Feature- 2023: Between Bola Ahmed Tinubu & his Political Apprentice

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by Femi Ojo

Interesting times are here with the 2023 general elections in view and the new year 2022 as a pre-election year. The current administration of President Buhari is currently on a countdown to its expiry date and many politicians across political parties both popular and unpopular, rich, not too rich even the ones with no fat bank account are already indicating interest to take over the mantle of power from ‘Sai Baba’ come May 29, 2023.

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Of most important among these political characters and political parties positioning themselves for Aso Rock’s office are two politicians from same ruling party APC, whose supporters across the country and beyond have recently started drumming up supports for these two candidates and also consulting far and near to see the possibility of their principals to be the chosen one. These two candidates are the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man popularly referred to as Jagaban and the current Vice President of Nigeria, and the former attorney general of Lagos State, Prof. ‘Yemi Osinbajo. The former is a political strategist and the disputed godfather of southwest politics in Nigeria, while the latter can be said as Jagaban’s inspiring political apprentice, a learned fellow and an erudite scholar of international repute.

The perceptible truth is that there are certain elements in the ruling party, APC that are not only ready to commit their resources, use their political networks, goodwill, connections, and source for funds from associates within and outside the ruling party to challenge and perhaps make the presidential dream of Jagaban of Borgu a tall order and in place, consent to Osinbajo’s candidacy. In Osinbajo, his supporters see a new Nigeria more governed, democratized, prosperous, united, strategically positioned in the international community, and a more respected political brand based on his experience and public figure demeanor in turbulent moments, especially in the current dispensation.

As for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, without polemics, Jagaban remains a politician of note, a political strategist, godfather of some sorts, a trailblazer with a robust political network across Nigeria and beyond, a great talent discoverer, and has the financial capability to finance his political ambition and even sponsor some of his political trainees. But here is a man who has many political credits but who as well has many punitive political scores waiting for him in 2023; not only in the southwestern part of the country or the eastern part but with other politically significant individuals across the country. To them, 2023 is the payback time, and should APC present the ex-governor of Lagos State, there might be a collaboration and convergency of intra and inter oppositional elements that are ready to antagonize Jagaban’s choice and perhaps ensure his defeat at the polls.

The political race and game for 2023 are definitely on and from all the current political quirks and realignments, one can see the activation of internal political dynamism and catechesis of external political aversion in the polity. Though pitifully, while Osinbajo’s supporters and Asiwaju’s men have started albeit strategically, creating publicity for their candidates and ensuring that those who matter are on their side and strongly canvassing other politicians and influential figures across the country for support; the supposed opposition party with umbrella is yet to have a formidable candidate that Nigerians might consider as an alternative that can bring out the country from the state of economic strangulation and hopelessness that APC has pillaged us into. 

But having seen the current political permutations in the south and the associated agitation for zoning of the presidency to the eastern region and the rumor of possible onboarding of former President Jonathan to APC as a contender, the one million dollar question is, who between the duo of Jagaban and Osinbajo will be more acceptable not only within the ranks and files of APC but across Nigeria if eventually, the southwest gets the nod at the presidency? Again, with a paradigm shift to youth inclusion in political participation and call for a healthy presidential candidate ( one who will not be going on medical tourism abroad for months), one that is fit enough for the rigorous job that the office of Nigeria’s presidency entails, who then among the duo of Jagaban and Osinbajo is at advantage, if these factors above were to be strongly considered?

Moreover, as the year 2022 pre-election year gradually unfolds and political parties begin to plan for their conventions and primaries, one will definitely expect that the supporters of these two politicians will have to work so hard to strongly convince APC’s party proximate actors, who among them deserves the ruling party’s support or otherwise. However, one also looks forward to seeing other candidates like Yaya Bello and the rest put up their dramatic politics not necessarily because they are serious about such ambitions but for strategic future political positioning when this administration of President Buhari is over.

But reminisce that politics is no mathematics especially given our kind of politics in this clime; anything can still happen at the end of all the initial ‘gragra’. Who knows if none of Jagaban and Osinbajo will yield the calls of their supporters and both support the clamor for zoning of the presidency to the eastern part? Or what if President Buhari just plays the non-aligned card and just allows anyone that can convince APC’s party’s hierarchy to have the ticket?  

This is politics, only time will tell!

Femi Ojo is a media communications professional and wrote from Lagos.

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