2023 is fast approaching and I don’t think it would be wrong for me to assume that Nigerians are looking forward to the general elections that will take place. With President Muhammad Buhari leaving the seat of Presidency vacant in 2023, the question on everyone’s minds is who will run for president under the All Progressive Congress (APC). Will it be the national leader of the party; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu or the current vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, (SAN) who is also a member of the party.
These men are great leaders and have political experience, especially the veteran politician, Tinubu; whose political career has spanned across decades. The Jagaban as we all know him was born on the 29th of March, 1952. He has been actively participating in politics for close to two decades. This career began with his short-term senatorial election in 1992 as a founding member of the now-defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). He had to flee the country following threats to the Abacha-led military regime but returned in 1998 after the demise of General Sani Abacha. In 1999, he was elected as the Governor of Lagos State under the Alliance for Democracy Party (AD). He was in office for 8 years and he achieved unprecedented feats in the time he spent despite a fall-out with the Obasanjo-led government which saw an end to the state’s monthly federal allocation.
Unlike most Nigerian politicians who will seek election as senators, or appointment as ministers after exhausting their gubernatorial tenures, Tinubu receded into the shadows; not to run away from politics but to raise more selfless leaders like himself. We can see the reflection of his mentorship in his protégés who include his successor and the current Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), and the speaker of the federal House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila. Despite not being in power, he continues to serve the public in varying capacities. Tinubu is one of the most successful politicians in Nigeria as well as one of the most patriotic citizens and leaders. He believes in inclusive leadership and shuns do-or-die politics.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo (GCON) has deep roots in law and legislature than in politics. Born on the 8th of March, 1957, the easygoing second citizen of Nigeria was an exceptional student. He attended Igbobi College, Yaba, and graduated with a lot of awards. He proceeded to the University of Lagos and obtained a law degree; graduating Second Class Honours (Upper Division) and the Graham-Douglas Prize for Commercial Law. After completing the mandatory professional training at the Nigerian Law School and passing his bar exams in 1979, he practiced as a Barrister and Solicitor of Nigeria’s Supreme Court. The following year, he went on to the London School of Economics and obtained his Masters of Law Degree. Upon returning, he began work as a law lecturer at his alma mater, the University of Lagos at the age of 23. He also served as an Adviser to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ajibola between 1988 to 1992. He was made Professor of Law and the Head of the Department of Public Law in the university.
Afterward, he served in different positions as a lawyer and a professor. He joined APC in 2013 after its formation. In 2014, Buhari announced Osinabajo as his running mate for the 2015 elections. As fate and the will of Nigerians would have it, they were elected into power. He was acting president in 2017 when President Muhammad Buhari embarked on a medical trip. In the 2019 general elections, the duo was re-elected and have remained in power. Yemi Osinbajo is also the Pastor-in-charge of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the Lagos Province 48.
Now, these are two important members of the APC, they both have an array of powerful allies and supporters. The funny thing however is that none of them has declared their interest in running for presidency come 2023. They both have support groups with chapters spread across the country. These support groups are declaring interests on behalf of Tinubu and Osinbajo respectively and are already rallying and printing posters for their preferred aspirant. One can’t blame them because each man has the unique traits that make him suitable for the job.
Tinubu’s support group is called the South West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA’23) and is headed by the former Minister of Works and Media Adviser to the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola (M.K.O), Prince Dayo Adeyeye. This group has been aggressively meeting and consulting with major stakeholders to secure endorsement for Bola Tinubu as President in 2023. They have embarked on state tours and visits to monarchs and traditional leaders, with a large number of them throwing their weight behind the Asiwaju of Lagos. In a rare public appearance since his arrival from the UK, he graced the book launch of Chief Bisi Akande, the former interim chairman of APC, last week. The President was also in attendance. The autobiography titled My Participations was praised by Jagaban who has had a long-standing relationship with the author.
Osinbajo’s support group is the Progressive Consolidation Group (PCG) and is led by Dr. Aliyu Kurfi. They claim to be the very first 2023 support group to get formal recognition from APC and insist that although Osinbajo has not declared his interest, he also hasn’t spoken against it. They are also amassing supporters and the group is increasing in number.
In every political scene, there are critics. Ignoring the support groups and their rallies, some people have expressed their concerns on the ethnicity of both men (they are both from the Southwestern part of Nigeria). In Nigeria, power is rotated from one major ethnic region to the other and so far, no other president has emerged from the Eastern region of Nigeria. They are worried that should either man win in the 2023 general elections, it would take 40 years before power returns to the East as the Northern region would be the next in line. For this reason, they support the idea that none of them should run for president in 2023.
You can trust that these opinions would deter neither SWAGA’23 nor PCG from continuing their clamour for Tinubu and Osibanjo respectively. Tinubu’s supporters are banking on his experience and skills as a seasoned politician and leader and they have every right to do so as he has proven himself as a selfless leader over and over again. Osinbajo’s supporters may rely on his proficiency in Law and his ability to influence the reformation of the Judicial system if he is in power but does he have the experience and skills to be President?
One of the fundamental human rights is the “Right to vote and be voted for”. Osinbajo has every right to run for president and so does Tinubu. If they both decide to run; we have democracy to thank for that. Each man has his choice to make. However, one thing Osinbajo is known for is his fierce loyalty to his mentor and benefactor. He respects hierarchy and doesn’t like to disrupt order and peace by campaigning against his leaders and higher authority.
I believe the opposition and detractors will be disappointed by the outcome of the APC primaries. There wouldn’t be a dramatic display of any sort as it is obvious that the odds are in favour of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.