Ordinarily, the increasing number of presidential aspirants in the All Progressives Congress (APC), could have passed as understandable. As the ruling party, the near-certainty that its presidential standard bearer could emerge the next president is forgivable. Unfortunately, it is no longer looking like the drive to partake in the battle for the APC presidential ticket is organic.
Although different narratives are currently in circulation, tailored to explain away why the current messy and unwieldy situation appears so, none, curiously, has been sculpted, however, with the degree of authority required to give fillip to any one of the scenarios and be acceptable, averagely.
With candidates from different parts of the country showing interests in the APC presidential ticket, including those from the north, when the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner, is just about to serve out eight years, as well as people never known to be members of the APC or even of the opposition party, now buying the APC forms, then, the situation in the ruling party requires a closer study by politically strategic and analytical minds, to be able to situate the scenarios in close, if not apt context.
At the last count though, some 25 persons, either in person or by proxy, had reportedly paid the N100,000,00 (one hundred million naira) fee for both the nomination and expression of interest forms to the party and yet, the frenzy has not ceased. There could also be more interested persons, before the expiration of the extension of sale of forms by the APC leadership.
But, below is a one-paragraph focus on each of the 25 APC gladiators so far…
A former president on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was demonised some years ago by the now ruling party as personifying Nigeria’s problems, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, had been touted as likely to join the APC presidential race a long time ago, but had never come clean until some people reportedly came together and obtained the form for him. The presidency is said to have also confirmed the development. So, he is in the race for APC ticket, although he has denied authorizing anyone to do so in his stead.
The current Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on April 11, 2022, declared his intention to succeed his principal, Muhammadu Buhari, through a short video uploaded on all the social media platforms. Osinbajo has been labelled a betrayal in the category of Judas by the supporters of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, another presidential hopeful, for daring to challenge his principal of over 15 years ago. This intentional stereotyping has changed nothing though. He is very much in the race and doing well with his consultations.
Dr. Ahmad Lawan, is the current President of the Senate and less than 24 hours ago, he also showed up with his forms, even though he mealy-mouthed about his intention some hours before that. His leadership of the senate is notoriously a rubber stamp and he has always defended this choice with the excuse that the legislature was not designed to be antagonistic to the executive. He too has crowded the space.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu
He was the first to publicly declare his intention to be president and described it as a life-long ambition. If anyone had thought with his health and age, Tinubu was probably bidding time to flash his true game, the disposition of his supporters to other aspirants from the South-west, his home-zone, has suggested otherwise. Although perceived to be corrupt and high-handed, Tinubu remains a political juggernaut and frontrunner in the race for the APC presidential ticket.
One of the issues in the South-west politics, former governor of Ogun State and senator for Ogun Central, Ibikunle Amosun, declared his intention to run for president last Thursday, May 5, at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, an event that not only showed the critical stuff he was made of, but also what to expect, if he emerges president. Amosun, a close ally of the president, is considered one of the jokers up the sleeves of Buhari. But how realistic that is with the current madness dotting the stage, is yet to be seen. He is however well heeled for the job.
Ajayi Borrofice, a senator from Ondo State, is believed to be a surrogate candidate of Tinubu, as part of the strategies of the former Lagos State governor to amass support and gain prominence, when the time to separate the boys from the men comes. He is by no stretch in the engagement a threat to anyone, but one of those who have made the race a mess it is already.
The Minister of Science of Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, is one of the few people from the South-east believed to be dear to the heart of the president, despite is avowed dislike for that zone. If Buhari ever wanted an Igbo president, Onu would be amongst the first three people. But many consider him weak, colourless and lacking the capacity for the job he seeks, if his posting at his current office is a marker.
Young and likeable, former speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, is one of the aspirants from Abeokuta, Ogun State, who has made the gateway state, a place of interest in the presidential run. But Bankole is considered one of the pretenders in the race. For someone, who could neither return to the House nor flex muscles at the governorship race, only a few people take him seriously as a presidential hopeful.
One of the most controversial aspirations is that of the Governor Central of Bank (CBN), Godwin Emefiele. While no one dismisses his right to contest as a Nigerian, the fact that he occupies a prominent place in the nation’s political economy triggered a massive negative reaction to his ambition. Although he has reportedly recently challenged the situation in court, the question remains: will Emefiele leave certainty for uncertainty? The jury is still out as far as his aspiration is concerned.
Like a cometh, the name of the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, suddenly showed up after some people allegedly put resources together and got him the forms. He has though not commented on the development, it is believed that he was in the know and did not oppose the idea either. But, as in the case of Emefiele, will he too leave the AfDB presidency, which he fought hard to retain for what he might not come close to? Time will tell.
Hitherto considered a clown in the race, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, is fast becoming a force to reckon with. He has taken every phase of the stages to the APC ticket with the kind of seriousness expected of any other candidate in the race and has not relented. Besides, he has also involved some prominent people with name recognition to give weight to his aspiration. Bello is no longer joking, if he was initially.
His declaration for presidency came immediately after Tinubu’s. But the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, is another contender from the South-east, who means business. With a good record of performance in his state, Umahi is still battling national recognition as he comes off more as a loner. But he is not joking and has tried over the years to be tagged Buhari’s friend by always supporting the president, even when the grounds for such support did not make sense.
A former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, is one of the most underrated, yet, most likely candidate from the South-east. Indeed, talk about the presidential race, Okorocha’s maiden political exposures were for the presidency, which automatically makes him an old hand in the race. Although some still think he is joking, the question others have raised is: what does he stand to lose if he did not run? Thought-provoking, isn’t it?
The Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba, had sparked a national debate, when he turned out the first to actually pick up his form. He is also considered one of the few Igbo men close to the president, and his relationship with Buhari is believed to be deeper than what many know. In fact, some had initially said he was the dark horse in the race. But he has since obtaining the form returned to his shell, where he has maintained his usual quiet disposition.
Following a failed move to go to the senate, after some of his former aides stood in his way, a former National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, has eventually joined the presidential race. Bad as it may sound, he is also considered one of those hauled into the race by Tinubu for the same purpose of building an advantage for himself. Oshiomhole is largely seen as having lost significant political relevance in his home state and might be unable to muster the requisite support base for such a huge project. Just another pretender by the way.
Expectations had been high that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, would also throw his hat in the ring, but when was what was not known. That he would be drafted into the race had been linked to plans by some people to whittle the influence of his counterpart in the Ministry of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in the South-south. Yet, the move is not for the fun of it. They not only desire to use him to stop Amaechi, these power brokers truly want him as president. Sylva is not in the race to play.
Uju Kennedy is not the only female aspirant in the race for the APC presidential ticket, but the only female to have taken her aspiration a notch up by obtaining the N100 million forms. However, how she intends to play the men to their game on their turf is yet to be seen. That she has shown this much courage is also why many are sympathetic to her cause.
The General Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, Lagos, Pastor Tunde Bakare, is one of the few in the race for the APC ticket, who already has a spot: Number 16. The man of God told the world months back that he knew many years ago that he would be the 16th president of Nigeria after Buhari, the 15th, and has been consistent about this. Without a doubt, he has all it takes to be Nigeria’s president, but does he have what it takes to compete on that turf? That’s a question still in the belly of time.
The youngest presidential aspirant and relatively unknown Nicholas Felix, has also mustered a rare courage to push his aspiration to the point of putting his N100 million in the APC purse. Felix, a US-based Nigerian shepherding Miracle Church International, is the second pastor in the race for APC ticket. Whatever was the impetus to hop on the race, he is no more than crowding the stage.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, is one of the few persons, who have added class and finesse to the race. With a PhD in War Studies and prominent member of the intellectual community, Fayemi has not come to the race to laze about. He is not only prepared, he has all that it would take to move the nation to the next phase of her development and growth. He is a force to be acknowledged in his spot in the race.
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, is quick to tell whoever cares to listen that he is the most experienced in the race and that is not a lie. After being speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for eight years, governor of the state for eight years, Minister for almost eight years, chairman of speakers for eight years, chairman of governors for eight years, the director-general of the Buhari campaign for two times, then, you can only underrate Amaechi at your peril. He is not in the race to play either and has everything going for him. He is one man to watch out for.
Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, is probably trying every office available, having been idle for a while. After failing to emerge the Deputy National Chairman, South, of the APC at its March 26 National Convention, he has joined the race for the presidency, increasing the number of South-east aspirants in the race. Although there is no debating his capacity, the Enugu State-born politician, has yet to come up strong in the race.
Dr. Chris Ngige is the Minister of Labour and productivity and recently joined the race, even after lamenting the cost of forms. However, with ASUU on strike, he and Nwajiuba, have come under stringent criticisms as symbolising an obnoxious impression of the country to the outside world. But if Ngige’s stint at the Anambra State governorship was anything to ponder, then, capacity would not be a problem. But is he really serious? That’s a question he has to answer convincingly.
The grandiloquent Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, like many in his corner, would probably be doing nothing if not in the race for the APC ticket. For Ayade, especially, he is from a place, where the opposition PDP is both dominant and imposing, and so, staying politically relevant is not a choice but a compulsion if he must waltz through the challenges and remain relevant. Not many people reckon Ayade would make any impact or change anything in the subsisting equation, not even after some group allegedly bought him the forms costing a token N100 million. But with Ayade in the race, let’s just say, the more, the merrier.
The Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, is one of the movers and shakers in the APC and stepping out for the race is not surprising either. After all, the party leadership recently said it had not settled for zoning yet, meaning the race might be left open as being considered in the opposition PDP. But there are opinions, which claimed those northerners indicating interest were doing so to negotiate for the position of running mate. And if that is true, Badaru is first on the list.
Sani Yerima, a former governor of Zamfara State, has been quiet for a while, but has suddenly seized the opportunity of the APC Presidential Ticket bazaar to also crowd the space, albeit, for something. He too is said to be considering being running mate to whoever emerges the candidate and therefore, sees this as an opportunity to negotiate the second place or something else. But he doesn’t appear an issue yet.