The countdown to the presidential convention of the political parties has begun. While the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has scheduled its primary for May 28 to May 29 2022, to determine its standard-bearer for the 2023 presidential election, that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is shrouded in the speculative realm.
But in the meantime, the buildup to the historic battle is getting keener, more instructive and asphyxiating. This, in the opinions of some observers, is due to the character of some gladiators that have indicated interest in picking the tickets of the leading parties.
In the APC, the major power blocs are still smarting from the plots and counterplots before, during and after its elective convention that threw up a former governor of Nasarawa State and until recently, a member of the Senate, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, as national chairman. The battle of wits among the power brokers is notwithstanding the decision of the party to zone its presidential ticket to the South. After a national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu blazed the trail in the APC, quite a number of chieftains in the party have also thrown their hats in the ring in the bid for the ticket of the party for the presidential poll coming up on February 25, 2023. The list comprises incumbent governors, ex-governors, senators, former presidential aspirants, among others. Some other presidential hopefuls are believed to be waiting in the wings to join the fray under the APC. The governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who will be serving out his second term in office this year and a former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, a serving senator, are two of such personages. There is also a business magnate and presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Mr Gbenga Hashim-Olawepo, who has also announced his intention to seek the ticket of the APC for next year’s election.
Unlike in the APC, the contenders for PDP ticket have purchased nomination and expression of interest forms with N40 million each. There are 15 contestants for its ticket spread across the North and South as the party grapples with the politics of zoning, despite the fact that the principle is codified in the PDP.
The categories of the contestants are an admixture of the familiar and the new. Former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former president of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto; his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, as well as a former Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, lead the pack of the 15 PDP aspirants.
Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike; investment banker and economist, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel and a pharmacist, Sam Ohuabunwa; a United States-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze; a magazine publisher, Dele Momodu are among the other contestants.
The former top shot in the Nigerian Customs Service is among the most-talked about politicians in the country. His political career dates back to the two-party system of the military era. He abandoned a governorship mandate in Adamawa State to become vice president to ex-President Obasanjo. Interestingly, he has vied for the presidency five times: 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. He is a scion of the Yar’Adua political dynasty, which founded the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), which fused into the PDP in 1998. Atiku joined the APC to contest in its presidential primary, but he lost in 2015. In 2017, he reunited with PDP but again lost to APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 election.
A businessman and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, was the running mate to Atiku in the 2019 general election on the ticket of PDP. He was governor between March 17 2006 and November 2, 2006, when he was removed. He regained his mandate and served as governor from February 9, 2007 to May 29, 2007 following a judgment of the court restoring his mandate to complete his term, in spite of a fresh election conducted on April 29, 2007. Obi won the February 6, 2010 governorship election to secure a second term in office on October 12, 2010.
The profile on his political career spans the legislature to the executive arm of government. Tambuwal, a lawyer, became governor of Sokoto State in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019. He was the 10th Speaker of the House of Representatives. He served as Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs to Senator Abdullahi Wali, the then Senate Leader but, he decided to contest for a seat in the House in 2003 and won to represent the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency on the platform of the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He later moved to the defunct Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in the buildup to the 2007 general election together with a former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa. He was also among PDP leaders that once defected to the APC but later returned to the main opposition PDP.
Before he became governor, Emmanuel, in July 2013, was the Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government. In 2014, he defeated 22 other aspirants to emerge the candidate of the PDP and went ahead to win the governorship poll in April 2015. He got re-elected in 2019.
He is the sixth governor of Rivers State. His political career include two-term chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Area (1999 to 2007); Minister of State for Education from July 14, 2011 and later, Acting Minister of Education. Interestingly, he was Chief of Staf to Rotimi Amaechi as governor. He resigned before finishing his term to campaign for governor of Rivers State. He was elected governor in 2015 under the platform of PDP, having defeated Dakuku Peterside of the APC and Tonye Princewill of the Labour Party in the April 11 poll.
Anyim Pius Anyim
Anyim was the president of the Senate and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in the Jonathan administration. He was elected into the senate on the platform of the PDP in 1999 to represent the Ebonyi South senatorial district, he announced his bid for PDP 2023 presidential ticket in February 2022. In 1998, Anyim joined the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) during the Abacha regime and won a Senate election. Anyim, who hails from Ebonyi State, is promising to manage the diversity of the country in an “effective and efficient” way on the principle of equity, justice, fairness and inclusion.
The governor of Bauchi State was the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from 2010 to 2015. He won the Bauchi South senatorial district election in 2007 under the ticket of the then ANPP. He later joined the PDP. He was the chairman of the committee set up by the immediate past national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus to investigate the immediate and remote causes of events that led to an electoral setback for the party in the 2019 general election. One of the recommendations of the panel was that the PDP should throw open its presidential tickt for the 2023 elections. The recommendation triggered anger across the board in the party, with stakeholders insisting that the PDP must adhere to the provision on zoning and power rotation as enshrined in its constitution in the interest of justice, equity and fairness.
Saraki was the 13th president of the Senate between 2015 and 2019. Before then, he had served as a two-term governor of Kwara State (2003-2011). He was elected under PDP in 2011 to representing the Kwara Central senatorial district, and then re-elected in the 2015 general election on the ticket of APC. He became the president of the Senate, despite stiff opposition from the Establishment. After his sojourn in the APC, he went back to the PDP, where he sought presidential ticket in the 2019 election. The ticket went to Atiku, and Saraki became the Director General of the Atiku presidential campaign organisation for the election.
He is a pharmacist with a wealth of experience gathered from the corporate world. He believes that, “No single Nigerian deserves to die. What Nigerians need is security,” and that “What we must understand is that we are already in a war situation.” He is also running on the backshop of his belief that he can translate his success in the boardroom .”
The publisher of Ovation International magazine devoted to showcasing celebrities, also owns the Ovation TV and an online newspaper, The Boss. A celebrated columnist, Momodu is a strong advocate of a paradigm shift in leadership in the country. He vied for the presidency in 2011.
An economist, banker, former Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and a former Managing Director of the now-defunct FSB International Bank, he recently joined the PDP to run for the presidency in 2023, with the belief that the country needs a leader fully equipped with sound skills, character and experience to rescue Nigeria. His experience includes working in principal investments and project finance at the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation later called the New Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC), once regarded as Nigeria’s largest industrial holding company with investments across a range of industries. He became its Group Chief Executive.
A former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello; his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi and a former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Kalu; and an ex-governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha. The list also comprises the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; and the Governor of the Central Bank , Dr Godwin Amefiele.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo
Having been vice-president since 2015, Professor Osinbajo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is seeking to rise to the topmost of the nation’s political ladder. From being the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Lagos State under the Tinubu administration, he became the running mate to Buhari in the 2015 election that was eventually won by the APC. He has promised a consolidation agenda capable of taking the country to the land of glory.
The former governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 says he has been nursing the ambition for long. He is regarded as one of the politicians with influence across board, and is one of the personalities given the credit for the emergence of President Buhari in 2015 by partnering with like-minds. He was the leading light in the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that led the struggle against June 12 annulment, became a senator in the aborted Third Republic, governor of Lagos State in 1999, as well as played a key role in the founding of the once vibrant Alliance for Democracy (AD); the Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the APC in 2013.
Dr Kayode Fayemi
John Kayode Fayemi is rounding off his second term as the governor of Ekiti State. By October 16, 2022 when he would leave as governor, he would have been done with the ‘political ward round’ he is said to have commenced months ago, and a clear picture of his next move would be revealed. His chairmanship of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), some observers claim, gives him the leverage to reach out to his colleagues early enough. He has a head-start in the race. However, others believe that he is a dark horse in a race.
Fayemi, however, is yet to make a formal declaration, but it is said that he is currently consulting round the country. It was also reported that he had been to President Muhammadu Buhari to inform him of his intention to join the race.
Senator Okorocha is not new in the presidential race. He is counting on his wealth of experience from being a former governor and now senator to raise the bar if allowed to lead Nigeria from 2023. He unveiled his bid through a letter addressed to the president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on January 26, 2022 and insists Nigeria needs a true patriot and committed leader to fully tap into its potential.
Umahi is the current governor of Ebonyi State. He defected to the APC from the PDP in November 2020, on the ground of taking the South-East to the mainstream politics in the country. He has also promised to replicate his transformational agenda in Ebonyi State at the centre if given the chance to lead the country because he will bring a “business-like spirit into governance”
He hails from Rivers State, where he was the Speaker of the state House of Assembly as well as governor for two consecutive terms of four years each. He and other leading lights in the PDP defected at the threshold of the 2015 general election. He has been the Minister for Transportation since the party formed the government after the election.
The 46-year-old governor of Kogi State has consistently stated that he remains in the race in spite of the APC zoning its ticket to the southern axis of the country. Since unveiling his bid on January 5, 2022, Bello has promised to redirect the country towards prosperity.
Orji Uzor Kalu
He is the current Chief Whip for the Senate. The ex-Abia State governor is another familiar face in the race. He once abandoned the PDP to float a party which could not fly, but he has remained with the APC, under which he was elected into the Senate. The businessman and newspaper publisher announced his fresh intention for the presidency on January 21, 2022.
Dr Godwin Emefiele
The public is still being held spellbound by rumours of his possible entry into the race for the APC ticket. His sympthisers thronged the Eagle Square Abuja during the APC convention to elect substantive national officers on March 26. Apart from mesmerising delegates with songs and drumbeats to reinforce messages inscribed on posters embossed with photographs of Emefiele, the campaigners declared he was the best man to govern the country because of what they flaunted as his pragmatic ideas, policies and programmes as CBN governor and positive contributions to the APC federal administration.
A waiting list?
While the fiery cleric, Tunde Bakare, has also indicated interest to contest for the presidency, some shadowy groups are also involved in subtle pressure on a former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adeshina, to run. The groups have been using various social and traditional media platforms to campaining that the current boss of the African Development Bank joins the race.
In October 2021, a seasoned banker, Kingsley Moghalu had unveiled his fresh bid for the presidency in 2023. He is to run on the ticket of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). The former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from 2009 to 2014, was the presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the 2019 election.