A few months before the 2019 elections as the political pendulum was swinging from the incumbent president Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to his formidable challenger Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a Senator told me emphatically that the president would win it right up to the Supreme court as the outcome were a foregone conclusion.
Rather than seek to split any hairs, Nigerians should instead try to look to the next elections circle in 2023.
“Look, Iliya, 2023 is going to be the make or break year for Nigerian politics’’, he said.
‘’Unlike the 2019 elections in which there is an incumbent who is still riding on some goodwill and popularity, the 2023 elections will be an open field.
“A lot of political questions will come up on the way to the 2023 elections and how they are resolved with determine not just the outcome of the elections but the future of Nigeria as well’’, he concluded.
As the political temperature in the country begins to warm up we can see that what the Senator cannily said is beginning to manifest.
In the normal course of Nigerian politics, I make it just one and half years from now (that is up to the first half 2022) for serious governance to take place.
The remaining time up to 2023 will undoubtedly be devoted to politicking.
Already with the high stakes riding on the 2023 elections, some very pertinent questions are making the rounds in the polity which promises to define the tenor of the politics of 2023 and beyond.
Will president Buhari ‘’anoint’’ a successor?
This is a legitimate question bearing in mind that in politics every leader wants to have a worthy successor to continue with his legacies after he might have left office.
In his many statements president Buhari has indicated his desire to see the policies he had painstakingly enacted in the country sustained.
Again if one considers that the president has also had cause on occasions to state that he will not allow certain types of people to succeed him.
This is taken by some to mean that the president will probably find someone among his associates to put forward to the APC and the country as his successor.
But Umar Lukman, a former Foreign Service officer, media consultant and political analyst reasons that those expecting the president to choose a successor are wasting their time.
First of all from his political antecedents, president Buhari had never groomed anybody to understudy him politically nor has he shown any inclination in the past five years he had been in office to bring up somebody among the denizens of his associates as a likely successor.
‘’Bear in mind that most of the people around him now are strange political bedfellows to him.
“They came in following the merger of political parties to form the APC.
“Most of the people that started the political journey with him from the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) like Sule Yahaya Hamma, Buba Galadima and Senator Ahmed Sani Yeriman Bakura have for one reason or the other parted ways with him.
“These are some of the people he could probably have groomed if they were still together.
“The closest to an anointing that I have seen president Buhari do is to either openly endorse candidates at a rally or tacitly support them without an open pronouncement’’.
President Buhari may also be wary of the pitfalls of putting up a successor in view of the unsavoury experiences of principals/successors in the country.
In this regard it is instructive that most of the anointed successors to political offices in the country have turned against their political benefactors.
President Buhari may perhaps decide to pursue a middle course if faced with a dilemma of making sure his legacies are continued on one hand and trying to avoid the messy issue of an anointed successor going rogue.
If he has a successor in the works he may just decide to keep such a decision close to his chest only to spring it at the opportune time.
Will Bola Tinubu clinch the ticket and go on to win the presidency?
Bola Tinubu’s presidential ambition is the worst kept secret in the polity.
Everything about him from his body language to his public statements on issues and his engagements around the country betrays this unmistakeable fact even if he has so far refrained from admitting such.
A Lagos based journalist I spoke to, told me that the Asiwaju was so primed that all he needs is the ticket of any political party but preferably the APC ‘s for obvious reasons, to clinch the presidency.
He said that the consummate strategist he is, Bola Tinubu has considered and worked on all possible angles of his presidential ambition to near perfection.
Nothing he says has been left to chance in this regard.
Within the ruling APC, he is the most important personality after president Buhari, position which strategically places him at an unassailable advantage to clinch the party’s presidential ticket.
Indeed Tinubu is so advantageously placed in the party that he probably needs no anointing to clinch the party’s presidential ticket.
Tinubu’s other massive advantage is the enormous resources he commands.
Some say he is probably the richest political figure in the country and if he clinches the APC presidential ticket, money will be no object to finance his presidential campaign.
With regard to the funding necessary to run his projected presidential campaign, my Lagos journalist colleague let me in on a nugget of information previously unknown to many.
He said one of the reasons Tinubu allegedly saw to the ouster of former governor Ambode was to ensure that a new person who will be beholden to him was in the position of governor of Lagos in the run up to the 2023 elections.
From his stranglehold of Lagos politics, Tinubu had discerned from sources that Ambode was gradually planning to eviscerate the vice-like grip of the Asiwaju in Lagos.
For being seen to be such a threat to Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition, Ambode just had to go.
(Next week; what fate VP Osinbajo? will the Northwest-Southwest political alliance hold in 2023? Wither the Southeast?)