The battle for 2023 began even before Nigerians went to the polls during the February 2019 presidential election. The debate of who succeeds the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, is becoming heightened every day.
APC wrestled power from the present opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015. The same rotational syndrome that bedevilled the former ruling party is the same cankerworm of power tussle among the six geopolitical zones of the country which may make or mar the fortune of the ruling party.
While Nigerian masses want good governance, the majority of Nigerian politicians are more concerned about power and who occupies Aso Rock.
From all indications and the body language of President Buhari since he was declared the winner of February election, it’s obviously glaring that whoever Buhari supports for the 2023 election is likely to emerge as the sole presidential candidate of the ruling APC and likely to win at the poll.
Below is the list of our top 10 Nigerian politicians who are likely to blow their presidential ambition trumpet as we get into the second term of Buhari tagged NextLevel.
1) Nasir El-Rufai
Mallam Nasir El-Rufai will be completing his second term by 2023 as the governor of Kaduna State. He was a former FCT Minister during the administration of former Nigerian leader Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
As controversial the brilliant governor could be, he’s good at getting closer to any Nigerian president since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999. During his term as the FCT minister, those who were close to the internal mechanism of Aso Rock said he was one of the favourites of Obasanjo.
At a time, El-Rufai was described as the “de facto No. 2 official” by the former EFCC boss tagging him with the role of a Vice-President.
His defection to the ruling party hasn’t been different as he remains one of the associates of the president. His humility and closeness to Buhari can simply be described as Father to son relationship.
No one has mentioned his name as 2023 presidential hopeful, but don’t be shocked if he joins the race mid-Buhari’s second term.
2) Rochas Okorocha
Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s presidential ambition is dated back to 2003, which must have been one of the reasons he moved back and forth several political parties.
Rochas is one of the Nigerian politicians who has tasted power with any of the ruling party since 1999.
From PDP to the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) to PDP again, then to Action Alliance (AA) the party he formed in 2005, under which he was planning to become a Presidential candidate in the 2007 elections.
His political-cross over is another topic for another day.
He’s one of the founding fathers of the ruling APC, having taken an APGA faction to join the party at the formation stage. But his recent political challenges led to his suspension for anti-party activities.
He contested the senatorial ticket for the 9th Senate representing Imo west senatorial zone during 2019 National Assembly elections however the results are controversial and have not been ratified by INEC.
“Despite being declared the winner of Imo west senatorial seat, INEC removed his name from the final list saying that the result was declared under duress.”
He is one of the believers of a power shift in favour of the South East come 2023, but what some people described as his over-handedness may pose a great challenge to his 2023 presidential ambition.
Watch out for Okorocha.
3) Yemi Osinbajo
The loyalty of the incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has earned him a new name “Buhari boy” according to some of his critics.
This brilliant, tactical and humble Professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) came to national political limelight before the 2015 presidential election.
His former boss, Bola Tinubu, was said to have nominated him as the running mate to Buhari due to the fact the new APC (as at then) didn’t want to present a Muslim-Muslim ticket. It was rumoured that Tinubu had wanted the position of the Vice President.
However, his loyalty to Buhari since May 29, 2015, has shown that he has what it takes to succeed Buhari in 2023.
During Buhari’s 2017 long medical vacation (May 7, 2017 to August 19, 2017), Osinbajo who was the acting president took some decisions that were hailed by some geopolitical zones of the country. One of such was the appointment of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen.
Whether he’s regarded as Buhari’s “houseboy” according to some people, Osinbajo may succeed his boss in 2023.
4) Bola Tinubu
Popularly called “Jagaban” Bola Ahmed Tinubu is undoubtedly one of the successful Nigerian politicians in Nigeria, particularly in the South West geopolitical zone.
Having ruled Lagos State, the commercial capital of Nigeria for two consecutive term and instrumental to the formation of the party that kicked PDP out of power, Tinubu makes this list because of his body language, “he has presidential ambition,” a political observer said.
A few days back he debunked the insinuation that he supported Buhari for the second term because of his presidential, however, he didn’t categorically say he won’t be joining the race in 2023.
He’s 67 years and by 2023 we would be 71-year-old. The age might not deter him from joining the race considering the political hegemony of Nigeria.
But there is definitely going to be a clash of ambition and the south-west will be largely divided if joins the race while Osinbajo, his former Commissioner of Justice, is in the same race.
5) Babachir Lawal
Despite his removal, due to public outcry, as the Secretary to the Government of Federation, over corruption allegation, Babachir Lawal has consistently shown that he’s more than an appointee to President Buhari.
In one of his interviews with one of the Nigerian dailies, Babachir Lawal described himself as “a family friend” to the Buhari’s family.
He’s one of the few politicians who has been with Buhari since 2003, when he began his presidential ambition began.
In another speech, he was quoted as saying, “there is no establishing law which says power must return to the South” apparently hoping that another Northerner will succeed Buhari in 20203.
“Lawal is accused of benefiting illegally from the approval of N544,119,925.36 for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation,” Sahara Reporters writes.
Next time you hear the former SGF speak, don’t underestimate him, who knows, he may succeed Buhari in 2023.
6) Babatunde Fashola
In the South West, some admirers of the former Lagos State governor are already hoping Fashola will be one of the South West candidates that will declare his presidential ambition.
Despite all challenges in Lagos, he was able to make his marks, his legacies in the populous city are noticeable even four years after leaving office.
An unconfirmed report from Abuja says Fashola, the current minister of the largest ministry (power, works, and housing) is likely to get the support of President Buhari. Some people are even speculating that Fashola is Buhari’s preferred candidate in 2023.
He was alleged to have spent millions of Naira in designing a personal website, but if he gets the approval of his boss, then Fashola will be one of the politicians to watch out for.
Again, it means the unthinkable might happen in APC, if Tinubu, Osinbajo show interest while Buhari supports Fashola.
7) Rotimi Amaechi
Bold, tough, and daring the incumbent Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi is one of the successful politicians from the South-South who might unveil his 2023 presidential ambition very soon.
Amaechi hasn’t made any statement regarding this, but the two-term Rivers House of Assembly speaker and two-term governor of the oil-rich and volatile state might be waiting for the appropriate time to do so.
His loyalty to President Buhari is suspicion of his ambition and Buhari has jettisoned several bad comments he allegedly made about Buhari in the past.
He was the Director General of Buhari reelection campaign.
8) Simon Lalong
Mr Simon Lalong’s second term as the governor of Plateau State will come to an end in 2023. He is the only North Central politician on this list. Though he decamp from PDP to APC before the 2015 election, his consistency as the member of APC since then could make him see himself as a presidential product.
9) Boss Gidahyelda Mustapha
His oratory and political sagacity are some of the attributes that make him stand out in any political gathering.
Boss Mustapha is from Adamawa, one of the states in the North East. As the Buhari is ready to dissolve his cabinet and “kitchen cabinet” the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is said to be one of the powerful political heavyweights in Aso Rock.
Don’t be surprised if you see Boss Mustapha in the 2023 race.
10) Orji Uzor Kalu
Orji Kalu, the former governor of Abia State (1999 to 2007) has a pending corruption allegation against him in court. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says he has questions to answer, but his perfect understanding of Nigerian politics must have been one of the factors that made him dump PDP.
Immediately he crossed to the ruling APC, charges against him were “technically” suspended and went ahead to win a senatorial election
Since he joined APC, he has continued to sing praises of Buhari, whom he described as “close friend and father, who deserves all the support to make Nigeria better”
If the power shift is going to the major parameter by APC in 2023, Orji Uzor Kalu might be one of the figures to reckon with.
The current leadership tussle ahead of the 9th National Assembly has also shown that Kalu is a mouthpiece for his geopolitical zone: South East.
The above names are not official, other politicians are expected to come up before the mid-term of the second term of President Buhari.
Before then, more drama is expected just as the National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Abdullahi Bodejo, said a few hours ago that the South West, South East and South South should forget the 2023 presidency.
He specifically mentioned Tinubu as being old, according to The Sun.
What are your views about this list, is there any politician you think might join the race which isn’t on this list, share your thoughts by using the comment box below.