As Nigeria approaches 2023 general election, the decisions of certain key personalities, organs of governments and agencies in 2022 will shape the country’s political dynamics, write Ejiofor Alike, Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Segun James, and Adedayo Akinwale, Alex Enumah and Udora Orizu
Will Buhari Anoint a Successor?
Barely 14 months to the 2023 general election, the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari offers no clue as to the choice of his successor.
Many political analysts believe that President Buhari, just like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, will not resist the temptation of anointing a successor who is expected to protect his legacies.
Obasanjo had anointed the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and had also groomed former President Goodluck Jonathan to take over from the late president.
Though President Buhari has remained silent on the issue, members of his kitchen cabinet and his strong allies in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were said to have mounted pressure on him to support a presidential candidate that would protect his interest after his tenure.
With the 2023 general election coming up on Saturday, February 18, 2023, it is expected that the president will make his choice in 2022 and this will change the tempo of politics this year.
Will Osinbajo Emerge from the Shadow of Doubt?
Though Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has refused to formally declare his interest to contest the 2023 presidential election, there are strong indications that he is nursing presidential ambition.
The Progressives Consolidation Group (PCG), which has since metamorphosed to The Progressive Project (TPP) has taken it upon itself to ensure that Osinbajo’s presidency becomes a reality. Recently, the TPP made public and formal their principal’s intention to succeed Buhari in 2023 with the launch of a campaign office in Abuja.
The campaign office, located at No. 15b, Buchanan Crescent, off Aminu Kano, by Emab Plaza, Wuse 11, Abuja was decorated with Osinbajo’s banner, with the inscription “Face of Hope.”
With the inauguration of the campaign office, a political slugfest appears to be in the offing between Osinbajo and the former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu, whose undeclared ambition to succeed President Buhari is no longer in doubt. After months of equivocation and outright repudiation, Osinbajo appears finally ready to emerge from the shadows of doubt and throw his hat in the ring for the country’s top job.
But some of the vice president’s supporters have denied that the office launched was Osinbajo’s campaign office. They claimed it was merely the office of a coalition aiming at drafting him into the 2023 presidential race.
In August 2021, PCG held strategic meetings with APC members from all the 34 local government areas in Katsina State, on how to achieve success with the project.
Osinbajo’s ambition is no longer a hidden agenda as former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), recently threw his weight behind him.
Babangida made this known when the Osinbajo Grassroots Organisation (OGO) led by Mr. Ojo Folusho visited him.
He described Osinbajo as a man who has conviction about this country, a man who believes in this country and a man who can communicate with the country; inspire people to achieve a greater goal for the country.
The former president believed that, “such a person is a worthy person that we should all support.”
It is expected that Osinbajo will not keep Nigerians waiting longer than 2022 and his decision will contribute to shaping politics this year.
2022 as APC’s Year of Decision
This year is a decision-making year for the ruling APC over its National Convention and the zoning of the 2023 presidency.
The decision on these two issues will have far-reaching consequences on the survival of the ruling party, which is riddled with crises in many states.
Since the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) successfully conducted its National Convention in October 2021, pressure has been on the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC led by the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni to do the same.
After immense pressure from stakeholders, the Buni committee as well as the APC some governors recently met with Buhari and approved the February 2022 target for the party’s convention, after more than a year of dilly-dally by the Buni committee. Not long after the February target was set, even though no specific date has been chosen, a former Governor of Abia State and the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in a recent letter to Buni called for the postponement of the party’s convention in order to reconcile aggrieved members in some state chapters of the party torn by crisis.
But the Buni committee has however resolved to set up sub-committees on budgeting and other relevant structures for the National Convention of the party.
Though, it is not written in the constitution of the party that power will rotate between the North and South, party stakeholders and leaders had at several times claimed that there was an unwritten agreement that power would rotate to the South in 2023.
It is important to note that the Caretaker Committee of the party was only mandated to conduct the party’s convention; it does not have power to zone the party’s presidential ticket. It is however expected that the new National Working Committee (NEC) that will emerge after the convention of the party will be saddled with that task.
The ruling party will therefore face a make or mar decision in 2022 on the issue of its national convention and the 2023 presidency.
Tinubu and the Race for 2023
Even without declaring his ambition, the National Leader of APC, Senator Bola Tinubu has remained the most active presidential aspirant in the ruling party.
Many political groups are already drumming up support for his undeclared ambition across the six geopolitical zones.
He is the “Glamour Knight” of the party – very rich, charming, glamorous, and hospitable.
If money will play a significant role in determining the presidential candidate of the APC as in the previous primary elections in the country where money played a significant role in determining presidential candidates, then the former Lagos State governor will have an edge over other aspirants.
Despite narrowly losing out in the race for Buhari’s running mate in the 2015 general election, Tinubu has remained a strong pillar of the APC. The future of the APC seems to hang on the shoulders of President Buhari and the former Lagos State governor.
Buhari may have interest in who takes over from him, but Tinubu is determined to take over from him, despite the mounting opposition by political enemies.
The undeclared ambition of Tinubu is already ruffling feathers within the APC.
So, when his ambition is eventually declared in 2022, it will heat up the entire polity.
Will Fayemi’s Rumoured Ambition Come to Fruition?
Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi has also not indicated interest to run for the presidency in 2023.
But his presidential campaign posters, which emerged in some Nigerian cities in August 2020 had sparked public debate on various social media platforms regarding the possibility of his candidacy.
Also in March 2021, members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly also endorsed the undeclared presidential ambition of Fayemi.
The lawmakers had further pledged their full support to work with well-meaning Nigerians and groups for the realisation of having an Ekiti son as the next president.
Fayemi has been quietly leveraging on his position as the Chairman of NGF to galvanise support for his rumoured ambition.
His presidential ambition has already split the Ekiti State chapter of the All Progressives Congress into two.
While a faction of the party in the state is loyal to Fayemi, the other is loyal to Tinubu.
The faction loyal to Tinubu in Ekiti is led by Senator Dayo Adeyeye who is the Coordinator of South West Agenda (SWAGA), a political movement galvanising support for the presidential ambition of the former Lagos State governor.
While featuring on ARISE NEWS Channel recently, Fayemi had refused to deny or confirm his presidential ambition.
Though many political analysts believe that his influence would wane after the expiration of his tenure in 2022, others also believe that his acceptability among his colleagues and the goodwill he enjoys across the six geopolitical zones are enough to help him realise his ambition.
INEC’s Push for Credible Elections
The determination of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct credible elections in 2023 will also help to shape politics in 2022.
If the amended electoral law that is yet to be signed by Buhari becomes a reality in 2022, it will certainly help to define the subsequent elections in 2022 and 2023.
The law will help to eliminate malpractices and compel politicians to sit up ahead of the 2023 general elections because it won’t be business as usual.
Also the three out-of-season elections in the FCT and the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections scheduled for this year will also benefit from this improved electoral law.
Will PDP Flop in Zoning of 2023 Presidency?
The zoning of the 2023 presidency by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2022 can make or mar the party.
The zoning, which will largely be determined by the governors elected on the platform of the party, will be decided this year. The main opposition party had successfully conducted its National Convention where it elected a former President of the Senate, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as its national chairman.
With the zoning of the national chairman to the North, it is expected that the party will zone the presidency to the South, especially given the public mood that favours power shift to the South.
The governors of the party had held strategic meetings in the UK and Spain, on how to determine who will fly the ticket of the party.
Though PDP has claimed to be the party to beat in 2023, this will be determined by the zoning and this crucial decision will be taken this year. Another potential danger ahead is how the party will manage the case of its former National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, which is currently at the Supreme Court.
Secondus is challenging his removal and if the apex court grants his petition, it will change the political equation in the PDP.
Secondus is not alone as there are party chieftains that are quietly watching to see what will happen.
There are also two governorship elections in Ekiti and Ondo states. If the PDP wins the two elections or one, it means that it will make strong inroad into the South-west.
Atiku’s Sustained Ambition
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s sustained presidential ambition is also expected to make a huge influence in the 2022 politics.
He has a wide range of experience having started his presidential quest in 1993 alongside the likes of the late Chief MKO Abiola.
Atiku remains a scion of the Shehu Yar’Adua political dynasty that played influential role in the formation of the PDP.
Since 1993, Atiku has remained a consistent feature in every presidential election and his doggedness has earned him a lot of reputation as a credible and strong-willed politician.
With the clamour for power shift to the South, his ambition will suffer setback.
Age is also not on his side, considering the agitation for a younger president in 2023.
But with his track records, the former vice president will not be daunted by these challenges and will surely declare his ambition this year. This declaration will shape this year’s politics.
Wike, a New Power House in PDP
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State is increasingly becoming the most powerful chieftain of the main opposition party.
Whether he declares for the presidency or not, Wike will play influential role in the determination of the next presidential candidate of the PDP.
PDP has many colourful politicians but none of them has matched the sense of political showmanship and audacity of Wike, the party’s new leader.
In the last seven years as governor of Rivers State, he has stamped his authority as the de facto leader of the PDP.
At last, the PDP may have gotten its grove back and is on its way back from the edge of extinction. From all indications, it is going to give the APC a run for its money.
But this will be largely influenced by the decision of the Rivers State governor, who is believed to be a strong financier of the party.
The Wike factor is going to play a significant role in the emergence of the next presidential candidate of the PDP in 2022.
He came into national fame and recognition in the party when as a governor he was able to take over the leadership of the party to the chagrin of supposed political heavyweights in the party.
He installed Secondus as the national chairman in 2018 and also ensured his removal in 2021 when both of them became estranged.
The Anyim Factor
The public declaration for the presidency by a former President of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim in 2021 will also shape politics of 2022.
With the South-east’s agitation for power in 2023, Anyim’s ambition has become a factor to reckon with by other aspirants from other zones.
With his impressive political leadership experience as former President of the Senate and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim is a grounded politician, who can’t be ignored.
Also, with his disarming humility and simple lifestyle, Anyim is acknowledged by his many political associates and enemies alike as an exceptional consensus builder, and a team player who can be trusted with power.
He is therefore a man to watch as the tempo of political activities rises in 2022.
With some early political moves ahead of the 2023 general election, 2022 will be a year of political streamlining with various stakeholders playing its part to shape the nation’s politics.
As the race for who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 gathers momentum, Nigerians are clamouring for free and fair elections. Since the return to multi-party democracy at the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the National Assembly has gradually evolved into an important player in the governance process.
As part of efforts in transforming future elections to ensure transparency, the legislators, last month finally passed and transmitted the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to Buhari for assent.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives, in the harmonised version adopted the electronic transmission of election results in line with the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The lawmakers also resolved that political parties should adopt direct primary as mode of electing their candidates for elective offices.
While many Nigerians applauded the move by the lawmakers to rescind its earlier decision and allow INEC adopt electronic transmission of election results, the move by the lawmakers to change the primary mode of electing political candidates from indirect to direct has, however, generated controversies among stakeholders particularly state governors who see it as an infringement on the independence and internal democratic workings of individual political parties.
Buhari, last week, declined assent to the Electoral Bill, 30 days after it was transmitted to him by the legislature on November 19, 2021. The president, due to the controversial direct primaries clause therein, believed to have been influenced by state governors, turned down the bill.
He also cited insecurity, the cost of conducting direct primaries and infringement on the rights of Nigerians to participate in governance as his reasons for declining assent to the bill.
However this is not the first time the President is declining assent to this Bill. On March 13, 2018, Buhari, citing a number of concerns, vetoed the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.
As 2023 draws closer, Nigerians are kept in suspense on what the lawmakers will likely do when they resume their legislative activities this month.
Will Judiciary Remain Last Hope?
The place of the judiciary in any constitutional democracy needs not be overemphasised. This is why Nigeria, it continues to play a crucial role in the sustenance of the nation’s democracy as well as the survival of the country as a whole.
In order to constantly remind the judges of their roles, the current leadership of the judiciary under the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has not only been talking tough but has also been making serious efforts at repositioning the judiciary and making it the hope and pride of the ordinary Nigerians.
One of the bane in the judiciary is the indiscriminate issuance of injunctive orders by judges particularly in political cases, be it leadership tussle among members of a political party or rightful flagbearers of political parties in an election.
But for the timely intervention of the CJN, the political terrain would have been in disarray as activities gears up for the 2023 general election.
Some judges, acting outside their jurisdiction, had issued several restraining orders against the INEC, political parties, aspirants as well as candidates in the build-up of the last Anambra State governorship election.
The same scenario also played out in the PDP national convention as well as the state and ward congresses of the ruling APC.
The CJN, apart from issuing stern warnings to judges, also commenced disciplinary actions against judges, who encourage “forum shopping” by do-or-die politicians.
These will also help to shape politics in 2022.