More indicators of a feverish presidential contest in 2023 are emerging. Just as the well-kept secret within the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), to retain the presidential slot in the north, is beginning to unravel, gladiators from the Southeast have continued shadowboxing for the party’s ticket.
Having helped to return President Buhari for a second term, the Northeast is currently roiled by the scramble for the presidential slot. The scramble for APC presidential ticket is currently knocking heads among politicians from Borno, Bauchi and Yobe States. It was gathered that first term Borno Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum’s sterling performance and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff’s return to APC have diminished former governor Kashim Shetima’s ambition.
That leaves Bauchi and Yobe. While the political family of former Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim has been looking at the immediate past governor, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam for a possible shot at the Presidency, sources in Yobe said the emergence of Senator Ahmad Lawan as President of the Senate and incumbent Governor Mai Mala Buni as Chairman of APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) are altering the calculations.
Perhaps, it was the clash of presidential ambitions among APC leaders in Yobe that supporters of erstwhile PDP national chairman, Dr. Adamu Mu’azu, began flaunting his democratic credentials.
Speaking on behalf of Friends Of Adamu Mu’azu (FOAM), Ibrahim Sani Dawakin-Tofa, noted that political posters, agitations, lobbying, meetings and consultations ahead of the 2023 general elections are on an upward swing. “This calls for serious re-awakening, because delay may be irredeemable. Decision-making is one of the most difficult tasks before any individual, organization or even a country. Once you get it right with your decision, the liquid of the other issues would take shape,” he stated.
Sani contended that those who clamour for Mu’azu are doing so in the interest of the nation’s future, stressing: “If we must truly be the architects of the future, we must choose those whose interest in politics is the people and since we have that in Mu’azu, he is the best shot for 2023 as far as positive-minded Nigerians are concerned.
“As we go into 2023, the choices we make as Nigerians matter and we have the solutions in Dr Mu’azu to help bring a breath of freshness to governance in the country while consolidating on the achievements of the current administration to build a better and brighter future for the country.
Also, aides of incumbent Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed, who is chairman of PDP Presidential Election Review Committee, are also said to be preparing to push for his entry into the presidential race, especially given APC’s plan to settle for a relatively younger candidate to weaken Atiku’s chances.
Although Governor Bala’s Special Adviser on Media, Mukhtar Gidado, could not respond to small messages on the matter, it was gathered that the governor’s men are planning to sell his candidate on his perceived performance as Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and a stint in the Senate.
But, against the machinations by APC to look towards Northeast, Engineer Buba Galadima, told The Guardian that it was wrong to suggest his support for the former Vice President, Atiku, was based on zonal solidarity. Galadima explained that after four years in office, it became apparent that President Buhari’s best was not good enough, adding that most northerners believed that Atiku was clearly a better candidate for the office of President.
Galadima disagreed that the failure of the opposition to win elections in his home state of Yobe does not equate to popular endorsement by the masses or presence of good governance in the place. He said that introduction of money politics has made it impossible for the masses to have their say, even as he maintained that he would support Atiku again unless a better candidate emerges from any part of the country. Southeast’s duplicity
GOING by the results of 2019 Presidential election, only three out of the five Southeast states gave President Buhari 30 percent of the total votes cast in them. However, glossing over the fact that the zone did not fulfil its side of the bargain by heeding Boss Mustapha’s plea for it to vote en masse for Buhari, APC stakeholders in the zone believe that 2023 is their turn to fly the party’s flag. While Abia, Ebonyi and Imo voters voted for APC, Anambra and Enugu states did not yield 30 percent.
Buoyed by their states’ performance, the governors of Ebonyi and Imo see the modest vote tally as their bragging right to the APC presidential ticket. While the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma rides on the crest of his appointment as the leader of APC in the zone, his Ebonyi counterpart believes that valuable discussions with influential northern leaders, which preceded his defection from PDP to APC put him in a higher pedestal to clinch the party’s ticket, even as presidential running mate.
Despite their perceived advantages, the two governors have older rivals to contend with. In Imo, Uzodimma has been waging a relentless political supremacy battle with his predecessor, Senator Rochas Okorocha over the control of the APC structure.
At a stakeholders’ meeting in Owerri, Uzodimma was said to have alluded to Okorocha’s presidential ambition by asking rhetorically whether he has asked him what he wants in 2023.
During President Buhari’s flag-off of the membership revalidation in Daura, Katsina State, Uzodimma was among the state governors being looked at as the new Turks in the party. Sources said the Imo governor is making every effort to deepen his tentacles in the Presidency.
Whether on account of Uzodimma’s presidential aspiration or state governors’ resolve to field one of theirs as the party’s standard-bearer, Okorocha’s hint at a possible political future outside APC shows that the heat is on Imo.
What happened last week in Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area the other day, showed that Umahi’s entry into APC pits him against the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
On Saturday, January 30, 2021, Onu was to be honoured with the chieftaincy title of “Onyibe of Adu Kingdom.” Onu and the state governor hail from the same Uburu community. It was gathered that based on the fact that the chieftaincy title was the highest honour to any worthy native, some overzealous security officials went and sealed off the Uburu Civic Center, venue of the event.
The crowd that joined the minister to the venue broke the seals and forced the police out of the arena for the event of the day. Onu, in his remarks, condemned the attempt to breach the peace at the social event, stressing, “Politics of sentiment has no place in the cultural heritage of Uburu Kingdom.”
Ever since Umahi joined APC, the minister has been absenting from party activities in the state, particularly against speculations that the governor’s youthful age and power of incumbency were factors the national leadership considered to hand over the APC structure to him at the expense of the minister.
Sources in APC headquarters told The Guardian that having contested for the presidency in 1999, Onu may not be useful for the party in the schemes for 2023, especially if the plan is to field Northeast and Southeast candidates for the Presidency. If the assertion from the APC chieftain were anything to go by, it would be seen in the days leading up to the APC convention, whether the standard-bearer would come from Northeast or Southeast and how much of the plot is known by Southeast stalwarts angling for the Presidency.