The 2023 general election is clearly more than three years away. Already, the country is awash with arguments about the presidency in 2023; which region will produce the president in 2023. That is despite the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected for his second tenure in February 2019 and sworn in on May 29 of the same year has barely served one full year of his remaining four years in office.
From the presidency to the political parties, from the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) to the Ohanaeze Ndigbo through the Arewa youths to prominent politicians, the argument has been on who should take over from Buhari in 2023.
We do not oppose the rights of individuals and groups to aspire to the presidency. It is the legitimate right of every individual or group to aspire for their personal or collective interests.
But we are worried that coming at a time both the president and governors elected in 2019 are yet to settle down for full governance, such arguments now might just be a distraction from the real issues facing the country.
Nigeria is currently faced with multifarious issues that need attention beyond politics. There are issues of insecurity, galloping inflation, poor state of the economy and lack of critical infrastructure that are threatening the progress of the country.
There are also issues of poor economic and developmental indices that have seen the country on the decline on various fronts. The issues of out of school children, poor health facilities that have seen Nigerians paying premium to attend hospitals in foreign lands; dwindling foreign investments and similar issues, which have over the years portrayed the country as one lacking in seriousness in terms of developments. All these are issues that we expect both the president and the governors to address between now and the next three years when we expect to have the next set of elections.
But rather than face governance, talks seem to centre on the next president of the country; where he will come from and all the inanities that attend to it.
Let us state very clearly that the problem of Nigeria since 1960 has been poor leadership across all levels. The problem of Nigeria has never been the inability to have a president or Head of State at any particular time. Rather, it is that the so-called presidents or heads of government the country has had in the 60-year history as an independent nation have not delivered good governance to the people of the country. Rather, they have more or less paid attention to sectional, religious, ethnic and trivial interests, which have no bearing on positive governance or development of the country.
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu put it succinctly when he said it was restlessness that was pushing people into talking of zoning the presidency and jostling for it now.
According to Tinubu, “That time (zoning of Presidency) is not now… Of course, the restlessness of politics is going to be there but any lover of this country will not talk about the succession plan yet.”
Tinubu’s position came few hours after widely reported comments of the Serving Overseer, Citadel Global Community Church, formerly the Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare, demanded a succession plan from Buhari. Although Bakare has gone ahead to deny such utterances, we feel very strongly that Tinubu’s position is what Nigerians should adopt for now.
One thing is certain: President Buhari is on his last lap of his presidency. By constitutional provision and by even his own admission, age will not allow him to continue beyond 2023. The last attempt for a third term made by former President Olusegun Obasanjo ended up unsuccessful. We therefore see no need for anybody to believe Buhari would stay beyond his mandatory two-terms.
What is therefore needed by Buhari and the outgoing governors now is to focus on governance. How would they be remembered when they leave office in 2023? What projects and programmes are they leaving for Nigerians to remember them with? These are the things expected from them now.
We however concede that the early jostle for presidency in 2023 is tied to the knowledge that Buhari is on his last lap of the presidency. That could be the reason people have started jostling for the position.
Much as we know that there is the hope that another person would emerge the president in 2023, we must also know that nothing is cast in stone on where the person might emerge from.
The zoning arrangement in the APC is not clear, if the party has any. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had its own, which swung between the North and the South. We expect that the APC would have similar arrangement for the interest of the country.
But we strongly believe that it is too early now to be talking about the presidency in 2023. Rather than focus on who picks the presidency in 2023, it is more advisable to urge Buhari and the APC to fulfill their promises to Nigerians first. Nigeria cannot afford to be only an election country, where after elections, nothing positive happens until the next election comes. We urge key players in both major political parties to concentrate on delivering promises to Nigerians first.