The decision by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to throw open the contest for its presidential ticket rather than continue with the zoning option may have harbingered fresh permutations within the fold of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which appears to have concluded on the zone (or even the personality) to occupy the office after May 2023.
Before Tuesday’s volte-face by the PDP, which had previously insisted on the zoning option, the leadership of the APC, particularly in the seat of government in Abuja, js said to be favourably disposed towards having its presidential candidate from either the South-South or South-East region of the country. Those in the know cite the ceding of the National Secretary of the party to the South-West, a move interpreted to suggest exclusion of the region from consideration for the plum position.
Those in the know mentioned the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi as the Aso Rock favoured successor. The other personality said to be under consideration is the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele. The power that is in the seat of power is said to be concerned about giving every region in the country a sense of belonging. The candidature of the apex bank chief is said to be moved by some movers and shakers of the Nigerian economy.
Although neither of the two personalities has publicly declared interest in the position, their “body language” and activities of persons close to them say a lot. In early February, the Emir of Daura (President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown), Alhaji Faruk Umar Faruk conferred on the Minister the title of “Dan Amanar”. Dan Amanar, in the Hausa dialect, is used about someone trustworthy, or noble character and carriage, a confidant and one whose words can be relied upon.
While featuring on a live television programme recently, the governor of Kaduna State, a known confidant and a staunch member of President Buhari’s inner caucus, Mallam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai said: “I have said it over and over but I guess the trust in politicians is very low. Nobody believes me. I have said over and over that I’m not a contestant for any office. I’m not an aspirant for anything.
“Rotimi Amaechi is interested in running for president. He has the right to do so but I’m not running for anything. I’m not going to be on his ticket.”
The Minister may be busy attending to more important issues than responding to el-Rufai’s assertion. At the moment, the Minister is concluding arrangements for a ” Special Thanksgiving Service” scheduled for this Saturday 7th, April at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The event to be graced by the newly elected National Chairman of the APC has the theme: “Ebenezer: Hitherto Hath The Lord Helped Us”.
To some, it may just turn out as the official declaration for the presidency.
On his part, Mr Emefiele’s campaign posters have flooded major cities and towns in the country. Pictures of branded campaign vehicles with images of Emefiele have gone viral on social media. This is aside from different interest groups that continue to urge the CBN governor to throw his hat in the ring and contest for the office of the president in the 2023 general election.
Various groups of youths from across the country in their hundreds stormed the venue of the APC convention in Abuja and demanded that Emefiele, while still holding office as the CBN governor declare his ambition to contest the 2023 presidential election without further delay.
Although Emefiele was present at the event and was recognised by the compere, he was to later tweet that: “My focus at this time is a robust monetary policy and fighting inflation which is now a global problem, building a strong financial system in an increasingly uncertain global economy.
‘’Development finance and supporting farmers and manufacturers in our self-sufficiency and import substitution drive, raising N15 trillion for InfraCo infrastructure finance, building a world-class international financial centre in Lagos, as we support the Muhammadu Buhari administration to finish strong.’’
Meanwhile, the nonchalance attitude of Mr President to the rumoured ambition of his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is said to be responsible for the reluctance of the latter to publicly declare interest in the plum position. The Vice-President’s aides on several occasions have had to debunk media reports that he has informed the President of his ambition.
However, the pendulum may just now swing in the VP’s favour going by happenings in the rival PDP. The decision to throw open the presidential ticket of the opposition party reportedly sent handlers of the APC back to the drawing board.
While Aso Rock is said to be desirous of a Southern Christian candidate succeeding President Buhari in May 2023, particularly as volarised in the ceding of the position of National Chairman to the North, fielding a candidate outside the South-West region, is reasoned, may just be a suicide mission.
A party stalwart told Eighteen-Eleven Media Wednesday night that Aso Rock is having a rethink in fielding a candidate from either South-South or South-East. Of the three geopolitical zones, the APC performed abysmally in the South-South and South-East zones. Indeed, of all the six zones in the country, the party recorded its worst performance in the South-East in both the 2015 and 2019 elections.
” It is obvious that the decision to throw open the contest for the presidential ticket is a tacit endorsement of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the perennial contestant for the position by the PDP. If Atiku picks the ticket, he is most likely to pick Peter Obi as his running mate just as he did in 2019. If that happens, you should expect votes from the South-East region to go to the PDP. A similar thing would happen in the South-South. The two zones are natural PDP voters.
“So in order not to risk protest votes from the South-West zone, it is thought that the ticket is ceded to the region. You would recall that the flip provided by the South-West zone ensured victory for the APC in 2015 and 2019. It was also that same flip that gave victory to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011”.
“One thing you must know is that contrary to insinuation that President Buhari is working to decimate the APC ahead 2023 so that his fellow Fulani brother from a rival party will take over from him, he is actually working to ensure victory for the party. It’s a delicate balancing situation”, the party stalwart stated.
He however refused to be drawn into who between the VP and the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu enjoys the support of Aso Rock. “I wouldn’t know. All I know is that there is a preference for a Southern Christian.”