The National Assembly may still be in conflict with the Executive over the sequence of the 2019 elections but there is no denying the anticipation towards who the Commander-in-chief will be by the evening of May 29. It increases as the date draws near, but so is our understanding of the standing of those who have been mentioned in the race for the position.
Here we look through the most visible of the aspirants.
We are all waiting for Atiku to say something, aren’t we?
His move from the APC to the PDP last November is still the biggest political event as far as the 2019 elections are concerned. Yet, the former Vice President whose presidential aspiration is as old as Nigeria’s democracy has not officially declared his intentions. He maintains a public presence on all current issues from unemployment statistics and herdsmen clashes, to the Super Eagles and Black Panther. All of these are possibly the on-stage displays while he works out the difficulty of convincing the PDP to hand him the party’s ticket, a scenario that will be the litmus test for the party’s claims of internal democracy and greater transparency in nominations.
Captioning his campaign slogan as “to build a nation” gives the idea that Mr Moghalu has his sights on a holistic and rigorous programme of development if elected president. He is a former CBN governor and professor of political economy whose professional and managerial credentials will be hard to beat by any other candidate in the 2019 race. He may even be the most intellectually qualified person to ever run for the Nigerian presidency.
But can he be elected? He is not exactly a popular man by numbers alone, and winning from a platform outside of the two main platforms of the PDP or APC will be a daunting challenge to overcome even for an expert in risk management. His consultations and early tours have involved some weighty things. He has visited Benue, laying a wreath on the tombs of the 73 killed by herdsmen in January. He has touched on issues like gender parity and has promised a return to the federalism of the 60s. If he gets a strong party, he will be hard to ignore.
Mr Lamido has followed a quiet yet visible campaign plan, meeting state governors of mostly PDP states but also reaching to the PDP’s secretariats in APC-controlled states. In a meeting with the Lagos PDP leadership this week, Lamido, a founding member of PDP and two-term governor of Jigawa state, stressed that his desire for the presidency was “not out of desperation for power but for genuine service to the people of Nigeria” according to PREMIUM TIMES.
Lamido is probably the most authoritative voice in the PDP today and must stand a serious chance in the race if all cards are laid bare.
He is arguably the most known motivational speaker and life coach in the country, but Mr Durotoye seemed uncertain whether to join the fray or not. Fela, as he is easily called, ardently supported and spoke effusively for the Buhari campaign in 2015, a point which has been raised by critics who question his decision to run for the position while the man he supported has not even finished a term. Other critics are doubtful of his capacity having not held any elective office. The Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN) will be his platform and it is safe to say that hardly gives the impression that he will be one of the stronger candidates, given the role parties still play in elections.
Fela is undaunted and believes money will not play as big a role in the coming polls as in previous cycles, but his chances are only as strong as he says they are. Perhaps he will write a book after on how young Nigerians can learn from and improve on his first trial?
Peter Ayodele Fayose
Governor Fayose of Ekiti was the first person to formally declare his ambitions for the 2019 presidency, at least among the more popular persons on this list. His second and final tenure is set to terminate this year and has often boasted that it was his destiny to become President of Nigeria. He has not spoken a lot about this ambition in recent times, focusing more on the issue of making sure herdsmen do not wreck havoc in his state under his watch. It has certainly boosted his popularity and estimation among some Nigerians who have faulted the Buhari government’s kid-gloves approach to the crisis.
If he will run, Fayose will have to contend with Lamido and Atiku who appear to have the geographic characteristics believed to be top of the PDP’s consideration for challenging the APC next year. So that if we don’t hear much from the Ekiti man about the manifestation of his “destiny” within the coming weeks, we can assume it has been postponed to a later date.
Adamu Garba II
Not many persons had heard of Adamu Garba II by the beginning of 2017. By the end of the year, a number of interviews in major newspapers and a twitter presence (boosted by influencers) has accelerated the ICT professional and entrepreneur into the conversation. Mr Garba has leveraged on the clamor for young people to be given the opportunity to lead Nigeria in the digital age, but it has not necessarily been about being handed the job on the basis of youth. Garba appears ready, with policy recommendations, to convince Nigerians that he possesses the wide knowledge of the issues.
Sahara Reporters is a name that divides opinion, and its publisher, ‘Yele Sowore, is one of the most controversial figures in the country. He is unapologetic, non-traditional and will not follow a stipulated procedure if an alternative provides results without being illegal. That’s how Sowore has been all his life and he makes no apologies for proposing to inject a similar vibrancy into administering the Nigerian state towards prosperity.
His GoFundMe campaign for next year has been suspended and revived, but the real challenge will be returning from his New York base to actually test his popularity on the streets. And how far can $2 million (N732 million) really go in a presidential campaign?
After declaring her interest this month, Prof Sonaiya is likely to retain the presidential nomination of KOWA party and will hope to improve on her 2015 performance. Ms Sonaiya decries the exclusion of women from the development drive in Nigeria and does not believe the process should be left to men; actually, her intervention is premised on the lack of substantial results from the men-dominated policy sector.
Prof Sonaiya professes love of country as a motivation, but “Love Does Not Win Elections” as Ayisha Osori’s book says. What will KOWA as party do differently in 2015 besides relying on the impression that a party with a phone as its logo should give the idea of modernity and vision?
Dankwambo tweets often about glaring inefficiencies in the Buhari administration with the insightful charisma that made him an efficient Accountant-General of the Federation and a successful governor of Gombe state. He will leave the Gombe government house next May and many have weighed in on the need for him to move up to the Abuja State House, Rev Fr Ejike Mbaka the most notable.
It has not elicited a declaration or a public body language that suggests he is actively considering it. But Mr Dankwambo is a quiet man who will not be oblivious of the multi-ethnic goodwill towards him.
There is no other APC person on this list of contenders because no other has (yet) made any significant move as to suggest a challenge of President Buhari’s continuity next year. The president has not declared his intention to seek re-election, actively playing down reports on the subject. But it would be quite a surprise if he does not; in fact, it seems highly unlikely considering his rally to his party at their last caucus meeting where he called for preparations towards 2019.
Despite the double bombshell open letters from former president Olusegun Obasanjo and former Head of State Ibrahim Babangida asking him to retire to Daura, the overwhelmingly safe bet is that Buhari will be seeking the nomination of a political party for the fifth time in five election cycles, this time not as a challenger but as the man to beat.