With the 2023 presidential election drawing closer and closer, there are strong indications that the APC has settled for picking its flag bearer from the South of the country. Feelers indicate that the party has further narrowed down its search field to the southwest geopolitical zone.
Many names readily come to mind as one considers the prospective candidates from the Southwest. They include the national leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the incumbent Governor of Ekiti State, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, and former Governor of Ogun State Senator, Ibikunle Amosun, among others.
Among these names, three of them, namely, Tinubu, Osinbajo, and Fayemi stand out as the ones with the biggest prospect in the race.
But inarguably, the two persons whose ambitions have been generating the most interest and controversies in recent times are Bola Tinubu and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The ruling party is facing a huge dilemma deciding who between these two leaders is more suitable for the most coveted presidential seat.
The dilemma is already causing some kind of division within the party as members pitch their tents in opposite camps representing the interests of the two men.
On the surface, the Vice President is no match for the man whose supporters fondly call ‘Asiwaju’, or ‘Jagaban’, or ‘The Lion of Bourdillon’, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Tinubu towers head and shoulders above all of the other aspirants from the zone in terms of political know-how and experience. The fact that it was he who brought all the other aspirants to the political limelight, bears eloquent testimony to his status as a great politician.
But his status notwithstanding, there are many odds against him picking the party’s presidential ticket.
First is his age which has a direct bearing on his health and vigor. The man is aging and does not appear to have the requisite strength for the rigorous demands of the office. He is no longer enjoying optimal health as well.
Another odd against him which is not quite apparent but would nonetheless count is his religious bent. He is a Muslim. It is a forgone conclusion that Tinubu’s running mate for the election must come from the North.
But the North would most likely not accept a Christian candidate for Vice President. A southern president with a Christian vice president would be a hard sell in the core North.
On the other hand, the dynamics of the nation’s politics, especially in recent years, would not permit a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Therein lies the Tinubu dilemma. But it is where Osinbajo and the other candidates like Fayemi have an advantage over him.
The matter is also stirring some ruckus in the southwest as some individuals and groups believe that the Tinubu should step aside and support a younger person for the office.
Leaders of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, the Afenifere, recently visited Tinubu in his home following his return from London to attempt to persuade him to consider dropping his ambition to back a younger person in the Southwest who he could trust for the position.
It remains to be seen if the Asiwaju would accept such a proposal.
Meanwhile, the odds seem to favor Osinbajo at both the party and regional levels.
The hierarchy of the APC appears to favor Osinbajo for the ticket.
The party recently gave express approval to a group, the Progressives Consolidation Group, to canvass support for the Vice President’s emergence as its candidate in the 2023 presidential election.
The group became the first to get such official approval. Pundits have interpreted that move as a tacit endorsement of Osinbajo’s ambition by the powers that be in the party.
There are also indications that the party is considering a consensus arrangement to resolve the dilemma.
The arrangement aims to avoid rancor and bad blood after the primaries which could affect the party’s chances at the polls.
But it does not sit well with the Tinubu camp, which would rather prefer an open primary where all the aspirants slug it out to decide the party’s flag bearer.
This is the dilemma that the APC has to grapple with.
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