Presidency and the Five Contenders from South West – Analysis
By Bello Jayigbade
The South West zone is silently, politically boiling. Brothers are at each others’ throat. Within the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress , four contenders are mentioned or rumoured to be in the race for Presidency. Little is heard of contenders within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party probably because the zone is looking up to either an Atiku Abubakar or an Aminu Tambuwal for the 2023 ticket.
The battle for power is real within the South West zone of the APC. Loudly known to be in the race is the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Towering above many contenders, his larger than life image can make one to conclude that the race is determined. Yet, the undercurrents of the contest is clinically complex and dynamically unpredictable. The Tinubu project faces many underlying challenges from within and without.
Not unexpected, South West has other contenders who are not loud about it either for strategic or tactical reasons. Even when they remain tight lipped, the signals are everywhere. Mostly considered a contender is Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who as the number two citizen is deemed to be entiltled to the right of first refusal. The professor of law has tough foot soildiers who are surreptitiously positioning their principal for the top job. The Osinbajo team are scattered across the establishment , many of them holding sensitive positions. The Vice President battles several issues namely relationship with his old boss, Asiwaju Tinubu, his percieved lack of political structure, his silence on some national controversies and his not so robust relationship with northern establishment.
Then come the duo of Governor Kayode Fayemi,Senator Ibikunle Amosun and former Governor Babatunde Fashola. The three are reportedly playing the underdog card, pushing their respective narratives and tackling the percieved frontliner in Tinubu and Osinbajo. The men are tough and deep, locally and nationally, even as they are widely respected and endowed with their fair share of political assets. One is a muslim; the other a christian. If North seeks a muslim alternative to Tinubu, a Fashola or Amosun is standing. If the North seeks a christian alternative to Osinbajo, a Fayemi is available. But the three men are not mere substtutes; they are upscale players with deep tentacles.
Insiders regularly hinted that the incumbent is more likely to handover to one of his boss rather than his mate or senior. Who are the president’s boys in the race for succession?
It is also a possibility that the President’s mate may armtwist him at the critical moment. Other pundits are quick to reference the 2007 succession politics, the Obasanjo’s rejection of the choice of his mates and even deputy as a successor and the unexpected turn of events, leading to the emergence of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua as flagbearer of the PDP and President of the nation.
From former President Obasanjo era to date , 2023 will mark another period when a sitting president will preside over the election of his successor. Will Buhari act like Obasanjo in 2023? The answer may be yes or no. Readers may however want to note that both leaders are ex-military Generals, former military Head of State, machiavelic actors and members of the old military school of Nigerian civil war. Both men naturally hate the thoughts of a ‘bloody’ civilian acting or pretending to be controlling them. So in 2023, knocking surprises may await the Yoruba political elite especially those within the ruling party.
The caterpillar politician is Amosun. His street credibility may come handy.
So back to the Yoruba chances and who may pick that slot. First is the Rotimi Amaechi’s threat from the old Eastern region. The man has two zones namely South South and South East as his platform. He is also one of the President’s boys like Fayemi and Fashola. Amaechi’s major shortcomings , lack of consultative spirit and percieved super arrogance ,have not stopped his strength within the President’s circle. Yet, both Amaechi and Fashola may have questions to answers from northern voters over slow pace of road and rail projects in the North. On this count, Fayemi has big egde due to his vantage position as the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum.
But all contenders against Asiwaju Tinubu aspiration in the South West must be ready for ‘roforofo’ fight. The APC leader is well aware that it is either 2023 or never with respect to his presidential ambition. His challengers think otherwise-it is time for new blood. The expected ensuing war is likely to be devastating.
Will the context deprive the South West of the slot? This is very hard to pinpoint. However a bitter irreconcillable fight in the South West may favour a foxy Amaechi in the Eastern region.