LOWDOWN: Lawan, Tinubu, Amaechi, Osinbajo… the titans in the APC presidential race
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is, on paper, the favourite to win the 2023 presidential election — by virtual of being the ruling party. That is why utmost attention was paid to those who bought the presidential nomination forms despite the N100 million price tag.
It is presumed that the party will zone its presidential ticket to the south, but Abdullahi Adamu, the national chairman, said recently that the decision had not been taken. Three northerners — the senate president, a governor and a senator — joined the race and tongues went wagging.
Insiders informed TheCable that if the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), goes north, there is a chance APC will also go north in what some party members call a “pragmatic and strategic move”. Both primaries will take place within 24 hours of each at the weekend .
President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been tagged the “super delegate”, is expected to play the most important role in deciding who will be the party’s flag bearer. There is a talk about settling for a “consensus candidate” as it was done in choosing Adamu, but that remains a speculation.
AHMAD IBRAHIM LAWAN
A Buhari loyalist to the core, the senate president is a late entrant into the race and is believed to be a “strategic” participant. Because the position of senate president is likely to be zoned elsewhere if APC wins the presidential election, Lawan had opted not to go back to the senate and been eyeing governorship in his state. But being a minority from Gashua, Yobe state, he has a better chance of becoming president of Nigeria than being elected governor of his home state. Hence, his acceptance to be drafted into the presidential race.
AS THINGS STAND: TheCable projects that if PDP picks a northern candidate and APC decides to match them region-for-region, Lawan is most likely to get Buhari’s endorsement. However, Lawan is not popular with the governors who call the shots when it comes to how most delegates will vote.
AHMED BOLA TINUBU
If the primary will be without external intervention, Tinubu is the man to beat. This is because of his political structure and war chest. He was the first in APC to openly declare his presidential interest, which he said had been his “lifetime ambition”. He also started reaching out to delegates earlier than the others and covered more grounds than the rest, although questions are still being asked about his health and the possibility of a Muslim-Muslim ticket if he wins.
AS THINGS STAND: TheCable projects that Tinubu is still ahead of other contenders in the APC presidential primary. He enjoys massive support in a number of states with high number of delegates, particularly in the north, largely because he has been building the support base for years. The caveat, though, is that Buhari may use his political capital to sway a number of governors to support someone else.
CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI
The former minister of transportation has a significant political network — dating back to his days as a speaker and governor. He was chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF). Many would argue that he is the strongest challenger Tinubu faces. With a heavy war chest, he is not lacking in the resources needed to prosecute a campaign. As one of the closest persons to Buhari and one who always gets what he wants, Amaechi has a good chance either in the ballot or by consensus.
AS THINGS STAND: TheCable projects that in an unrestricted contest, Amaechi will pursue Tinubu to the finishing line, although the former governor of Lagos enjoys the advantage of a broader base. APC is not that strong in the south-south and this may be used against Amaechi.
OLUYEMI OLULEKE OSINBAJO
If the APC presidential primary were to be a general election, the vice-president will most likely win. Many on the streets see him as someone who connects with them. He is there with the people when there is a gas explosion, or an attack on a train, or a gruesome murder. Many in the offices believe he represents a different kind of Nigerian leader — well educated, suave and hands on. Osinbajo has also revved up his campaign in the last few weeks and has garnered more support in the process. Many are, however, accusing him of being a religious bigot, an allegation he has always denied.
AS THINGS STAND: TheCable projects that Osinbajo’s best chance of winning is for him to be endorsed by Buhari. It appears this is also part of the overall strategy of his political advisers. He does not have much control over APC delegates, whose loyalties are usually to their local leaders and governors.
JOHN KAYODE FAYEMI
By virtual of being the chairman of the NGF for a number of years now, Fayemi has enjoyed a very good relationship with his governor colleagues who usually hold the aces in primary elections. He is a respected intellectual, bridge builder and conflict expert, attributes that will be very useful in rebuilding Nigeria’s leadership. Fayemi entered the race a little late, with many speculating that he wanted some assurances before taking the plunge.
AS THINGS STAND: TheCable projects that if Tinubu is persuaded to withdraw from the race and there is going to be a compromise candidate from the south-west, Fayemi stands a very good chance, especially as his governor colleagues are on good terms with him. He will only need to get Tinubu not to oppose him.
OGBONNAYA CHRISTOPHER ONU
The former minister of science and technology was a faithful member of the opposition from 1999 to 2015, when APC won the general election. He can claim to have won a presidential ticket before, having come tops in the primary election of the All Peoples Party (APP) in 1999 before stepping for Olu Falae, the candidate of the APP/Alliance for Democracy (AD) collaboration. Onu is from the same state as David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi, and this does not do his ambition much good.
AS THINGS STAND: TheCable projects that if Buhari were to anoint an aspirant from the south-east, Onu and Emeka Nwajiuba would be in strong reckoning. His credentials are sterling and he has always been a faithful member of APP/ANPP/APC.
THERE ARE OTHERS…
There were 28 hopefuls who collected the APC nomination forms but three of them did not submit. The APC has not yet released a comprehensive list but simply said Chris Ngige, Godwin Emefiele and Timipre Sylva did not submit their forms. Outside the six listed above, we reckon that the following hopefuls will secure the support of dozens of delegates, especially from their states and areas of influence: David Umahi (Ebonyi), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun and Oyo), Emeka Nwajiuba (Imo), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Ahmed Sani Yarima (Zamfara), and Ken Nnamani (Enugu). We will keep you updated as the intrigues continue…