The chances of the South-East producing the president in 2023 has taken an upward swing in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following the defection of Governor David Umahi from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the party.
A credible source in the APC told Daily Independent on Monday that Umahi might have taken the decision after receiving assurances from President Muhammadu Buhari that he would do his best to ensure that the South-East produced the presidential flag bearer of the party in 2023.
While Buhari had not made any statement about his preferred successor, our source said the president, who is committed to the unity of the country, wants to prove bookmakers – who had predicted that he would back another northerner as his successor – wrong.
He also said the president’s cold disposition to the South West and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the party, may have necessitated the visit of some South- West APC leaders who are allies of Tinubu to the president last week.
The APC leaders include Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Segun Osoba, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, and Dr. Abayomi Finnih.
Even though all attempts to get a clue of what the meeting was all about or the topic of discussion were unsuccessful as the visitors would not talk to State House correspondents, our source said it might not be unconnected with the issue of the 2023 presidency.
“First, let me say this. A lot of PDP stakeholders, including Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, have said Umahi, who is completing his second term as Ebonyi State governor, joined APC because he wants to contest for presidency in 2023 and he believed the PDP will not give him that opportunity.
“Something may have given Umahi the courage to make that bold move. Did he receive assurances from the president that the ticket would be zoned to the South-East?
“Did the president have a special preference for him as the best person to succeed him?
“Why did many South-East leaders in the APC shun Umahi’s defection rally to APC yet many Northern bigwigs were in attendance? Could that be borne out of anger, jealousy or hatred?
“If they have been nursing the ambition and the president favours Umahi, a newcomer from PDP, do you expect them to be happy? There are so many questions and everything will become clearer in the coming days as 2023 is still far.
“Also, if you look at the visit of Tinubu’s allies to Buhari last week where they had a closed-door meeting without Tinubu himself in attendance, shortly after Umahi’s defection, and the fact that Akande, Osoba and even the president have all maintained sealed lips on the purpose of the meeting, then you will know that something serious is happening behind the scene.
“Don’t also forget that Northern elders have thrown their weight behind Igbo presidency, insisting that Nigeria’s 2023 presidency should rotate to the South-East zone.
“They said that their position was borne out of the need for every part of the country to be fairly and equitably treated in the nation’s political affairs.
“I know Buhari very well. He doesn’t talk but he likes keeping his game to his chest.
“In 2015, the Igbo didn’t vote for him but he has warmed his way into their hearts.
“He has always used every opportunity to say he was not an enemy of the South East, especially given his relationship with the late Emeka Ojukwu.”
He said aside from Umahi, the South East APC parades credible politicians who have the capacity to govern Nigeria such as Ken Nnamani, former Senate President; Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment; Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology; Geoffery Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, and Senator Rochas Okorocha, among others.
“As a man who believes in the unity of the country, he may use the 2023 presidential election to prove those who have said he wants another northerner to succeed him wrong.
“Doing that will greatly reduce the cry of marginalisation and secession threat in the region,” he said.
Also speaking with Daily Independent, Junaid Mohammed, elder statesman and Second Republic federal lawmaker, said the PDP had already committed its presidential ticket to the North.
Junaid, who also said President Buhari lacked the capacity to lead the APC to victory in 2023, said any politician who realises that his ambition cannot be realised in the political party he belongs to should seek an alternative by joining another party or forming a new political party.
He said: “A political party is like a vehicle, a machine; you use it to climb to power.
“If one party does not give you the opportunity to be in power, you can join another party or create another party.
“So, anybody who is not happy with the way things are in the APC, my advice to such a person is to start looking for an alternative. The same thing applies to the PDP.
“But the PDP has committed itself to making the next presidential candidate to come from the North.
“They may be mischievous but the fact of the matter is, given the commercialised nature of politics in Nigeria, whoever is going to confront their candidate is going to have a tough job to do.
“I don’t doubt the capacity of others who may want to test the waters on the part of the APC but whoever it is must be fully prepared, because it is going to be tribal politics without any credible leader.
“Because Buhari has never been seen to be good at anything. He is not the kind of person who will prepare APC as a party and give it the necessary leadership, and making him the arrowhead of a party that will win the next election in 2023.”