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 ▪︎Tinubu in the cold, vows to forge ahead with the presidential project

The Presidency under the superintendence of President Muhammadu Buhari has shortlisted three presidential aspirants in the All Progressives Congress, APC, who is likely to be supported to emerge as the party’s standard-bearer.

THE CONCLAVE reports that Buhari’s shortlist cuts across the three geo-political zones of the south, thus putting the zones on equal footing in the quiet jostle for presidential consideration and endorsement.

The aspirants from among whom Buhari would settle for one ahead of the party’s crucial presidential primary election are his Vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo from the Southwest, Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi from the South-south and wait for this: Hon. Emeka Nwajuiba, who is Buhari’s Minister of State for Education from the Southeast.

THE CONCLAVE learnt that Vice-president Osinbajo, having capped his nationwide consultations on Sunday with his meeting with APC governors, is set to make a public declaration of his presidential interest on Monday (April 11, 2022) barring any last-minute change in plan.

Rotimi Amaechi had on Saturday at the Adokiye Amesimeka Stadium in Port Harcourt declared his interest in becoming the party’s standard-bearer in the 2023 presidential poll.

Perhaps, the most interesting dimension to the scramble for the APC presidential ticket is in the interest of Emeka Nwajiuba from the Southeast zone, which has so far been wrapped in secrecy and effectively kept away from the media and public attention.

Unlike a national leader of the APC and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who had since made public his presidential interest and had openly crisscrossed the country in close and open consultations, the trio of Osinbajo, Amaechi and Nwajiuba had been quietly working underground to ensure they were not against the run of play.

THE CONCLAVE had reported how Tinubu had, at a meeting with a compact group of Yoruba leaders recently in Akure, disclosed to them that President Buhari was not supporting his bid to succeed him in 2023.

He had confided in the elders at the meeting comprising, among others, Elder Reuben Fasoranti, a former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae and the Secretary-General of Afenifere, Chief Seinde Arogbofa, that regardless of the lack of presidential backing for him, he was going ahead with his presidential project.

Tinubu’s disposition has heightened anxiety in the APC about a likely battle-to-the-finish that may not leave the legacy party intact ahead of the 2023 general elections.

But, according to feelers reaching THE CONCLAVE, a vast majority of the APC governors especially from the North are rooting for Vice-president Osinbajo from the Southwest to emerge as the party’s standard-bearer.

Their support, as learnt, stemmed from the grounds of popularity and experience (having been in the presidency for about eight years as vp) mental capacity, clarity of thoughts and visions on socio-economic and political issues, coherence of speech, agility, and loyalty to the President, among others.

It is also believed that settling on Osinbajo would eventually take care, whether remotely or directly, of Tinubu’s “interest” in that he was somewhat instrumental to the emergence of Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate in 2015.

THE CONCLAVE, however, learnt that it was a former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibinkunle Amosun who enjoys a special relationship with President Buhari, who very largely and actually facilitated the inclusion of Osinbajo’s name in the shortlist of three candidates for the VP slot when national sentiments against Muslim-Muslim ticket knocked off Tinubu.

Significantly, the issue of religion is key in the emergence of APC’s standard-bearer from the South.

There is a strong argument that supports a Christian candidate since a Muslim president from the North has been in the saddle for about eight years.

Besides, a Muslim president has never historically emerged from the South of Nigeria.

The three aspirants that have made the shortlist for the Presidency and APC’s critical stakeholders are Christians.

It, therefore, follows that a northern Muslim would emerge as a vice presidential candidate to any of them who emerges as the standard-bearer.

THE CONCLAVE reports that a good number of APC governors from the core northern states who are Muslims are quietly and strategically positioning themselves to become running mates to Osinbajo.

That makes the Osinbajo option formidable and promising.

The Rotimi Amaechi option also appears to be somewhat surefooted arising from his closeness to some power centres in the North in the course of his ministerial tour of duty.

He was recently turbanned as Dan Amanar of Daura, President Buhari’s hometown, for initiating critical development projects in Daura.

A former member of the Senate, Jonathan Zwingina said the Daura Emirate considered the numerous achievements recorded by the Minister in the transport sector in Nigeria and by extension Daura, their home community in conferring him with the title.

He said in a Vanguard interview that rather than perceive such gesture, as politically motivated, attention should be shifted to the merits of the projects executed by Amaechi and his sterling leadership qualities.

According to him: “It is a most welcome development. It is the culture of the people to reward and single out those who have done something for the community that will remain with them for life.

“It is totally out of politics and nobody should read any extraordinary meaning to it.

“The kind of projects that the Minister has put in the country has put in Daura, I’m sure the President did not request for them. The Minister came up with them himself and considered it worthy to put those projects there and the Federal Executive Council approved them.

“There is the University of Transportation and the railway line that would pass through the emirate. The most interesting thing is that the university is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project. That is to say that they are practically free of charge to government as it’s compatible to the actual rail projects the Chinese are executing.”

It has yet to be clear if any APC governor is supporting Amaechi’s aspiration.

However, he is believed to have the backing of the new National Chairman of the Party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is his friend and whom he almost single-handed supported to emerge as national chairman.

THE CONCLAVE reports that the presidential interest of Emeka Nwajuiba is the most novel as it is as quiet as he comes. As learnt he has a structure that has been working quietly underground, waiting to be unveiled once the coast is clear and he gets a go-ahead.

Indications are that the Presidency has been sufficiently swayed by argument and advocacy that in the spirit of fairness and equity, the Southeast should be considered for the 2023 presidency.

Consequentially, it was learnt that in that case, the ticket must be carefully guided to the zone so that a trusted ally can be supported to emerge.

THE CONCLAVE learnt that some Buhari loyalists in government decided to zero in on Nwajiuba, who himself is a Buhari loyalist, having been together with him in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

Nwajiuba was reportedly tapped by his friend and boss in the Ministry of Education, Adamu Adamu, who is a core loyalist and confidant of the President.

Nwajiuba, as learnt, made his choice easier for those rooting for him as the only one to be trusted with power in the Southeast by his reliable disposition ever since being made a Minister.

The former member of the House of Representatives has been quietly carrying out his ministerial mandate and not attracting negative media exposure.

A source who claims to be in the know of the quiet plan by the powerful elements close to the president to prepare Nwajiuba for the 2023 presidential race told THE CONCLAVE that a number of positive considerations support his likely choice from the Southeast if the Presidency and the APC decide eventually to cede it to the Southeast zone.

He said that some powerful inner circle members of Mr President were disposed to his choice.

According to ti him: “Mr president believes in his capacity and resilience to be his successor.”

He continued: “He has demonstrated courage, dexterity and tenacity in carrying out his official assignment as Minister of State, Education.

” His quiet, easy-going disposition to life and work is a strong statement of his virtue.

“He’s loyal, obedient and respectful. He’s not confrontational nor is he one who wants to rock the boat.

“Age is very much on his side (54 years). As far as the South East is concerned today, he’s one with less baggage. No corruption charges nor any negative report about him so far. This clean slate coming from the south East is remarkable and outstanding.

“The north and south will be more comfortable with his presidency because of his youthfulness, vigour, vitality and enormous stamina to steer the ship of economic, social and security direction onto a more united, stable and safe Nigeria.”

He also said that “his relationship with the national assembly, being a member before would help to promote and project him more for the plum job having made friends that cut across geo-political zones and regions, religion and political parties.”

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