Political risk consultancy, Menas Associates, has indicated that former Lagos State Governor and a key leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presently remains the main man to beat in the race for President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023.
In its monthly intelligence report on Nigeria, Nigeria Focus, the group said the next three months will be critical for the country’s political class, pointing out, ‘’by the end of the year the two biggest parties should have their new cohort of top officials in place and the stage will be set for the presidential elections in early 2023.
‘’Both parties are riven with internal fights over positions and money. Undoubtedly, APC starts from a much stronger position, having lured a clutch of state governors and top officials from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to defect this year.
‘’Three PDP governors — Dave Umahi (Ebonyi State), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) — have crossed to the APC this year. Another three PDP governors — Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo) — are in the sights of the APC’s acting chairman, Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni.
‘’Controlling states is critical in the presidential race. Friendly state governments offer funds for campaigns, can hold rallies, organise election monitoring and deploy their own security teams.
‘’On present form, APC will go into the 2023 national elections with almost two-thirds of the state governments under its belt. Its presidential candidate will also have the material and logistical support of the Federal Government in Abuja.
‘’For that candidate, the biggest inhibiting factor will be APC’s performance in office: the weak economy, regional strife and multiple security crises. Even those realities have not much weakened President Buhari’s support in his core electoral bases of the Northwest and Northeast.
‘’It is across the southern states that the APC’s standing is most problematic, particularly the South-South and the Southeast regions. Even there, the APC’s choice of well-financed local allies has helped its cause, both to win over state governors and to gather votes.
‘’That means that over the past six years, the APC has marginally improved its position in the South-South and Southeast, at least in terms of mainstream politics. Supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other ethno-nationalist groups are particularly hostile to the APC government in Abuja, which they see as run by a Fulani cabal headed by Buhari.
‘’For the APC, the route to power in 2023 must be at least to maintain current support levels in the two regions and win back some of the disillusioned voters in the Southwest who backed the party in 2015 and 2019. There is no cast-iron rule but an assumption has been building that the APC’s presidential candidate will come from the Southwest.
‘’There is a strong roster of candidates emerging from the region: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Ekiti State Governor and chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi; Minister of Works and Housing and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola; and APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
‘’All dismiss speculation that they are running for the nomination but Tinubu, especially, Osinbajo and Ekiti have set up not-so-discreet and arms-length campaigning organisations. Unquestionably, Tinubu’s is the best funded.’’
Meanwhile, Menas Associates has promised more updates on the 2023 presidential race.