An epic battle is set for the February 25, 2023, presidential election as the two major political parties; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have come up with their flag bearers.
After months of hide-and-seek over zoning, the presidential primary of the APC, which was conducted at the Eagle Square, produced a former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the flag bearer.
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The high point of the primary, which lasted for over 24 hours, was the presentation of the party’s flag to Tinubu at 3.07 pm on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu, who polled 1,271 votes was followed by a former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who got 316 votes; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, 235 (third); Senate President Ahmad Lawan came fourth with 152 votes; Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello polled 47 votes to come fifth and the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade came sixth with 37 votes.
With this development, Tinubu will slug it out at the presidential election with the candidate of the PDP, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and candidates of the 16 other political parties in the country.
Daily Trust reports that Atiku had won the May 28 presidential primary of the PDP.
While the PDP candidate hails from Adamawa in the North East geopolitical zone, his counterpart of the APC is from Lagos State in the South West geopolitical zone.
Both of them are septuagenarians, who have been in the country’s political terrain for over three decades as Atiku is 75 and Tinubu is 70.
Aside from the duo of Atiku and Tinubu, analysts said the candidates of the Labour Party and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi and his New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) counterpart, a former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa, are contenders to look at.
Obi’s strength lies in the South East geopolitical zone and Kwankwaso’s is in the North West, especially Kano, which is regarded as the votes bank of the ruling APC.
Osinbajo, Lawan, others have nothing to fear – Asiwaju
Tinubu has said all those that did not support his emergence in the just concluded primaries need not fear, assuring that he bears no grudge against them.
Vice President Osinbajo and Senate President Lawan, who both enjoyed Tinubu’s support to get their current positions, contested against the Asiwaju, a move described by some pundits as “betrayal.”
But Tinubu, in his acceptance speech, shortly after he was declared winner, said the competition was over and that it was time to move on.
“To the legislature, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, I would have been a little upset because you competed with me. But it is over now because you can easily lick your wounds.
“The competition is over. Those who did not support me, you have nothing to fear. I hold no grudges or grievances.
“Let us each agree to join hands in defeating the PDP and beating back our common foes of poverty, terror and violence.
“We now have a date with destiny in February 2023. Let us win so Nigeria can become the nation it is intended to be,” he said.
Why I contested against Tinubu – Lawan
Lawan, in his congratulatory message to Tinubu, said as the presidential candidate of the APC, the Asiwaju will lead the party to victory in 2023.
The Senate president in a letter he personally signed said the outcome of the primary had shown that Tinubu was the popular choice of the party.
“ As Your Excellency is aware, I offered myself alongside your good self and other patriotic members of the party to fly its highly coveted flag in the 2023 presidential election.
“I did so in the belief that I have the knowledge base, ideas, experience and desire to provide leadership for our dear country at these most trying times.
“However, the outcome of the election process has shown that Your Excellency is the popular choice of our party for that assignment. I do not have an iota of doubt in the wisdom of that decision by our party’s delegates from across the country,” he said.
Kwankwaso, Obi stand no chance – Fage
A renowned political scientist, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage said that despite the number of presidential candidates, the 2023 presidential election will be a two-horse race between Tinubu and Atiku.
Speaking in a chat with Daily Trust, Fage said the projected third force of NNPP’s Kwankwaso and LP’s Obi does not stand a chance because the constitutional and electoral provision of having 1/4 of the votes from 2/3 of the states and the FCT put them at disadvantage.
“It is going to be a battle of two titans between Atiku and Tinubu because both of them have their political structure and both of them have been looking for this position for several years and thirdly, both of them are not afraid to spend money as we have seen in the primaries.
“What is likely to happen is that there is going to be a big struggle between the two (Tinubu and Atiku) and if care is not taken, the election will be highly monetised because both of them are not afraid to spend money and they are both eager to be the president,” he said.
The professor of political science at Bayero University, Kano (BUK) insisted that there is no advantage that monetisation of election brings to the polity, highlighting that monetisation will “End up making people elect those that are not worthy of the position”, adding that performance will also be foregone because the winner will be after recouping all that has been spent.
Choice of running mate will determine Atiku, Tinubu’s success – Kari
An Associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, said with the emergence of Tinubu, the 2023 presidential race promises to be very interesting; adding that “A potential titanic clash and a battle royale of some sorts, especially squaring him up with Atiku of the main opposition PDP.”
According to him, “The two are about the most experienced and tenacious political gladiators of this generation. They can match each other in terms of guile, wealth, network, support base and strategy. One can hardly contemplate a tougher pairing for the nation’s number one position.
“However, a lot depends on their choices of running mates, and ability or luck in securing the support and cooperation of key individuals and groups who are quite unhappy with the outcome of the primaries,” he said.
He, however, said two other candidates could muster a significant challenge or, at least, serve as spoilers to Tinubu and Atiku.
“Peter Obi of Labour Party is the ‘Igbo candidate’ and a sentimental favourite on many social media platforms. His South East folks, particularly the youth, the educated and others on the fringes of the Biafran agitation, believe he is the hope and answer to their perceived marginalisation by the two major parties. The region has been a good hunting ground for the PDP, but this is now under threat.
“On the other hand, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the NNPP is plotting to chip into the core northern base of the APC, arguably its main asset. Already, NNPP has become a convenient sanctuary for disgruntled and unhappy members of the APC and PDP in the North and beyond,” he said.
On his part, a Professor of Political Science and International Relations, University of Ilorin, Hassan Salihu said yesterday that Tinubu would be a perfect match for Atiku.
He, however, said it was too early to predict what would happen in the main election in 2023.
“The emergence of Tinubu would appear to be a good match to Atiku of the PDP. Because the event just took place, one would not be categorical in terms of who between the two of them would have the chance of winning the election,” he said.
The political scientist stated that the chance of APC was very bright being the ruling party but added that the party would have to work towards uniting the members.
Also speaking, Prof. Sylvester Odion of the Political Science Department, Lagos State University also stated that it was a straight fight between Tinubu and Atiku.
He said, “Presumably, it is a fight between Tinubu and Atiku coming from the two dominant parties. The political turf is open to a lot of permutations. Ingenious steps are required. The one who can play the mass game might carry the day.”
Govs to nominate Tinubu’s running mate – Spokesperson
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Tinubu Campaign Organization, Mr Bayo Onanuga, has said that the former Lagos State governor has a pact with the party’s governors to nominate his running mate.
Speaking on Trust TV’s Daily Politics on Wednesday, Onanuga said the issue of the running mate for the APC’s standard bearer would be collectively resolved.
He said when Tinubu met members of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), he promised them the slot of the vice president.
Asked about how the former Lagos governor will unite the other aspirants and face the opposition PDP, Onanuga said Tinubu has a large heart to forgive even those who betrayed him, promising that the APC candidate will bring together chieftains to work towards the common goal of party’s victory.
Ex-VP meets PDP govs over running mate
Daily Trust reports that governors who are members of the PDP on Wednesday held a meeting with their flag bearer, Atiku, in Abuja.
The meeting was at the Legacy House, Maitama, the Presidential campaign office of the PDP.
Addressing journalists after the over two hours gathering, Chairman of the Forum and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said the meeting was part of the continuous consultation after the primaries on the issue of running mate for Atiku and how to put together a campaign team that will rescue power from the ruling APC.
“It is part of the consultation, it’s ongoing and governors are also being consulted on that,” he said.
Earlier, the governors met with Atiku and the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu for about an hour before the leaders left.
Governors at the meeting were Douyi Diri (Bayelsa), Bala Muhammed (Bauchi), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa).
By Ismail Mudashir, Abdullateef Salau, Itodo Daniel Sule, Baba Martins (Abuja), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano) & Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos)