After the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary election at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, where former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, emerged as the party’s flag bearer, all eyes were focused on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to know who will be elected as its presidential candidate.
The APC fixed its presidential primary at the Eagle Square between Monday 6 to Wednesday, June 8, 2022. At the end of the proceedings, former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu was declared as winner. He polled a total of 1,271 votes while immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, place second and third respectively.
The APC took its time, waited for the PDP to conduct its own presidential primary and see where the main opposition party’s presidential pendulum would swing, before fixing the date of its own shadow election. At the end, the party settled for Tinubu.
Like all the other parties, the APC and PDP are shopping for running mates for their presidential candidates. Conventionally, in Nigerian politics, if the presidential candidate of a party is from the North, expectedly the running mate must come from the South so there will be balance and stability in the polity.
The APC,it must be said, did the right thing by picking its presidential candidate from the South since President Muhammadu Buhari, who’s tenure will come to an end on May 29, 2023, is from the North.
However, Tinubu’s emergence as the APC’s presidential candidate has thrown up a couple of questions that have the capacity to affect the dynamics of who becomes the president of the country, come 2023, if not properly tackled.
Yes, the APC presidential candidacy came down south but how would the Igbos see it, knowing that they themselves wanted it. It is not out of place to assume that the Igbos would have wanted the Northerners, South Westerners as well as aspirants from the South South region to have stepped down for them. Would the APC faithful from Igbo extraction happily vote for Tinubu? It is not impossible that they may switch allegiance and vote for their tribes man, Peter Obi, who is the standard bearer of the Labour Party.
Would APC faithful, especially governors from the north, vote for Tinubu? It is doubtful. The North does not care about party affiliations when it comes to getting power. The PDP’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar may be the beneficiary of bulk votes from APC members of northern extraction, who would be more comfortable voting for an Atiku rather than a Tinubu.
The Northern APC governors’ clamour for a Southern president is only a smokescreen; a false hope. They only want to give a false sense of oneness and togetherness to the South. If not, why didn’t they start the clamour for a Southern candidate much earlier? Why did they wait until after a Northern Moslem, Atiku, had emerged before remembering that the ticket should be zoned to the South?
If they were sincere why did Jigawa governor, Muhammad Baduru and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan pick up nomination forms? This deceit has happened before. In 2015, PDP governors and other supporters from the north, rather than vote for PDP, betrayed Goodluck Jonathan and voted instead for a northerner, Buhari, who is from another party entirely.
Another factor that will play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the 2023 presidential election is religion. Tinubu is a Southern Moslem so he is expected to pick a Northern Christian as running mate to balance the power equation. The problem here is that if Tinubu picks a northern Christian, the predominantly moslem North will not accept it and that will affect the electoral fortunes of the APC because the Northern electorate will never vote for a Christian. On the other hand, if Tinubu and the APC pick a Northern Moslem, it will not go down well with the Christian population across the country.
If the party picks a Moslem as a running mate, it will be damned, if it picks a Christian, it will be political suicide. As things stand, the APC is standing between the devil and the deep blue sea. The party is contemplating picking a Moslem running mate and this will be a disaster. In 2015, President Buhari was to pick Tinubu as his running mate but he had to drop the idea because the Christian community vehemently objected to a Moslem-Moslem ticket.
Commenting on the odds against Tinubu, Editor-in-Chief of Yenagoa-based New Waves newspaper, Peace Sinclair said, “Bola Tinubu’s emergence may be a deliberate or calculated attempt by the Northern governors and elites to ensure he fails the 2023 general election. We should not forget that rumours had it before the primary election that President Buhari was not favourably disposed to hand over to Tinubu. The North or rather the President and the party hierarchy may have allowed all the aspirants to participate in the primary, to fulfill all righteousness. This time around the situation may not really be voting for party, but for individuals. When the chips are down, the Northerners will support and vote their own, Atiku. We should not be surprised should that happen. Besides all of these, Tinubu allegedly has health issues and even appears more frail than Buhari when he became president in 2015”.
With the odds against it, only time will tell if the APC and its candidate, Tinubu, will win the 2023 presidential election.