Twenty-eight aspirants picked the forms of the APC for the presidency. They are APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; a former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole; Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello; former governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele and former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.
Others are Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi; Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru; Pastor Tunde Bakare; Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade; former Senate President Ken Nnamani; former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; former governor of Zamfara State, Sani Yarima; former Minister of Information, Ikeobasi Mokelu and a female aspirant, Uju Ohanenye; Nicholas Felix; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; AFDB president, Akinwunmi Adesina and Tein Jack-Rich.
However, five of the 28 aspirants did not fill and return their forms, including Jonathan, Emefiele, Adesina, Ngige and Ayade at the time the exercise was closed. But yesterday, there was a report online that Jonathan had submitted the forms through the ‘backdoor’.
Party stalwarts said the chances of Osinbajo, Tinubu, Lawan, Amaechi and Onu to clinch the ticket were bright.
He was Commissioner for Justice and the Attorney-General of Lagos State throughout the eight-year reign of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. When the Muslim-Muslim ticket could not fly in 2015, he was picked as the running mate of President Buhari.
He has toured the 36 states and the FCT, where he interacted with the delegates of the party ahead of the primary. As Buhari’s deputy since 2015, his supporters say he has the blessings of the president to succeed him.
The former Lagos State governor played a key role in the formation of the APC and did the same in the emergence of President Buhari. To people around him, it is payback time. They said the president should assist Tinubu to actualise his lifelong ambition.
Like the vice president, the national leader of the APC has interacted with the party’s delegates in states. If the primary is conducted, his supporters believe he would have his way.
The main challenge that may weigh down Tinubu’s aspiration is the issue of running mate.
Twice, he was the director-general of Buhari’s campaign organisation. The former governor of Rivers State has been to many states like other aspirants to woo delegates.
One of the leaders in Amaechi’s campaign team told this paper that they believe the former Rivers State governor is the president’s candidate.
He joined the race at a time there is speculation about a plot by some people around the president to retain power in the North beyond 2023. The Senate president, who has been in the National Assembly since 1999, has, however, punctured this claim.
While speaking in Katsina during his visit, he said, “I am running as a Nigerian presidential aspirant, not a northern aspirant.
“I am not running as a northern aspirant because the impression created is that I am a northern aspirant or that northerners are saying they are not going to allow power to the South.
“I come with all my qualifications for that office and people should judge me based on what I have to offer.”
There are reports that if the PDP picks it candidate from the North, Lawan would be considered for the APC ticket.
He is the immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation. He resigned to contest for the presidency. He is seen as one of the South East leaders close to President Buhari. There were reports that he is being considered as the dark horse.
‘It’s a point of no return’
Commenting on the high profile politicking in the two leading parties, a research fellow in the United States, Aminu Abdullahi, said the PDP and APC ought to have done better in terms of their preparations.
“The two parties thought that 2023 is still very far, and that is why they are racing against time now. In the US and other places, the coast tends to be clear far ahead of time on who is the likely president.
“In Nigeria, there is little synergy between elected officials and their political parties. There is serious suspicion, and that is why we are having some of these challenges of campaign and selection management. I hope we grow,” he said.