already on the front-burner of the national discourse. The discussion right now everywhere in the country is about what should and should not happen in 2023. That being the case, it is imperative that we should be part of these national discussion and activities.

That the Jagaban Borgu of Niger State is an enigma is an obvious understatement. His political dexterity is second to none; many say he is as cerebral as smart. Some of his strong points is running 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas with zero allocation. He also single-handedly reclaimed Southwest states “captured” by the rival PDP following the 2003 general election. He increased the revenue profile of Lagos State during his tenure. He also said to be good at head-hunting, among other attributes.

But he may not secure the APC ticket, let alone win the main contest.

One, Mr. Tinubu has appropriated formidable political enemies for himself since his return to the country in 1998. For instance, he has the unevitable record of working with three deputy governors before the expiration of his tenure. No other governor can boast of such “feat”. A couple of these former deputies later teamed up with the opposition PDP.

He is similarly not in the good books of members of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere. The group has made it clear it will never support his aspiration. Afenifere, it will be recalled, ensured his emergence as governor in 1998, as against the favoured Engr. Funso Williams (now deceased).

Pundits have also pointed to the anti-democratic practice of imposition of candidates, particularly in Lagos State as capable of working against his interest. Indeed, Mr. Tinubu, in most cases, single-handedly pick candidates for elective posts. It is said that no one becomes a councillor in any ward in Lagos State without the seal of Tinubu. It’s as bad as that!

Contrary to expectation, persons the former senator sponsored into political office may in fact work against his aspiration. A couple of these individuals are equally rumoured to be interested in the juicy post. Some of these individuals are now sworn political enemies of flamboyant politician.

Yet other factor might be his public perception. It is believed – rightly or wrongly- that the Third Republic senator is hugely corrupt, although, no corrupt charge has ever been brought against him. Some have pointed to revelation made by the former Managing Director of Alphabeta, Dapo Apara. In an affidavit deposed to at a Lagos High Court, Apara made sundry allegations of underhand dealings perpetrated by Mr. Tinubu. He also accused the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of complicity. His ownership of Television Continental (TVC), Max FM, the Nation newspaper, First Nation Airline, among others have also been called to question.

Finally, the rumoured loss of confidence between Mr. President and his erstwhile political godfather may inure against Mr. Tinubu. Pundits have pointed to some steps taken in recent weeks as suggesting unwillingness to support the Tinubu project on the part of Mr. President. Some of these step include the recent sacking of the Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee of the party, the appointment of Yobe State Governor as the caretaker chairman of the party, the ongoing registration and revalidation of membership exercise, etc. It is believed that they have the effect of whittling down the influence of Tinubu group within the party.

Having won many political battles in his career, it will be interesting to see how he wins this.

DR. JOHN OLUKAYODE FAYEMI

The current Ekiti State governor is undoubtedly one of the prominent intellectual minds within the APC fold. Born 9 February, 1965, the King’s College London trained Doctor of Philosophy shot into prominence during the inglorious rule of General Sani Abacha.

Operating under the auspices of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Fayemi piloted the affairs of the irritant radio station, Radio Kudirat. Following the re-introduction civil rule, he joined active politics.

He became governor first in 2010 but lost re-election bid to Ayodele Fayose four years later. He currently doubles as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, an assemblage of the 36 state governors.

Although, he has not personally declared interest in succeeding Mr. Buhari in office in 2023, some of his aides and foot soldiers have not been taciturn about it. In a recent interview, the Special Adviser to the governor on Political Matters, Chief Olusoga David said: “it is actually not a matter of Dr Fayemi’s personal ambition, it is a clarion call, a national resolution and desire. Before Ekiti APC stakeholders meeting took that decision on the 24th of January, 2021, a monumental decision was earlier taken at the Arewa House in Kaduna, where Dr Fayemi was dignified and honoured to deliver a lecture marking the Arewa 50th anniversary lecture. Dr Fayemi was the second very important person from the Southern part of Nigeria to be so honoured, the first being the Oba Akenzua of Benin. So by that action the thunder had been stolen. If the power that be in the Northern part of Nigeria could identify and recognize him as a credible leader who has the ability and capability to lead Nigeria, what are we in the South waiting for? Hence the APC stakeholders in Ekiti State followed suit and that makes it a national agenda for a better Nigeria – JKF now the face of a New Nigeria”.

Also, the Caretaker Chairman of the APC in Ekiti State, Hon. Paul Omotoso,  was quoted to have said the party members will force Dr. Fayemi to contest 2023 presidency if he refuses to willingly join the race.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the former Minister of Solid Minerals Development has what it takes to provide leadership at the national level, the question however is: has he the political structure and financial wherewithal to see through a titanic political battle? On the two occasions where he won election as governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Tinubu is believed to have played key roles, financially and otherwise. Those freebies may not be available this time around. 

However, what Dr. Fayemi may miss in Tinubu, he may get in abundance from his counterpart in Ondo State. Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu. Akeredolu is a known ally of Dr. Fayemi. Political analysts are of the view that the duo have in the last few months been busy working to whittle down the political influence of Mr. Tinubu, particularly in the Southwest geo-political zone. What is not in doubt is that they have access to enormous resources as sitting governors. It is however arguable if they can monster enough structure to outwit the Jagaban even in the South-West where Akeredolu presides as the Chairman of the governor’s of the region.

OWELLE ROCHAS ANAYO OKOROCHA

The Senator representing Imo West in the Upper Legislative Chamber is no stranger to presidential aspiration having taking a shot at the highest office in 2003, 2007 and much later in 2015. Not few were taken aback when in 2011, he indicated interest in occupying Douglas House, after series of failed shots at the presidency.

Born 22 September 1962, the immediate past governor of Imo State recently gave a hint as to his aspiration in 2023 when he fielded questions from journalists  on the occasion of his 58th birthday anniversary.

According to him: “Having contested in 2003, 2007, 2015, and you are asking me at this time if I will contest? That’s quite interesting. My contest for presidency is not just because I want to be president. if am going to be the president for failure or be a president that will not succeed, I don’t want to be a president. But if my presidency will unite this country, then I want to be a president.

“If my presidency will address the issue of poverty and insecurity, then I want to be president. If my presidency will address the economy of this nation that we will begin to talk like other developed nation, then I want for be a president. And if my presidency will guarantee education for the poorest of the poor, then I want to be a president. Other than these, hold your president and presidency, I am fine..”

The itinerant politician has though denied nursing any intention of leaving his party, APC, his recent romance with stalwarts of the rival PDP has been of interest to members of his party. If anything, it is an open secret that he does not see eye-to-eye with the incumbent governor of his state, Hope Uzodinma.

Though, ever ready to reel out monumental achievements during his eight years reign in Imo State, many residents are apt to describe his sojourn as the worst in the history of the state, even as he was accused of turning the  state into family fiefdom.

The former governor appointed family members as commissioners, directors and chairpersons of state institutions.

In 2016, Secretary to Imo State Government, George Etche had revealed that Okorocha’s wife Nkechi, was in charge of Ministries of Women Affairs, Works and Health.

Ogechi Ololo was at some point Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor and Special Adviser on Domestic Matters. Said to be the governor’s sister, she was later appointed Commissioner in charge of Ministry of Happiness and Couples’ Fulfillment.

In addition, Okorocha ensured that his son in-law, who at the time was the Chief of Staff, Mr Uche Nwosu, flew the APC flag at the 2019 governorship election.in the state.

As it stands, no one is sure if he will not be dumping the party soon. No reasonable politician would want to entrust his party ticket in the hands of a fickle personality.