By Oluwafemi Popoola and Mayowa Olaniyan
It appears the growing support base and the stratosphere of the popularity of Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is a nightmare waiting to happen in the camp of his fiercest rivals in the APC politics ahead of the party’s primary election, an investigation has revealed.
According to findings, to bring a twist into the free burning rivalry with VP Osinbajo by another top contender in the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, there are plans by two governors close to the former Lagos State governor within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to whittle down Osinbajo’s growing popularity among Nigerians, especially in the North, being the preferred choice of delegates and political stakeholders in the region.
These men, who have grown to form a ‘cabal,’ hiding in the shadows to throw gravel are said to be perturbed and unsettled by the media buzz currently enjoyed by the VP, hence, in a desperate move to remain in the chess game, these powerful persons are said to be working assiduously to scuttle the party’s zoning arrangement with just some days to the party’s primary election.
The frantic race of who wins the presidential ticket of the ruling APC, recently, has apparently taken a new twist with the sudden influx of aspirants in the presidential race, causing confusion and anxiety within the party and the entire country with full-blown chaos of narratives being thrown around.
Although the APC is set to hold its primary elections on May 30 and 31, 2022, after the party fixed the cost of the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms at N100 million, developments have led to heightened tensions and uncertainties over who eventually clinches the party presidential ticket.
Though, the aspiration of the Vice President Osinbajo appears to be the cynosure of all eyes in the political space, with the flow of endorsement for his ambition said to be unprecedented for a perceived political neophyte as the VP is viewed in some sections of his party, particularly the bloc where he emerged from, yet, the quest for new leadership in 2023 is turning out a big deal in the political arena.
As reliably gathered, the rising profile of the Vice President and his quest to be the nation’s number one man is already sending jitters to the camp of his rivals within the party, especially, those who are threatened and intimidated by the development. Laying credence to this is the sudden foray into the contest of some unlikely names and personalities who have suddenly thrown their hat into the ring to contest the 2023 presidency.
Even though the N100 million price tag placed on the nomination form seems to be on the high side, this has not deterred these politicians from joining the race, some of whom the public has tagged “pretenders.”
At the last count, 26 aspirants have purchased the nomination forms of the APC, and of the 26, only three have been enjoying media mentions and are seen as leading contenders for the party’s nomination.
They are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and current Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, as the rest have suddenly kept mute since the razzmatazz of their declaration, while not a single word has been heard from their camps.
The actions of the other aspirants have laid suspicion on their motive of purchasing their nomination forms in the first place, while some political watchers claimed the main reason for their actions is to negotiate their way into the new government that will be formed on May 29, 2023, contending that, they are only quietly watching where the pendulum swings.
Meanwhile, as it has been publicly appraised, VP Osinbajo, who hails from Ikenne Ogun State, in South-West Nigeria, analysts have said, has proven to be a galvanizing figure not only in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) but across all the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, for his candidature in the past couple of weeks has caused a frenzy in the media space.
The entry of the VP since he declared his intention to run for the presidency is also said to be causing unrest and panic in the party as it appears the ruling APC is set to pick its presidential candidate from the South West.
As earlier argued in public spaces, the region, it was said, remains the best bet for the ruling APC to pick its candidate, as apart from the fact that it held the ace for the party in the 2015 and 2019 elections, it remains the only region from the South that is capable enough to form a solid alliance with the North to produce Nigeria’s next president.
However, major contenders opposed to Osinbajo’s emergence in the South-West, who populated the APC ‘cabal’ are allegedly not favoured by the President, whose body language seems to favour his deputy succeeding him, though the President had stated he won’t reveal his preferred candidate for fear of being eliminated.
These powerful elements had hoped to ward off challenges from Osinbajo and others to get the APC presidential ticket through direct primaries but it appears the APC party is planning on a consensus candidate for the position of the President.
But to help push through their ambitions, as gathered, these men have created sorts of strategies to make the dream a reality, hence, they had to devise different approaches to scuttle decisions in their favour.
An investigation has revealed that part of the strategy is to cause a paradigm shift in the media narratives and strip the spotlight from the VP, who has begun nationwide consultations to meet with party delegates and critical stakeholders in the party, which it was said explains the hasty population of the number of the presidential aspirants purposely created to confuse many Nigerians and heat the polity.
According to sources who are in the know of this development and the internal politicking in the ruling party, the so-called “pretenders” may not be embarking on this futile journey on their own as their moves are being sponsored by influential elements within the party, and among those big names said to be cajoled into the party to fulfil their agenda included former President, Goodluck Jonathan, the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and others.
While Akinwumi Adesina has been distancing himself from the groups who purchased the APC nomination forms for him, the ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan, has decided to run for president in 2023, barely 48 hours after he had earlier disowned a nomination form procured for him by a northern group.
There are even several media reports that the former President has also joined the APC formally, having registered at his Otuoke Ward in Bayelsa.
Also, the same way the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, who was against the party zoning arrangement declared his presidential ambition recently and former Governor of Edo State Adams Oshiomole, following suit is said to be suspicious.
Both Senator Ahmed Lawan and Comrade Adams Oshiomole are known to be close allies to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is a leading contender for the APC Presidential ticket, and It is public knowledge of how the former governor of Lagos supported the current Senate President to achieve his ambition of leading the Senate after a failed attempt in 2015.
Oshiomole on the other hand remains a close ally of Tinubu, whom he rode on his back to become the National Chairman of the APC. Many political watchers, till now, still believe the unceremonious ouster of Comrade Oshiomole was part of a strategy to clip the wings of the godfather of Lagos politics.
Now, with their sudden appearance in the APC presidential race, sources who analysed the situation said “they are in for a game” to favour the political interest of their one-time benefactor.”