By: Promise Oshewa

Just when the Popular American TV Series, Game Of Thrones ended with mixed reactions, it seems that in Nigeria’s political scene, a big battle of wits is about to unfold as the nation prepare for another election in 2023.

The 2023 will be exciting for pundits but very tough and unpredictable for the political gladiators because for the first time in many years, the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, will not be on the ballot.

Many are already predicting that it will be the toughest election ever because within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there are so many heavyweights that may lead to a crisis.

Indeed, there are so many questions begging for answers? Will the APC survive as a party till 2023?Will the PDP be able to close ranks again for another shot at the Presidency?Will the Presidency be zoned to the South East as being canvassed? Will the North play its numerical card again going by the 2019 results and coast to victory?

How far will the politics of tribe and tongues go this time? Will the religious flag be flown as a kite this time around? Or will the Pedigree and Profile of the candidates be the deciding factor?

Unarguably, the South-East is the most marginalized in terms of power sharing in Nigeria’s 59 years history as an independent country.

The zone held power for six months during the military regime of late Major General Aguiyi Ironsi. South-East is followed by North-East (5 years and three months through late Sir Tafawa Balewa, who was prime minister from 1960 to 1966); and South-South (six years through Dr Goodluck Jonathan).

The most favoured zones are North-Central, which occupied the topmost seat for 18 years and five months through Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar.

North-West, 17 and a half years, through General Murtala Muhammed, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Buhari,late General Sani Abacha, and late Dr Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

While the South West has had 12 years shared between General Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Currently, the North has held power for 41 years and three months while the South has been in the saddle for 17 years nine months.

Yes, the Buhari-led administration is just about setting sail on its second term but believe it or not names of his possible successors have begun to hit the media.

Though none of these people have officially declared for the position, but their body language and hints dropped by their supporters are enough to give credence to the rumours making the rounds that  the battle  for who occupies the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in 2023 has begun in earnest.

Here is a list of Presidential Hopefuls

  1. Abubakar Atiku

Despite being defeated in the 2019 elections and still battling at the election tribunal, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is being mentioned as a 2023 candidate.

Though age may not be on his side, but Atiku will be one of the most eminently qualified Nigerians for the position of President. He has the name recognition, the resources and the enormous contacts to run such a humongous race again.

  1. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Professor Yemi Osinbajo assumed the office of Vice President on 29 May 2015 alongside President Muhammadu Buhari. As Vice President, many believe that he has accomplished himself well. He was able as Acting President to quell restiveness in the Niger Delta State which helped to stabilize Nigeria’s oil production. That was not all, As Acting President, his stint brought some calming effect on the polity and economy.

He is generally seen as a humble, easy-going Man of the people who has no airs around him. During the 2019 campaigns of the All Progressives Congress, Osinbajo held numerous town hall meetings across the country as against the popular rallies that many Nigerians and their politicians were used to.

It was during one of his campaign speeches that he told his audience that the South West should vote massively for Buhari because he desires the Presidency to come back to that zone in 2023.

“Yoruba have a crucial role to play in the 2019 elections so ensure that APC wins. We are looking at 2023. If we don’t do well in 2019, the opportunity might evade us” . Without any shadow of doubt, Osinbajo will be the most influential Yoruba man by virtue of his position by 2023.

  1. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been a dogged politician, who is firm and resolute about what he wants and what he believes in. In 1998 he was among the die-hard political class in the group ‘Afenifere’, insisting that Nigeria needs a true and participatory democracy.

He was one of those in exile who fought to return Nigeria to the path of democracy, and since 1999 when he won the election as Governor of Lagos, he has not let go.

His political sagacity is legendary, and he is said to be good at identifying and deploying talents. Though many Lagos political elites are beginning to grumble about his vice grip on the political structure of the state, his supporters believe he has the right foundation to take on and win power at the centre.

Apart from Gen Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd), Tinubu fondly called Jagaban is the other politician that vehemently refused to collapse his political structure to join the then ruling party: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Even when his government was at loggerheads with the Federal Government over allocations, due to the creation of LCDAs. He was firm and unwavering to the antics of the Obasanjo administration. He was instrumental to the victory of Mr John Odigie Oyegun as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress. His preferred candidate Gen Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd)emerged the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress ahead the 2015 election.

He was also instrumental to the choice of Prof Yemi Osinbajo as APC Vice-Presidential candidate. Indeed, Nigeria’s political story will be incomplete, without the mention of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. His recent closeness with President Buhari including attending the lesser Hajj Umrah at the same time with Buhari is said to be targeted towards the 2023 goal.

  1. Dr Kayode Fayemi

Ekiti State Governor, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi who has just been elected the Chairman, Nigerian Governor’s Forum is now being mentioned in the 2023 race.

Fayemi who before his recent return as Governor was the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, is regarded as one of a very few technocrats in politics who are close to President Buhari.

In just a few months, he has restored the Gossy Water Factory in his state and cleared backlog of the civil service, he seems to be working as a man with a mission-and the mission, we gathered, may be to be President or Vice President come 2023.

  1. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai

Mallam Nasir Ahmed El Rufai is the Kaduna State Governor who recently caused a stir by challenging the issue of Godfatherism in Lagos.

Those in his camp said he will be the best man to run Nigeria on account of the way he has run his state. Though many see him as too unbending and controversial to run a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria, his supporters said the Nation’s needs a man with a strong heart and hand and El Rufai has both in good measure.

  1. Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu

Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is a vast economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, with sophisticated experience that has transformed the Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and The Tony Elumelu Foundation to leading institutions among competitors.

His name came among these likely candidates as a result of many Nigerians expressing their dissatisfaction towards the continuous emergence of ‘regular’ politicians whose intelligence in the business world and how to make systems work effectively in not enough.

With undeniable landmark, this has been the testament of Elumelu over time in the institutions he chairs.

  1. Chief Orji Uzor Kalu

Former Abia State Governor Chief Orji Uzor Kalu is said to be in the race for 2023. Chief Orji who recently won election as Senator, Abia North and has begun campaigning for the post of Deputy Senate President has also contested for the nation’s top job before as a Member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He believes strongly that it is the turn on Igbo to produce the President.

He stated in an interview; “It is the right thing to do, Nigeria is built on a tripod. When you allow the South East to have the Presidency by 2023 that will be the end of the civil war. The South East has had the Chief of Army Staff, the Inspector General of Police. So it is only natural for the South East to have the Presidency. No man has the capacity to divide this country, the country will fight such a man. It is not possible, so the fear in the minds of people that the Igbo are pushing for secession only amounts to imbalance in perception.”

“An Igbo president will bring prosperity to Nigeria, because the Igbo man or woman had the capacity for business and investment in areas outside their homeland.

“So, Igbo presidency is a thing the country should do with joy and pride in showcasing an Igbo man as President.”

8 Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal

Governor of Sokoto State: Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is another name that has popped up as the battle of 2023 gathers momentum.

Tambuwal who had a strong shot at the Presidency in 2018, coming a surprising second in the PDP Primaries is sure to also contest. Apart from having age on his side, he is reputed to have loads of friends and contacts in the southern part of Nigeria.

He is generally seen as calm and charming, as candidate he will draw on the tremendous experience of being Speaker Federal House of Representatives.

9 Babatunde Fashola, SAN

Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN is currently Nigeria’s super Minister handling three portfolios of Power, Works and Housing. The member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who as Governor of Lagos State made some giant strides is one of those whose name has been mentioned as a possible Presidential Candidate.

The Two-time Governor is seen a go-getter, a cerebral technocrat who truly believes in changing the lives of the people.

Though he has not covered himself in glory as Minister, Fashola is still seen as one of the few men who can build on the successes of the Buhari administration and turn the nation from poverty to prosperity.

In Lagos, his intervention on the environment, transport and agriculture was applauded by all. He was seen as reformer who impressively rose to become the poster boy of good governance.

Apart from the South-East and South-West, there are hordes of politicians all over the country, who are angling for the presidency and would readily run on the shortest path to the throne. Some of these politicians across the country calculate that with Buhari, the coast would be clear for them in 2023 because he would not be standing for election again. This is more so as the APC does not have power rotation in its constitution.

A member of the last National Conference organised by the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan Administration, said northern power brokers want the North to keep the presidency for 12 years because in the last 20 years of democratic rule, the South ruled for 14 years.

Unarguably, the South-East is the most marginalised in terms of power sharing in Nigeria’s 59 years history as an independent country.

The zone held power for six months during the military regime of late Major General Aguiyi Ironsi. South-East is followed by North-East (5 years and three months through late Sir Tafawa Balewa, who was prime minister from 1960 to 1966); and South-South (six years through Dr Goodluck Jonathan). The most favoured zones are North-Central, which occupied the topmost seat for 18 years and five months through Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar; North-West, 17 and a half years, through General Murtala Muhammed, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Buhari,late General Sani Abacha, and late Dr Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; and the South-West through General Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Ernest Shonekan. The North wants 12 years at a stretch to compensate for the three terms that the South had since the return of civil rule in 1999 through Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (eight years) and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (six years). Currently, the North has held power for 41 years and three months while the South has been in the saddle for 17 years nine months.

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