#YNaija2023: We profile the biggest players in the presidential race


Having listed Nigerians who are aspirants of the presidential seat in the 2023 general elections, the PDP heavyweights, and the APC candidates, we highlight the four biggest candidates across four political parties.

These are men who, for different reasons, have become the most mentioned names in the political sphere and who have the political capacity to draw people to their side.

As football, so is politics, so none of them may eventually win, but, they are pulling a crowd and we are interested. See their stories.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Bola Tinubu’s profile may take a book to be done with.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was born in Lagos. Tinubu had his primary and secondary education at St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos and Children’s Home School in Ibadan, Nigeria respectively. He then attended Richard Daley College, Chicago Illinois, and subsequently proceeded to the Chicago State University, Illinois, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Accounting and Management).

After school, Tinubu worked abroad for several years. He returned to Nigeria in the mid-1980s and began his political career in 1992, when he joined the Social Democratic Party, where he was a member of the Peoples Front faction led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and made up of other politicians such as Umaru Yar’Adua, Atiku Abubakar, Baba Gana Kingibe, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Magaji Abdullahi, Dapo Sarumi and Yomi Edu. He was elected to the Senate, representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic.

After the results of the June 12, 1993, presidential elections were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition, a group which mobilised support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of Moshood Abiola as winner of the 12 June election.

Sani Abacha dissolved the Senate in 1993, so, Tinubu was forced into exile in 1994, but he returned in 1998 upon Abacha’s death.

In the first post-transition Lagos gubernatorial election, Tinubu, 70, a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo, won by a wide margin as a member of the AD over the Peoples Democratic Party’s Dapo Sarumi and the All People’s Party’s Nosirudeen Kekere-Ekun. Four years later, he won re-election to a second term over the PDP’s Funsho Williams by a reduced margin.

He served as the governor of Lagos from 1999 up until 2007, and retained his status as one of Nigeria’s most influential politicians as his allies, and family members, have often filled high offices throughout the southwest and he played a key role in the formation of the All Progressives Congress in 2013. Tinubu has been the national leader of the APC since the party’s formation in 2013. He founded The Nation Newspaper on July 31, 2006, in Lagos

In February 2013, Tinubu’s negotiations in creating a “mega opposition” party paid off with the merger of Nigeria’s three biggest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the new PDP (nPDP), a faction of serving governors of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party – into the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In 2014, Tinubu supported former military head of state General Muhammadu Buhari, leader of the CPC faction of the APC, who has been president since then. In 2019, he supported Buhari’s re-election campaign defeating the PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar.

‘Jagaban’, as he is called in some quarters, has been widely perceived as the “Godfather of Lagos”. Tinubu is the Asiwaju of Lagos and the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom, Niger.

In January 2022, he announced his intention to run for the APC nomination for President of Nigeria in the 2023 presidential election.

Atiku Abubakar

Atiku’s father was opposed to the idea of Western education and tried to keep Atiku Abubakar out of the traditional school system. But, Abubakar enrolled in the Jada Primary School, Adamawa, at age eight. After completing his primary school education in 1960, he was admitted into Adamawa Provincial Secondary School in the same year, alongside 59 other students. He graduated from secondary school in 1965 after he made grade three in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination.

Following secondary school, Atiku studied a short while at the Nigeria Police College in Kaduna. He left the College and worked briefly as a Tax Officer in the Regional Ministry of Finance, from where he gained admission to the School of Hygiene in Kano in 1966. He graduated with a Diploma in 1967, having served as Interim Student Union President at the school. In 1967, he enrolled for a Law Diploma at the Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Administration, on a scholarship from the regional government.

After graduation in 1969, during the Nigerian Civil War, he was employed by the Nigeria Customs Service, where he worked for twenty years, rising to become the Deputy Director. He started out in the real estate business during his early days as a Customs Officer. He retired from the Customs Service in April 1989 and took up full-time business and politics. 

Atiku’s is a co-founder of Intels Nigeria Limited, an oil servicing business with extensive operations in Nigeria and abroad. Atiku’s other business interests are centred within Yola, Adamawa; and include the Adama Beverages Limited, a beverage manufacturing plant in Yola, an animal feed factory, and the American University of Nigeria (AUN), the first American-style private university to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Atiku’s entry into politics was in the early 1980s, when he worked behind-the-scenes on the governorship campaign of Bamanga Tukur, who at that time was managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority. He canvassed for votes on behalf of Tukur, and also donated to the campaign. In 1982, Adamawa’s traditional ruler, Alhaji Aliyu Mustafa made him the Turaki of Adamawa.

In 1993, Atiku contested the SDP presidential primaries, where he got 2,066 votes, behind Moshood Abiola with 3,617 votes, and Baba Gana Kingibe with 3,255 votes.

After the June 12 and during the General Sani Abacha transition, Atiku showed interest to contest for the Gubernetorial seat of Adamawa under the United Nigeria Congress Party.

In 1998, Atiku joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and later secured nomination for Governor of Adamawa, winning the December 1998 governorship elections, but before he could be sworn in he accepted a position as the running mate to the PDP presidential candidate, former military head of state General Olusegun Obasanjo who went on to win the 1999 presidential election ushering in the Fourth Nigerian Republic.

In 2006, Atiku announced that he would run for president, and was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC). In October 2010, he announced his intention to contest for the Presidency, and in January 2011, Abubakar contested for the Presidential ticket of his party alongside President Jonathan and Sarah Jubril, and lost the primary, garnering 805 votes to President Jonathan’s 2,736.

On February 2, 2014, Atiku left the Peoples Democratic Party and became a founding member of the APC, with the ambition of contesting for the presidency ahead of the 2015 presidential election. In 2018, having gone back to the PDP, Atiku began his presidential campaign and secured the party nomination of the PDP in the presidential primaries held in Port Harcourt on October 7, 2018. On February 27, 2019, Atiku lost the presidential election to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari by over three million votes.

In 2021, Atiku, 75, completed and passed his Master’s degree in International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

He formally declared to run for the office of the Nigerian president in 2023 under the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on March 23.

Rabiu Kwankwaso

Engr. Dr. Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, 65, is a native of Kwankwaso town of Madobi Local government area of Kano.

He attended Kwankwaso Primary School, Gwarzo Boarding Senior Primary School, Wudil Craft School and Kano Technical College before proceeding to Kaduna Polytechnic where he did both his National Diploma, and Higher National Diploma. He did postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom a Middlesex Polytechnic (1982-1983) and Loughborough University of Technology (1983 -1985) where he got his master’s degree in Water Engineering.

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso had his work experience at the Kano Water Resources and Engineering Construction Agency (WRECA).

In 1992, Kwankwaso made his entry into politics on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). That same year, he contested for, and won election into the House of Representatives to represent Madobi Federal Constituency. At the House of representative, he was elected the Deputy Speaker in 1992.

In 1999, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso contested and won election as the executive governor of Kano serving from 1999 to 2003. It was then he established the Kano University of Science and Technology in Wudil, the first and only state university in Kano at the time.

After he lost his re-election in 2003, he was appointed the first Minister of Defence of the Fourth Republic with no prior military background from 2003 to 2007, under the administration of Obasanjo.

He was re-elected as governor of Kano in 2011 and ended his tenure in 2015. During this time, Kwankwaso established the North West University, Kano, the second state University in Kano. He also established 26 academic and manpower development training institutes. He is the first governor in Nigeria to introduce free school feeding and uniforms for primary school pupils. This exponentially increased the school enrolment figures from 1 million in 2011 to over 3 million in 2015 when he left office. His tenure as governor saw Kwankasiyya written all over Kano – to show his projects.

He established 230 secondary schools of which there are 47 technical colleges, 44 schools of Islamic studies, a Chinese college, a French college, and the first boarding girls’ college as well as a boys’ college in Damagaran and Niamey jointly with the Government of Niger Republic. 

He was elected to the Senate in 2015, serving one term under the platform of the APC, representing Kano Central Senatorial District.

In 2015, Kwankwaso unsuccessfully contested the presidential primaries nomination under the opposition APC, but lost to Muhammad Buhari. In 2018, he returned to the PDP and contested the presidential primaries losing out to Atiku Abubakar.

In March, he left the PDP for the New Nigeria Peoples Party and registered as a member in preparation for the 2023 election. He registered for the NNPP and obtained its membership card during a brief ceremony in Abuja.

Kingsley Moghalu

In the 2019 elections, Professor Kingsley Bosah Chiedu Ayodele Moghalu was part of the ‘Third Force’ – candidates who wanted oust both the PDP and the APC. He was quite the popular candidate, especially on social media, but got only 21,886 votes across Nigeria. He is up again, and his name is on the lips of many.

Moghalu, 58, is a political economist, Lawyer, Author, Ifekaego of Nnewi Kingdom, former United Nations official, and politician.

In the 1970s, Kingsley received his secondary school education at Eziama High School, Aba, Government College Umuahia, and Federal Government College Enugu. He earned a degree in law from the University of Nigeria in 1986, and the Barrister at Law from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos.

Moghalu obtained a Master of Arts degree in 1992, at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University – the same year he joined the United Nations.

In 2002, Moghalu was appointed to the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland, as head of global partnerships and resource mobilisation at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM).

Moghalu resigned from the United Nations in December 2008. He then founded Sogato Strategies S.A., a global strategy and risk consultancy, in Geneva.

Moghalu obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London in 2005.

Moghalu was appointed deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in November 2009 by Umaru Yar’Adua. Moghalu was the deputy governor for Financial System Stability. He also served as deputy governor for Operations, with supervisory responsibility for currency and branch operations, payment systems, and the management of Nigeria’s foreign reserves. He led the rollout of payment systems reforms including the development and introduction of the unique identifier Bank Verification Number (BVN). Moghalu’s tenure at the CBN included the introduction of non-interest (Islamic) banking.

In February 2018, Moghalu announced his intention to run for the office of the President of Nigeria under the party platform of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).

In October 2019, Moghalu resigned his membership of the YPP, announcing that he would focus in the immediate future on advocacy for electoral reform through the non-partisan citizens movement To Build a Nation (TBAN).

Mid-March, Moghalu formally joined the 2023 presidential race, promising to pursue innovative economic policies, establishing a 5 trillion naira venture capital fund.

Nyesom Wike

He is an Ikwerre from Rumuepirikom in Obio-Akpor, Rivers.

Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike is a politician and lawyer who is the sixth and current Governor of Rivers. He is an Ikwerre from Rumuepirikom in Obio-Akpor, Rivers. 

Wike began his political career as the Executive Chairman of Obio Akpor Local Government Area in Rivers in 1999, a position he held until 2007, after being re-elected in 2003. In 2007, he was appointed as the chief of staff to the governor of Rivers, Rotimi Amaechi. In July 2011, he was appointed as the Minister of State for Education by President Goodluck Jonathan and was promoted to Federal Minister of Education in September 2013. He stepped down as Federal Minister to contest in the 2015 gubernatorial elections in his home state, Rivers.

During his tenure as the Minister of State for Education, he made a remarkable impact in the sub-sector of basic education. He spearheaded a nationwide reform of the nation’s education system. As a result of his dedicated efforts to improve the lifestyle of his people in Nigeria, he has scooped two awards: The Nigeria National award of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). On February 23rd, 2018, The Sun Newspapers honoured him with the Governor of the Year Award 2017.

Before then, in 2014, he won the Rivers State People’s Democratic Party primary and chose former Secretary to the State Government Ipalibo Banigo as his running mate for deputy governor.

Wike defeated Dakuku Peterside of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Tonye Princewill of the Labour Party in the April 11 gubernatorial elections to emerge as governor.

INEC declared Nyesom Wike winner of Rivers governorship polls on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, after suspending the process for some days.

In line with his plans for educational reform, Nyesom Wike declared public primary and secondary education free. He disclosed this on Monday, June 24, 2019, in a meeting at the government house, Port Harcourt. In 2019, Wike through the State Ministry of Education announced free registration for participating locals of the state in the annual JAMB examination.

Wike has always believed that Rivers and other oil-producing states within the country ought to get more attention from Abuja (the country’s capital city).

Wike is an outspoken politician and does not shy away from throwing words at the ruling party when there is a major event, or some bad news.

“To remove APC from power, I’m the person who can tell them enough is enough. We must take this power and I’m ready to take it for the PDP. God is with us that’s why APC keeps failing every day.

“I’m declaring it for the first time in Benue (State). I’m going to run for election,” he said when he announced intention to run for presidency.

#YNaija2023 continues…

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