North Central Intensifies Bid for 2023

Without a doubt, the contest for President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023 is fierce. The intrigues have increased as more hopefuls officially declare for the top job.

Across party lines, some people have been rumoured to be running, while others have already confirmed their candidacy.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, former Kano State Governor Musa Kwankwaso, APC National Leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and PDP presidential running mate in 2019, Peter Obi are among those whose names have been linked to the contest.

Former Senate President Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Anyim Pius Anyim, former bankers Kinsley Moghalu and Kingsley Moghalu, and Mazi Samuel Ohuabunwa, a former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, have all declared their intention to run for the top job.

While the discussion rages over whether zoning should yield the next president, those who appear to have a better shot have been touting their qualifications. With the South Presidency campaign gaining steam, the North Central zone is leaving no stone unturned in its quest for the presidency.

The strategy for North Central

Political elites in the North Central, like those in the south, think they are entitled to replace Buhari in 2023. This has been asserted frequently by the North Central Peoples Forum (NCPF).
However, as pressure from other regional stakeholders grows, it appears that North Central leaders are banding together across political parties to make a joint push for the presidency.

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It was learned that the ultimate goal is to guarantee that the idea of a Nigerian President from the zone is acceptable to everyone in the zone and that it becomes a widely recognised concept.

Top-level discussions have reportedly taken place in Abuja, Jos, Makurdi, Lafia, Ilorin, Minna, and Lokoja.

“The campaign is being handled at various levels, with members of the National Assembly from the zone, former members of the National Assembly, current and former governors from the zone, Speakers of the state Houses of Assembly, retired generals, business people, and traditional rulers being co-opted to start working at various levels to sell the agenda to their colleagues, friends, and associates from the other zone,” an insider said.

“The leaders and people of the North Central zone think that this time, their counterparts in the North Central and North East zones should support their efforts to elect the next President. They said that historical facts, the principles of fairness and equity, and the concept of brotherhood all backed their cause.

“They contended that since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the North has been united because the North Central has consistently supported Arewa unity.” They observed how leaders such as Chief Sunday Awoniyi, S. B. Daniyan, Alh. Aliyu Makaman Bida, Alh. Ahman Pategi, and others rallied to Sir Ahmadu Bello’s cause and guaranteed that the Gamji tree offered cover for the northerners.

“They also pointed out that when the military took over, the North Central was the reason why Nigeria did not disintegrate following the 1966 coup. The nation had to look to Col. Yakubu Gowan, a young officer from the North Central region, as the most suitable commander to offer stability, reduce tensions, and alleviate sore sentiments across the board. Part of their argument is that North Central lost a lot of people fighting as Nigerian soldiers during the civil war, which is why the people of the region are considered to have made tremendous sacrifices to keep the country together. As a result, it is stated that the Zone holds the key to Nigeria’s unification.”

The leaders would also contend, according to the source, that no one has ever elected President of Nigeria without a significant showing or support in the North Central.

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From Shagari to Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and Buhari, the list goes on and on. “Who becomes President is decided by our zone.” We’ve had enough of being kingmakers. “We want to produce the King because we have a lot of qualified, experienced, and well-connected people,” stated the leader.

It was also learned that they plan to use the argument that they are not just Nigeria’s food basket, but also the hub of the country’s unity, as a multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic region.

North Central leaders, like several other regions, say that theirs is the only zone that has never produced a president or vice president since the country’s founding.

“This, they claimed, put them in a worse position than the South East, which produced Vice President Alex Ekwueme between 1979 and 1983,” the source said.

There’s a lot more. The leaders of the North Central say that the South-achievement South’s in delivering a President has instilled confidence, a sense of nationalism, and patriotism among the zone’s citizens.

In terms of what to expect in the run-up to 2023, it was learned that North Central leaders have begun mobilising their political sons and daughters from the zone to join the race in their separate political parties as a means of furthering the agitation.

“The plan is for two or at least one of the two major political parties to nominate a presidential candidate from our zone, while the other parties prepare to nominate presidential candidates from our zone as well.” Then you’ll see our people come out in droves to encourage the rest of the country to vote for a Nigerian candidate from the North Central,” one of the leaders said.

As much as the leaders believe a candidate from the zone can easily win the trust of the rest of the country and unite the country, they are planning to send emissaries to all other geopolitical zones to meet with other leaders and persuade them to help make the idea of a Nigerian from the North Central zone a reality, similar to how they did in 1999 when the entire country was forced or persuaded to elect a Nigerian President from the South West.

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However, as with other regions, the authorities of the North Central have a difficult task ahead of them. According to recent comments by Ohaneze Ndigbo and arguments by others such as Chief Willy Ezugwu of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), who feel that the political climate favours a South East administration, the South East has strengthened their bid for the presidency.

Other leading candidates from the South West and North East say they have just as much right to run for the seat as anyone from any region. All eyes will, unfortunately, be on the political parties.

According to Maxwell Obiekwe, a political analyst and lawyer, “how political actors pull their weight within their parties remains the key thing.”

“Every region would have to find a means to ensure that its interests are aligned with the political parties’ ambition to win the election in 2023,” he added.

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