Uncertainties within the All Progressives Congress, APC as to the direction ahead of the 2023 General Election was at the weekend beginning to clear with postulations of Nigeria’s powerful governors increasingly emerging to drive the process.
The coming out of the governors, it was gathered, and the seeming unwillingness of President Muhammadu Buhari to identify with either Vice President Yemi Osinbajo or national APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has put the two potential successors in a quandary.
The prospect of both campaigns consuming one another in a mutual war of destruction it was learnt, was now making their strategists pull back after initial gestures of war. Osinbajo’s fate is not helped by the claim of a ‘trust deficit’ that arose from his time as Acting President in 2018. Since then, President Buhari has not again transferred presidential powers to his deputy.
Though Osinbajo has not formally declared a presidential bid, signs of a national mobilisation with political actors seemingly working to set up structures for him across the country continue to echo here and there.
After the seemingly easy effort of the governors’ pointsman, Dr Kayode Fayemi in projecting his nominee, Biodun Oyebanji as the party’s candidate in the 2022 Ekiti State governorship candidate, it was gathered that their next step would be in determining the party’s national chairman and other executive positions. Fayemi’s man beat two aspirants allegedly linked to Tinubu: Senators Opeyemi Bamidele and Dayo Adeyeye.
Normally confidential sources in the APC disclosed that the contest for national chairman of the ruling party was at weekend narrowing to a two-man race with former Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State and erstwhile minister of solid minerals, Alhaji Bawa Bwari as the main contenders.
The governors, it was learnt, we’re now waiting on President Buhari for a final choice between the two men.
The determination of the governors to frame the National Executive and then determine the presidential candidate was despite the seeming visibility of the campaigns for Osinbajo and Tinubu. A high-level presidential source speaking on the condition of anonymity while underlining the trust deficit was quick to also note the influence of the governors who he said would determine the direction.
“Yes, the trust issue is not something that can be swept away easily, it is there, but you cannot remove the role of the governors who are the ones laying the bed. You don’t expect them to lay the bed for someone else to come and lie on,” the source said.
On how the vice-president is drawing his strength, the presidential aide said:
“Well, you know he meets with the governors monthly for the NEC (National Economic Committee) and maybe he is deriving his strength from that. He meets with them and goes to commission their projects, even projects of opposition governors and maybe he is depending on that,” the high-level source said with a dose of sarcasm.
The trust issue that is being weaved around Osinbajo flows from his actions as Acting President when he sacked Lawal Daura as Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS and also forwarded the nomination of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.