Saturday, 04 December 2021 05:57

2023: S’West APC govs begin consultations

Ahead of the 2023 presidential poll, governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some other leaders in the Nigeria’s South West have begun critical consultations for the zone to produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor. Impeccable sources mentioned five of the six governors in the zone that have authorised their close aides to move round the Yorubaland and Nigeria to ensure that the 2023 presidency comes to the South West.

The five governors are Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Gboyega Oyetola, Osun State, Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.

Governor Seyi Makinde might not have been part of the meeting since he belongs to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Already, National Leader of APC and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as well as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, are strongly believed to be eyeing the  number one political office in 2023.

Though the trio have not come out to make definite statements that they want to run for president, their supporters have, however, made clarion calls to them at different times to openly declare their ambition to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. Some have even gone ahead to print and paste posters for the three of them.

A meeting was held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital earlier in the week to perfect strategies to actualise two major items – that the president must come from the South West in 2023, and to know the acceptable person that the Yoruba would present for the office. The meeting was held under the aegis of Next Level Consolidation Forum, being chaired by a frontline politician, Chief Oladipo Oladosu.

There were representatives of the governors of the six South-West states as well as other dignitaries at the meeting. Attendees include Mr. Adekunle Olayinka, an engineer and Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN); Victor Kolade, Special Adviser to the Ekiti State governor on Social Investment Programmes (SIP); and Adesina Popoola, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State. Chief Oladipo Oladosu stood for Osun at the meeting, while Ondo and Oyo were also represented.

The forum concluded that with the level of academic, economic, social and political prowess that Yorubaland has produced, it would not be fair for the race to present only one person for the job. They added that more people that have interest for the 2023 presidency in the zone should come out and join the presidential race.

Oladosu contended that Nigeria would cease to exist if the presidential power failed to rotate to the South-West, saying: “It is not a threat. It is going to happen.”

But the SSA to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Adesina Popoola, said: “We are here because of Yoruba presidential agenda. All of us are here for a purpose and for good precedence in 2023. What we are clamouring to do is that we don’t want this to go to the North, or South East. We want it to go to South-West.

“The present president is from the North. All of us want this to come to the South and for Yoruba as a whole. We are not talking about the East now. We are talking about South West. If we bring it home, the Yoruba agenda, we can say this is the person we have all agreed on to be the next president in 2023. The agenda is just a small thing. We need somebody that can change Nigeria. We need a good leader at the presidency in 2023, to turn around the country positively.  We are here for one agenda, which is we want Yoruba to be president of Nigeria in 2023.

“We have not mentioned anybody now. But we know some people will knock on the door and we will know the person. We will open the door for him when the time comes. We are here to support Yoruba. We need the cooperation of all the Yoruba. We knew what happened to Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief MKO Abiola when they wanted to become president of this country. Now, we want all Yoruba to speak with one voice. Then, it will be difficult for enemies to divide us.”

Special Adviser to the Ekiti State Governor on Social Investment Programmes (SIP), Victor Kolade, said also lent his voice to the discourse.  According to him, “We are here today for the future of everybody, and our children, and the future of everything that concerns us. In the last eight years, APC has been in the saddle and we are looking for a better leadership and we hope, we know and we pray that APC from South West will provide that better leadership.

“Our aims and objectives are to make sure, first of all, that every other part of Nigeria concedes the presidency to the South West. That is what we have to work upon, and we are doing that already. I pray that we will be able to accomplish that.

“If we do that, that is 50 per cent success. Then, the next thing we have to do is, how do we go about it? We are all party men; we know how the party machineries work. We know that your vote, your decision is in the ward level, even they are in the units. So, we have to work. If you have a friend in the North and you have political associates in any part of Nigeria, we have to work together to make sure that a favourable candidate emerges from the South West during the national convention.

“If we are interested in a particular candidate among those people that showed interest in the South West, we have to work towards it, so that we just don’t assume. At the end of the day, the Northerners preferred to anoint a candidate for us. It has happened once. It has happened several times in the past. If we have anything against that, if we don’t want that, we had to work. But thank God, we are back at the blocs again, and we are hoping for a South Western presidency.”

Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), which is South West Affairs, Adekunle Olayinka, also observed: “Of course, it is part of my portfolio to make sure that the South West is rock solid, not only in infrastructural development and socio-economic, and all the stuff, but in politics also. That is why we try to ensure that it is not negotiable, as far as we are concerned, that presidency comes to the South West. We have been doing a lot of programmes in that respect.

“We have gone all over the South-West. We have met the likes of Chief Bisi Akande, our governors, and other leaders. We have sold the idea to them that it is not negotiable, that in their meetings and conversations with other governors throughout the country, that the presidency for South West Nigeria is non-negotiable. I think everyone understands now.

“So, we are here in Ibadan to have a meeting, whereby our structures will be formalised. Apart form the national structure that has been working all over Nigeria, we want to ensure that our structures are formalised from the ward level to the local government, to the zone, so that we can all put our thoughts together, and put all our resources together to ensuring that we produce a president that will come from the South West.

“Why? We have the capability. We have the technical know-how. We have economic power. We have the intellectual know-how. So, we believe that no other region, especially now, is better than us producing the presidency.

We are going to work and ensure that all our youth are energised and they are energised already. They are waiting for our leaders to come out and proclaim that they are running. All we are doing now is consultation and all the stuff, encouraging more of our leaders to even come out. The better the soup, the better the taste becomes.

“I want to foresee in the next couple of weeks that other leaders that have not even proclaimed that they want to contest would come out. Then, we can now say this is the best among them. I don’t think we are going to have any problem in selecting one of our leaders to become our president, and it has to come from South West.”

It was agreed at the end of the meeting that the gathering would be rotated among the six states in the South West. The next meeting, it was agreed, would be hosted by Lagos State.

[Sun]

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