Politics

2023 presidency: Celebrated contenders versus fresh contestants.

Indeed, if the election holds this month, two broad categories of contenders would be discernible – veterans and newcomers. 
 
For now, the familiar faces on the turf with covert and overt interest in the contest include, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, former Lagos, Imo, Kano, Kwara and Abia state governors, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Rochas Okorocha, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Bukola Saraki, and Orji Uzor Kalu. There are also Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, and Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim.

First-timers in the race are Governors David Umahi, Kayode Fayemi, Bala Mohammed, Yahaya Bello and Nyesom Wike, as well as Chris Baywood-Ibe, Peter Obi, Rotimi Amaechi, Danjuma Goje, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, and Senator Ahmad Lawan. Apart from Prof. Moghalu who is yet to disclose the platform he intends to gun for the plum job, the rest are unevenly divided between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). How far they will go in ventilating their ambition, therefore, depends on how the two parties reconcile the various issues dogging their leadership structures at the national convention.
  
According to observers, the journey to the 2023 general election would have begun in earnest by the time the two predominant political parties hold their national convention later this year.
   
While the main opposition PDP has fixed its national convention for October 30/31, the governing APC believes that only after the October 2 state congresses, would the stage be set to fix a date for its national convention.

The two main political parties –the APC and the PDP are spoiling for another major political battle in 2023 and both believe that whichever party wins the presidential contest stands the chance of diminishing or even dismantling the other.
  
Consequently, 16 months to the 2023 presidential showdown, both the APC and the PDP are looking up to their national conventions to strengthen their structures for a competitive outing. And as they prepare, their chieftains are enmeshed in arguments over zoning.
   
Pundits believe that the emergence of national chairmen of the two major parties would provide ready indicators regarding which zone (between North and South) that would produce the presidential standard-bearers of both parties. However, the Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, told The Guardian that the position of national chairman of the party would not determine where the presidential candidate would come from, adding that the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi committee would come up with the necessary guides for the zoning of those offices.
  
Also speaking in a television programme, the former PDP national chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, said that not being in power, the preoccupation of the party was to elect capable candidates to lead it to victory in the presidential poll after the successful emergence of the chairman.
  
On its part, the governing APC is battling with fundamental challenges, which include the zoning of the offices of the national chairman and the presidential candidate. The party is also divided over the claim that there was an agreement that power would shift to the South and that Tinubu would succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.

The former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, told journalists in Abuja, recently that it amounts to wishful thinking for anybody to expect that the 2023 presidential slot should be zoned to the South.
 
The octogenarian, who is also representing Nasarawa West in the Senate on the platform of APC, contended that every Nigerian of voting age is free to join the presidential contest since according to him, zoning is not contained in the country’s constitution.
    
“The constitution is being reviewed. If you want a specific provision that presidential positions be zoned, this is when to say it, and how you want it to be zoned. You can’t just wish away, a situation that is fundamental to a country. You can’t talk of merit and zoning at the same time. You can’t. “So, let’s just go by merit; let every party find a way of selling itself in a manner that will garner the kind of votes needed to win the election. It’s as simple as that,” he asserted, stressing that, “even though federal character exists, it does not mean that parties must zone the presidency during the election.”
   
But short of dismissing the APC and the PDP as two sides of the same coin, the spokesperson of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, stated: “There are several characteristics that the two dominant political parties have displayed for a very long time, it is the same parties that have been playing for a very long time. 
    
“Power is bought and sold. And so, it is only available to the rich and that is very dangerous. Political parties are supposed to serve certain purposes, they articulate the needs of the people, they represent them and they aggregate them, this is what we want for elite recruitment.”

Baba-Ahmed reasoned that instead of calling for a government of national unity to address the failings of both the APC and the PDP in moving the country forward, a credible “political process through the electoral process can create a government of national unity.”
   
He added: “All you need is a leadership that emerged legitimately. Every Nigerian needs to know that when you say this is the leader, you are referring to someone that won the election.”

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