Top political gladiators to watch in 2022

Year 2022 is the deciding year Nigerians had been waiting for as the nation moves closer to year 2023, when another general elections would hold in the country. So, when the nation, like the rest of the world, entered the new year last week, political permutations albeit preparations are expected to get to their peak soon.

Several political gladiators have started oiling the engines of their political machines for the post of the president, governors, senators, federal house of representatives and the various states houses of assembly. As it is usual, those running for the position of the president are apparently not leaving any stone unturned to achieve their aims.

Their eyes are fixed on the presidential poll scheduled to hold in about 13 months time precisely on February 18, 2023. Even as they have not apparently declared their intentions, some of their supporters have gone to town to seek the support of Nigerians for their principals, who they believe “have solutions to the problems and challenges confronting the nation in her over 60 years of being independent.”

Political activities in the various parties would be centered around the primaries for the better part of the Year 2022. This would then lead to the election proper that would determine who would be in control of the nation after President Muhammadu Buhari. Of course, the two leading political parties; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) appear to be the platform for the different gladiators to get to the coveted office. It would be a surprise if another party comes on board to beat the two parties, but surprise could come at any time from any quarters and that would certainly give the two top parties “a run for their money.”

Atiku Abubakar

The former vice president of Nigeria has been nursing the dream of becoming Nigerian President close to decades now. He had looked forward to 2007, when the tenure of former president Olusegun Obasanjo was ending, but the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua was picked by the PDP instead and Ati-ku defected to the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to contest the 2007 presidential election, but lost to Yar’Adua. He would later go back to the PDP and again slugged it out with President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 presidential primaries of the party, yet he lost. Prior to the 2015 general elections, he joined the APC and contested the presidential primaries with President Muhammadu Buhari and lost. With an undying spirit, in 2017, he returned to the PDP and eventually emerged the presidential candidate of the party for the 2019 general elections, but he lost again to President Buhari. By 2023, Atiku would be 77, and all things being equal, the Turaki Adamawa will ake another shot at the presidency. Atiku had kicked, when the PDP leadership announced its decision to concede the chairmanship position of the party to the North-central, saying that the Nigerian constitution did not permit zoning of elective positions. Only time will tell if Atiku would-be lucky this time around.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tinubu is a master of the game any day. Tinubu has since made his intention to contest for the presidency known during his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Monday The several trips to his house in London by different individuals and groups, while he was recuperating from new injury, have further registered Tinubu’s political influence. At the moment, several political movements are mobilizing for him for contest. These include Southwest Agenda SWAGA 2023 group, Tinubu Transformation Agenda 2023, Northern Alliance for Tinubu 2023, Tinubu Peoples Network and Tinubu Grassroots Supporters amongst others. It is believed that there was an agreement that Tinubu would succeed Buhari in 2023 prior to the 2015 general elections that was won by Buhari after the formation of the APC. People have even pointed at the forthcoming national convention of the party that was postponed from December 2021 to February 2022 as another avenue through which Tinubu would perfect his plans for the office of the nation’s number one seat.

Prof Yemi Osinbajo

The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, might also spring a surprise in the primaries of the APC. While denials have trailed his perceived ambition to succeed Buhari, there are insinuations that he is interested in the 2023 presidential race. Osinbajo is said to be clandestinely finding some support groups rooting for him at the primaries of the ruling party.

Senator Bukola Saraki

There is no doubt that Senator Bukola Saraki is interested in the presidency of the country under the PDP in the 2023 election. This is the second time Saraki is taking a shot at the coveted seat. Bukola’s late father, Olusola Saraki had the oldest political dynasty in Kwara State. This made it possible for Bukola to rule the state for two consecutive terms from 2003 to 2011. Saraki almost followed his father’s footsteps until 2019, when the Otoge revolution led to the emergence of the incumbent Governor Abdulraham Abdulrasaq upstaged him. Senator Saraki obviously has two major battles to fight; rebuilding his father’s dynasty ans securing the ticket of the PDP.

Senator Anyim Pius Anyim

A former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, is also a politician to watch in 2022. Anyim has been lying low since 2015 after the APC took over from the PDP. In the event that the PDP zones the presidency to the South East, Anyim, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation would certainly take a shot at the presidency.

Yahaya Bello

It no longer a secret that the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, is interested in the presidential contest. But observers believe that the decision by his party, APC, to concede the chairmanship slot to the North-central might have technically nailed his ambition. This has however not stopped several political groups from campaigning to mobilise for Yahaya Bello. They have been emphasising Bello’s youthful energy in leading the country. Some people have also argued that Yahaya Bello has turned Kogi State around since he became Governor in 2016 and that he has the qualities needed to move the nation forward.

Nyesom Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike is in the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). His second term ends in 2023. Though Wike is yet to declare his next political move, there are speculations that he is interested in becoming the nation’s president or vice-president. Moreso,Wike is at the forefront of the agitation for control of the Value Added Tax (VAT) by the states. He had approached the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt to challenge the right of the Federal Inland Revenue Service to collect Value Added Taxes based on the perceived injustice inherent in the sharing formula and got favourable judgment. The Lagos State government subsequently joined the suit at the Court of Appeal. With this and based on the belief that Wike has tremendously transformed Rivers State since he became Governor in 2015, many people are rooting for him and they are sure that if the South South is favoured by his party, then he is best man for the job.

Dave Umahi

Governor Dave Umahi’s second tenure will also end in 2023. A former member of the PDP, Umahi had led the gale of defections that almost swept away the opposition in November, 2020, when he declared his support for the ruling APC. This move was seen by many people as a step towards the realization of his presidential ambition. But while denying this, Umahi said “I did not negotiate with the presidency or anyone to contest the position under the APC. “My next line of action after my governorship is in God’s hands and there is nothing God cannot do.” The Ebonyi State Council of Elders recently declared support for Umahi to vie for president in 2023, describing him as the most suitable to lead the country after President Buhari’s tenure. The council, which comprises traditional rulers, elder statesmen, and politicians cutting across political affiliations in the state, stated that Anyim had not intimated them about his purported presidential ambition. It has also bee argued that Umahi has performed well as Governor of the South East state.

Kayode Fayemi

Kayode Fayemi is the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and a former minister of Solid Mineral Development who has a good relationship with the president. His second term ends in 2022. There is a rumour that Fayemi is the leader of the Abuja boys and that his ambition is to succeed President Buhari in 2023. Despite the fact that there has not been any notable group campaigning for him, it is believed that Fayemi is rigged and that he is anti-Tinubu. Many top APC members are also insinuating that Fayemi is close to the Chairman of Extraordinary Convention Caretaker Committee of the party, Mai Mala Buni, through whom he plans to demistify the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Saliu Mustapha

Erstwhile National Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the leading parties that merged to form the APC, Saliu Mustapha, is leading the pack of APC gladiators angling to clinch the chairmanship position of the party in February. The youthful politician and successful businessman many believe will strengthen the fortunes of the APC if allowed to steer the affairs of the ruling party. The Kwara Stateborn politician has already thrown his hat to the ring to contest the plum position.

Tanko Al-Makura

Former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Tanko Al-Makura is another top political gladiator to watch in 2023 as he is contesting for the chairmanship position of the APC. Al Makura was a member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and a loyal disciple of President Buhari. Moreso, the zoning of the position to the North-central might favour him. Despite this, there is also an array of other contenders from the North. They include former governors Abdulazaiz Yari (Zamfara), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Isa Yguda (Bauchi), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno) Danjuma Goje (Gombe), George Akume (Benue) and Senator Sani Mohammed from Niger State.

Yakub Mamhood

Prof Yakub Mahmood is the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and he has been applauded for the successful conduct of the recent Anambra State governorship election. In 2022, the Osun and Ekiti states governorship elections are also coming up. Expectations are high that he would be able to improve on the previous performance and deliver more credible elections in the two states. Controversy is also raging over the use of electronic transmission of results as well as the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) technology to conduct the next general elections. Despite President Buhari’s refusal to assent to the amended electoral law, Mahmood has insisted that the new technology would be used for future elections. It is expected that Mahmood will further prove his worth with the elections and make adequate preparations for the 2023 general elections.




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