In the past three months, the spate of presidential declarations from the southern region with the All Progressives Congress (APC) has caused Nigerians to wonder if the region is ready to take over from the north anytime soon.
With the unwritten pact of the zoning system, the north has evidently shown that they intend to hand over to a unanimously elected candidate at the primaries whom they would assume to be a southern aspirant, but the marathon rate at which interested individuals are coming out to show interest, regardless of their political and administrative history, proves there is the force that is working underground and pushing these politicians to jettison any move for a united front and decide to divisibly sail their ships.
In January, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was the first to call a press conference, signifying his interest to contest the presidency. Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State followed suit about the same day. Former Abia State Governor and serving senator, Orji Kalu also indicated his interest within the same week. This was followed by Former Imo Governor and Senator, Rochas Okorocha, Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, and current Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello followed suit. Also on the waitlist for declaration include the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba, the current Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Nwabueze Ngige, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele, the Minster for the state on Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and more recently, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. It is on a reliable source that Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi and former Ogun State Governor, who is also serving as a Senator, Ibikunle Amosun will also be announcing their declaration this week.
The icing on the cake is former President Goodluck Jonathan who has been in the news for over a week, as a preferred candidate by the cabal. The former president, however, has neither accepted nor rejected the call for him to throw his hat in the ring.
But, in all of this handful of aspirants, there are strong indications that President Buhari is a central factor in the calculation. Underrate him at your peril, he holds the ace of strategic impulse, deeply unassuming but perilously a master strategist.
He has proven on many occasions, that he is still in charge. Even in his silence, President Buhari is politicking.
Mr President is not only in charge but fully in charge, and his deafening silence is killing the aspirants who cannot tell where and on whose mandate he will pitch his support. He has continued to keep the southern aspirants guessing while they continue to fight one another.
The same thing the President did during the party primary that saw the emergence of Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the chairman. Pundits are of the opinion that the same script may play out at the presidential primary, leaving the aspirants no choice other than embracing President Buhari’s preferred candidate regardless of the region or zone that he may eventually come from.