Although the 2023 general elections in Nigeria are still slightly more than two years away, top politicians in the country, particularly those with dreams of becoming the nation’s next President, are already gearing up for the polls. They are busy making overt and covert moves to position themselves to increase their chances of becoming the nation’s number one citizen come 2023.
Few of them have publicly declared their intentions to run for the office. Others are yet to make their intentions public. But even for the latter, the Nigerian public can still read their intentions because their deft political moves in recent times easily give them away. Besides, some of them have, either wittingly or unwittingly, disclosed their intents through their proxies.
This piece sets out to realistically rate the chances of these presidential hopefuls in the 2023 race. Who among them has the most realistic chance of becoming Nigeria’s President in 2023? Who among them do the odds favor to take the exalted seat in the next election cycle? The article also welcomes the reader’s input into the debate.
On a general note, let us first agree that the political platform on which these men choose to pursue the actualization of their presidential ambition will go a long way in determining whether they achieve their dream or not.
As things stand at the moment, except something revolutionary happens between now and 2023, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are still the most viable platforms on which anyone who aspires to be Nigeria’s next President has the most realistic chance to succeed.
Having established that, let us now dive straight into analyzing and rating each of the presidential hopefuls’ chances of success in the race. Meanwhile, the presidential hopefuls include Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, Rauf Aregbesola, Kayode Fayemi, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, Yemi Osinbajo, Aminu Tambuwal, Orji Uzor Kalu, and Umahi.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Bola Tinubu needs no introduction in Nigerian politics. The APC chieftain has, except for being president, been there and done that. He has been a senator of the federal republic of Nigeria. He was a two-term governor of Lagos State.
Since relinquishing power as governor, Tinubu has gone on to become the imperial godfather of Lagos and southwest Nigeria politics at large. He has single-handedly installed the three successive governors after him in Lagos State. He has a big say in who becomes governor in each state in the southwest geopolitical zone as well. What’s more? He almost single-handedly installed Muhammadu Buhari as president by galvanizing the entire southwest region to support him. Without the region’s massive support, Buhari would never have won the election on both occasions.
However, despite Tinubu’s unprecedented political achievements, his presidential aspiration continues to divide public opinion as none of the other hopefuls’ ambition does.
To his supporters and loyalists, he is the quintessential astute politician best qualified to be the next president. He is the next best thing after sliced bread. But to a host of others, he is too ambitious, too greedy, and too corrupt to be president.
The odds in favor:
–His immeasurably deep pockets.
–The clamor for power shift to the south.
–His almost nationwide network of loyalists.
–His political shrewdness.
The odds against:
–Opposition to his ambition within the APC, especially from the North.
–Judging from happenings within the party, APC might not remain a political entity till 2023 largely due to too many contending and competing interests.
–Stiff competition for his party’s presidential ticket.
–Betrayal and back-stabbing by his trusted acolytes and those he helped to power. Elements from the north within his party do not trust him. They will betray him when it matters most to him. It is interesting to note that the few voices from the North which back his presidential aspiration as those of men that could be rightly regarded as political lightweights or men of no serious political consequence.
–The electorate’s unfavorable perception of him as overambitious and greedy is a big minus to his ambition.
–His status as a maximum imperial godfather who must be deferred to would work against him. Already there is a new political refrain that is gaining popularity in the country because of his larger-than-life political image in Lagos. Nowadays, wherever any politician attempts to play the maximum imperious godfather in any state of the country, he is promptly reminded, “This is not Lagos!”
However, barring all the odds against him, if he gets the nod of its party to fly its flag at the presidential polls, he will be the man to beat.
Here is yet another man than needs no introduction in the Nigerian political arena. Nigerians remember him as the most powerful Vice President the country has ever had. Before the then-presidential candidate, Olusegun Obasanjo, named him his running mate in the 1999 general elections, he had already won his election as the governor of Adamawa State.
Over the years, Atiku has built formidable political machinery. What’s more? He is not new to the presidential race having run for the office of president on three previous occasions, the latest of which was in 2019.
Odds in favor:
–His formidable political machinery.
–His immense resources to prosecute the election.
–His cosmopolitan posture and bridge-building efforts across all regions of the nation.
–His success as a businessman which portrays him as a good manager of men and resources.
–His age and the groundswell of resistance against recycling old politicians in the system. He is in his seventies.
–His inability to shake off the corruption albatross that his ex-boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, hung on him.
–The clamor for power to shift to the South.
–The corruption stigma he carries with him.
–His persistence at seeking the office of president. Many Nigerians see his persistence as a sign of being overambitious. And as they have learned lately, persistently seeking an office does not necessarily translate to doing well when the opportunity eventually comes.
However, the odds against him notwithstanding, if he picks the tickets of any of the two major parties, he will be a formidable opponent to anyone he contests against.
Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai
Nasir el-Rufai is currently the governor of Kaduna State under the APC. He came to national political limelight during the Obasanjo administration. Before then he had a brief stint in the military regime of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar as an economic adviser, but it was the Obasanjo administration that brought him into national reckoning. He served the Obasanjo administration first as the director of the Bureau for Public Enterprises and later as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
However just before he got into full-time partisan politics and after he became governor of Kaduna State, he started making statements that tend to divide the nation along religious and regional lines rather than unite it.
Odds in favor:
–His brilliance and courage.
–Negative public perception. el-Rufai has consistently been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
–The clamor for power to shift to the South.
–His controversial utterances and posture on burning national issues which always to divide rather than unite.
–His handling of the Southern Kaduna crisis has been nothing but disastrous for many Nigerians.
–His poor human rights record as manifested in his high-handed handling of opposing and dissenting elements.
–His disdain for the rule of law as evidenced in his flagrant disobedience of court orders.
–His son, Bashir’s belligerent and antagonistic views and stance on social media which has incurred people’s wrath and created more enemies for his father.
–The stiff competition to secure his party’s ticket. That is the party remains an entity till 2023.
No matter which platform el-Rufai chooses to run on, becoming Nigeria’s President will prove a daunting task for him. The recent protests against his inclusion as a speaker at this year’s NBA’s Annual General Conference, which eventually led to his exclusion, bear eloquent testimony to that assertion.
Peter Obi was the running mate to Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 general election on the platform of the PDP. Before then he was governor of Anambra State in southeast Nigeria, where he acquitted himself creditably well. His stewardship in Anambra was characterized by massive developments, especially in agriculture. He bequeathed a rich treasury to his successor, something that is very rare in the Nigerian political space.
Although he has not publicly declared his intention to vie for the presidency in 2023, many Nigerians have been brandishing his name as one of those they favor to become the country’s next president.
Odds in favor:
–His academic prowess and business acumen. He holds a Ph.D. and has been a very successful businessman.
–His solid pedigree as governor of Anambra State.
–His in-depth understanding of economic issues.
–The clamor for power to shift to the South, especially the southeast.
–Stiff competition to secure his party, the PDP’s presidential ticket.
–He may be unable to muster the kind of financial war chest required to successfully prosecute a presidential election in Nigeria. Peter Obi is a frugal man.
If he gets to pick his party’s ticket, he will prove the candidate to beat in the election.
Just so that this piece does not become too long and makes a boring read, we will consider the chances of the rest of the presidential hopefuls in the second part of the piece which will come soon.