2023: WILL APC SWIM OR SINK
By Ifedayo Peters
With the dramatic emergence of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) flag bearer for the 2023 presidential elections, all eyes are now on the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, as they shop for a worthy candidate on the 6th of June.
Atiku’s win did not come as a surprise to those with even a surface understanding of Nigerian politics, which evidently has a thing for regurgitating the same set of worn-out leaders. Asides being the most influential of the lot, Atiku Abubakar, who has been a prominent player in our political clime as far back as 1996 is unarguably the most experienced amongst the contenders in the PDP. The fact that he served as Vice President for eight years under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, and has contested the Nigerian presidency three times under the same umbrella of the PDP supports this position. When one contrasts his political resume with that of his counterparts, one can safely say that the PDP has gone with their most formidable option. Let’s not talk about his spending power.
The APC, on the other hand, seems to be caught in a conundrum. With over twenty aspirants contesting the primaries of a party striving to consolidate its hold on power, some observers believe that the ruling party is at its last gasp. To others, the emergence of Atiku in what is seen by many as a blatant disregard for zoning by the PDP, is a negotiation of our national unity and should make the job easier for the APC, who only has to present a Christian Southerner and sweep Christian and Southern votes come 2023. Is it that simple though? Ordinarily it should be, but the “Lion of Bourdillon” is in the way.
Of the twenty-three presidential aspirants of the APC, there are three front-runners — the self-professed national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. Further narrowing down, VP Osinbajo and Rotimi Amaechi fall within the Christian Southerner stratum inevitably ostracising Asiwaju, a Southern Muslim, who, given Nigeria’s current reality cannot run with another Muslim candidate. And a thorough assessment of the APC’s political makeup does not avail any strong Northern Christian running mate, Mr. Tinubu’s only logical option.
If the APC leadership were by any chance considering the septuagenarian for the ticket, Atiku Abubakar’s weekend win has them cornered.
As it stands, the odds seem to favour the Vice President Osinbajo, as Rotimi Amaechi has also experienced a bump in the road this past week after a Supreme Court ruling on Friday dismissed his appeal against a N96b fraud probe, ordering him to face trial.
With no moral, ethical or legal baggage in his way, his daunting credentials and having served as Vice President for seven years, there is no doubt that Osinbajo possesses the experience and political clout required to bring this home for the APC. A strong Northern Muslim as running mate, the likes of the graceful Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, or the intelligent Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, little effort is needed to take on Atiku and the PDP and thus, dash their hopes of securing the majority of Northern votes. Atiku also stands a very little chance with southern Nigerians, who believe that on no account should another Northerner be elected after being led by one for eight full years.
For the APC, the Osinbajo choice seems to be the only permutation that works the magic at this crucial moment. There is no time for handholding and money politics, the APC can either get this right or watch from the sidelines for the next four to eight years.