- The race for the 2019 presidential elections may have started
- Politicians are already making political permutations ahead of the polls
- Media analysts have also started analysing what is likely to happen in the political space
A report by Daily Trust has compiled 15 likely politicians that might contest to be Nigeria's president in 2019.
In the list are notable names in Nigeria's political firmament.While some are serving government officials, others are presently not holding any political office.
A break down of the list shows that 11 of them are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), while four of them are members of Nigeria's main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Read the report below:
1. President Muhammadu Buhari
Although President Muhammadu Buhari has not declared his interest in seeking a second term, the possibility that he will do so cannot be ruled out as his loyalists and political associates have continued to fly that kite, some quite enthusiastically.
Just this January, the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha of Imo state, asked his fellows in the South-east not to talk about an Igbo presidency until after Buhari’s tenure, saying the president has a tenure to work for four or eight years according to the zoning arrangement of the ruling APC, a claim yet to be debunked by the party.
Buhari’s handlers in the presidency also seem to believe that the earlier they begin to woo Nigerians for Buhari’s re-election, the better. Last month while addressing a pro-Buhari crowd, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal hinted at the possibility of President Buhari running in 2019.
One of the presidential spokesmen, Malam Garba Shehu, had also last year expressed confidence that the electorate would not abandon Buhari in 2019, claiming that the president’s “enormous” goodwill remained strong because the people were convinced that he was acting in their best interest despite “temporary, unintended consequences of reforms.” The president, as usual, will have the final word on the subject.
2. Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo
The possibility that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo may run for the 2019 Presidency cannot be ruled out, and those who do not see him as a potential candidate for the next presidential election might be shocked. There are permutations that if Buhari chooses not to seek a re-election, he might present his deputy for the job. Those who uphold this position are relying on the fact that the president is known for rewarding loyalty, which they believe Osinbajo has so far demonstrated.
Professor Osinbajo has been acting as president since January 19 when his boss embarked on vacation in the United Kingdom. And already, some have argued that with the various policy decisions taken in Buhari’s absence, Osinbajo has the gravitas to govern the nation. Nevertheless, if President Buhari decides to run for second term, the question of whether or not Professor Yemi Osinbajo should be considered for the country’s number two position might arise, especially from vested interests within the APC.
3. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
The former governor of Lagos state is one politician whose likely declaration for 2019 presidency may not take people by surprise, because of what pundits see as his past attempts to become a vice presidential candidate to President Muhammadu Buhari under the APC, a move he dropped due to the sensitivity of a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a complex country like Nigeria.
Tinubu’s recent reaction to a question that sought to know his future political ambition caused a stir in political circles, as it was interpreted to mean that he had already begun preparation to contest in 2019. “There is nothing wrong with such ambition. It depends on the timing and the environment and what political leadership dictates. I will not brush aside such an aspiration,” Tinubu was quoted as saying.
Tinubu’s possible presidential ambition may enjoy widespread support in the South-west geo-political zone, considering his political sagacity and large followership. He also has a sizeable financial war chest, as he invested heavily in the actualization of the Buhari presidency in 2015. But the odds against such ambition include the fact that Osinbajo came from his camp, and the South-west had earlier spent two terms of eight years under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo-led PDP administration between 1999 and 2007.
4. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
The one-time vice president has never kept hidden his presidential ambition. Atiku had contested the 2007 presidential election on the platform the defunct Action Congress (AC) after realizing that he could not get the PDP ticket because of his frosty relationship with former President Obasanjo. Also, the APC chieftain had contested the presidential ticket with former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 and with then-candidate Buhari in 2014 on different platforms.
The action, body language and utterances of the Turakin Adamawa are enough to show seriousness. He has already won the admiration of some in the South-south and South-east with a consistent advocacy for true federalism, calls considered to be subtle campaigns ahead of 2019, especially if President Buhari decides not to run.
Atiku maintains a vibrant media office with many staff who ensure he is a constant participator in national discourse. The Turaki is also noted to be a “big spender” when it comes to pursuing his interests, giving the PDP and ex-president Obasanjo a tough time by dragging them to court several times when they attempted to tame him in the past.
5. Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki
Saraki is one of the politicians that are likely to contest for the presidency come 2019. In 2015, he was one of the presidential aspirants of the APC but dropped the ambition two months before the party’s primaries in 2014.
Saraki, a two-time governor of Kwara state is in a better position to vie for the presidency in view of his position as number three citizen of the country. With senators at his beck and call, he may go for the big seat. At present, he has the firm control of lawmakers, and his youthfulness and mien are added advantages, and also for the fact that he is from the North-central tells a lot when it comes to political balancing.
But Saraki’s squabbling with his party, the APC, may negate his chances to clinch the ticket if he runs. He defeated his party in 2015 as a result of his romance with the PDP to emerge as the Senate president. That wound is yet to heal despite the recent consideration of Senator Ahmad Lawan as the Senate Leader. Lawan was the preferred candidate of the APC for the Senate presidency.
6. Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
Kwankwaso is a serving senator representing Kano Central at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly and was a presidential aspirant in the last general election. A former governor of Kano state, who served the state from 1999-2003 and 2011-2015 respectively, he is said to have turned around Kano through laudable physical infrastructural development, especially during his second tenure.
Although Kwankwaso has been quiet for a while, his political network is not only intact but vibrant across the country. His political trademark, the Kwankwasiyya, which he established before the 2011 general elections is even expanding to other states. In the event he goes for the presidency, his large followership in Kano, Kaduna and other states in the North would give him added advantage especially if he picks a running mate from the South.
What will work against him is if decides to remain in APC, and President Buhari decides to go for a second term.
7. Alhaji Sule Lamido
The dwindling fortunes of the PDP, occasioned by counter court cases and mass defection do not deter the former Jigawa governor from nursing his ambition of vying for the presidential position of this country under its platform.
Lamido, who is passionate about the PDP, believes that it will soon overcome its travails and bounce back. While the party is suffering in other climes, it is thriving in Jigawa to the extent that some members of the ruling APC are defecting to it.
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The declaration for his presidential ambition sometime last year did come to many as a surprise. Lamido, who is among the founding fathers of the PDP, said if offered a ticket come 2019, he would be glad to offer himself. What is not clear is whether he will overcome the ambition of many alpha members of the PDP for the same ticket.
8. Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal
Tambuwal, immediate-past Speaker of the House of Reps, was to contest for president during the 2015 when some of his friends reportedly obtained the APC presidential form for him to participate in the primary. He later shelved the idea and went ahead to contest for the Sokoto State governorship seat, and won.
As part of future plans to realize his presidential ambition, the 51-year-old lawyer succeeded in installing his successor in the House of Reps, Yakubu Dogara. He also succeeded in expanding his political base among federal lawmakers from all parts of the country. Described as astute and shrewd politician by many, he leaves no-one in doubt that he would certainly go for the top job in the country in the future, which could be 2019.
In the event Buhari seeks a second term, he may likely shelve the ambition until 2023, considering the fact that age is on his side. But a major hurdle to cross for Tambuwal would be getting the support of the South-west, who see him someone who ‘abandoned’ their own, Femi Gbajabiamila, for the position of Speaker, even though the latter played a crucial role in his (Tambuwal) emergence as Speaker in 2011, against all odds.
At some point, the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who did not only support Tambuwal in 2011 but also ensured that all opposition lawmakers voted for him as Speaker, was said to be “very angry with Tambuwal” for that perceived slight.
9. Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi
Senator Ahmed Makarfi was governor of Kaduna state from 1999 to 2007. Within the eight years he was in office, he was able to mitigate religious and ethnic violence in the state and has through that feat projected himself as an objective and fair-minded leader. His outstanding performance in the state shot him into national limelight, seeing him clinch a seat at the Senate in 2007, even though he lost the bid to return a third time in 2015. But by then, his profile in the PDP had risen and party members appointed him chairman of the party at a convention which held in Port-Harcourt last year.
Since then he has been battling for the position with former governor of Borno state, Ali Modu Sheriff. As the PDP has made it clear that its presidential candidate in the 2019 elections would be from the North, there is the possibility that given the trust key members of the party -- especially serving governors -- have in him, and given his image as an objective leader and acceptability across geopolitical divides, he might be convinced to run for the party’s presidential ticket in 2019. He recently said in an interview in Lagos that he may likely go for the No.1 office. However, his handicap may likely be the platform, because it is not yet clear if the PDP will ever be the same again.
But it was gathered that Makarfi’s faction of the party is seeking for the registration of a new platform, the Advanced Peoples Democratic Party (APDP). If they succeed, he may easily get the ticket and slug it out with anyone paraded by the APC or other parties.
10. Governor Nasir El-Rufai
Currently the governor of Kaduna state, El-Rufai has been in the news for long as one of those likely to run for the presidency in 2019. This is given his popularity and acceptability across the country. But it is not likely he will show any interest if President Muhammadu Buhari is contesting, as he would not stand any chance in the North and may also stand the risk of losing his political investments, given Buhari’s acceptability in the region.
The current twist in events, where Buhari has been on vacation for a while, has however raised the hope that he might contest as he is said to be one of the top three northerners being considered for the vice presidential slot if Buhari decides on more rest. If that happens, many say it is likely that El-Rufai may latch in on the issue of zoning to contest in 2019, given that the sympathy may be for a northern candidate.
11. Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff
Sheriff is at present the recognized national chairman of the PDP. He was a two-time governor of Borno state and three times a senator representing Borno central. When he wanted to be governor in 2003, he chased a sitting governor in Borno, the Late Mai Mala Kachalla out of the APP and got the ticket. Indeed, he did not only win the election but broke the Borno jinx and won a second term. He was however demystified in 2011 when he wanted to go to the Senate for the fourth time but was defeated by a PDP candidate, the Late Ahmed Zannah Khalifa.
That notwithstanding, analysts say Sheriff lost out because of his poor handling of the Boko Haram crisis. A vicious fighter, and mass mobilizer, Sheriff is seen as someone who never runs away from a fight. Despite the fact that PDP governors, ex-ministers, former governors and other organs of the PDP had made many attempts to oust him as chairman of the PDP, Sheriff has defied them. Sources said he may end up easing out as PDP chairman and ultimately get its presidential ticket which has been zoned to the North.
12. Governor Ayo Fayose
Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose is largely seen as fearless as a result of his controversial comments and leadership style. His February 21 declaration of presidential ambition in 2019 was also seen by commentators as a joke, but he seems to be serious about it. Some insiders are already calling him the ‘Donald Trump of Nigeria’.
Fayose, 56, who is the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, expressed his interest in the presidency during a live television interview that in the near future, he will take over the mantle to lead the nation as his future was tied to the presidency. His words: “It is not by power. It is destiny. I did not believe it when I became Ekiti governor. After eight years, I will be the vice president of Nigeria, even the president very soon.”
The maverick governor may however have to contend with arrays of other interests within the PDP, some of who are seen as having brighter chances. He also has to grapple with the crisis rocking the PDP and the embattled national chairman of the party, Sheriff, who Fayose with other governors rejected despite an Appeal Court ruling affirming Sheriff’s chairmanship.
13. Governor Rochas Okorocha
Governor Okorocha is not new at taking shots at the nation’s presidency. In 1999, Okorocha, who competed in the primaries to be PDP candidate for governor of Imo state, lost to Achike Udenwa. He then moved to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but was unsuccessful in his quest for the party’s ticket for the presidency in 2003 and therefore returned to the PDP.
Okorocha formed the Action Alliance (AA) in 2005, planning to become its presidential candidate for the 2007 elections. He again however returned to the PDP, and in September 2007 indicated that he was interested in becoming PDP national chairman. Okorocha decamped from the PDP to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and ran as its candidate for Imo state governor in the April 2011 national elections which he won but then decamped to the ruling APC.
While the governor said he will not contest the 2019 presidency, citing the successes of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Okorocha, who is fluent in all the major languages of the country, is still seen as interested in taking another shot at the presidency in the event Buhari will not contest.
14. Mr Babatunde Fashola
Lagos state governor from 2007 to 2015, Babatunde Fashola endeared himself to not only Lagosians, but indeed Nigerians as a whole, due to his impressive performance in the state. As a candidate of the then Action Congress party, Fashola succeeded Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and was re-elected on April 26, 2011. On November 11 2015, he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to be the minister of power, works and housing.
Not a few analysts and observers believe Fashola may be warming himself up for a higher political job after his current assignment as a minister. Indeed, a former minister Oby Ezekwesili was reported to have urged Fashola (SAN) to run for presidency in 2019, and an online medium had quoted Ezekwesili as saying: “The day Tunde Fashola picks up a form to run for presidency, I Oby Ezekwesili shall sign up to volunteer for his campaign team.”
In the build-up to the 2015 elections, many were of the opinion that Fashola should serve with President Muhammadu Buhari as the shortest route to the Presidency. This school of thought reasoned that by so doing Fashola would be able to tender credentials superior to any other candidate’s in 2019. Although he has not indicated his interest, many say it may not be an easy ride for him as 2019 promises to be another titanic battle, given the number of gladiators in the fray.
15. Chief Ken Nnamani
Ken Nnamani was president of the Senate of Nigeria from 2005 to 2007. A former member of the PDP, he was elected to the Senate from Enugu state in 2003 and served until 2007. He recently took many by surprise when he denounced his membership of the PDP to join the ruling APC. Currently the head of the Electoral Reform Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, he registered as a member of the APC at his country home in Amechi-Uwani, in Enugu South local government area, a move that many political analysts saw as a deft move ahead of the 2019 elections.
Coming from a zone (South-east) that has not produced a president since the return to democracy in 1999, many see the former senate president as throwing his hat in the 2019 presidential ring. He would certainly not be the only one from that zone who may be interested in the presidency, but his current role in the APC administration certainly makes him a potentially potent player, also considering his reputation for being one of the few decent politicians in Nigeria. He just may eventually throw his hat into the ring come 2019.