2023 may still be far away, but right now, all the politicians have begun strategising, positioning themselves for the presidential race.
The way it is right now, there is most likely to be a shift in power from the North to the South-West. Although there are strong indications that the North is not planning to let go after Buhari’s tenure, there are insider revelations that some of the power players in the North are willing to let go to the South West as long as a Northerner is picked as a running mate.
In preparation for the race, some of the key politicians in the South West are warming up to run, if possible. Although they have not come out to openly confirm their interest, but there are strong indications that they are likely to run for the presidential election.
The first on the list is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who though has not confirmed to anybody whether he is running or not, but his (Boys) have started work on his project across all the local government areas, across Nigeria. Although he has been out of public office since 2007, he has firm control of the party structure, from ACP to APC. He is eminently qualified for the job going by the work he did for 8 years as Lagos Governor.
He also has a political network that is awesome and has huge followers. He is also the richest political player on the scene today. Through his large heart, he has empowered at least 2 generations of politicians who have become strong players.
Although, he has not come out to tell anyone he is running, but several groups and supporters have been the ones calling on the Jagaban Borgu to run and his aides have read his body language to mean he is running for office and so they have begun work on what they call The Tinubu Project.
City People gathered that the problem is that some key Northern politicians are afraid of a Tinubu Presidency. They feel he is too smart and strong for them to handle and too independent-minded to control.
Their fear is that as a Presidential Candidate they have no way of controlling him, more so, he has a war chest that only a few can match. Their view is that even if they concede to the South West, they would want another candidate they are at home with. And they have reached out to other possible South West politicians with a good profile to think of contesting. The interesting part is that many of them are Tinubu’s Boys or associates. There are about 5 of them in the race already but they would not openly confirm their interest.
One of them is the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who has been under pressure to join the presidential race. Though, he has always been in the Tinubu camp, his trajectory into power as VP was not from Tinubu.
He was not Tinubu’s choice. He was brought in to pacify the South-West and Tinubu since he has always been seen as a Tinubu Boy. He was his Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice.
There are those who argue that it is because of the VP’s perceived interest in the race that he has come under a lot of attack over the last few months.
Also interested we hear is Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the Interior Minister and former Osun Governor. He is Tinubu’s No 2 man, going by the party hierarchy. Though, he has also not come out to tell anyone he is running. There is strong pressure on him to run. He is one person who the North has immense confidence in. He is a Muslim and he has a lot of friends up North. That he was given the Minister of Interior portfolio last year, made many know that the North was comfortable with him. Before now, the portfolio has always been occupied by the North. But it was to boost his profile that made the powerbrokers up North make him occupy the position. How Aregbesola who is very close to Tinubu will accept to run without his godfather’s blessing remains a big puzzle.
Also believed to be interested in the race is Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Minister for Works & Housing. A lot of pressure has also been mounted on him to pick up the challenge. His remarkable performance as Governor of Lagos and his 6-year tenure in office as Minister has been the impetus for his choice. They feel that he will be a good poster face for the South-West in 2003. We gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari has a soft spot for him and that was why he was saddled with 3 portfolios in 2015 when the Buhari regime came to power. After intense criticism that greeted Buhari for giving Fashola 3 portfolios, Pres Buhari dropped the Power Ministry job and Fashola was left with 2 portfolios. But as far as political pundits are concerned this still goes to show the tremendous respect President Buhari has for him.
Ekiti Gov. Kayode Fayemi is another name that gets mentioned. Of all the South-West Governors” he has a towering image, having been governor twice. Having become the Chairman of Nigeria’s Governor’s Forum has elevated his profile. He also enjoys the confidence and support of many Northern governors.
Another big name in the race is Senator Ibikunle Amosun who also has a very, very intimidating profile.
He is a ranking Senator, having been a Senator twice and a governor for 8 years. He is also in the race. Since March (2020), when the lockdown took place, he has gone below the radar leaving many to wonder what was going on. But City People can reveal that his going low profile is part of his strategy to withdraw into his shell to go and restrategise for 2023. His plan is to strengthen his grip on Ogun APC machinery which he is part of and then use that to launch his campaign for the 2023 presidency.
Another Yoruba politician who is running is Pastor Tunde Bakare who was once President Buhari’s running mate when Buhari was in CPC. He has told President Buhari and other players in clear terms that he will be running for the presidency in 2023. He has already started work on his project, we gathered. He has strong links with some key Northern politicians. He is also close to Gov. El Rufai. He is close to deposed Kano Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.