The presidential contest for the 2023 general elections promises to be an epic battle. The governors of the southern part of the country comprising the south-west, south-east and south-south regions are adamant that the presidency must come down to the south at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in 2023.
The northern elites however are insisting that the demand of the southern governors is unconstitutional and since democracy is a game of numbers, the north has the number to win the presidential race and they are not ready to yield ground.
While the war of words rages between the north and the south, supporters of some presidential aspirants are already on the political field.
In the south west, three names are on the lips of many people as front runners in the 2023 presidential race.
They are the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. Although none of them has publicly declared interest in the contest, their structures are already on ground and some of their supporters have been going round the country soliciting support for their candidature.
The question therefore is who is likely to be the choice of the south west region among the three front runners when the chips are down. Stakeholders in the region are undecided on who they would prefer.
Some argued that any of them who has anything to do with the present administration already has a disability that can not be ignored.
They however spelt out the qualities they would expect their presidential hopeful to possess.
My view is that Nigeria is in need of a fresh voice, a voice that understands the problem, the hardship, the pain, the suffering of the common Nigerian.
“Nigeria needs a voice that will be a beacon of hope to the hopeless, that will give voice to the voiceless, that will articulate developmental program that will give joy to the joyless.
“I think we have done so much of recycling that has not done us any good or any progress at all, so in my view we have to do an assessment based on the vision of whoever wants to be the vocal point for the south-west in this new game.
“What is his vision? Where does he want to pick up? What is his understanding of the economic and social problem that we have? What is his understanding of the constitutional arrangements, a structural deformation that we have at present?
“How does he think he can lead us out of the mess that we are in? What is the kind of path that he wants to chart for us?
“In one year, what should we expect of him? Not slogans that he will handle economy, or he will handle security, no.
“Real vision, that we have a problem that is constitutional, that within three months this is what I will do and this is the direction I hope the constitution will be, and he will say within six months these are the kind of the things that we will do thereafter, so we have to understand the vision.
“As at now, none of the three that have been mentioned has really enunciated any vision of where we are going, it is when we know the vision that we will now sit down and ask, does this person have the competence, the knowledge, the expertise, the capacity, the goodwill to achieve this vision, because as Chief Awolowo would say “only the good can reach out to the good”.
“You can see the level of incompetence displayed at the Federal Executive Council and so on.
“A very good person will think about his own reputation before he plugs his head into any governmental structure under a presidency that appears not to have a clue, that appears not to have a direction, that appears not to have a well laid out template for solving a problem.
“So we need not to be stampeded into taking a decision, we first have to interrogate each person who wants to create a new Nigeria, who wants to chart a new way forward, what kind of way do you want to chart.
“And then thirdly, we will have to look at the character of the person, is he dependable? Is he reliable? Is he just saying what he’s saying because he thinks that is what we want to hear? Is he saying it because he is desperate to rule this country?
“We’ve seen that, people told us what they thought we wanted to hear, they told us they would build the security architecture and all our security problems would be a matter of history, only for the problems to become magnified in million folds due to their incompetence and ineptitude
“So we should not stampede the South-West now, we should first interrogate anybody that wants to lead, let us know what he stands for.
“Has he been reliable? Has he been given an assignment that he delivered? Did he speak out? Is he afraid of defending the people? Is he afraid of becoming the voice of the people? Is he afraid to stand by the people?
“And if we find out that by his styles, he is somebody who will be afraid to confront the reality, the shenanigans of Nigeria, then of course no matter how beautiful his vision is, you cannot trust him because he has a character flaw.
“So for me we have not reached the time to take a decision yet, we are at the time that we should beg the media to help us interrogate these people, to x-ray them, so that we can take informed decision, not the kind of decision we took in 2015 when we just said the incumbent president was helpless, was clueless, he had no understanding and we didn’t interrogate the successor.
We know Tinubu holds Lagos but he relies more on the northern elements. However, charity begins at home.
“He is an astute politician but he has to be a little bit more friendly with the Yoruba people.
“The idea of making yourself all in all in the midst of wretched people is self deceit because at the end of the day what you call democracy is about the people and the people will have the last say.
“As for Osinbajo, he is a Pastor and a gentleman, I don’t know how he is going to wriggle out of the administration.
“Fayemi is a young man, he is just being tested as governor. Nobody is even talking about Babatunde Raji Fashola.
“Personally, if they put all of them together, I will prefer Raji Fashola but nobody is even mentioning his name.
“He is not an angel but he is a performer and he can stand on his own. All these other persons are good materials but they have their own little shortcomings”.
Hon Ayo Fadaka, a political analyst
“The nepotistic approach of President Buhari to governance destroyed trust, amity and confidence in Nigeria, it awakened a new consciousness in tribes and ethnic groups to be conscious of their rights and manifest destiny.
“It is certain that southern Nigeria is preparing steadily to produce the next president and I believe very seriously that any state in the south is good to produce a competent president with enough capabilities to address the issues that challenge our nation today.
“I am not a member of the APC, so I have no stake in any of the people mentioned, but if there is a Yoruba man that I adore today, it is Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo State whose actions and statesmanship have endeared him to me.
“His implementation of the Amotekun security network is the reason people can now sleep with their eyes closed in the state, or else banditry would have been rife here.
“His leadership of Southern Governors Forum and stringent advocacy for southern interest even at a time there was a litigation that can send him out of office speaks about principles and commitment, which are the requisite for statesmanship.
“Nigeria should indeed be searching for these qualities in whoever they choose to lead our nation. We need patriots and nationalistic person to lead our nation.
Asojuodo Alawode Rahmon, Chairman Yoruba Council of Youth Worldwide, Oyo state
“The agitation for the southwest to produce a president is right. Southwestern region has been lacking behind in the dividends of democracy.
“Truly, we have had an opportunity of being at the helm of affairs before but because our leaders in Yoruba land are more democratic, that’s the reason the life of every citizen of the nation then was in a safer hand because we don’t have selfish leaders in Yoruba land.
“So, if we later have an opportunity of producing the President of this nation, it will be a good thing for the people of the south west and good development will come down to the southwest.
“Speaking about the choice of candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the national leader of APC, Osinbajo is the Vice President and we could see the difference among all the rumoured interested parties.
“Fayemi has also been governor twice. In my own opinion, Asiwaju should remain a leader, his leadership has gone beyond Nigeria, he is the leader of many nations. We have also seen the ability of Osinbajo anytime he is acting as the President.
“That shows that if he becomes president, he can do much more. Governor Fayemi is also a good man that will do well but at this period of time we need someone that we will not have too much stress to promote his candidacy so that when we are promoting him, the masses will support us.
“Personally, as a youth leader in the southwest, I can say Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is more marketable than any other candidate.”
Hon. Sunday Olaposi Oginni, Chairman, New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Ogun State
“Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is good and intelligent with eight years experience as a Vice President, but he is not good enough to continue the mess up of President Buhari’s administration.
“Prof. Osinbajo and Kayode Fayemi are part of this clueless administration that brought untold hardships on every Nigerian.
“It will be unjustifiable for anybody to exclude Osinbajo, Fayemi and Tinubu from President Buhari’s administration’s failures.
“If truly we want a new Nigeria, Osinbajo or any member of the President Buhari’s government cannot be an option.
“Nigeria is blessed with many human resources. We have lots of great and intelligent people who are capable to be the president of this great nation in 2023.
Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide
“None of them has expressed the desire to contest for the presidency. So, for me, It is very premature, you don’t foist presidency on anybody.
“For anybody to want to aspire to be president of a very big nation like Nigeria, he must have conceived it, he must have thought about it for a long time, he must have familiarized himself with the political history and antecedent of Nigerian, to know what value he intends to add.
“Nobody has declared any intention to run, it is very premature for anybody to start endorsing somebody who has not even declared and who perhaps does not even consider himself fit for that office.
“I will advise that we get to the side of the bridge before we cross it, we are not there yet, let us be there, then you begin to listen to them, compare note and then look at their antecedents, their experience, their political wherewithal, where they had performed before, where they are performing now and how well are they performing.
“There are a number of issues to consider, especially with our experience in the last six years. Aside from those that have been mentioned, there are still very more competent
“Southwest leaders who can still decide to want to run for the presidency, so for me to begin to zero in on one to three people because they are in office, I think it is not right.
“And as an elder in Yoruba land I must throw the doors wide open for our best materials wherever they might be to come and show up and show intention.
“But if at this stage I begin to endorse a candidate who has not declared intention, that is very immature and unexpected as elder, because I want our best to represent us, to win that election, to do a second term and win the applause of all Nigerians”.
Abagun Kole Omololu, National organising Secretary of Afenifere
“We read on the pages of newspaper and heard it from some prominent APC stalwarts that there was a pact or an understanding that the South Western Nigeria will help and support a northern candidate to emerge in 2015.
“I believe it manifested which made General Buhari to become president. The understanding was that after the 8-yr tenure of the northern candidate, the northern APC will support a Western Nigeria person to emerge and become president.
“I do not see any problem for politicians to agree among themselves to form an alliance and gain power. It helps the stability of the nation rather than for one group selfishly and cruelly monopolising power and serving their selfish interests.
“If the arrangement were to be true as I have enumerated, then the banding of names across the South West for the Presidency is in order.
“The curriculum vitae enumerated by former president Babangida for the person who wants to be president of Nigeria must be present in all the names.
“Chief Olu Falae a former Presidential candidate, in many of his public speeches mentioned, experience, education, knowledge, exposure and most importantly character but I will add fear of God as key ingredients a president must possess.
“Luckily for me, I am from the South West and can say a little about the possible names being mentioned but I can’t be categorical about their godliness.
“Only God knows that. Most Yoruba sons and daughters being mentioned are more than suitable to be president of Nigeria.
“Having said all this however, a decision has not been taken in Afenifere on what to do with the 2023 general election.”
Comrade Gentleman Abayomi Arabambi, Chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council, Southwest
“I am inclined to think that the Yoruba are very well positioned as any geo-political zone in Nigeria to aspire to govern Nigeria from 2023.
“However, saying this doesn’t mean that the Yoruba will fail to see that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Dr Kayode Fayemi share a common disability that no one can wish away.
“They are all part and parcel of the current ruling party strangulating lives figuratively out of Nigerians.
“The APC has contending parties towards 2023 like the Labour Party (LP), the one single party representing the interests of the larger members of the citizenry including artisans, teachers, market men and women, factory and public workers, youths and practically all the productive class of Nigerians.
“Were these three very highly visible politicians from LP, I would simply be guided by very many factors before trying to throw my support to either of them.
“Chief among these factors include, experience in good governance, known individual capacity in human and natural resources management, level of competence in deep and rational relationship in a diverse and not too united people of sharply divided and strongly upheld interests including pronounced ethnic, religious and social differences and ability to be consistently cool-headed and fully inclined to wide consultations.
“Above all, good health beyond doubt, loyalty and patriotism free of selfish agenda as one who is truly detribalized with comprehensively current exposure within and beyond the country.
“Final factor is that my support will be for incorruptibility. Having said the above, who among these mentioned three could be seen to likely pass all the above stated conditions?
“I must again make it clear that the idea of insisting on the office of the President to go to any geo political zone must be under the condition that the right and mostly qualified candidate can be found in any geo political zone.
“At the point we are now as a country in which insecurity and high-profile criminalities are on rise, care must be taken on who we elect.
“In real time politics, it is very important to note that being a politician who is very rich doesn’t translate to being the best, also, that you were once a governor or Senator at a point in your career does not mean you could be the right candidate under a far delicate and troubled situation the country finds itself today.
“Giving support to a presidential aspiration of any person at this point in Nigeria takes more than playing the traditional politics of scratch my back, I scratch your back tendencies of the past.
“From where I am sitting, I can’t by any stretch of whatever kind of imagination consider any of the mentioned persons as the best or the most probable person towards 2023.”
Chief Jimoh Olawale Taofeek, Founder of Oduduwa United People Association
“The present body language of the north indicates that the northerners are not willing to relinquish power to the south in 2023.
“We can see the hand writing on the wall. The northerners are not taking the southerners serious on power shift.
“They are applying divide and rule tactic against southern contestants based on the 1999 Constitution that is favourable to them.
“Majority of Nigerians don’t even believe in any election or the Presidential system of government unless the present constitution is completely abolished.
“In fact, it is obvious that the use of the 1999 Constitution will hasten the dissolution of the country even before 2023 election unless the needful is done.
“As you know, the said Constitution does not provide for State Constitution to have true federation so, how can a constitution that has over centralized governance in security, judiciary, resource control benefit the citizenry?
“I still can’t understand how a constitution that favours a certain region based on their culture and religion but neglects other regions and religions expect such country to thrive.
“In my conclusion, the southern contestants have not yet woken up from their allusion because no one can predict what can happen before 2023 as Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder.”