Year 2023 is another general elections year in Nigeria, and activities have begun in earnest over who would occupy the different public offices that are available for grabs. For the political gladiators, different permutations are ongoing both openly and surreptitiously over who would succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, who got to office under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 and was re-elected under the same party in 2019.
The APC was formed on February 6, 2013 through the coalition of some political parties including the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) with former Lagos Governor and National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the arrow head, and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) with President Muhammadu Buhari as the arrow head.
Then, the party’s major aim was to wrest power from former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and get the progressives into office for the first time as the PDP started ruling from 1999, when the new political dispensation began.
Buhari of the CPC became the presidential candidate of the APC, while Professor Yemi Osinbajo, representing the then ACN was made the vice presidential candidate of the party. These being done, it was believed that there was an unwritten agreement that if the plan worked out and Buhari, from the Northern part of the country, becomes the president, he would rule for eight years, while Tinubu, from the South West would be supported by Buhari and the party to succeed him in 2023. Luckily, the party won the presidential election in both 2015 and 2019, paving way for the fulfillment of the supposed agreement.
It should be noted that Buhari contested for the office of the president in 2003, 2007 and 2011 and he was defeated on the three occasions by the PDP. So, his victory in 2015 was seen as a result of the support he got from Tinubu and his team. But, keen watchers of events have said that the handwriting on the wall after the 2019 general election during which Buhari was reelected, is that Buhari is not disposed to allowing Tinubu to succeed him.
Several claims have been made that there was no love lost between the duo, but these were denied by the associates of the two gladiators, who insisted that there was no division in the two camps. One recent event that propelled the proponents of “Buhari will not hand over to Tinubu in 2023” is the statement by President Buhari in an interview with Arise Television on Thursday June 10, 2021 that “You cannot sit there in Lagos, for instance, and decide the fate of APC on zoning.
Therefore we should allow the party to decide.” It was believed that Buhari was referring to Tinubu, who is perhaps the most powerful member of the party that lives in Lagos. But Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Buhari, Malam Shehu Garba later went to town to defend his principal, and said that the statement was not directed at the former governor.
But is seems the camp of Tinubu is not deceived and they have since gone to town with various campaign groups such as South West Agenda (SWAGA), Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) Foundation, Bola Ahmed Tinubu Grassroots Mobilisation Group amongst others with posters and campaign materials spread all over the country. On his part, Tinubu has not spoken or issue any statement about his assumed ambition for the office of the president of the country.
Some sources close to Tinubu, who spoke to Saturday Telegraph under an-onymity, said that the foremost politician might go for plan B if Buhari fails to fulfill his own part of the bargain during the party primaries next year. According to them, “we have thought of all these. We know what is going on in the presidency. If Buhari allows the prediction of some people that he will betray Tinubu to come to pass, then we will move to another party to actualise our aim.”
The sources said that fairness dictates that ‘one good turn deserves another,’ adding that Tinubu is the most qualified for the office of the president in the country at the moment and that he is unstoppable in 2023. The sources posited that “Tinubu would turn Nigeria around the way he laid the foundation for a new Lagos from 1999 to 2007,” and that “posterity will judge if Tinubu actually means well for Nigeria.”