APC Presidential ticket: The contenders and pretenders

APC Presidential ticket: The contenders and pretenders

Sunday, May 15, 2022 8:00 am

APC presidential aspirants

By Richard Elesho

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC is nouveau-riche. The party’s brisk business from the sale of Nomination and Expression of Interest forms catapulted it further on the ladder of billionaire clubs. Many aspirants for various elective positions in the imminent 2023 polls, practically coughed out the exorbitant fees, while the party savoured her new wealth.
The party raked in close to three billion Naira from Presidential aspirants alone. As of Thursday, May 12th, no fewer than 28 presidential hopefuls either directly or by proxies, had purchased the N100 million nomination documents. The funds are non-refundable.
Needless to say that more than a thousand other political actors across the country, bought the equally expensive forms for various elective offices, namely Governorship, National Assembly, (Senate and House of Representatives) and state Houses of Assembly.
The frenzy with which the politicians are pursuing their ambitions has come with value-added drama and comic relief. The reluctance to resign by some political appointees, as demanded by law is amazing. Some even went to court to halt their resignation while another requested more time to consult ‘at home’ before he throw in the trowel. In Edo State, an aspirant sensing imminent defeat unsuccessfully requested for refund of his money!
So much to taunt about. But, beyond the razzmatazz and the breezy locomotions, are the real issues that will shape the contest for the party presidential ticket. A total of 7,802 delegates will vote in the Primary election.
Desirous of promoting inclusiveness, the APC leadership jettisoned zoning and opened its gates to all members irrespective of race, region and religion. The number one condition seems to be the ability to muzzle a centenary million of Naira.
The primary election is scheduled for a fortnight, specifically from 30th May to 1st June. The lineup for the exercise is impressive. Among those arrayed in battle, gears are the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, incumbent vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and immediate past President Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
Rough occupational demography of the other aspirants shows that six are incumbent Governors including that of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, ten are former Governors/ Senators, six serving Ministers, an erstwhile Senate President, former House of Representatives Speaker, three Pastors, an oil magnate, an international Banker and one female aspirant trained as a lawyer.
Further analysis reveals that the bulk of the aspirants, (24) come from the south, while only four hail from the north. Eight are from the Southwest, Eight from the Southeast and Eight from the Southsouth.
It is indeed a crowded field of Presidential hopefuls. To stave off the side effects of an acrimonious contest, some analysts have recommended picking the candidate by consensus. The party leadership is however not keen on this. It has instead assured of level playing ground for all aspirants in a credible primary election.
The struggle for the party ticket will be influenced by a plethora of factors. They include political structure, the unwritten zoning debate, financial war chest, and incumbency factors to be reflected in the preference of Aso Villa and the Progressive Governor’s Forum. The ‘X’ or ‘God’ factor may not also be ignored in determining the choice of delegates at the polls.
Looking at the parameters, some of the aspirants are highly favoured to win, while others may just be completing the figures. Here is a brief on the sturdy aspirants and their chances at the polls.
A crowded field of Gladiators
– Yahaya Adoza Bello:
He is touted as the youngest Governor in the country. His ambition dates back to immediately after he was inaugurated for a second term in Kogi State in early, 2020. In terms of flying the kit of his ambition and purchasing the nomination papers, Bello was simply the first.
Aside from the razzle-dazzle of his declaration, Bello has little to fall back to, in terms of strategy and structure. The Kogi State he prompts as evidence of good stewardship is at best a poor piece of work or the lack of it.
Bello claimed youths, women and other Nigerians have been pressurising him to run for the number one office. However, he does not seem to earn the confidence of critical stakeholders of the party and his State. Most of his rented supporters are not card-carrying members of any political party let alone being delegates.
Bello flouted with impunity, the weak attempt by his party to zone the ticket to the south. In fact, in the opinion of bookmakers, the Governor from the north-central does not rank among the contenders.
– Emeka Nwajiuba:
The Minister of State for Education was the second to file his nomination papers. A support group presented him with the forms. He also promptly tendered a resignation letter from President Muhammad Buhari’s cabinet, before anyone, to enable him to pursue the presidential dream.
Born in 1867 and trained as a lawyer, Nwajiuba hails from Imo State in the southeast. He had unsuccessfully attempted the Governorship of his State before settling for the lower chamber of the National Assembly on the platform of the All People’s Party, APP. He was serving a second tenure in the Green Chamber (Accord Party) when he joined the Federal cabinet.
Nwajiuba has alliances across party lines and is highly favoured by the agitation for power rotation to the southeast. His political structures may not be strong enough to fly home to victory. Moreso, the lingering education crises with multiple strikes in the sector, may work against his emergence.
– Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu:
The national leader of the APC and former Governor of Lagos State declared what he described as his lifetime ambition for the apex office at a meeting with President Buhari in the Villa on 10 January. His declaration ignited the political space and he has since kept the flame aglow through his energetic tour of the states.
A former Senator and chieftain of the extant National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, Tinubu warmed his way to people’s hearts during the struggle for the actualisation of the annulled June 12 Presidential poll.
The Jagaban Borgu has his tentacles in all parts of the country and at all levels of government. For instance, it was gathered that no less than 12 Governors were among the 360 signatories of his nomination forms.
Going by his record of public service and formidable political machinery, Tinubu is the man to beat in the race for the party ticket. His critics however think the 70-year-old does not enjoy excellent health conditions and urge him to support or sponsor a younger aspirant.
But Tinubu replied that the job for which he is applying is not a labourer’s job that would require physical energy. He noted that what is needed is the brain, not the fist and that he has enough of that to set the nation on the path of security, economic recovery and growth. The former Governor is good to go.
– Rotimi Amechi:
The former Rivers State Governor, recently resigned his appointment as Minister of Transportation to allow him to devote time and resources to his ambition.
Believed to be stinkingly rich and popular in all regions, the former Minister is believed to be a smooth operator who made wide consultations to boost his chances. He is in contention and may pull a surprise in the. primary.
– Dave Umahi:
The incumbent Governor of Ebonyi State joined the APC from PDP about two years ago, citing the marginalisation of the Southeast by his former party. Less than 24 hours after Tinubu’s declaration visit to the Villa, President Buhari played host to Umahi, who also intimated him of and sought his blessing for his ambition to be President.
He is banking on his achievements as Governor and the loud demand for a Nigerian President of Southeast extraction. The number of aspirants from the zone and the inability to reach a consensus among them may affect his chances. He is not popular in other regions.
– Yemi Osinbajo:
The law professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, is serving as Vice-president and enjoys an incumbency advantage. He was a close associate of Tinubu and served as Commissioner for Justice/ Attorney General when the latter was Governor.
Osinbajo is believed to enjoy the support of some Governors, Ministers and other top players in the Buhari government. The Ogun State-born number-two man is young and highly cerebral. He has been meticulous and deliberately avoiding a faceoff with Tinubu, his former benefactor and political godfather. Some commentators think of him as a likely consensus candidate.
The Vice-president is another man to watch.
– Nicholas Felix:
He is an America based businessman and pastor of Miracle Church International. The 40-year-old Priest said he is in the race to win, promising to strengthen security, economy and education when he becomes President.
He is not new to the presidential contest. He participated in the 2019 election as a candidate of the People’s Coalition Party, PCP, coming third in the exercise, behind Buhari and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, respectively.
“My decision to run for president of Nigeria stems from my desire to change the Nigerian narrative through the support of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run law.
The chances are almost nil, except for the God factor.
– Mohammed Badaru Abubakar:
An astute businessman and Governor of Jigawa State. His interest in the number one office became public when he picked the nomination forms, last week.
He is believed to have the capacity to rally support from his State and other northern states.
– Owelle Rochas Okorocha:
A Senator and former Governor of Imo State, he is one of the eight aspirants from the Southeast. He is a veteran presidential aspirant. He first declared his target in 2002. He has been in and out of the race since then.
Okorocha is well known outside the southeast and runs prestigious schools in all zones of the country. His frosty relationship with the Governor of his home state and the inability of the Southeast to harmonise their demand for President are essential drawbacks to Okorocha’s ambition.
– Kayode Fayemi:
Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigeria Governor’s Forum, NGF, declared for the race at a well-publicised ceremony. He is versatile and believed to enjoy a good relationship with other members of NGF.
He is however perceived to be a mole and may not be in the contest.
– Ben Ayade:
The Cross Rivers State Governor who recently decamped to the APC, made his bid for the top job public on 26 April, after a meeting with the President.
He however added from the first day his willingness to abandon the bid, if at any time former President Jonathan throws his hat into the ring. Not much is expected from Ayade’s ambition.
– Goodluck Jonathan:
He is the immediate past President of Nigeria. He was elected on the platform of the PDP. The membership status of the former President in the APC is not certain. However, some Fulani pastoralists and Almajeri groups purchased the outrageous nomination forms in his name.
Jonathan reportedly unsuccessfully asked to be adopted as a consensus candidate. At the close of nomination Friday night, the completed forms had not been returned. He has no structure in the party.
– Ahmed Lawan:
The Senate President enjoys a good relationship with Tinubu. He was. however reportedly convinced to join the Presidential race by some northern oligarchs, determined to cling on to power.
He is well known in other parts of the country and stands a good chance if he can harness block votes from the north.
– Godswill Akpabio:
Immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State joined the presidential race in early May. He told his audience in Uyo, that was in the race to stop the Nigerian from sinking.
He has outstanding issues with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, like some. other aspirants. He is not considered a strong force in the race.
-Ibikunle Amosun:
The Senator and former Ogun State Governor declared for the presidency a date after he attended a similar declaration by Gov Fayemi, who reciprocated the gesture.
The huge number of four aspirants from his State has raised integrity concerns about some. of the aspirations. Not in contention.
– Ken Nnamani:
The former Senate President from 2005-2007 from Enugu State joined the race in April with a promise to restructure the country from a consuming to a producing economy.
Analysts posit that the avalanche of aspirants and reluctance to reach a consensus endanger the leadership dream of the southeast. Nnamani does not have the network to win the primary.
– Dimeji Bankole:
The former Speaker House of Representatives once made a failed bid for the Governorship of Ogun State. A former Governor of Zanfara State, Ahmed Shinkafi however led other supporters to the International Conference Centre for the purchase of the nomination forms on his behalf.
He is rated among frontline aspirants, although he may be strong enough to injure the interest of Prof. with whom he shares a State of origin.
– Adams Oshiomhole:
 He is the immediate past substantive National Chairman of APC and former Edo State Governor. He declared for the Presidency a month after he announced an ambition for the Senate.
His presidential dream is considered an afterthought and perhaps part of a bigger game plan, yet to unfold.
– Uju Kennedy Ohanenye:
She is a lawyer and the only female aspirant in the race for the APC flag. She banks on the spread of her charitable and philanthropist activities across the nation for victory.
Uju says her focus if elected president will be security, infrastructure development, and youth and women empowerment. She will be willing to step down for another aspirant who may share the same passion.
Analysts commend the courage and temerity of her dreams but added that Nigeria may not be ready for a female President, yet.
– Timipre Sylva:
He newly resigned from his appointment as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to enable him to concentrate on his 2023 journey. The former Bayelsa State Governor was early this year rumoured to be the anointed aspirant by the Villa.
Sylva is encumbered by the number of aspirants from the south and the lack of structure in other parts of the country.
-Yerima Sani:
Senator and former Governor of Zanfara State, he joined the presidential race late and is viewed as working for the retention of the Presidency by the north. He joined the race after a meeting with Buhari.
He is not popular in other regions.
-Ogbonnaya Onu:
He was a Cabinet member of the Buhari administration and pioneer Governor of Abia State. Onu, an Engineer by profession and PhD holder is an old warhorse. He was once a Presidential candidate for the All People’s Party, APP before an agreement with the Alliance for Democracy, AD made him drop the ticket.
Onu who was also the former National Chairman of ANPP is well known across the country. The number of aspirants from his zone will influence realising his ambition.
– Tunde Bakare:
He is the Overseer of Citadel Global Community, formerly Latter Rain Assembly and former Running Mate to Buhari in 2011.
The Lawyer turned Pastor has said he is on a Divine mission to rescue Nigeria. He once said Buhari is number ‘six’ while he, Bakare is number ‘seven’ in the hierarchy of things, suggesting that he has been destined to succeed Buhari as president.
The problem however is his obvious lack of structure to realise his ambition. Until he picked the nomination forms, not many people knew Bakare as an APC member. It will take the God factor for the radical Priest to come close to winning the primary.
– Chris Ngige:
The former Governor of Anambra purchased the nomination forms. He however changed his mind about resigning as Minister of Labour and Productivity. He is no longer in the race.
– Godwin Emefiele:
He is the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN whose Presidential ambition attracted the wildest noise. A group of friends gifted the Delta State-born Economist with the nomination documents. He refused to resign his appointment and did not also submit the forms.
– Hein Jack Rich:
A Billionaire oil magnate from Bayelsa State, very little is known about his political engagements beyond the Southsouth.
Commentators do not attach much to his aspiration.
– Orji Uzor Kalu:
A Senator and former Abia State Governor declared for the race. But he said he would not run if the party did not micro-zone the ticket to the Southeast.
– Akinwumi Adeshina:
The respected boss of the African Development Bank, AfDB, was drawn into the rush for the APC ticket by some groups who bought the forms in his name.
The forms have been submitted. But, not many public consultations have been carried out by the aspirant.
– Ikeobasi Mokelu:
He hails from Anambra State. He was Minister of Information in the military regime of late Gen. Sani Abacha. He is described by many people as an associate of President Buhari.
Mokelu, a former member of the Constitutional Conference was the last to pick the nomination forms.
Except a miracle happens, he cannot be a strong force in the race.

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