It is a season of declarations for the presidential race ahead of next year’s elections. THENATION lists the number of aspirants that have joined the race on various political platforms and their antecedents
There had been a lot of speculations and subterranean moves in the last year by many politicians across the political divide about next year’s presidential election. But it took the recent declaration of All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to signal that the much-awaited electoral contest have begun in earnest. This is because of the reaction Tinubu’s declaration elicited across the country. He told reporters after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari that he has informed the number one citizen that he has made up his mind to contest the election to fulfil his age-long ambition to lead the country one day.
Twenty-four hours after Tinubu’s declaration, Ebonyi State’s Governor Dave Umahi also threw his hat into the ring, saying he wants to replicate his progressive efforts in the Southeast state at the national level. Like the former Lagos State governor, Umahi, a chieftain of the APC made the announcement after meeting with President Buhari and intimating him of his plan to run for the office. Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello joined the bandwagon last Thursday when he declared his intention to contest on the platform of the ruling party. Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has declared that he would run if the APC ticket is zoned to the Southeast.
Before the recent spate of declarations, a few aspirants have indicated their interest in the presidential ticket of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). They include former presidential aide, Dr. Doyin Okupe; former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim; the immediate past president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Sam Ohuabunwa; and publisher of Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu. Other interested aspirants on the PDP platform are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed and former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. But, they are still bidding their time to formally declare their intention; perhaps because the party is yet to make a categorical statement on the issue of power rotation between the North and the South.
Aside from aspirants within the two major parties, there are also indications that many Nigerians are interested in the race on the platform of other parties. Two of such aspirants have formally declared their intention to run. They are Chukwuka Monye, a 43-year old Oxford-trained innovation strategist and Mrs Khadija Okunnu-Lamidi, a 38-year-old media entrepreneur. Monye and Okunnu-Lamidi are yet to indicate the political platforms that would sponsor them. To contest for the presidency, one must be a Nigerian citizen that has attained the age of 35 and he or she must be sponsored by a political party.
The APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu practically opened the floodgates of declarations for the presidential race in next year’s general elections when he officially announced his plan to run recently. The former Lagos State Governor said he has the confidence, the vision, and the capacity to build on the foundation laid by President Buhari to turn around the fortunes of the country.
Since he declared his interest in the plum job, the former Lagos State governor has become the most talked-about politician in the country. Tinubu, who was Lagos State governor from 1999 to 2007, is widely regarded as the architect of modern Lagos. It is said that his ingenuity made the state what it is today. During his tenure, he designed a master plan that successive administrations after have been following.
Asiwaju is regarded as the kingmaker in the APC by virtue of the role he played in the emergence of Buhari in 2015 and his influence in the Southwest. While most of those who served as governors between 1999 and 2007 have lost their relevance in the political terrain, Tinubu has maintained his and even spread his tentacles to other parts of the country.
Born on March 29, 1952, Tinubu’s political career began in 1992 when he joined the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the aborted Third Republic. He was elected to the Senate to represent Lagos West senatorial district during that dispensation. He was one of the founding members of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), following the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, a group that fought for the recognition of the late Moshood Abiola as the winner of the election and the restoration of democracy.
David Umahi is the current governor of Ebonyi State. Born on July 25, 1963, Umahi who defected from the PDP to the APC in November 2020 said he is undeterred by Tinubu’s aspiration. He was one of the three PDP governors that defected from the opposition party to the ruling party between November 2020 and June 2021.
The Ebonyi governor had argued that his defection had nothing to do with the 2023 presidential ticket but to take the Southeast region to the centre. “I want to clear the air that I never sought (for) the PDP presidential ticket and I will not. So whoever said that I moved to the APC because they refused to zone the ticket to me is being very mischievous,” he had retorted at the time.
Umahi who will round off his second term in office in 2023, has promised to replicate his feats as a governor at the national level if he eventually gets to fly the party ticket and win the presidential election. The Ebonyi State governor said he intends to bring a business-like spirit into governance.
He is the chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum. He believes that if the self-acclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, is willing and open to engagement, peace will return to the Southeast. He indicated recently that his state will not take part in the struggle for the actualization of Biafra. He said Ebonyi State is better in a fair and equitable Nigeria because the state has investments everywhere and one cannot set fire to his own house.
Umahi who made this known in Abakaliki, the state capital during a reception organized for him after declaring his presidential bid in Abuja, said his state will not be part of the agitation for a sovereign nation for the Igbos.
Governor Yahaya Bello made his declaration to contest the 2023 presidency in Bauchi last Thursday while addressing APC legislators and women groups from the Northeast. The Kogi governor who addressed the meeting virtually said: “I am offering myself to aspire for the 2023 presidency under our party, the APC because the country deserves better and purposeful leadership from the youth.
“I really want to thank you for the wonderful things you are doing in your respective states and our fatherland and I sincerely want to appreciate you and thank you for the support to our great party, the support to President Buhari and your service to your people in your various constituencies.”
The governor, who has received a series of endorsements for his aspiration, has assured Nigerians that he will not betray their trust if elected as the president of the country. Born on June 18, 1975, in Okene, Kogi State, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), both from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State.
Yahaya was sworn in as Kogi State governor in January 2016. At the time, he made history as the youngest elected state chief executive in the country. He emerged as governor following the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the candidate that initially vied for the position on the platform of the ruling party. Governor Bello was re-elected for a second term on November 16, 2019.
Dr. Adedoyin Okupe, better known as Dr. Doyin Okupe, is a medical doctor and politician. He was the National Publicity Secretary of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) during the aborted Third Republic. He was Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and later Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Born on March 22, 1952, in Iperu, Ogun State, Okupe declared his ambition to rule the country as far back as October 2021. While making the declaration, the former presidential aide said he prioritizes the needs of the poor if he is elected.
His words: “I believe I have the knowledge, the requisite national political experience and intellectual capacity and wisdom to halt the social and economic decadence, insecurity and pervasive poverty that has nearly made living meaningless in Nigeria. I want to run a government which for the first time will make the life, wellbeing and safety of lives and properties especially of the poor and needy a major priority.”
Okupe announced seven-point agenda, which he dubbed “My covenant with God and Nigerians”. This social contract, he said, includes “reset, heal and reunite the nation; make the poor and needy the priority of government; end insecurity in two years; and increase revenue base with massive agricultural drive.”
He also pledged to increase electricity generation to 30,000 megawatts in three years; drastically reduce youth unemployment and re-engineer, revamp the national economy, while disclosing his intention to radically change and overhaul the budgeting process to be people-oriented as against what he sees as “the fraudulent budgets we have run year in year out for the last 60 odd years”.
Anyim Pius Anyim:
Anyim Pius Anyim was born on February 19, 1961, in Ishiagu, Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. He has been privileged to serve as the Senate president between August 2000 and May 2003. He was also Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Anyim said he decided to contest after years of prayers, reflections and introspection on not just his capacity and preparedness to take on the task ahead, “but also deep thoughts on our national challenges and the solutions they demand”.
The former SGF has already received the support of political leaders from the five Southeast states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. He said he will provide effective and efficient management of the nation’s diversity based on equity, justice, fairness, and inclusiveness.
He said: “I have been privileged to understand our national problems and appreciate their enormity and peculiarities in the last 21 years from my vantage positions in both the legislative and the executive arms of government. Therefore, I have a clear view of the task ahead as well as the solutions needed to advance the cause of our country.”
About two months after his return to partisan politics, publisher of the Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu joined the growing list of aspirants jostling to succeed President Buhari. The frontline journalist and publisher reportedly met with the national leadership of the PDP to apprise them of his decision to vie for the party’s ticket because he believes that he represents the best hope for Nigeria as envisioned by the late mentor, Chief Moshood Abiola.
His words: “I’m proud to follow in the best traditions of my heroic mentor, Chief Moshood Abiola, who had wanted to banish poverty in our land, but was disastrously disallowed from achieving this laudable objective. Nigeria has paid a heavy price and penalty in the last 29 years and suffered untold agony and indignity as a result of that tragic misadventure.”
He told the party’s National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, that it is very obvious that Nigerians are eager to restore that promise of hope and the accompanying peace and joy that the party lost in 2015. He said: “The time has come for full reconciliation and forgiveness and closure of our ugly past. Nigeria urgently requires a reset and a total redirection… I, therefore, offer myself to the PDP as the best aspirant to turn the fortunes of our esteemed party and our well-endowed country around.
He expressed his conviction that the time has come to seriously challenge and dislodge those politicians who, he observed, have held Nigeria to ransom by kidnapping, hijacking, and destroying the future of the younger generation and generations yet unborn. He added: “Nigeria deserves much better than where we are now, and my appeal to fellow Nigerians is that we should collectively rescue our dear country from the suffocating claws of slave masters, overlords, and tyrants, vociferously and vehemently reject any suggestion that Nigeria should continue to tread this dangerous path. The die is cast, and we must regain and take back our country.”
Momodu was born on May 16, 1960, in Ile Ife, Osun State.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa was born on August 16, 1950, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He studied pharmacy at the University of Ife (now OAU), graduating in 1976. He had postgraduate training in Business and Organisational Management at Columbia University, USA, and he is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School (LBS).
The pharmacist and businessman-turned-politician is the founder and former chief executive officer of Neimeth Pharmaceutical. Ohuabunwa has traversed the business landscape, and at different times has been at the head of seven different companies and groups including the position of chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Specialist Limited; chairman Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG); president at Nigeria Employers Consultative Association; former chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Products plc, and president Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce.
Ohuabunwa has recently canvassed for the support of the leaders of his party, the PDP for his aspiration to govern the country. He said he is the best-suited aspirant to lead the party back to power, to rescue the country, which he observed has been disorganized from the vision of its founding fathers.
He said: “I am coming to lay the foundation for proper unity of our nation to create a level-playing ground where every child born in every part of this country will have the same opportunity as the other child to achieve his potential the way it happens the United States of America.
“This office of president is a serious office. You must have experience in managing many things at the same time. It is not to take six months to form your cabinet, take six months to plan how you are going to work. I have the experience I’ve been trained. We need to think about our government. So, we need to see governance as a business whereby we have a contract with the citizens.”
Ohuabunwa is the author of the book, “Wired to Lead – life lessons from many years of organisational leadership.”
Chukwuka Monye, a 43-years old social innovator and change management expert has also declared his intention to contest for the number one position in the country during the next general elections. With the slogan “our future is now”, the Oxford-trained innovation strategist outlined a three-point agenda of security, institutional reforms and jobs for Nigeria’s rapid transformation.
Monye urged Nigerians hoping for a better nation to remain steadfast because the dream is possible. He believes the country is in dire need of a youthful and vibrant president to chart a new course for Nigerians. He told a cheering crowd, mostly youths, in his hometown, Onicha-Ugbo in Delta State, where he made the declaration that he is uniquely positioned by age and experience to serve as a bridge-builder for the nation to realise the desired future.
He said: “I represent a generation that desires opportunities to express their innovative capacities. I represent a generation that desires justice, peace and equity. I represent a generation that excels and has attempted to create the best we can, despite the limited empowerment we have received. I represent a generation that believes that a global economy can be created out of things that we are passionate about such as music, arts and technology.”
The presidential hopeful said the level of poverty in the country is alarming, with 83 million Nigerians living below the poverty line. Pointing to the fact that Nigerians are at a high point of hopelessness and despair, he said the nation’s foundational structures were “at a brink of collapse with institutions such as justice, education, health and the security infrastructure unable to effectively meet the needs of Nigerians.”
The declaration ceremony in Onicha-Ugbo in Delta State opened with a discussion. The panel of discussants includes Ambassador Elvis Akpovi, executive director “Not Too Young to Lead”, Alhaji Rabiu Aliyu, Dr Olori Boye-Ajayi and May Ikeora.
Monye was born on July 21, 1979. He was educated at Maryland Convent Primary School and the Federal Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos, before moving abroad on a scholarship.
The founder of Ciuci Consulting, a multinational operations management consulting firm, Monye believes that Africa’s growth would be propelled by empowering its people to build sustainable enterprises and embrace systems thinking. As the managing partner of the company, he has led over 400 institutional change programmes and developed strategic roadmaps for several companies.
Monye, who is featured in the 2021 bestselling “Business Success Secrets” of global leaders, has been impacting lives through various charitable initiatives around the country.
Mrs Khadija Okunnu-Lamidi, a 38-year-old media entrepreneur has also declared her intention to seek a political party’s nomination to contest next year’s presidential election.
Okunnu-Lamidi, who is the founder of Slice Media Solutions, made the declaration in Lagos recently. She does not belong to any political party yet. She is perhaps hoping that any party that shares her vision would adopt her to fly the flag of the party.
Okunnu-Lamidi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Human Resources Management from the University of Bolton and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Project Management (MSc) from Heriot-Watt University.
Speaking to reporters, Okunnu-Lamidi said she sees herself as the arrowhead for the intervention of her generation’s interests across the nation for politics and good governance. She said: “I seek to change the direction of our country because time and chance will happen to all of us and the time for action is today.
“We need a better class and a better crop of leaders that are selfless, disciplined and bound with integrity, and above all, who love the country and are invested in her future. I am here to activate all people, the old, the poor, the rich; to unite around a common ideal on the basis of a consensus about a superior national development agenda.”
Okunnu-Lamidi said her interests include 70 per cent of youths who are often disenfranchised and have not taken their rightful place in choosing the government of Nigeria. She expressed disappointment that Nigeria had missed important milestones in building the nation. She said it was more pertinent that Nigerians must begin to think differently in the way things are done and the way they interact with each other.
She said: “We are all guilty for surrendering to temporary powerlessness; we can and must start to think differently. We sing often about our heroes past. These are people who entered the governance of Nigeria by design or by chance at a very young age to take over from the colonial power that ruled Nigeria.
“This again is a generational inflexion point for the nation. A nation desperate for leadership needs the young, the strong, those who have a vision, those who have ideas, those who have a united Nigerian identity and a belief in this country. The people of Nigeria believe in Nigeria, they should not be led by leaders who don’t. We have to keep fighting for what we believe in, and above all, never lose hope. If you were waiting for a sign, this is it.”