The race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 is already gathering momentum. Those planning to take the driver’s seat of the movement have begun to implement the necessary strategies that will allow them to land safely when the time is ripe. As far as the All Progressive Congress ruling is concerned, the presidential race for 2023 is around the corner and any presidential hopeful who does not start cultivating his land by this time can probably become a spectator by the time other serious ones are harvesting. If the usual rotational formula is still in place, the APC ticket for 2023 should be welcomed by the Southwest. And so far, some of the region’s heavyweight politicians are already breathing down their necks to grab the chance. The race is not going to be a child’s play, and once the bar is pronounced lifted, the real definition of politics will come to play. For now, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos and APC leader, has been considered to be at the forefront of those who are well placed to take the offer.
But on the ground, some permutations seem to have extended beyond what the national leader can handle on the journey to the next political dispensation. In the name of pursuing their own goal, there are some of his boys who rode to the limelight on his back and may probably use the same teeth he offered them years back to bite him this time. Although none of them has declared their interest in the race, there is a formula still to be understood that is about to change the equation from the background and the entire calculation.
Therefore, if Asiwaju Bola Tinubu does not play his card very well, in 2023, he stands the chance of losing his land to one of these men.
1. Professor Yemi Osinbajo
No doubt, Osinbajo is one of Tinubu’s die-hard loyalists. That, under the tutelage of the former governor of Lagos, he cut his political teeth is an understatement. Tinubu practically brought Osinbajo to political relevance, from being his Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos to be the second most important man in Nigeria. But most recently, Osinbajo has been called upon by many to leverage his experience as vice president to demonstrate his mettle in 2023. Osinbajo has the backing of those who are important among the political elites of the North, and he seems to be their beautiful bride. This is because of how, over the years in the presidency, he was able to manage the persecutions and stones thrown at him without betraying his emotion. He is believed to be able to lead Nigeria out of the current doldrum with psychological fitness, emotional prowess, and intellectual capacity. All Osinbajo needs from the party bigwigs as a political animal is their support, and if he is assured of this, Osinbajo can set the ball rolling and this will come to Bola Tinubu as a shocker.
2. John Kayode Fayemi
Fayemi, the current governor of Ekiti State is political handwork of Tinubu. His rise as state governor in 2010 via the decision of the supreme court has been signed by the former governor of Lagos State. When Fayemi was presiding as Minister of Solid Minerals Production, a campaign known as “Operation clip the wings” was said to have led. In the 2016 Ondo State governorship race, which ultimately created Akeredolu against the wishes of the party chief, the campaign was intended to stop Tinubu from installing a nominee. In the run-up to the APC National Congress, things went awry between them as well. Adams Oshiomole was desired by Tinubu. John Odigie-Oyegun was required by the opposing party to carry ahead. Yet Tinubu had his way at the end and Oshiomole appeared. After his current second term in Ekiti, Fayemi is said to be eyeing the presidency and if he sees the green light, he may throw his hat in the ring or, as the case may be, go with Osinbajo.
3. Akinwumi Ambode
He is one of Tinubu’s most betrayed and battered godsons. As he ascended the ladder to his second term in office, he was cut down prematurely in Lagos. He reportedly expressed his interest in contesting Lagos East’s bye Senate election to replace the late Senator Gbenga Osinowo, recently killed by covid-19. It would have been a means for him to be paid. But the slot was refused to him. At the moment, Ambode is sour. Even though, strategically, and if not for him, Tinubu made him, no one would have known of the former Lagos accountant general. But Ambode is prepared to queue behind someone from the southwestern democratic family, having been taken down politically, as a means of taking his pound of meat from the old godfather.
4. Babatunde Raji Fashola
The former governor of Lagos State also held the godfather’s imprimatur. When he attempted to succeed himself in Lagos by taking up Supo Sasore against Ambode, who was his benefactor’s nominee in 2015, he fell out of favor. Tinubu went after him and sought to avoid his ministerial nomination, but by now, Fashola would have become a political background for the unwavering role of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016. Their partnership has gone from bad to worst ever since. Fashola was part of the 2016 operation set up to clip the presidency’s Tinubu wings. While, at the moment, Fashola is not cultivating a presidential ambition, he would rather help any other aspiring contender in his circle than put his weight behind Tinubu.
5. Rauf Aregbesola
It is no longer news that the Nigerian Interior Minister and his former godfather have fallen out. Tinubu’s disbandment of his political group in Lagos is an indication of the silent war between them currently taking place. Although Aregbesola has consistently reminded his followers that everything is fine, it was a mere political statement that grapevine information had it. If things go as scheduled, in 2023, the former Osun State governor will not think twice about going the way of Fashola, Fayemi, and Ambode. For now, if the ticket is eventually zoned to the Southwest, the pendulum swings between Osinbajo and Fayemi, who may probably be favored by the Northern elites in APC. And if that happens, it’s going to be a major blow to the APC National Leader.