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APC Presidential Primary: Osinbajo, Tinubu, Lawan, Amaechi In Four Horse Race

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ON the day of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary election, the race for the ticket has narrowed to a straight contest between four leading aspirants – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former governor of Lagos State Bola Tinubu, former minister of transportation Rotimi Amaechi and Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

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The Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Kayode Fayemi and Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi are the two aspirants on the fringes.

Osinbajo as Vice President should be counting on President Muhammadu Buhari’s support and the added advantage of the incumbency factor. But after informing Nigerians that he has a preferred candidate whose identity he said he was keeping secret, and later asking APC governors to support him to choose his successor, Buhari on the eve of the primary election declared that he has no candidate.

Yemi Osinbajo

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But Osinbajo is among the aspirants that are most favoured to pick the APC ticket. There are suspicions that Buhari will want the VP to succeed him to carry on with the programs of his administration and should that be the case, an unpublicized endorsement and support from the President can go a long way in turning the outcome in Osinbajo’s favour.

However, Osinbajo will likely share South-West votes with Tinubu and Fayemi, a development which may erode his zonal advantages.

Tinubu, referred to as the national leader of the APC, has always been the man to beat when it comes to the race for the party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 general elections. In addition to his strong political structure, Tinubu also has the added advantage of being the beneficiary of a widely reported agreement whereby Buhari agreed to hand over to him (Tinubu) at the end of his (Buhari’s) tenure. Going by the account of the Tinubu camp, the agreement was, more or less, the basis for Tinubu’s support for Buhari’s election as President in 2015.

Tinubu

Tinubu visited Buhari at the Presidential Villa before officially declaring his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election. The visit was to seek Buhari’s support, and, thereby activate the controversial agreement between the two men.

So far Buhari has not openly supported Tinubu’s ambition, and the President’s body language does not indicate that Tinubu is his preferred candidate. Tinubu’s recent outburst, while addressing APC delegates in Ogun State, is seen as an angry reaction to the failure to get the President to back his ambition.

Tinubu declared that Buhari would not have become President without his support, and went ahead to make it clear that he expects Buhari to reciprocate by handing the presidency to him.

The APC national chairman Abdullahi Adamu, a Buhari loyalist, has hinted that the party may sanction the former Lagos governor for his utterances and the presidency came out to counter Tinubu’s claims on the eve of the national convention by declaring that no single person should claim the glory of Buhari’s victory in 2015.

In the statement released to counter Tinubu’s claims, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, obviously speaking for Buhari, noted that the manner of Buhari’s emergence in 2015 was not relevant to the 2023 general election.

“What matters is the future: the policy platforms, the ideas, the drive, and the determination to take over the President’s stewardship of our country and build upon his legacy to make our country better than it has ever been. The person most demonstrable in those qualities is the one to lead our party and our country forward,” the presidential aide added in the statement, further suggesting that the presidency does not see Tinubu as Buhari’s ideal successor.

But, in a primary election where aspirants are given a level playing field, as promised by Buhari, Tinubu should fancy his chances.

Amaechi lacks the incumbency factor which favours Osinbajo, and the strong political structure which is Tinubu’s major advantage. But the Rivers State governor is a dogged fighter who has paid his dues in the APC. He is also one of a small circle of APC politicians who are regarded as Buhari’s possible preferred successors.

Ameachi

Amaechi is very close to Buhari, having led the President’s election campaigns in 2015 and 2019.

In addition, the former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly has strong connections in the North, where he is widely accepted as demonstrated by his recent title as Dan Amanar Daura (trusted son of Daura) by the Emir of Daura, Umar Farouk.

Although a controversial move by APC national chairman Adamu to declare him as the consensus candidate was foiled on June 6, Senate President Ahmed Lawan remains a formidable force in the race for the party’s presidential ticket.


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