- While the opposition PDP is doing all it can to retain power from the ruling party, analysts shared what could lead to a successful or failed aspiration of the APC
- Ahead of the 2023 polls, the ruling party is yet to zone its presidential ticket as the party’s delegates, leaders as well as observers converge on Eagle Square to elect their flagbearer
- Meanwhile, a social media activist disclosed the APC would fail come 2023 because the PDP has perfected its move with the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as its party flagbearer
Though it still appears controversial, the All Progressives Congress (APC), may have zoned its presidential candidate to the South as against throwing it open for all aspirants.
Following the emergence of Atiku Abubakar from the Peoples Democratic Party's presidential primary as the flagbearer of the party ahead of the 2023 election, President Muhammadu Buhari had said that the dynamics must change.
Buhari, while addressing APC governors in Aso Rock, Abuja, had said that the party must rely on its internal cohesion to be able to beat the opposition in the coming elections.
He then charged the governors to discuss among themselves in order to ensure that the party arrives at an acceptable candidate without rancor.
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Buhari told the governors that they have been “accorded the privilege” of choosing their successors, but added that he would need their support and other party stakeholders in order to select the right person that should succeed him.
The president had said:
“The processes for the 2023 general election have commenced in earnest and I note that the most successful political parties globally have always relied on their internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand to achieve bigger electoral fortunes.”
Controversy on zoning
But the party has recently been wrapped in the controversy on where the party's presidential candidate should be zoned to.
While the media was awash about Buhari's position that the party should allow a southern candidate to emerge in the interest of peace and equity, a statement by the party dismissed the report, stating that Buhari only talked about a consensus candidate from among the aspirants and not zoning.
The APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said on Sunday that President Muhammadu Buhari did not direct that the party’s 2023 presidential ticket be zoned to any particular region.
Adamu's spokesman, Muhammad Nata’ala Keffi, in a statement quoted his principal. He stated that the meeting with the president did not discuss zoning.
Keffi avowed that the claims of zoning were false, mischievous, and misleading.
He reiterated what the president said to be “a consensus that would help the party reduce the number of aspirants and bring up a formidable candidate”.
Part of the statement read:
“From the quotations from Mr. President’s speech, there is nowhere where zoning was mentioned.
“We call on the public to disregard any information about the zoning of the presidential contest to any part country."
It’s not clear yet where the president stands with regard to zoning.
Will zoning to south help APC?
Zoning the presidency to the South will mean that the 11 northern governors will support a southern candidate. And since Nigeria's election is about building structure and having the financial strength to pull through, APC may have an advantage over other political parties in the national election.
Analysts believe that the best APC has done so far is the consideration of a southern candidate. Mr Tony Enoh, a politician told Legit.ng that APC did very well in its decision, hence they have now opened the contests as against zoning to the north which would have dealt a serious blow to its aspiration of retaining power.
"What APC has done has given it a new lifeline. The south will now come out in 2023 in what I will call solidarity votes.
"Again, with the 11 northern governors throwing their weight behind a southern candidate, PDP and other parties will have to struggle."
But Mr Ben Nwabueze, a social media activist said no matter APC's gimmicks, the party will fall in 2023.
He said Atiku and the PDP stand the best chance at the moment considering the zoning of the presidency to the North.
According to him, if APC eventually zones its presidential ticket to the south, the north will give Atiku a block vote.
"Forget what the northern governors are saying. The north is north anytime. Don't trust their decision to zone the presidency to the south. Most of these governors, even in the APC will work for Atiku secretly.
"And I believe so strongly that only a few northerners can vote for a southerner in a national election when their northern brother is in the race. Watch and see what will happen."
While the debate on what will work for each political party continues to gain ground, politicians have continued to work endlessly, spending quality time together to strategize.
Why Zoning to north won't work for APC
Legit.ng has observed that one problem the APC has with zoning its presidential ticket to the north is the quality of the northern aspirants.
According to our findings, the party is concerned that the main contender from the north is the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. It's believed that the party's main concern is that Lawan does not have the capacity or the popularity to win a national election. This concern was recently expressed by a former Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima when he said that in the far south, people don't know Lawan and that the only thing that readily comes to mind when Lawan's name is mentioned is “a tomato dealer who is bringing tomatoes from Maiduguri.”
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Going by the above, Lawan may not have the capacity to beat fellow northerners such as Atiku Abubakar and Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.
Why a southern candidate may work for APC
The politicians aspiring to fit in Buhari's shoes from the south come 2023 appear formidable going by track record, Legit.ng has learned.
Three of the aspirants that may have had everything working for them politically are Bola Ahmad Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor and national leader of the APC, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.
Beyond his popularity, he has built a formidable political structure across the country. One thing working for the former Lagos State Governor is his political dominance in the South West.
Most Governorship elections in the southwest were decided by his commitment and sagacity. The majority of Governors in the South West emerged through his political and financial contributions.
And the national leader of the APC is very proud of this. Boldly beating his chest in this regard, Tinubu had said that if not for him, Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun wouldn't have emerged as Governor. Tinubu was angered by Abiodun's open support for his co-contestant and his former ally, Yemi Osinbajo.
The former Lagos State Governor had also boasted that President Muhammadu Buhari almost gave up his ambition of becoming the nation's president if not for his effort. He equally boasted of ensuring that the 2015 contest against a seating government was won.
Relatively, Tinubu had claimed that Yemi Osinbajo is who he is today because of him (Tinubu). Osinbajo has at no point denied this fact, as he was the Attorney General of Lagos State under Tinubu and was hand-picked by the former Lagos Governor as the nation's vice president.
Tinubu's political structure goes even beyond the southwest as he has built a political empire for himself even in the north.
However, what is not working for the Jagaban as he is fondly called, is his age. Nigerian voters may look at such a criterium in 2023.
Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law and former Attorney General of Lagos State is currently, Nigeria's vice president. Besides his powerful contribution to the current government in the area of ease of doing business and the social investment scheme he had championed, the vice president's loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari and his ability to turn things around each time Buhari is out of the country has put him ahead of others.
There are speculations that President Buhari may have him in mind as his successor.
Coming from the South-South, Amaechi has the opportunity of completing Jonathan's second tenure since the former president did not join the race.
Besides the above advantage, Amaechi's achievements in the transport sector, and his closeness to President Muhammad Buhari have given him a powerful advantage in the contest. It would be recalled that the former Rivers State governor was recently honoured with a traditional title by the Emir of Daura, the hometown of President Buhari.
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Amaechi is said to have built a strong political link from the south to the north. He was the director-general of the Buhari campaign organization that displaced the PDP.
Legit.ng observes that no matter the region APC and PDP zone their presidential ticket to, it will amount to a serious oversight should they overlook other political parties such as Kwankwaso's NNPP and Peter Obi's Labour Party, LP.
Exclusive: Sources say Buhari gave APC governors hint on Osinbajo as successor
Meanwhile, President Buhari will likely anoint a successor and propose a consensus presidential candidate for the APC.
The president gave this indication on Tuesday, May 31, during his meeting with APC governors and the national chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
Some APC sources had told Legit.ng that the president may have hinted who he will pick as his successor.